Upon Further Review 2017: Offense vs Cincinnati

Submitted by Brian on September 13th, 2017 at 4:19 PM

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FORMATION NOTES: Michigan didn't do anything weird except for a fake-out Emory And Henry on the first snap they never returned to.

Cincinnati mostly played a 4-3 under, sometimes with a standup end.


Line slid away from the strength of the formation, WDE stands up, SAM type substance. They played a lot like a 3-4, with three big DL and the linebacker type guy, even if they didn't have a guy lining up head up on the C:


SUBSTITUTION NOTES: OL and QB remained the same. No Runyan run-out this week. Cesar Ruiz got one snap as a super jumbo TE. Isaac was the primary back with Evans and Higdon getting maybe a quarter of the snaps each.

Crawford and Perry were the top receivers in snaps garnered with Black and DPJ splitting the other outside WR snaps. McDoom had some limited time; Nate Schoenle got maybe ten snaps, none of which he was targeted on. TE remained a blender, with McKeon, Wheatley, and Gentry most prominent.

[After THE JUMP: absolutely no discussion of the QB situation, sorry]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 under 7 Run Inside zone Isaac 5
Better start from the right side here as Onwenu(+1) and Ulizio(+1) fire the 3T back and create a big gap. Onwenu gets stuck as he tries to release because he’s getting grabbed by the DT, refs -1. This allows the LB level to get there and hold this down. Kugler(+0.5) kicked his guy upfield but did lose him afterwards; he can also come off to tackle. Bredeson(+0.5) correctly released free and got a second level block.
M25 2 5 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-4 under 8 Run Zone counter Isaac 4
Blocking looks like split zone, with the fullback headed backside, but this is not a real zone play; Isaac takes a counter step and then is definitely headed to a backside gap. McKeon(-1) does not have enough beef to move the SDE and this allows a linebacker to flow from the backside; also nobody bites on the counter action. Poggi(+1) gets a thumping kickout and Isaac(+1) gets met at the LOS but still manages to grind out a solid chunk of YAC. RPS -1, this play wanted the backside LB to block himself but he read it and got there.
M29 3 1 Ace trips tight bunch 2 2 1 4-3 under 8.5 Run Counter trey Isaac 13
Very crack sweep look and a counter to it. Here a linebacker bites, and then can’t recover as Onwenu(+1) and Ulizio(+1) hammer the 3T three yards off the LOS, cutting off his path. Bredeson pulls and gets a kickout that’s weak—he gets rocked back but this is not a problem as Poggi(+1) gets another thumping lead block and Isaac(+0.5) hits the obvious lane, running through a weak diving arm tackle. Kugler(+1) did a good job to fend off the NT. RPS +1, LB bite,
M42 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under 7 Run Split zone Isaac 1
Extra guy in the box comes free as Kugler(-1) gets rocked back by the nose tackle slanting away from him. Bredeson sees the NT coming to him and stops to hit him. They drive him some but the overhang guy is in that gap and Isaac isn’t inclined to hit it. Kugler can’t get off this block and get to the MLB who’s now shooting up the field. Onwenu(+1) and Ulizio(+1) again combo through the three tech; there’s a lot of room here if Michigan can just get any sort of hat on this LB. RPS –1, got hit by the slant.
M43 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over 6.5 Pass Tunnel screen Black 0
Can’t tunnel a tunneler. DE playside is slanting outside for contain as UC blitzes and immediately recognizes that Cole is leaving for a screen and runs down the line. Throw is iffy, upfield and not far enough inside; Perry(-2) airballs on one DB, and Black has nowhere to go. (IN, 3, screen, RPS -1.)
M43 3 9 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 5-1 split 6 Pass Cross Crawford 14
Outstanding protection as UC sends five and M has just five protectors; they give Speight a full five seconds to throw. He pumps once and then finds Crawford on a crossing route. Throw is a tiny bit behind but not too bad; Crawford nearly drops it but does not. (CA, 3, protection 4/4)
O43 1 10 Ace 4-wide tight 1 1 3 4-3 over 7 Pass PA post Crawford 43
PA must sucker the safety in big time; we get zero wide angle replays so all I can tell you is S is offscreen and then ends up chasing Crawford to the endzone. Pocket excellent as front seven buys the play action; Speight makes no mistake. (DO, 3, protection 3/3, RPS +3)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 12 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Ace trips tight bunch 2 1 2 4-3 under 7 Run Counter trey Isaac 1
Same counter from above to the other side of the line. Cole blocks down on the 3T and gets a good hit but then the 3T pops off and flows down the line. Cole hits a linebacker instead, salvaging it mostly? This looks intentional from Cole based on his read of the play. . Onwenu(-1) pulls and hits… [looks up roster] Cinci’s 300 pound WDE? Yep. WDE hits Onwenu instead of vice versa, so even though Hill(-1) runs up and hits that 3T there’s no crease for Isaac. Hill, too, bounces off, UC has some big dudes. Kugler(-1) has his block of a blitzing LB spun off of and that guy flows down the line to prevent a cutback. Good gap there as Bredeson(+1) handled his dude with authority.
M41 2 9 Offset I Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 8 Run Counter trey Isaac 1
Bunting just runs a route, which takes one S out of the equation and then he heads for the second. This leaves 7 v 7 in the box; Michigan gets a lot of good blocks but the line slants and this ends up hanging up the right side of the line, where three guy block two. Bredeson(-1) fires out at the zero tech nose and hits him, and drives him, and this is not quite enough to get the backside LB hung up; he gets around that and is unblocked in a big hole. Cole(+1) blew the playside end out as he slanted away, Onwenu and Hill get kickouts, and Isaac(-1) runs directly into the LB, no juke. He could certainly have made some more here. RPS -1.
