Upon Further Review 2017: Offense vs Air Force Comment Count

Brian September 21st, 2017 at 4:37 PM

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FORMATION NOTES. Air Force runs a 3-4, but it's not like that. Whereas your conventional 3-4 has big guys who two-gap, Air Force has little guys. It's a one-gap 3-4, if you will.


The NT almost always shaded between the C and G in a one tech, with four linebackers in the traditional 3-4 umbrella. Sometimes head up with the same umbrella, and check those safeties on first and freakin' ten:


Now, there are a ton of very obvious ways in which this is not at all the 3-3-5 stack Michigan runs. Air Force doesn't stack their linebackers, for one. They rarely insert an OLB between their DEs as anything other than a twist blitz; Michigan is constantly making Furbush an extra DL. AF just about always shaded their NT instead of running a zero-tech, and they had a clear weakside and strongside end, with the strongside end basically a DT. Michigan's DEs have run identical techniques for the duration of the season. Also there is not a withdrawn MLB like Bush; instead two ILBs.

These are the ways in which Michigan's defense is not at all like Air Force's, which is a one-gap 3-4.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES. The regular at QB and OL. Onwenu got pulled for the last three plays of the final drive, with Runyan coming in. Isaac was the starting RB and got the bulk of the work; Evans was pulled after his fumble until late, when Isaac went out with a minor injury. Mason one snap at FB, with the seniors going the rest of the way.

WR was Black, Crawford, and DPJ outside with cameos from Schoenle on running plays. That's getting into a major play tip zone, though Black's injury might change that. Perry got most of the run in the slot; McDoom had maybe a dozen snaps, and not all were jet stuff.

Tight end was the usual rotation of everyone, minus Wheatley. He had a ding that held him out. Also I might not have seen Eubanks? I don't think I saw Eubanks. Bunting is losing ground, BTW, to McKeon and Gentry.

[After THE JUMP: the bone! oh if only]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 3-4 weak 7.5 Pass PA Fly Crawford Inc
PA, max pro, deep shot. Good pocket and Speight can deliver clean. Ensuing throw isn’t awesome but it lands about a yard from the sideline; it’s significantly short. Crawford(route -) badly misreads the throw, fading outside and realizing the throw is short way too late. Stonum-esque and disturbing. Live I thought this was PI but this seems fine on replay. (MA, 2, protection 2/2)
M25 2 10 Offset I twins 2 1 2 3-4 strong 8 Pass Flare Isaac -2
Right side of line badly screws up a blitz pickup, with Ulizio(-2) never getting off the DE slanting away from him. Gentry(-1) looks terrible on this but it’s not entirely his fault; he expects an OL next to him. When the LB dives inside he’s got little shot at getting in the way with too much space to shut down. Speight has no choice but to dump it with the short route covered and the long route not yet completed. Isaac is in space against a cover 2 corner and gets hacked down in the backfield. Not a ton he could do about this since he had to secure the ball first. (PR, 3, protection 0/3)
M23 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Pass Comeback Black 15
Speight looks for Perry; decides that’s not there as AF drops under it. His second read is Black(route +) coming back just beyond the sticks and he fires it inch-perfect for a slick third and long conversion. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
M38 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 3-4 strong 8 Run Split zone Isaac 32
Jet motion, split zone instead of jet. AF stunts on the backside, which Hill(+2) picks up. He redirects, gets to the OLB slanting inside, and pins him. Cole(+1) locks out and steps upfield of the new force guy so he can’t spin back. Isaac(+2) reads the backside gap and hits it, blowing by the safety but barely stepping out as that guy makes a desperation dive. Kugler(-2) got lucky here; NT slanted way outside and he never came off on the linebacker. Bredeson(+1) got a second level block. RPS +2; jet motion moved a CB to S and he was off balance on the snap and never likely to get to this. He just barely prevents the TD with a desperate lunge at Isaac's legs.
O30 1 10 Diamond 2TE 2 3 0 3-4 strong 9 Run Double Iso Evans 4
Hill and McKeon at FB with Bunting and Gentry as inline TEs. This doesn’t go well tactically; both Cole and Onwenu end up releasing and finding no one to hit except CBs who are backing out; S flies up into the box as a free hitter. Kugler(+1) controls and moves the NT a bit. Bredeson(-0.5) loses some ground on a similar block. Both FBs plunge into the gap between these two and get mediocre blocks. Evans(+0.5) has to hit the nominally wrong side of these blocks because of the unblocked S. He manages to grind out an okay gain. RPS -1.
O26 2 6 Goal line 2 3 0 3-4 weak 8 Run Down G Evans 5
Mason(+2) in and he gets a thump downfield that probably earns half the yards here. M pulls Cole around the inline TE as AF slants away. McKeon(+1) gets his guy and Cole(+1) slashes the force guy to the ground .Evans(+1) cuts right off Mason’s butt to make the most of his block and picks it up. This is about one block from a TD but Gentry can’t get it because Ulizo bumped into him. Gentry was looking for work correctly.
O21 3 1 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-4 weak 10 Run FB dive Hill 3
Ulizio(+0.5) with the key block, which is good enough but not amazing. Hill just barrels for it anyway.
O18 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Pass Out Perry Inc
Soft coverage and when Perry breaks out he’s got a step or two on a linebacker who might not be dropping right. Speight misses, and badly enough Perry can’t even get a hand on it. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
O18 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-4 line slide 7 Run Inside zone Higdon 1
Michigan tries to run against seven in the box; AF times up a blitz and adds a safety to the mix for an 8th, and the backside end ignores the zone read aspects to go hunting for the back, who he tackles. Michigan blocks this fine, but they were operating down a blocker and that guy tackles. RPS -2. Smoke screen is productive here w/ boundary CB at eight yards.
O17 3 9 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Okie zero 6 Pass Seam Perry Inc
Zero blitz from AF with two guys dropping out real late to disrupt a hypothetical drag, which is exactly what they get. AF gets a free runner around the backside but AF made this super super difficult to pick up. Speight IDs Perry and tries to hit him, but gets hit on the throw and the ball sails. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, team -2, RPS -1)
Drive Notes: FG(34), 3-0, 11 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M24 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Pass Dumpoff Isaac 8
Bredeson(-2) fails to ID a twist and LB gets in free; Speight has a happier dumpoff here as the local LB is dropping in the middle of the field in a zone and Isaac has plenty of room to turn up after the catch. (CA+, 3, protection 0/2)
M32 2 2 Offset I Big 2 2 1 3-4 strong 9 Run Lead zone Isaac 1
This is a mess to the backside and there are no cutbacks. M nearly has something here but McKeon(-1) is the kickout block and gets shoved back, restricting the lane too much. Ulizio(+1) found a blitzing LB and turned him in and then gets a cheap pancake as dude trips over a teammate’s foot. Onwenu is hammering this dude but it’s zone so dude gets to pick which way he gets hammered. It is playside. No cutback lane as Kugler(-1) gets driven back and Bredeson has no chance to step around. LB taking the FB block funnels back and pile grinds for a yard.
M33 3 1 Goal line 2 3 0 3-4 weak 10.5 Run Duo Isaac 2
Duo == FB goes and gets a kickout block as interior line doubles two guys to the playside. This almost works for a big play as Kugler(+1) and Bredeson(+1) hit the NT, with Kugler popping off immediately to get a hyper LB. Both those guys get sealed away and are gone. Cole(-1) and Bunting(-1) engage another DE, very briefly, with both guys going to the second level in an instant. Drive that guy together and good chance Isaac pops through for a TD. Instead that guy is hanging out in the hole. Can’t keep Isaac(+0.5) from picking it up as he is decisive.
M35 1 10 Ace trips tight bunch TE 2 2 1 Base 3-4 7 Run Inside zone Evans 6
Crack sweep formation, instead right up the gut. Crease is RPS as the crack-side end flies outside on the snap, easily getting kicked by McKeon(+0.5). Cole(+0.5) gets a free release to a LB; Bredeson(+1) and Kugler(+1) drive through the NT and get to the other ILB. Schoenle(+1) gets to and locks out a DB. Playside OLB doesn’t quite buy it and refuses to get kicked by Gentry; not his fault and he can only recover in pursuit. That guy and the backside safety at 7(!) yards presnap manage to converge on Evans after about six. Evans(-3) fumbles and is not seen again until late. RPS +1 despite the safety hitting at 6 yards, I guess?
Drive Notes: Fumble, 3-0, 6 min 1st Q. This fumble had a giant impact on the game. M gets the ball back at the end of the first tied.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M15 1 10 Ace trips tight bunch 2 1 2 Base 3-4 9 Run Crack sweep Isaac 1
Blocked well for the most part but nobody can get out on the backside ILB and he flows and thumps near the LOS. McKeon(+1) gets the playside LB and there are three guys on the edge, all of whom get picked off by lead blockers. Isaac cuts up into a huge hole and bang dead. It looks like Kugler is trying to pass off the NT to Onwenu and then get to this guy but that is an incredibly tough ask. RPS -2. I don’t know how M is supposed to block this better. Isaac might do better if he tries to shoot further outside after setting up a block but that's very uncertain.
M16 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Pass Flash screen DPJ 37
Breaks huge as one DB thinks this is a tunnel since McKeon(+2) is coming out to block his buddy inside out. That guy tries to replace and McKeon locks his buddy inside. Gentry(+1) runs up and plugs the tunnel guy as he realizes his mistake and DPJ(+1) is very fast. RPS +2. (CA, 3, screen)
O47 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even 7 Pass Hitch Black 8
Easy pitch and catch on DB playing eight yards off and dropping on the snap. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
O39 2 2 I-Form 3-wide 2 1 2 3-4 weak 7 Pass TE Y cross Gentry 30
Gentry motions in from a wide position to a slot, AF does nothing and is clearly zoning. Mesh from M has both mesh guys wide open; Speight picks Gentry, who ripped inside a LB. He got pressure here as AF sent six; M picked up poorly as the left side of the line overplayed it. Cole(-1) is the main culprit. Higdon IDed the corner and blocked him; Poggi flared out and found two guys and picked the interior one; the reason there’s two guys is Cole overplaying the guy slanting away from him. Cole does get off to help bash the guy Poggi’s hitting. (CA+, 3, protection 2/3)
O9 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even 7 Pass Fade Crawford Inc
Speight throws a fade five yards out of the endzone. Ulizio(-3) did not help by completely blowing a blitz pickup everyone else got. This looks like he has no idea he has a TE in for protection outside of him. (IN, 0, protection 0/3). Speight should still keep this anywhere near the field of play. Also why throw a fade at Crawford instead of the 6’4” guy.  Who is running an open slant. Argh.
O9 2 G Ace 3TE 1 3 1 3-4 strong 7 Run Jet sweep McDoom 1