M42 3 8 Shotgun trips tight bunch 1 1 3 Nickel under 6 Pass Drag Black 1
Great protection, and Speight checks down to a doomed drag route that gets an immediate tackle. I have no idea if anyone’s open downfield since we get the DGAF director this week but this is more or less turfing the ball for all the good it does. (TA, 3, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 9 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M30 1 10 Offset I Big twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 over 7 Pass Cross DPJ Inc
PA, good protection, DPJ wide open for four yards plus what looks like a bunch of YAC. Speight sees it late and then airmails it; DPJ bats it down and live this was clearly the best option since he had zero shot at catch. (IN, 0, protection 2/2).
M30 2 10 N/A 1 1 3 4-3 over 7 Penalty Illegal sub N/A -5
I think this was Isaac running on the field and then realizing he should run back off before he ever reached the huddle, which is probably enforceable but shouldn’t be.
M25 2 15 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Nickel even 6.5 Pass Skinny post Perry 18
Zone that converts to man for the safety on Perry once he goes vertical. We never see exactly how this happens because we got the D- director this week but Perry gets this safety shook and is wide open for a chunk play. DE rips up in the pocket clean and this looks like Isaac’s issue but IMO Isaac is checking for blitz and releasing if not and the issue is Onwenu(-1) and Ulizio(-1), who share blame because they are both hung up on the DT. If Onwenu leaves the DT gets a free run. Speight stands in and delivers. (CA+, 3, protection 0/2, Perry route ++)
M43 1 10 Ace twin TE 2 0 2 4-3 under 7 Run Power O Evans 0
Ruiz in as a TE type substance with Mason in a wing TE spot next to him. Mason(-2) sees the LB he’s lined up over dive inside. He fires straight upfield and flat misses, Onwenu picked off, Evans cuts away from the mess and meets unblocked backside guys. Michigan is just dying to this slant every time.
M43 2 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Jet sweep DPJ 44
UC doesn’t shift and their playside LB gets whooped by Gentry(+2) and that’s all she wrote. Once DPJ breaks contain the only guy in the building is the CB Crawford(+2) beats up on all play; McKeon targets a safety only to see him run away from the play, and Mason Cole runs 40 yards downfield without finding anyone to hit. RPS +3.
O13 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-4 under 8 Run Iso Evans 10
I might not like this bounce since Michigan did block this well enough for Evans to shoot forward for a healthy gain. Poggi(+1) blasts the playside LB and Ulizio(+1) kicks and moves the DE. Onwenu(+1) works through the NT to the LB level and Michigan has this blocked to the safety once Evans pops over into the correct gap. That S is setting up at five yards and won’t be exposed to the crackback block; Evans(+2) decides to bounce and has the quick feet to do so. The CB to that side is unable to redirect in time to prevent a nice gain this close to the goal line.
O3 1 G Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line 11 Run Yakety sax N/A -7
Speight(-3) turns a near certain TD into second and ten by mishandling the snap. Bunting(+1) and Wheatley(+1) had thundered the DE inside and Isaac was going to cut backside and probably fall forward into the endzone.
O10 2 G Offset I 2 2 1 4-3 over 7 Pass TE out McKeon Inc
McKeon(route minus) spends way too much time blocking the DE on this and gets shoved back. By the time he releases the LB has read it and is out on the route. Small window, good coverage. Speight doesn’t even give his guy a chance. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
O10 3 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even 7 Pass Corner Perry Inc
Max pro here so just three guys in the route and nobody’s particularly open. Perry on a weird stop-corner route does have a surprisingly big window (route+). Speight again airmails it badly. (IN, 0, protection 2/2). Gentry into block here is kind of WTF. Your best shot here is probably just throwing up a fade in single coverage to him or Black.
Drive Notes: FG(27), 17-7, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M42 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 under 7 Run Crack sweep Isaac 11
Very crack sweep, crack sweep. McKeon(+1) gets a good thump on a DE that allows the pullers to clear and makes DE irrelevant. Schoenle barely does enough on the playside LB, in a preview of his upcoming holding call. Hill(+2) blasts a CB trying to be force five yards downfield a Ulizio(+1) cuts a safety. Those guys are both in Isaac’s feet and manage to bring him down; this was very close to breaking big. Onwenu(+1) also got a hilarious clobber in. RPS +1, easy edge.
O47 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 over 7 Pass PA scramble Speight 0
PA and M trying to hit deep, probably with Eubanks. Speight doesn’t like his options; Hill comes out of backfield and is covered. Speight tries to break the pocket and pick up some yards; he does not. Isaac might have broken open if Speight hadn’t made up his mind. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
O47 2 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under 7 Run Split zone Evans 4
Evans looks backside, which is natural on this play. Again CU gap switching makes it tough. M blows out the backside DE as Onwenu(+0.5) and Ulzio(+0.5) get a bunch of movement. Gentry(+0.5) pulls to the backside to hit the first thing he sees and really has no choice but to shove a slanting DE inside of him; Evans bounces out, finding a LB who Ulizio had no shot at getting to. He cuts up for a few yards. RPS -1.