McKeon and Bunting the TEs to the playside and Bunting(-3) appears to blow this as he flares out like he’s the kickout block. He is not. McKeon is, and he gets it, and Bunting is way too late to redirect. If Bunting starts searching for a DB he sees the safety coming down hard and McDoom has a pretty decent shot. As it is, no. This should be a TD. Michigan got slants inside from the DE and LB that erase them and Cole(+1) reads it and is heading for the same guy Bunting blocks as a bonus guy. RPS +1.
O8 3 G Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel under 7 Pass Improv Crawford Inc
Boy, this is a football play right here. Cole doesn’t expect AF to completely abandon the idea of contain and waits for someone to come to him. Nobody does. A dude shoots inside of him. Bredeson(-2) should be there but instead of setting up in a pocket he kind of fires out at a DL and gets lost. Speight bails, which he can because no contain. Now. Uh. Perry is wide open in the endzone and should be the #1 read and easy find and easy TD. Nope. Crawford should come off his hitch, drift into the EZ, and be a second open target. Nope. He thinks he’s going to block, in part because Speight tucks and looks for all the world like he will run. DB comes up, Speight realizes he’s Speight and tries to throw, DB deflects it. Woof. Last year Speight peels out looks downfield and finds Perry. This year Speight does this. (BR, 0, protection 0/2)
Drive Notes: FG(25), 6-3, 11 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M16 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 Base 3-4 8 Run Split zone Isaac 1
Double A twist from AF that Kugler(-2) does not pick up. NT is running outside of Onwenu on the other side and this should be a pretty easy ID given the extremity of his movement. Kugler doesn’t see it and his guy gets into the backfield. Kugler does hit him and Isaac maybe should cut behind this into the unblocked S hanging out in the box, which might yield a couple more yards.
M17 2 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel under 6 Run Y iso Isaac 15
Popular spread play where the H-back TE is lined up just outside the tackle box and inserts between the T and G. Looks like IZ mostly and the AF LBs bite on it. Onwenu(+0.5) and Kugler(+1) double and move the NT, with Kugler getting to a linebacker effectively. NT is fighting to wrong hole. Gentry(+1) hits and locks up the other LB, who can’t even get a dive in. Ulizio(+1) gets an excellent kick. Isaac(+1) has a free eight yards and dodges a safety to grab another chunk. RPS +2.
M32 1 10 I-Form Big H 2 2 1 3-4 strong 9 Run Iso Higdon 3
Beef up and go forward. Poggi(+1) runs over a linebacker; Bunting(-1) hits but loses ground. Higdon still has a crease but he stumbles as he hits Bunting’s leg and has no shot at a cool move, getting tackled by a safety at three yards. Cole(+1) blew out the local DL, FWIW, though it looked like he was slanting and this was more of an assist. RPS -1.
M35 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even 7 Run Y iso Higdon 6
This gets run straight into a blitz that sends a LB direct to Higdon. This is tipped by AF and Ulizio(-2) should be able to come off the force guy and get this LB; he does not. McKeon(+2) wipes the MLB and Onwenu(+1) blasts the NT , again slanting away. This is just enough room for Higdon(+1) to force an ankle tackle he runs through.
M41 3 1 I-Form Big H 2 2 1 3-4 strong 9 Run Iso Isaac 0
Isaac(-2) is faced with some problems in front of him but on third and short you cannot stop like this. Also he misses the gap that Bredeson(+1) carves with an excellent LB ID and Kugler(+1) kicking a DT. Cole(-1) catches a blitzer and is at the LOS and this makes the hole questionable and maybe closed, but probably after Isaac falls forward for the first down. Intended hole is still maybe good enough if Isaac hits it hard despite Gentry(-1) not getting much motion and Hill(-2) hitting the same guy instead of going into the gap.
Drive Notes: Punt, 6-6, 6 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 Shotgun trips tight bunch 1 2 2 3-4 weak 7 Pass Bubble screen McDoom 9
McDoom motions out of the backfield and just keeps going, he is in motion at the snap. Speight hits him. McKeon(+1) gets a super kickout block; Bunting(+1) engages a DB and has a tough assignment with that guy heading to the sideline full bore from the snap. McDoom(+1) helps him out with an accidentally shimmy that convinces the DB he’s cutting back. He’s going upfield because he juggled and nearly dropped the ball. Fortuitous; suddenly Bunting has a reach block. McDoom then runs through an ankle tackle and spins to near the first down. (CA, 3, screen)
O31 2 1 Offset I Big 2 2 1 3-4 strong 9 Run Lead zone Isaac 7
Giant hole on the backside of this play as Bunting(+1) gets a big kick and Ulizio(+1) and Onwenu(+1) combo through the backside end to a LB who is flowing hard frontside. Isaac(+1) sees the cavern and hits it but he ends up dancing as a corner comes up; one slashing upfield cut is probably a first down and maybe more if the safety offscreen isn’t ready. Instead he gets tackled after a middling gain.
O24 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-4 strong 8 Pass Sack N/A -1
This is terrible by Speight. AF blitzes and Speight looks directly at it, directly at an area of the field where M has two WRs on one corner and a very out of position S. This is a successful high low of the CB and Perry is wiiiiiide open. For unfathomable reasons Speight comes off this, looking to a very covered drag route in the mess, and then scrambles to a side of the field with no WRs, compounding his error by running OOB for a sack. Refs(+1) very generous with the spot. (BRX, N/A, protection 3/3)
O25 2 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even 7 Pass Sack N/A -10
Ulizio(-2) checks the LB and then comes off of him despite the fact he’s blitzing. Guy directly into Speight, who cannot step up past this and then goes into Mallett mode. Ruled down. (PR, 0, protection 0/2)
O35 3 21 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 3-3 line slide 6 Run Inside zone Isaac 4
Cole(-1) is expecting an edge rush here and gets spun inside of; the DE can’t tackle but does slow Isaac significantly and cut down the number of yards he’s going to get. Bredeson(+1) drives his guy a good distance and helps salvage a little bit, setting up a more makeable field goal.
Drive Notes: FG(49), 9-6, EOH.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3 stack 7 Run Inside zone Isaac 0
OLB drops back from an overhang to a stack MLB look so some nonsense is coming, and it comes. It’s another twist blitz from the ILBs and M does not pick it up. Kugler(-1) is late coming off the NT and can’t do much with the first LB through. Bredeson(+1) does a very good job here, first hitting the LB Kugler isn’t really getting and then successfully coming off on the second guy. Isaac(-1) has to make an instant decision here to put his foot in the ground and go directly upfield in the A gap against that OLB for a few yards; he doesn’t. Tough to see so fast. RPS –1.
M20 2 10 Ace 4-wide tight 1 2 2 Base 3-4 7 Run Jet sweep McDoom 5
AF OLB hammering outside on this and splits McKeon(-1) and Crawford(-1), who should kick this guy out and live with it. McKeon tries and gets beat. Ulizio(+1) does get out on the playside ILB and nails him so McDoom(+0.5) can squeeze out a few yards. Refs(+1) give M a yard McDoom didn’t get. RPS -1. Both safeties at 8 yards also contributes to the short gain.
M25 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Pass Corner Black Inc
Woooooooof. Speight throws a should-be pick at Black on a corner route but gets lucky as the DB doesn’t get his head around until late and can’t react to a ball that’s too far inside. Black does adjust but can’t make a tough-ish catch behind him. Isaac is wide open for the first down on a checkdown. (BRX, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 16-13, 10 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
O43 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 8 Run Lead zone Isaac 3
Isaac cuts this all the way back as AF slants hard playside. Hill leads out and runs to the initial gap he’s supposed to, hitting a DL. I wish he’d regapped but I don’t see any way for him to actually be useful. Split zone here would be really good; instead Isaac cuts back and a CB who’s cleaning up manages to hack him down after a few yards. RPS -1; these blocks were mostly fine. Hard to get sealing doubles here with LB activity.
O40 2 7 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel under 6 Pass Scramble Speight 8
Speight has Black on a five yard hitch with a DB who was in the parking lot on the snap, but Black(route -) doesn’t sell anything and the CB jumps it. Long throw and probably ok but I see why he comes off it. He then appears to look directly at Perry on an open slant against a safety. He doesn't throw that. Isaac’s open on a stick route in front of his face, but nope. Twist blitz sees a DT fall to the ground and the edge is open. Speight pops outside the pocket and picks it up. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)
O32 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 3-4 7 Pass Bubble screen McDoom 5
Black(-2) blows his block and this looks McDoomed until McDoom(+2) goes WOOP, dodging two guys and getting a solid gain. (CA, 3, screen). Given how soft the CB is here this should be an RPS +1 if Black just blocks the S and cuts off that inside pursuit. So, RPS +1.
O27 2 5 Offset I 2 1 2 3-4 strong 8 Run Split zone Higdon 2
RB woof here. Jet motion, split zone against it, absolute freaking cavern on the backside that Higdon(-3) blows. The deep S has moved with the jet and the DB on McDoom converted to a blitz on that motion. Ulizio(+0.5) moves out and is wobbly here but he does find this guy and shoves him, which should be good enough for Higdon to bust outside and score. Instead a few yards. RPS +3. This needed just a Hill(+0.5) kickout and Ulizio being barely adequate after making a good ID and this was six.
O25 3 3 Ace 3TE 1 3 1 Base 3-4 8.5 Run Inside zone Isaac 2

Another missed cut here as Kugler(+1) and Onwenu(+1) obliterated the NT back to the LB level and Isaac(-1) has a slashing opportunity in the backside A gap. He doesn’t see it. Playside DE does the old-school fall-and-create-a-pile thing once he sees he’s got a double, creating a pile. He’s on the ground in a gap; Isaac tries to go around. He run into McKeon(-1), who is getting pushed back on his kickout, and trips short of the sticks.

O23 4 1 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-4 weak 10 Run FB dive Hill 2
Hammer panda hammers. Onwenu(+1) provides the gap by taking a blitzing LB and ejecting him downfield.
O21 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even 7 Pass Out Perry 13
This is more like it. M picks up a seven man blitz for as long as is reasonable. Last guy loops around and gets in but is too late as Speight stands in and finds Perry(route +), who shook his guy. (CA+, 3, protection 3/3)
O8 1 G Goal line 2 3 0 3-4 under 9 Run Lead zone Higdon 0
This is another missed cutback as AF slants playside. Bunting(-2) makes it questionable since he loses the backside OLB more or less entirely. He shows up and Higdon(-1) barrels ahead into a bunch of bodies. Cutting behind Bunting may not be better but it’s not worse.
O8 2 G Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel over 6 Pass Flat Perry 0
Black(-2) blows it again; this is a rub route on which the two outside receivers are supposed to pick interior players and let Perry take his chances against a CB crack replacing. Crawford correctly gets his guy. Black runs a slant nowhere near the critical player, immediate tackle. (CA, 3, screen)
O8 3 G Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel under 6 Run Inside zone Isaac -4
The play that gets buried by the blitz. This is doomed. AF times up the snap, which is frustrating because M snaps with 8 on the clock and has the opportunity to fake a snap and get a read on what AF is doing. Three guys pour across the line unblocked and there is no change in M’s scheme that fixes seven guys against five blockers. RPS -3.
Drive Notes: FG(29), 19-13, 3 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
O46 1 10 Offset I Big 2 2 1 3-4 weak 8 Run Lead zone Isaac 1
Once too many times to the well, as backside LB anticipates the cutback and dodges Onwenu to the backside, tackling. Not much Onwenu can do as he’s tasked with hitting the NT, and hit he does, guy goes over like he’s shot. Ulizio(-1) has a guy head up on him and loses him to the interior immediately; maybe if he gets more of this guy Isaac can make his cut earlier. RPS -2.
O45 2 9 Offset I twin TE 2 2 1 3-4 strong 8 Run Power O Isaac 45 (Pen +16)
First power play of the game(!!!). Safety buries himself in the interior of the line, buying M a free block, and this opens up bigtime. Poggi(+2) shocks the force player, a corner, back. Guy staggers back and nearly falls. McKeon(+0.5) handles a guy slanting away who does not fight back until it’s too late, because M has not run power yet. Onwenu(+2) makes a quick, excellent pull and gets there so fast he can seal off the relevant LB four yards deep. Isaac(+1) sprints through the hole and finds nobody until a CB who Crawford(+2) thumps to the ground, drawing the worst fucking holding call I’ve ever seen. Refs -4. RPS +2, this was 2 or 3 blocks for a TD.
O29 1 10 Ace trips tight bunch 1 2 2 3-4 weak 8 Pass Smoke screen Black 7
CB eight yards off and dropping, take the free yards. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)
O22 2 3 Ace trips tight bunch 1 2 2 Base 3-4 8 Run Crack sweep Higdon 3
AF not set and this doesn’t matter as they string this out. Kugler(-1) leaves too early on the NT, who is in a zero on him, and Bredeson has no chance. I’d be madder about this if this was not a toss sweep. Two guys flare to the edge, with McKeon getting one. Onwenu(-2) runs by the second. That guy is free. Higdon(+2) does well to avoid him, cut behind the NT, and squeeze out anything. Refs(+1) again give M a kind spot.
O19 1 10 I-Form 3-wide 2 0 3 Base 3-4 8 Pass Post McDoom Inc
Okay… so. This looks like a terrible read AND a terrible throw by Speight. I don’t think it’s either. AF sends a blitz and this is two on two with a desperate safety on the far hash trying to get over to Perry, who is screamingly wide open. He doesn’t throw this and at first I was like FUUUUU. I deleted my first take though, because 1) Speight is reading high to low, 2) McDoom is also going to be wide open, and 3) that would be for a TD. McDoom drives on the CB until he opens his hips outside and is supposed to cut back inside of this, and Speight is looking directly at this. But McDoom does not cut inside of the CB. He goes around, upfield, taking an inefficient route and failing to get to the ball. The only reason I can see for this to happen is the S, who McDoom is afraid of running into? I guess? This is a bad route screwing with a good read and throw. (CA, 0, protection 2/2, RPS +2, McDoom route –)
O19 2 10 Ace trips tight bunch 1 2 2 3-4 weak 7.5 Run Counter Trey Higdon 1
M eats a corner blitz directly into this. This isn’t going to go well either way but McKeon(-1) costs Michigan some yards by not reading the blitz and running by the CB. If he kicks that guy out Higdon has a fair amount of space and an unblocked LB he can probably get 3-4 yards against. RPS -2.
O18 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-4 strong 6.5 Pass Fade Black Inc
Pretty easy to diagnose blitz. M max protects and Speight throws a fade at Black that’s yards out of the endzone. Had Crawford on a hitch at the sticks on the other side that’s a much better idea. (IN, 0, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: FG(36), 22-13, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 I-Form twin TE 2 2 1 3-4 strong 9 Pass PA drag DPJ 15
Mesh after a PA fake and that PA erases 8 AF defenders. Speight finds DPJ for a nice catch and run. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
M35 1 10 Offset I twin TE 2 2 1 3-4 strong 8 Run Power O Isaac 0
Poggi(+1) gets a nice kick; playside DE kind of awkwardly falls in the area. Gentry(-2) overruns this and doesn’t get any shove on the guy, and this eats up Bredeson(-2), who is taking an ambitious pull track and gets lost. He should just run the dang play and see what happens. Instead he stops on the interior, and Isaac gets buried.
M35 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over 6 Pass Tunnel screen Black 0
M is clearly expecting another AF blitz off this corner and it even looks like that is a distinct possibility presnap. It does not come. Nickel/OLB guy stays home and this screen has no shot. RPS -3. (CA, 3, screen)
M35 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over 7 Pass Dig Crawford Inc
Six man pressure with a delayed guy that M just about picks up. Onwenu is a little late recognizing the CB blitz but does get there and shove the guy past, giving Speight a shot at stepping up and throwing. He does, with aplomb, hitting Crawford for a terrific third down conversion. Crawford, naturally, drops it. (DO+, 3, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 22-13, 6 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M27 1 10 Offset I Big 2 2 1 3-4 weak 8.5 Run Lead zone Higdon 3
LB blitzes up the gut. Hill(+2) hammers him. Higdon(-1) does not take advantage of this. He’s got a very big gap behind Hill’s block that is the natural attack point of the play; he gets to it but only after running almost to Hill. He’s forced to make a 90 degree cut to get to the hole, and this allows a safety to rally. This would be RPS if this wasn’t a four minute drill.
M30 2 7 Ace 3TE 1 3 1 3-4 weak 9 Run Inside zone Higdon 3
Jet fake, IZ. Playside OLB ignores the jet, which is has poor timing, and fires hard on the snap into the backfield, redirecting to tackle as Higdon is forced into him. Bredeson(-1) driven back by the NT and this dissuades Higdon from going more vertical; his backside cut gets a few but blocking angles, 9 in the box, etc.
M33 3 4 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 3-4 strong 7 Pass Hitch Black 24
Easy pitch and catch as the DB is playing way off and turns his hips just as Black stops. Makes you wonder why they haven’t been doing more of this. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1) Black(+2) then breaks a tackle and gets a big chunk more; unfortunately his foot breaks on the tackle. Hooray. Higdon has a great blitz pickup BTW.
O43 1 10 Ace trips tight bunch TE 2 2 1 3-4 strong 9 Run Inside zone Higdon 3
This is just a surge up the middle by everyone holding doubles the whole way. Higdon runs up the back of his OL for a reasonable gain.
O40 2 7 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-4 strong 9 Run Crack sweep Evans 10
Schoenle motions in and is the crack guy. Playside OLB refuses to be cracked; Schoenle(+2) realizes he’s lost his dude to the outside and then turns around to get a redirection crack on a charging safety. Bad ass. Ulizio(+0.5) and Hill(+0.5) are leading out; both guys get kickouts, with Ulizio hitting the dude Schoenle left. Onwenu(+1) has a tougher job and gets around to get there on a pull. Evans(+0.5) jets through the crease for a first down. M got lucky that Bunting(-1) missing his block didn’t hurt them as that guy buries himself in the line on a bad angle. He probably holds this down a little short of the sticks otherwise.
O30 1 10 I-Form Big twin TE 2 2 1 3-4 weak 9 Run Power O Evans 9 (Pen -6)
Slant on the line. M deals with it well. McKeon(+1), Bunting(+1), and Cole(+1) all fire their guys inside with Bunting finding a LB on the second level. Onwenu(-2) pulls around and overruns the playside LB, grabbing him after he realizes he’s missed and drawing a hold. Evans(+1) did some fancy dancing to near first down yardage.
O36 1 16 Ace 3TE 1 3 1 Base 3-4 8.5. Run Inside zone Evans -2
This looks like Onwenu’s issue but I think this is Kugler. Onwenu fires off and lets a linebacker fly by him and hits another linebacker. That’s two linebackers for one guy. Onwenu(-2) does need to hit the first guy through, not the second, and give M more time to deal with this; Kugler(-2) never comes off his NT block and even if Onwenu does this an AF LB is jetting through the gap. If M does get the LBs there’s a nice gap for Evans as Cole(+1) sealed a guy and Bunting(+1) found the right second level guy. Overhang guy coming up fast and it will be one v one for TD.
O38 2 18 Goal line H 2 3 0 3-4 weak 9 Run Lead zone Higdon 2
Blocked fine but safeties at six yards and charging; Higdon gets nailed at the LOS by the last man. Onwenu replaced by Runyan at this point.
O36 3 16 Goal line 2 3 0 3-4 weak 9 Run Power O Higdon 36
Mostly a terrible play by the CB, who completely loses leverage and Higdon(+2) sees it immediately and hits it, out runniing pursuit for the TD. McKeon(+1) sealed a guy inside and Poggi(+0.5) disrupted the CB just before his attempt to repair his mistake.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 29-13, 1 min 4th Q. Only remaining snap is a kneel.