O43 3 6 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel over 6 Pass Cross Perry 13
Development here from the right side of the line as they do a barely adequate job of handling the twist. Onwenu comes off late and hits a blitzing LB; Ulizio does read it and get to the DT, but not well(-1) and he threatens. Speight steps up well and fires a rifle shot to Perry to convert. (DO+, 2, protection ½)
O30 1 10 Ace trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel over 6.5 Run Jet sweep N/A -3
Second exchange dorf. This is 90% Speight(-3), who again loses control of the ball and accidentally tosses it into Crawford’s chest instead of handing it to his belt.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 17-7, 9 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M30 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over 6.5 Pass Sack N/A -8
Onwenu(-2) beat straight up and Speight pumps once and is lost. WRs probably did not clear their zones and this is a good decision. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2)
M22 2 18 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel over 5.5 Run Pin and pull Isaac 5
Dang man almost a big play but just not quite. This pin and pull action sees two interior OL pull; Bredeson(+1) chops down the backside DT. Pullers, uh, pull a couple guys to the outside and Isaac(+1) sees a cutback lane he hits hard; He’s about to break big when a LB tackles him from the side; Cole(-2) whiffed on a free release. Et tu.
M27 3 13 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 5-1 split 6 Pass Comeback Black 12
Max pro a good idea here as UC sends six; M picks them all up and keeps Speight 100% clean. He fires it into Black near the sticks. Black got open, so that’s good. He also got tackled short of the sticks after catching at them, so that’s bad. On review this feels different than live though. (CA, 3, protection 3/3, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Inexplicable punt, 17-7, 7 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M36 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under 7 Run Iso Isaac 4
Blast up the middle gets slightly more than the median as Poggi(+1) once again hammers a guy. Bredeson gets a guy slanting outside of him and stands him up but doesn’t control him; he eventually fights back and makes a tackle, albeit some yards downfield.
M40 2 6 Ace 4-wide tight 1 1 3 Nickel over 6.5 Pass Out Gentry 5
Simple pitch and catch to near the first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M45 3 1 Ace 2TE tight 1 1 3 Nickel over 6.5 Run Dive Isaac 3
Speight waves his WR to the LOS to prevent a flag, my man. M just doubles everyone and lets Isaac pick against a light box and nickel personnel. RPS +1.
M48 1 10 I-Form Big Twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 over 7 Run Zone stretch Evans -2
Surprise and good first level ID makes this look very promising until Bredeson(-3) abruptly stops to try to block a guy that Hill is already targeting. Evans is not expecting this and plows into him, falling over. This was probably ten yards otherwise as Kugler(+1) got most of a reach on the NT and Cole(+1) got a big kickout block.
M46 2 12 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Dime over 5 Pass TE out McKeon 7
Quick WCO throw to set up third and short is barely contested as O and D reach a temporary detente. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O47 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel under 6.5 Pass Dig Perry Inc
This is only dig-ish as UC does a great job disrupting the route that Perry is supposed to be running. Speight gets some pressure off the edge as Ulizio(-1) has some trouble but can step up otherwise; his eventual throw is both a terrible duck and also more or less the only ball Perry can catch, and he catches it! Except nobody believes he does even after review. I’m giving him this because, unlike Big Ten review officials, I can see. (MA, 1, protection ½)
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-7, 2 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 Base 3-4 7 Run Zone counter Isaac 8
Pretty sure this is meant to cut back as the OL are superficially running IZ but are really just content to lock out their guys to one side. Isaac(+1) hits the cutback lane that Ulizio(+1) and McKeon(+1) provide. Onwenu(+0.5) and Perry(+0.5) also chip in.
M28 2 2 Ace trips tight bunch 1 2 2 4-3 under 7 Run Crack sweep Isaac 8
This is almost a touchdown. Perry(+2) erases playside LB and never lets him off. Twist blitz eliminates the LB level. McKeon(+1) cuts a cornerback as Cole(+1) does the same to a safety. Isaac leaps over the prone McKeon… except he stands up as he does this. This is the only thing preventing a TD. RPS +3. Three easy blocks all that was needed.
M36 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 7 Pass Waggle TE flat Wheatley 7
PA fake, rollout, TE open for a little catch and run, the usual. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, good block from McKeon on the edge.)
M43 2 3 Offset I Big 2 2 1 4-4 under 8 Pass Corner DPJ Inc
PA fake, excellent pocket as three guys go in a flood pattern. Intermediate route is open. Speight IDs it and wings it so high DPJ can’t even bat it down this time. (INX, 0, protection 2/2)
O43 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Pass Corner McKeon Inc
Twist gets right side of line again. Ulizio does get around the DT. Onwenu(-2) does not get the looper. Speight gets nailed on the throw, which is to an open McKeon for a chunk. (PR, 0, protection 0/2) Speight did pump here and might have gotten this out in time but about 80% PR. Ulizio(-2) then gets an unsportsmanlike conduct call, mandating a punt.