Michigan's redzone offense?


I mean... I don't think it does? Mostly?


That's not what I meant. Offense is mostly offense. Redzone offenses that are better or worse than regular offenses do not exist in the NFL, and making a case for it in college has to overcome that fact first and foremost. You can do it based on offensive style, which actually varies in college, but then you have to contend with Harbaugh's track record in that department.

In this game in particular there was no such thing as redzone offense, because there was no such thing as redzone defense. Air Force is always in a redzone defense, with safeties in your grill and dudes charging across the LOS. Michigan's field-goal fest is an anomaly, and things will get better. I predict Michigan's redzone offense going forward is about as good as their overall offense.


Hold on just a second there, buddy. This is from MGoFish's Stephen Osentoski, and while I have different takes on a number of plays I agree with the overall thrust:

Redzone issues are offense issues, with a side of getting RPSed hard. Higdon runs an inside zone on which the DE doesn't respect Speight at all, that kind of thing. Good-ass blitzes getting guys around the corner just in time. Corner blitzes clobbering a playcall. Speight throwing the ball wide; McDoom not running a route the right way. All of these are regular-ass offense issues.

We can't throw a fade in the field of play!

Well... okay, that's a redzone issue.


that's a wood chipper





That's not nice.


Anyway. Speight had only 26 charted events. Six of those were screens that I don't include in the DSR; four more were PR or MA. He ended up 10/16 on the day:

[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.]


  Good   Neutral   Bad   Ovr
2016 avg 2.4 13.3 0.5   2.4 2.5   0.5 0.8   3.8 1.8   70% -
Florida 4+ 11 1   2 3   4 5**   64% -
Cincinnati 4+ 11(1) -   2 4   1 3 5(1)*   64% -
Air Force 2+ 13(6)+++ 1   3 1   3 3**   63% -

There are four plus signs and two asterisks for terrible terrible BRX reads, so this was an eventful, if abbreviated, outing.

Speight had his share of excellent throws, including Michigan's first third down:

That's a second read that he comes to and throws an inch-perfect sideline throw to Black for the conversion. A would-be third down conversion at Crawford was also excellent. The wild overthrows were reduced; the three INs there were fades way out of the endzone and an early redzone miss in the direction of Perry. None were potential INTs.

And yet, the feels remain bad.They're getting worse as long as he stays at this performance level. The guy who was a pressure maestro last year seems gone. Even when he did the very good pressure thing in this game he immediately assumes he's running the ball in from the eight and only changes his mind very late. Grant Perry is running wide open directly in front of his face as he does this:

Crawford can and should help him out later in the play, but I don't understand why the rollout to the side of the field your best WR is running a route in does not immediately trigger "look at your best WR."

Speight's decision-making was off in this game, which just adds to our list of complaints. Speight's wildly overthrown fades were not just bad throws but bad ideas. He's reading them first when that's obviously not the best option available. These almost all go to Crawford, who is not 6'4" or 6'7" and has shown no particular skill at bringing in fades. (Or, uh, other passes.) They are often thrown in lieu of other, much easier routes. In the opener Speight chucked a fade sort of at Crawford against a telegraphed zero blitz instead of throwing a slant to Perry, his best receiver, against a safety who got wrecked.

This week he's got Tarik Black in clear one on one coverage against an Air Force DB and still chooses a super-tough throw instead of the obvious, easy, and open slant to the other side of the field:

#7 WR to bottom

Maybe that's not a 100% touchdown on the backside but it's sure as hell a better shot than a fade at Crawford. Even if it's thrown, you know, in bounds. That throw sucks. The decision sucks worse. That's the kind of stuff you cannot miss if you are a battleship QB.

Also an irritant I've mentioned twice already: Speight isn't locking onto his best receiver. This could have been the whole offense:

Surely Grant Perry should be the first read on most plays, but too often in this game a blitheringly wide open Perry was not located. This is two guys on one zone corner with a safety on the next planet, and Speight's staring right at it after a great blitz pickup:

#88 slot WR

I have no idea how he doesn't throw that. Look at this!


That is the easiest read Speight will ever have, and the open guy is the one he should be using as a crutch. WTF! /spikes clipboard

This Perry slant when he is one on one with a safety was also not thrown:

#88 slot receiver

Again Speight appears to be looking right at an open Perry and does not throw:


Speight picked up the first down on the ground but this was a very grudging SCR. Throw the dang ball.

Speight's getting sped up by his mediocre pass protection, but make no mistake: it is mediocre. It is not terrible, or even bad. Per Football Outsiders the average NFL team gives up a pressure 27% of the time, and while college is different for a lot of reasons I'd be surprised if that wasn't pretty close. Michigan's protection metrics so far: 69%, 80%, 69%. That's not much different than it was last year, when Speight was operating at a higher level. He is making more mistakes, regardless of the youth around him. I've kept an eagle eye out for it and tried to give Speight a fair shake when a ball goes wide and it may or may not be on him.

You said in the game column that you thought there were a bunch of subtle WR screwups that were hurting the offense. Find any?

Yes. Some weren't that subtle. Black twice failed to crack block, once on an Eddie McDoom bubble that he juked back into productivity...

...and once on one of those redzone plays. This is basically a wide receiver screen. It may literally be intended as one given how close Perry is to the LOS. Crawford cracks down and picks off a guy; Black runs an aimless slant:

I do not wish to speak ill of the freshman dead, but there were some very obvious HELLO YES THIS IS FRESHMAN issues in this game.