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-14, 9 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M26 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under 7 Run Crack sweep Isaac 32 (Pen -8)
Big run wiped out because Schoenle(-2) got an obvious holding call. If he lets his guy go this is still successful. Bredeson(+1) IDs a LB gap shooting on the interior and slows to cut off the pass. Cole(+1) gets a good kick, and Hill(+2) clobbers a safety. Isaac just has to run to pick up a ton; without the hold Hill either gets an edge 2 for 1 or spends himself on the LB and this still goes to the S.
M18 1 18 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel even 6.5 Run Inside zone Evans 2
UC overplays the RB here and ignores Speight keeper possibility. No cutback lanes. Frontside gets confused as UC is moving late, by accident, and Onwenu(-2) incorrectly reads the DL. DT slants outside hard; Kugler and Onwenu should double, with Kugler passing off and releasing. Instead Onwenu releases immediately, DT outside, Onwenu tries to block a LB he has no angle to, Evans must hit that gap because of backside pursuit, splat. RPS -1.
M20 2 16 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Pass In Crawford 6
Crawford breaks inside of soft zone coverage and has to stop to catch the ball; Speight should be leading him further inside so he can catch in stride and turn it up. (MA, 3, protection 2/2)
M26 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Pass PA waggle flat screen Black 0
This is a screen with the WR behind the LOS and the WRs blocking. Michigan does not block a cover two safety at ten yards who reads and plasters. I don’t see how Michigan can make this work. If Perry goes for the S his guy just comes off and replaces, maybe not immediately but sufficiently. RPS -2; running PA here on 3rd and 10 that nobody bought is a major factor. (CA, 3, screen)
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-14, 5 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under 7 Pass Hitch Black Inc
This is going to be a slick nine yard pitch and catch on time until the DB yanks Black off his route without a call (refs -2). (CA, 0, protection 1/1)
M20 2 10 Shotgun empty 2 1 2 Nickel under 5.5 Pass Dig Gentry 36
Gentry(route++) torches a linebacker, ripping inside of him as soon as he commits outside; Speight hits him with a ball just over his facemask. This is overthrown for some. Not Gentry! He’s hit right in stride past the sticks and can eat up a healthy chunk of YAC. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
O44 1 10 I-Form Big Twin TE 2 2 1 4-4 under 8.5 Run Zone counter Higdon 0
Higdon(-3) misses a huge cutback lane carved out as Wheatley(+2) dominates and caves his guy in. The rest of the blocking on the front is iffy as Cinci slants hard but the blocks are all decent enough to keep Cinci from penetrating much and nobody falls off. Higdon has to see the wall of white shirts to one side of linemen and cut to the other side of this. Ulizio(+1) ends up pancaking his guy, albeit awkwardly. I think this is a designed cutback, making this all the worse. Higdon does change direction... into the DL.
O44 2 10 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 3-2 dime 5 Pass Circle McKeon 6
One of them TE option routes where TE goes where defender isn’t. Outside in this case. Speight sees and hits for a solid gain. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O38 3 4 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel even 6.5 Run Inside zone Higdon 5
This time Higdon(+1) sees and hits an even more obvious cutback lane. UC twists here. Ulizio(+1) does a good job to redirect and cut one guy off. Kugler(+0.5) and Onwenu(+0.5) have easy jobs to down block or free release on guys to create the lane. RPS +1, caught a pass rush call.
O33 1 10 Offset I twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 under 7.5 Pass Post Black Inc
PA, two man route where both guys are bracketed. Speight says screw it and seems to make a genuine attempt at hitting Black despite the bracket. He’s not far off, but maybe it’s better he missed. Uh… (MA, 0, protection 2/2, RPS -2)
O33 2 10 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Nickel under 5.5 Pass Drag Perry 33
UC LB way overplays Bunting’s route, trying to get a chuck, and Perry pops open on a four yard route that he turns into 33, because another UC player is overplaying Bunting. A guy with zero catches. Okay! (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-14, 3 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel under 6.5 Run Split zone Isaac 9
Big bubble between Kugler and Cole and Isaac seemingly decides to hit this presnap. Kugler(-1) gets shoved back a couple yards and Cole’s kick isn’t big enough to make this a big hole; meanwhile a slot corner comes down to fill this hole. The backside is carnage and would be a big run. Onwenu(+1) and Ulizio(+1) hammer the 3T and Wheatley(+1) does the same to the overhang OLB. On split zone you’d think the cutback would be a natural inclination. Instead Isaac(+1) presses the front side gap and then bounces outside, where he is a five star and Cinci is not. Wonder if this works against a big time opponent.
M26 2 1 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 7 Run Power O Isaac 3
Slant inside from UC is handled by Cole(+1) but Onwenu(-1) freaks out at the guy flashing by him and tries to hit him. Instead he hits Cole. Cole gets flung out of the way; Onwenu continues through to hit a linebacker and rescues a -2. Isaac now has an unblocked edge guy he has to run away from and he just plows up the back of Onwenu for a few. Bredeson(+1) dominated a blitzing LB to help out here.
M29 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel over 6.5 Run Dart zone Higdon 5