More subtle is this throw to McDoom near the goal line:

That looks like a sucky throw and a bad read since Perry is once again lonelier than the a sportswriter who hasn't joined the Athletic. BUT! I think this is on McDoom. His cut here is unusual. He has the guy set up with his hips outside and should immediately cut hard to the inside, run across his face, and force him to flip those hips, whereupon he will be dead meat. He starts to do that and then aborts. He goes upfield of the DB, which puts the DB between him and the ball and is a deeply weird thing to do for a WR who wants to be open. Speight is already in his throwing motion when he does this:


Only thing I can figure is that he was worried about running into the safety that's futilely chasing Perry. If McDoom does make this cut he is likely to be wide open for a TD and that's what Speight throws. He's reading high to low and has a guy he thinks is a touchdown. The WR does something unexpected and also bad; incomplete. (It is possible this throw was too high. I can't tell. It was not too far inside; McDoom was too far outside.)

Also in subtle issues, Michigan's opening snap was a bomb in his direction, and hoo boy do I hate this:

Crawford has no idea how to judge this ball. It's in the air, he's staring at it, and he still fades to the sideline like he's Kevonte Martin-Manuel trying to bring in a Jake Rudock seam throw. (YES I AM STILL BITTER ABOUT THIS.) The ball hits about a yard from the sideline, and it's a little short. A ton of wide receivers catch this ball, or at least force a PI out of the DB. Crawford does neither, and I'm immediately reminded of Darryl Stonum. This is the kind of throw where you have given your WR a shot, and it deserves better.

So did this, Speight's best throw of the day:

A critical drop on a routine ball; that's Crawford's second of the year on not too many opportunities.

And on the Speight spin on third and goal he had no idea what to do:

He spins and has zero point zero chance to affect this guy but still chases him; if he stays in the endzone either this guy has to cover him or Speight has a better chance to run it in or find the blitheringly wide open Perry. Crawford has easily been the most disappointing player on the offense. He's a second year player, unlike the rest of the WR crew, but Black has felt like a (relative) veteran while Crawford seems like a freshman. And now Black is gone.

I will vouch for Crawford on the called-back Isaac touchdown. This is the worst holding call ever made. Also, Nate Schoenle got a little back for his position group on Michigan's final drive when he made a great decision to abandon his block and go find another:

#81 WR to bottom of screen

If we're about to see a bunch more of him at least his blocking radar is on point.

This seems like a good point to put in the receiving chart:

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

Player 0 1 2 3   0 1 2 3
Crawford 2   0/1  0/1     1/4   0/1  4/6 
Black 1   0/1 4/4   1   0/1 10/11 
Perry 2     2/2   1/1 3/3   6/6
DPJ       2/2    3       2/2 
McDoom 1     2/2   1   2/2
Wheatley                   1/1  
McKeon                   5/5   
Gentry       1/1           3/3  
Eubanks                 1/1 1/1 
Hill             0/1      
Isaac       2/2           2/2
Higdon             1           

ROUTES: Perry +, Gentry +, Black +-, Crawford –, McDoom –.

All easy catches except for the early bomb and the very bad back shoulder corner throw, neither of which were made; Crawford also had the bad drop. Lot of route minuses as well. Speight is not getting help on downfield throws.

Didn't you say something like "Black and Crawford and DPJ == Chesson and Darboh" before the season?

Yes, and that was dumb. I formally apologize.

Hermphf. At least the ground game was okay? Sort of?

The rejoined comprehensive run chart is very TE/FB heavy as Air Force slanted a bunch and made those backside cuts very relevant. Things went... okay:

Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Cole 6.5 3 3.5 AF managed to minimize his impact.
Bredeson 6 3.5 2.5 Same.
Kugler 6 9 -3 Many missed blitz pickups.
Onwenu 7.5 6 1.5 Was having a great day until consecutive –2s on final drive.
Ulizio 5 3 2 Adequate.
McKeon 10 4 Effect of all the slanting and split zone.
Bunting 4 8 -4 Woof. Blew ID on redzone jet, other issues.
Gentry 2 3 -1
Eubanks     DNC
Wheatley   DNP
Hill 5 2 3 Partially responsible for third and one stuff.
Poggi 4.5   4.5 Major step forward. 
Mason   Thumper on one snap.
TOTAL 58.5 41.5 59% Blitzes took M under Mendoza line.
Player + - T Notes
Speight     One scramble that I didn't plus.
Isaac 5.5 4 1.5 Jet sweep didn't work but he made it –10 instead of –2.
Evans 3 3 0 Fumble but otherwise good.
Higdon 5 Giant missed cut but otherwise good.
Walker       DNP
Samuels     DNP
TOTAL 13.5 12 1.5 Gave back almost as many yards as they got.
Player + - T Notes
Crawford 2 1 1 That holding call was atrocious.
Black 2 4 -2 Two crackback dorfs. 
DPJ 1     Is fast.
Schoenle 3   Excellent redirect on late crack sweep.  
McDoom 3.5    3.5  Consistently makes yards when given opps. Moar plz. 
TOTAL 11.5 5 6.5 Helps mitigate some other issues.
Player + - T Notes
Protection 29 15 66% Ulizio –7, Bredeson –4, Cole –1, Gentry –1, Team -2
RPS 20 20 0 RPS heavy as M got hit with blitzes but also snuck a bunch of stuff.

Michigan's blocking was a little substandard as they failed to cope with blitzes too often. Their running backs edged above positive but only just, and RPS was a draw. 5.1 YPC from backs is about NCAA average once you remove sacks and scrambles; the grading came out to about average.

It could have been much more than that. When Michigan was able to ID and pick up the various twists and slants and whatnot they got big chunks. The near-TD from Isaac on the first drive was a backside stunt from Air Force on which Hill IDed and hit the looper:

There were a bunch of runs where Michigan was a block or cut away from a touchdown. Mason's thump almost cleared the way for Evans, but Ulizio bumped Gentry off course; Higdon had a TD waiting for him on a cutback, etc. A couple of those swing the YPC way up and grab another set of positives. This offense has issues, but they're not far off from being pretty good on the ground. Great? Ask again next year.

Onwenu got pulled late. What was up with that?

I thought he was mostly fine. He was actually cruising towards a very nice day until late. He had a couple of rough moments at the end that got him pulled for Runyan on Michigan's last few plays. One was Actually Bad, a holding call on a second level block he overran. The second I'm not so sure about. Yeah, he hit the wrong guy. But this feels like a bad line call since Kugler doesn't get off his guy.

Onwenu's picking which linebacker to let through scot free. He picks the wrong one, admittedly. The C has to move over and take that blitzer and then maybe Onwenu knows to hit the outside guy.

I didn't think he had much to be concerned about prior to that. He got his share of mauling in, and had few pass protection issues. His pulling is very good for a man mountain. The Isaac TD that got called back was a power play where he got around in maximally efficient fashion:

#50 RG who pulls

(Also check out Poggi's kickout block, which is a crumpler. He's is much improved this year.) Onwenu's ability to get around the corner on those pulls is impressive at his size.

Kugler, meanwhile, had a rough day and might have been responsible for more stuff than the obvious. Air Force had a number of plays on which Michigan looked befuddled. Sometimes that's individual players. Sometimes that's the line call. Kugler consistently failed to adapt to the nose tackle exiting stage right, and a couple of plays on which some other sap looked bad were issues with either Kugler's ability to ID a blitz or the presnap line call. He got some –2s when he decided to block a guy who was very obviously leaving for another gap.