Cole blocks down and Bredeson pops around him as the rest of the line zones. This does pop a hole in the line. McKeon(+1) hits a force player who’s coming in hot upfield; Bredeson(+1) sees and peels back to hit another LB coming in at an unexpected angle. Cole(+1) gets the DT, who spins off four yards downfield. Higdon(-0.5) gets through the line and has blockers to the interior; he tries the sideline and gets cut off; this probably loses 3-4 yards.
M34 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over 6 Pass Dumpoff Higdon Inc
Speight can’t find anyone; he checks down to Higdon. It’s batted down. Higdon was going to get tackled for no gain anyway. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)
M34 3 5 Shotgun trips tight bunch 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Pass TE in Gentry Inc
This time it’s the left side of the line that gets hit by the twist. Cole does get to the DT and Bredeson(-1) comes off on the DE. Too late, but he is harassing the guy and pushing him past Speight, who could decide to run or move up in the pocket. Instead he tries to hit Gentry, who is open(route +) after pushing through an attempted jam and flashing to the inside. Speight’s throw is upfield and can’t be brought in. Tough catch and tough situation to be in. (MA, 1, protection ½)
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-14, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M13 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 4-3 under 7 Run Crack sweep Isaac 53
Big chunk run depends mostly on Cole(+2) checking the force player, deeming him harmless, and continuing downfield. This is a results based charting item, no doubt, and the force guy gets a weak ankle tackle attempt in. But Isaac(+1) blows through that and Cole can then cut a safety seven yards downfield and here we go. Black(+2) puts a corner in the sideline and Isaac runs until the last guy pushes him out. Good hit by McKeon(+1) to open up the edge; Schoenle(+1) found and eliminated a LB.
O34 1 10 Offset I twins 2 1 2 4-3 under 7 Pass PA FB wheel Hill Inc
M goes for the killshot after the big run and it doesn’t quite work out. Fake handoff, fake end around, FB wheel to the endzone. This isn’t a perfect throw but it is good enough. Hill is guilty of not high-pointing the ball by slowing up and extending, a la Manningham. This allows the LB, who made a great read and play here, to get a PBU. (CA, 1, protection 2/2, Hill route -)
O34 2 10 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Dime under 5.5 Pass Throwaway N/A Inc
Twist, picked up, Speight a little uncomfortable but definitely has DPJ for at least a few yards on a dumb nothing route in front of his face and maybe some YAC. Instead he bugs out and just gets rid of it. This is a bad TA. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
O34 3 10 Ace trips tight bunch 1 2 2 4-3 over 6.5 Run Counter trey Isaac 2
M eats a blitz directly into this. Not good on a counter. Isaac manages to break the tackle as the guy comes in too hot. This did eat up Onwenu(-1) who breaks the never turn upfield rule. McKeon(+0.5) finds and kicks a DB; Cole(+1) and Bredeson(+1) clear out a DT and hit a LB; Isaac does not hit this crease, instead bouncing into the unblocked. I mean, he prevented a TFL, and he also failed to take advantage. Push I guess. RPS -1.
O32 4 8 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Dime even 5 Pass Skinny post Crawford 20
This is an excellent conversion downfield with perfect timing as Speight is already in his throwing motion before Crawford breaks inside. (DO, 2, protection 2/2). Also McKeon is wide open for a TD and not found. Can’t argue with the result or the confidence. If your first read is 20 yards and you hit it, ok.
O12 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel over 6.5 Run Zone read keeper Speight 5
Keep em honest, I guess. Speight(+1) does dodge a safety to turn 3 into 5, and he did correctly read pull.
O7 2 5 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel over 6.5 Run Dart zone Higdon 3
Bredeson(+0.5) hits and moves the NT, who gives ground to get around the block. LB comes up and gets a glancing block from Kugler(+0.5) and Onwenu(+0.5) comes over to start hogwalloping folks. Higdon(+0.5) finds the convoy and grinds it forward.
O4 3 2 I-Form Big Twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 under 7 Run Power O Isaac -2
Onwenu(-3) busts. M runs power. Bredeson pulls. Rest of the line blocks like that’s the idea. He pulls. The guy he’s supposed to block TFLs.
Drive Notes: FG(23), 27-14, 9 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M36 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 7 Run Lead zone Isaac 4
Isaac cuts all the way back here and it’s probably six of one half dozen of the other. Bunting(+0.5) is pushing the backside end, who is a big boy, and he manages to squeeze upfield a bit. This prevents Isaac from getting a good attack angle but is mostly a win. On the frontside M gets good movement but UC guys are filling hard. Probably 4 yards there as well.
M40 2 6 Offset I twins 2 1 2 Base 3-4 7 Run Crack sweep Isaac -2
Black(+1) motions in and pounds the playside DE. This looks very good until Poggi(-3) takes an angle way too deep and the force guy just runs inside of him to tackle. Poggi is five yards behind the LOS for the duration of this play, and suddenly redirects as he recognizes the issue. Far too late. This was otherwise money as Bredeson(+1) cut a guy to the ground, Perry(+1) cut off a linebacker, and Cole(+0.5) found a CB.
M38 3 8 Shotgun trips bunch 1 1 3 Nickel over 6 Pass Tunnel screen Perry 3
I think this is tunnel and not the outside screen because the blocking WRs don’t swap. But then Perry heads outside immediately, seemingly before he can ever see what’s downfield? I don’t know. Either way Crawford(-2) runs by a LB and airballs and that guy tackles. (CA, 3, screen). Don’t min the call given the situation. Maybe you pick it up. Definitely you move the clock.
Drive Notes: Punt, 29-14, 4 min 4th Q. Two very garbage snaps not charted.


Did you see the jump? Sorry my man, that's right out.


do you promise to stop if i talk about the QB situation


are you lying


you're definitely lying



Dammit. Fine! Fine. So, this wasn't good but it's mostly because of the two fumbled exchanges. Despite the sometimes-gory overthrows Speight had an acceptable-ish game by my charting:

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


  Good   Neutral   Bad   Ovr
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% -

The big downgrade in opposition makes that 64% less fun, but this was not a horrendous outing when Speight dropped back to throw. Zero bad reads in two games is a thing. (Though "TAs" are often mildly bad reads.)

The big fat –5 in his run charting is not acceptable-ish; after Zaprudering the second fumble that's about 90% Speight as he again loses control and basically throws the ball into Crawford's chest plate at least a foot away from where he expects it. This game feels entirely different if Speight doesn't fumble twice. Isaac had a near certain TD on dorf #1 and Michigan was at the Cincinnati 30 on dorf #2—those fumbles directly cost Michigan 7-11 points. That's the third time in the last four games that Speight has handed the opposition a touchdown or robbed his team of one.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln?

I mean, he was okay? He hit his one open deep shot, and a couple of his incompletions were kind of like whatever. He took a deep shot to a double-covered Black on a two man route and missed and this was probably for the best. Okay. The fullback wheel was a bit short but it gave Hill a shot. A more technical receiver makes this work by slowing up and either forcing a PI or successfully high-pointing the ball:

That too is okay. Not great. Not terrible.

Speight also found open guys almost without fail.  On occasion he flashed that ability to move around and find someone even when the pocket is disrupted:

And there was the occasional NFL-level throw that gets out of Speight's hand before the WR makes his break:

Problems other than "don't throw the ball to an eleven-foot-tall imaginary man" were minimal. Some apparent bad reads on third down turned out to be screens run at the wrong time. There were some tough throws he got out against pressure that gave his WRs a chance to make a circus catch that got filed MA. The sheer size of Speight's mistakes drowns out their frequency: too frequent, but not unsalvageably so.

Nonetheless, the stadium started grumbling in earnest after Speight followed up the first yakety sax incident with consecutive Tacopants throws. Perry got open here despite double coverage and nope:

That is a ten yard throw that's about six feet over Perry's head, and that window isn't even that small. The LB trailing Perry is two yards back. DPJ was twice overthrown by preposterous amounts on short or intermediate throws:

These weren't balls outside the frame of the body on a slant that get filed (IN, 1) because the WR has a tough opportunity, they were balls hurled to seemingly nobody.

But after going over the tape I feel better about things. Speight has two obvious issues that need to get corrected. One almost certainly will: we saw one fumbled snap or exchange all of last year. It came at the wrong time and was devastating; it would be weirder if the exchange issues kept happening than if they stopped. A lot weirder.

The second issue is likely to be with us for the duration. Speight is not a consistently accurate quarterback. He has his streaks, and sometimes he falls off a cliff. Maybe Michigan can get him back into that groove he had mid-year, but even then he started off airballing a bunch of throws against Rutgers. This will keep happening. Michigan's charge is to reduce the frequency insofar as they can.

Speight has total command of the offense and is making great decisions. He's scattershot, but the extent to which he is has been greatly exaggerated by the garment-rending faction of the fanbase because of the size of the errors and recency bias. Is he great? No. He's good enough, as long as the fumbles stop happening.

It won't matter. Speight can lead the Big Ten in passer efficiency and from here on out every error will be met with howls on twitter. This is the curse of Navarre.




All right, here's that chart. You'll notice something maybe?

Offensive Line
Player Snaps + - Total PFF   Snaps Pass- Error% PFF
Cole     9.5 2 7.5       -  
Bredeson     8 4 4     
Kugler     3.5 3 0.5       
Onwenu     8 8 0      5  
Ulizio     9.5 2 7.5       3  
Wheatley     4   4          
McKeon     5.5 1 4.5               
Bunting     1.5   1.5           
Gentry     2.5 2.5                
Hill     4 1   3      
Poggi     4 3 1            
TOTAL - 60 26 70%

No run adjustments. Ben Mason came in for –2 on his one snap, which is listed above.

Player + - T Notes
Protection 40 8 83% as above
RPS 16 11 +5 Crack sweep versus stunts and twists

Michigan hit the Mendoza line and in fact blew through it. Competition level? Eh, ask again later. Michigan dominated these guys when they were not screwing up a slant or stunt, or going full space cadet. There were some hiccups in this game, to say the least. Bredeson had his first big minus of the year when he tackled Evans for loss:

That inexplicable stall is early season, young player stuff. That's a ten yard play otherwise. This is a big gap between Cole and Kugler and Michigan has hats for both guys in it.


Another Evans run met a dismal fate when a DT slanted outside. Onwenu leaves for the second level; DT shoots behind him into that gap, leaving Onwenu no angle to get a linebacker farther inside:

57 C and 50 LG

Onwenu needs to read that and double through that DT, but he's thrown off by Cincinnati lining up late and the DT failing to fire off the ball. That's an accidental feint and I get why it happened; less so the goal line play where both guards pulled.

These big mental errors were collectively –10, or approximately half of Michigan's minuses on the day. Will they continue? At some level certainly. They are likely to drop off as these two second year players move along. Bredeson has already slashed his error rate dramatically. Onwenu should as well.