That Ulizio number in pass protection looks familiar.

Yes. This dumpoff to nowhere early is forced by Ulizio blowing a blitz pickup, which makes Gentry look dumb:

That terrible fade to Crawford in the endzone—out of the endzone—was also Ulizio blowing it. Ditto the sack where Speight went into Mallett Mode. All of these were recognition issues on blitzes. Hopefully that gets ironed out over the next few weeks.

Your Isaac number is pretty skeptical for a guy who had 5.6 YPC and was a hair off from a bunch more.

Isaac had a decent day but one a level down from his first two. He reliably cut backside when that was the move and picked up chunks. He nearly ripped off those two long touchdown runs with his excellent long speed.

On the downside, this:

It's third and one and running forward really hard is mandatory. Can't stop like he does even if Hill botches his block ID. A lot of people have talked about the cutback lane that might be there, and, yeah, that's a possibility. Isaac might still get the first down if he just runs as hard as possible right off Gentry and gets lucky; that's acceptable. Cutting back a couple gaps and trying the gap is great. Neither is... not great. That's close to a turnover's worth of lost value.

The other two backs both had their issues. Evans fumbled, of course, and did not return until late. Higdon got some poor blocking; he also missed a huge cutback for the third consecutive game. Michigan's jet fake draws the LB level and the sole safety; Ulizio correctly identifies the shift in the Air Force defense. His block is meh but it doesn't matter:


That is a touchdown if Higdon goes in the gap to the backside on split zone, a play that really really wants to catch this exact line slant so it can shoot someone backside. I threw a spoon watching this.

Higdon did have many mansome blitz pickups, so he's got that going for him. Also a touchdown.

You promised a Ben Mason thump.

So I did. Ben Mason got a personal foul on a kick return; he also did this:

That Flor guy he hit was legit, and thumping him is a pretty good start to his fullback career.

Bunting vs McKeon... uh. That is not how it's supposed to go for junior vs freshman.

It's late early for Bunting. Yes, seriously. Michigan clearly does not prefer him over the younger guys by playing time and too often when he gets in his blocking decisions destroy plays. There was a lot of grumbling about the jet sweep to McDoom being a bad playcall; it absolutely was not. Playside DE and LB shoot inside and McDoom just has a corner who Cole is going to harass if Bunting IDs his guy. He does not. Blocking inside out is rule #1, #2, and #3 on these plays and he blows by the safety who makes the tackle:

#89, second TE from bottom

That's terrible. Redshirt freshman? Fine, we'll get it fixed. Redshirt junior? Terrible.

A couple other times in this game his blocking came up as an issue. This is less of a BFD but he's getting a down block here and his inability to hold his ground closes the crease; Higdon ends up off balance and can't try any cool moves:

Bunting is at best on par with McKeon and Gentry in the pecking order (Wheatley is a different beast) and those guys are ascending players, in the parlance of our times. Bunting isn't. He's probably going to drop further behind as the younger (or in Gentry's case, less experienced) tight ends improve faster than he does.

I have this lingering sense of woe.

oh do tell

I mean... this used to be the Stanfordization section and had all the cool stuff Harbaugh did every week and now it's just bleah.

Michigan has dialed back the stunt casting aspect of their offense somewhat, but they haven't totally foregone tweaks that get free yards. They battled their way up a 0 RPS in this game.

That is somewhat cold comfort, I know. The offensive tweaks have been less flashy, and honestly less effective. Michigan's not burning folks with trap blocks or T-formation stuff or that double screen PA to a tight end thing. They've mostly been working on basics with maybe a little tweak thrown in here or there. Those basics are almost all inside zone—hello Greg Frey. The tweaks to that are plays that look a lot like inside zone but aren't, like this TE iso play:

#84 h-back

That linebacker level runs to the front like it's IZ and the backside LB gets a whack from McKeon; easy first down. Michigan's gone so far to zone that power is now a constraint. Michigan's first power of the day was at the end of the third quarter, and Isaac scored on it because one of Air Force's safeties buried himself in the interior of the line on what must have been an epic missed read.

One thing of note is that Michigan's crack sweep is established enough that Michigan can run constraints off of it. The Evans fumble was a crack constraint. It's more or less just inside zone but check the guys hammering outside on it:

#97 Air Force DE to top of screen

That is a big-ass gap and against a defense less maniacal than Air Force that's a chunk play instead of six-yards-or-a-touchdown. The flip side to that are some crack sweeps where Michigan blocks it well and still gets stuffed. Michigan's moving a bit on those now. Schoenle's excellent block once he realized the edge guy was very edge indeed gives Michigan a way to continue getting yards even when the playside guys widen out with a vengeance.

Okay but where were the deep shots?



Frequently you're there to set up arguments to knock down but here... yes. I assumed Michigan would be running a ton of max pro play action against this team. This did not happen much... or basically at all. That Evans run above saw the deepest guy at seven yards. Run it, run PA, and fire it deep at a 6'7" guy, thanks.

Instead, Michigan's only attempt downfield was the opening play. And that wasn't a terrible outcome! A panicky DB almost got a PI call. Why you would never return to that when you have Donovan Peoples-Jones and Air Force safeties are starting at eight yards is a mystery. There were many plays on which run action saw the safeties step forward before the handoff:


Those guys are at six yards and moving to the LOS; at some point Michigan had to send Gentry screaming past those guys. But no. I don't get it. It's not like running play action to the tight end is something anyone has bothered to hide since 1950.

Hell, the one max pro PA on first down they ran after the first play was this mesh to DPJ for 15 easy yards:

(Michigan is running a bunch of that, which is new. Gentry's catch and run was also mesh.)

It didn't feel like Michigan took much advantage of Air Force's aggressiveness in the air. Some of that was Speight ignoring Perry for God knows what reason. Some of it was the coaches not dialing up the obvious response despite a huge athleticism advantage.

I dunno, man.


Nobody really leaps off the page as a guy who had a great game. Many had acceptable games, even good ones. Most gave large chunks of their positives back. I will put in a shout for the fullbacks as a crew, as they had +11.5 and just –2.

Maybe not so heroic?

Like the offense there weren't many people who stood out as bad either, just a lot of meh. Kugler and Bunting did struggle on the ground, and Ulizio blew three blitz pickups.

What does it mean for Purdue and the future?

This is an inside zone team. Frey's arrival has clearly made for a shift in offensive line philosophy. IZ is the bread and butter, power is a constraint. I'd expect the variety to ramp up as the season goes along and Michigan gets a better handle and can spend more time in practice on frippery.

Dumb screens are coming. Michigan threw six dumb wide receiver screens in this game, and they have DPJ, a freshman who is nuts, and McDoom, a guy who carves out 3-4-5 extra yards most of the time he gets the ball on the edge. Expect more of them. Hopefully Michigan can fade that out somewhat by the Wisconsin game, as better Ds will clamp down on dumb screens.

Until then: short throws to McDoom and DPJ.

More deep shots please. If opponents are going to do this kind of thing you have Gentry and DPJ and you should use them.

Speight: meh. We increment expectations lower after a third mediocre outing.

Throw it to Perry! First read: Perry. Second read: Perry. Third read: someone else.