One thing about Cincinnati: they played some big boys. I called them an under defense because they'd cover up the weakside guard most of the time and didn't play their NT in a zero tech, and then I was like WTF when Mike Onwenu pulled, met the weakside end, and got shoved back. A trip to the roster was in order, and yep:


For a large chunk of the game Cinci's nominal "weakside end" was a 300 pound DT. (One who did not play against Austin Peay, it seems.) This is both encouraging and discouraging for the OL.

The bad bit is that this guy was obviously not going to be much of an edge rusher, so 1) the twists UC kept running should have been obvious, and 2) the 100% clean performance from the tackles on non-twist pass protection is less exciting. I gave out a rare 4/4 protection when Michigan went empty and five guys held off five rushers long enough for Kekoa Crawford to run across damn near the whole field...

...but a lot of that goes back to a Cincinnati pass rush that projects to be nonexistent.

The good bit is that Michigan moved this guy a lot, and his teammates.

So... the right side of the line isn't going to kill us?

Cinci's bonafide DTs are probably the best part of their defense. Michigan kicked off the game by having the right side of the line get their clobber on against the only guy Seth gave a star to in FFFF:

RG 50 and RT 70

Two plays later they buried the same guy on a counter:

RG 50 and RT 70

I had a lot of positives for both Ulizio and Onwenu as they collapsed their DT on a double and either cut off a linebacker or popped off on one. A few times they blew their dudes out so badly that I went back and gave them a plus even though the run did not test those blocks. Isaac bounces this for nine yards but my god the carnage on the backside of this run:

RG 50 and RT 70

This was a straight up whoopin' physically, and that's a great thing to see. Onwenu gave much of his wins back with a couple of big mental errors, most notably a –3 on the "both guards pull" play at the goal line. Even with that caveat it was great to see the right side of the kick someone's ass. Ulizio's issues with leaving a tight end didn't come up for whatever reason—defensive alignment, Michigan playcalls, a week of practice—and now that we got to see a game of him putting his hands on people he looks far more plausible. This is why I was trying to downplay that big negative number from last week. 

Pass protection was another matter. Onwenu was the only Michigan player to straight up lose a one on one pass pro matchup on the day, resulting in a sack. And both guys were culpable on a bunch of obvious twists. Onwenu didn't peel off to get the looper; frequently even if he had Ulizio was out of position and the DE would have gotten a free run up the gut. They did deal with it a couple times, once early and shakily, once late and confidently on a play I forgot to clip.

Onwenu was clearly Michigan's worst OL in this game but that was all mental. When he was on the right page he dominated. I'll take that from a second year player in his second start.

So how did they stop Michigan's ground game?

uh did they

Sort of?

Extract six carries that were Speight sack/scrambles and the last two snaps of the game and Michigan picked up 6.6 YPC. Deflate Michigan's two long carries to ten yards and Michigan still averaged 4.4 YPC. This was a very solid performance.

When Cincinnati did stuff Michigan it was almost always some sort of stunt or slant that Michigan couldn't quite handle. Here Kugler gets hit back by the NT, causing Bredeson to stop and help out; Isaac cuts behind this into an unblocked linebacker charging into the gap that UC's defensive call wants the back to go into:

C 57, LG 74

That will happen. Cincinnati did this a ton. They got some stops. They also put themselves in a bunch of situations where the edge guy was super easy to crack block on Michigan's consistently successful sweeps. Like last week, you can't dismiss the edge runs and chop things down to line yards so you can get your fret on. The way Cincinnati was playing was hugely vulnerable to getting edged.

As a result almost every crack sweep was not only successful but on the verge of breaking big. Michigan got 8, 11, 34, and 53 yards on their sweeps before the last one got TFLed because nobody blocked the only guy in the area. The only thing preventing a 72-yard touchdown on this one is McKeon standing up as Isaac tries to leap over him:

Note the Bearcat linebackers running a twist blitz to the interior, taking them out of the play entirely.

Later the pulling linemen would run by a couple guys, and it worked. I'd probably say this was flat out luck if anyone but Mason Cole ran by the force player, but... maybe this is OL genius? Either way it's results based charting and Cole got a hammer blow downfield to spring a huge run:

This is a great example of Never Turn Upfield. Once Cole passes that guy up he's not even a memory. Maybe he makes a tackle; if he doesn't you just got an edge two for one. He doesn't, and edge two for one is usually a huge play.

This was the closest thing to a Harbaugh Effect in this game, BTW. Michigan went very vanilla on the ground. No double fullbacks, no T formation, no hijinks, just grinding forward. That bodes well.

Is Grant Perry our best receiver?

Probably. Perry was terrific again. His touchdown was more about the Cincinnati defense comically overplaying Bunting than anything he did, but his upfield burst and ability to get to the endzone was a pleasant surprise. And when Cinci tried to cover him with a safety that guy got dusted. We got a very sucky director this week so useful replays were at a minimum. But you can still see that Perry leaves the screen here with a safety preparing to check him, and returns with that S nowhere near him:

He got another three route positives this week. That shot in the endzone was open despite double coverage. ALSO YOU ARE DAMN RIGHT I GAVE HIM THAT CATCH:

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

Player 0 1 2 3   0 1 2 3
Crawford         3/3     1/4       4/5 
Black 2       4/4   2       6/7 
Perry 1 1/1  1/1 2/2   1/1 3/3   4/4
DPJ 2         3          
Wheatley       1/1             1/1  
McKeon 1       2/2           5/5   
Gentry       2/2           2/2  
Eubanks                 1/1 1/1 
Hill   0/1           0/1      
Higdon 1           1           

ROUTES: Perry +++, Gentry +++, McKeon –, Hill –



sorry sorry

That tall guy seems like a good person to throw to since he's the closest thing to an imaginary eleven-foot tall person we have.