Don't expect Onwenu to lose his job. That late wobble was the only thing preventing him from having a great day. Impressive mobility, huge, no pass pro minuses in this game.

Redzone offense doesn't exist. I don't mean it like that. But you know what I mean.


Wolverine In Iowa 68

September 21st, 2017 at 5:06 PM ^

I think he's so focused on making the "home run" big play to shut up the naysayers, he's not going through the proper checks.

Instead of going with the easy, wide open receiver for a short gain, he's looking for the highlight reel quick TD moment, hoping it will come, and dammit he'll force it if it's not there, and waiting too long until the whole play goes to hell.

Obviously, this isn't every play, but I can see that type of situation happening more often than it should.


September 22nd, 2017 at 8:55 AM ^

It's been a while since I read Brian's analysis and wasn't clear on his conclusions. If he doesn't know then that's a sign something isn't right. I still think we're very young and need more time to gel but...last Saturday the offense definitely didn't look like it was gelling. More like stalling and perhaps stepping backwards. Our new offensive line coach has switched philosophies and yet we are not taking advantage of 'free' yardage, especially on 1st down, when the opposing DBs are giving our WRs too much room. We lost our RB coach but our RBs are not inexperienced and are often missing cuts or not forging straight ahead when we need a short yardage gain. Our QB defies easy analysis at this point. Poor footwork under pressure? Doesn't trust his receivers? Locking into his first read? Going through his progressions but making poor decisions at crucial times? Looking for the home run too often (or too infrequently)? Playing to avoid mistakes at all costs? Some or all of the above? Who the hell knows? I don't, and I don't think Brian does either. That is new and concerning. There is no reason we shouldn't put the wood on Purdue tomorrow, even on the road in a rocking stadium. It doesn't have to be 40-10, just a sound beating by 2-3 TDs in which it is clear we are the more talented, better executing, and better coached team on the field. If that doesn't happen I think we're in for a disappointing season.


September 22nd, 2017 at 10:52 AM ^

I agree with you something isn't right. It seems like Speight is playing with a mental issue or psychological block. We needed a spark on offense the entire game against AF and it never happened, unless you count a garbage time TD when the game was already over. We went into this season fully knowing we are young and will make mistakes. But, the returning starter QB was supposed to offset the youth with savvy play and command of the offense. That has yet to happen. You can call me a critic if you want but I believe Harbaugh already had Speight hit his ceiling last year. He was surrounded by seniors and had no pressure of being the dude. He played better because of it. This year a lot was immediately expected of him and while he is a great person, he just hasn't shown he can handle being the dude. Harbaugh's coaching style is constant positive reinforcement of his QB. In interviews Speight's confidence is sky high. On the field he still has multiple WTF moments per game. I wonder if Harbaugh could light a fire under Speight's ass or relieve some pressure off Speight's shoulders if he came right out and said something like "the QB position has remained an impressive competition all year and O'Korn (or Peters) have earned some snaps." At worse the back up will also play badly and that could give Speight an 'ok its not just me' moment. Also the "haters" would lay off Speight if the back ups proved to be worse on the field. At best, the back up plays well and Speight raises his level of play due to competition or he gets passed by a QB who is playing better.


September 22nd, 2017 at 12:58 AM ^

he got the quick hook in that game, so after this last performance, his leash could reasonably be getting shorter. His best attributes are decision-making and avoiding pressure to make plays and he's not doing those things that well right now.

On the other hand, O'Korn again looked pretty lost so it's not like he's putting on pressure on Speight with the way he's playing in games.


September 22nd, 2017 at 4:56 PM ^

He did get more opportunities, but they were in the minor leagues.

In 49 games the next season, he hit .135.

Then .193 in 77 games.

Then .104 in 32 games.

Then .268 in 95 games.

Then nothing. Maybe he could have been a decent hitter in the big leagues, but there's some evidence that he wouldn't have been. He's the perfect backup QB in that way.


September 22nd, 2017 at 9:54 PM ^

If you are trying to compare a guy I never heard of in baseball to John O'korn then you have acknowledge John isn't just one for one in sample size. 3,117 yards, 28 TDs, and 10 picks his freshmen year. 951, 6, and 8 his Soph year. Around 210, 2, and 0 as a Michigan QB. So I'm not sure the point you are making here. He has never done poor enough to equate to a .104 batting average...but this is so apples to oranges its ridiculous.


September 22nd, 2017 at 5:56 PM ^

and yet, Jim Harbaugh did just that against UF and it's not like Speight has done much since then to bring the confidence factor back up.

I don't think O'Korn would come in because we think he's better, but hard to rule out a couple drives for Wilt to get his head right, which was the rationale Harbaugh gave for the UF benching.


September 21st, 2017 at 4:52 PM ^

Is about as thin as any unit in the Big Ten. If your offensive line keeps Speight upright and he CAN'T make the throws against this unit, it's time to seriously consider replacing him as your quarterback.


September 21st, 2017 at 4:54 PM ^

Reminds me of the UNLV game in 2015 that was ugly because Michigan was content to use a limited playbook and run the ball into stacked boxes all day. As long as Speight doesn't turn the ball over and hits his open WR's the rest of the year UM will be fine. Big if however.


September 21st, 2017 at 5:23 PM ^

Air Force was a 10-3 football team last year. UNLV was 2-11 in 2014 and 3-9 in 2015. Rudock couldn't hit the broad side of a barn in that game and UM drudged along on offense most of the day.


September 21st, 2017 at 4:58 PM ^

I usually scroll past the every-play disection portion of these posts and head to the meaty good analysis stuff at the end.  

It seems like I didn't have to scroll as long as usual this time.


September 22nd, 2017 at 1:00 AM ^

that Brian clipped here. He just keeps on going and hits a DB well after the play is over!  The guy is a maniac and should probably stop being on crack before he gets too many whistles.  That was close to being egregious enough to call another late hit.

It's almost as though he can't even hear the whistle or shut off his heat-seeking tendencies.


September 21st, 2017 at 5:11 PM ^

On the Speight roll out play where I claimed he should have found Perry. Brian also had the same take as me on the play where TB is 1-on-1 and beats his man on the slant, but commentors were saying there's no way Speight could make that progression, and blasted me for being a Sp8er.


Huh. Wonder how the crowd here will react to it coming from Brian's mouth...

Also, Eubanks was the MVP who recovered Speight's terrible fumble.


September 21st, 2017 at 5:31 PM ^

and what his progressions are supposed to be it's all speculation.  When he didn't throw to Black, if Crawford's route isn't just a route where there's no intention of throwing him the ball, it almost has to be the first read.  Crawford's route can't be 2nd or 3rd in the progression or else he's out of the endzone (of course, Speight throws it too late so Crawford's out of bounds any way).  I would guess the read for Crawford's route is whether he has single coverage or double coverage.  If it's single coverage, you throw it.  If it's double coverage, you work through your progressions.


September 21st, 2017 at 5:12 PM ^

It's interesting because it seems like there's just a general inconsistency from both players and the unit. 

Speight can't hit fades, but then nails several DO throws. 

One of which Crawford flat drops.

Higdon churns out yards and can pass block, but has 3 huge missed cuts in 3 games. 

Two guys on the line block a play well, but Gentry or Bunting or McKeon mess up. 

Just not in sync consistently enough.