Yeah, Zach Gentry started going from potential to production in this game. His big catch and run was a great route that suckered a linebacker outside and opened up that YAC:

83, TE to top of line

That is exactly what Michigan was hoping for when the moved him there. That throw's a bit high, except Gentry is 6'7". Also he dusted a guy and ate up 20 yards after the catch. Later Gentry couldn't bring in a tough, low throw that pressure affected, but check the route:

83, TE in motion

That's just the right amount of shove to get open without drawing a flag. (Not that OPI was on the table this game.) Then he's a huge open target for a first down until the DL intervenes. Gentry's potential as a Butt or Leggett is clear.

Gentry was also the key—almost only—block on the DPJ jet sweep. His ability to stay coiled and thunk that LB back was impressive:

83, TE to bottom of line

That guy is blitzing and gets shocked back on contact. Not bad.

I'm guessing that guy sucks and we shouldn't get too hype about Gentry's blocking without some additional evidence. But! He's probably already in the Jake Butt "is generally in the way" tier, far above the Devin Funchess "I'm a wide receiver and I hate this" tier.

Black needs to run it to the sticks!

Black didn't feature much except on the near first down and a comeback route that he got held on without a call. I'm not sure the failure to convert on his catch was as bad as it looked live.  This is a slick route and drifting back to the QB is generally good policy to prevent DBs from getting involved:

Run it at the sticks, yes, but if you're getting jammed like that sometimes you have to turn around for the ball before you're able to cover the requisite distance.

I notice less Poggi complaining this year.

Poggi has had a couple of big errors but has otherwise been pretty good. He is lowering the boom on linebackers:

FB #19

That has been consistent this year. He is hitting people with force, consistently, and that's new.

I do think he was way off on the late crack sweep that got TFLed because nobody blocked the edge guy. This pull feels far too deep, and the late ohshit points towards him as the gent who is supposed to be blocking the guy making a tackle:

Hill has been himself. Poggi is getting the majority of the straight-ahead action, with Hill doing a lot of pulling across the formation or into space on the crack sweeps. "Hill destroys DBs" is unedifying at this point, but still fun!

FB 80

There's been at least one of those in each game.

Uh, running backs?


RB chart (WR grades are run only):

Player Rushes + - T   PFF   Notes
Speight 1 1 6 -5     Two fumbles.
Evans 5 2 2         One good bounce, eaten up otherwise.
Isaac 20 5.5 1 4.5         Good but not as outstanding as UF
Higdon 4 1.5 3.5 -2         Another –3 cut.
Hill     0          
McDoom     0          
Walker               DNP
TOTAL 30 10 10.5 -0.5     +5.5, non-Speight division
Player Blocks + - T   PFF G   Notes
Crawford 2 2 0     One big downfield block, one screen whiff
Black   3 3         Hammered a guy on the jet
Perry 3.5 2 1.5      
Schoenle     1 2 -1       Hold wiped out chunk play.
TOTAL - 9.5 6 3.5

Isaac's suddenly the starter and playing like he'll keep that. This is in part because the other two guys are missing opportunities. Evans didn't have anything bad in this game but missed two or three bounce reads in the UF game. Here he made a bounce read out of not much:

Michigan blocks that to the safety; the safety is at five yards as Evans presses the hole, and he manages to get ten on the bounce. So that's good, and most of his unsuccessful runs were OL goofs he had no shot on.

Higdon missed one huge cutback lane that he's got to see once Cinci shows up en masse on one side of Michigan's blocks:


He's even headed that way and cuts left here. That made those blocks look like crap but they looked just fine earlier in the game when Isaac read 'em and cut all the way back:

It's hard to tell with these things but I think both of these were subtle zone counters that are designed to cut back, which make Higdon's error above all the more frustrating. He did hit a cutback lane a couple plays later for a first down.

Should we be panicky about the red zone offense?

No, I don't think so. I don't want to Space Coyote poor Drew Hallett here but I'm not seeing a redzone issue separate from Michigan's other problems on offense. Drives to date:

  • TD vs Florida (minus ref incompetence)
  • TD vs Florida
  • Four yard run, TE runs wrong route on waggle, zero blitz from UF w/ iffy Speight decision on where to go with the ball, FG.
  • Speight runs OOB for sack instead of dumping to Hill for modest gain, false start, UF's awesome three tech beats Onwenu, corner route barely misses, FG.
  • Yakety snap, consecutive Speight overthrows, FG.
  • Third and two from the four sees Onwenu pull instead of block down on power, FG.

Is any of that an inherent redzone issue? I don't think so. It's a number of bad or iffy plays from Speight and two instances where Michigan's new starting guard, a true sophomore, screws up. Also a penalty on a redshirt freshman TE.

None of that is a problem the offense has when the field constricts and it's time to manball up. They're a continuation of Michigan's other problems: youth and a wonky Speight. Michigan was driving DTs off the ball in this game, and that's more indicative of future redzone proficiency than some early-season dorfs. Michigan has been very good in short yardage so far. I think that's a better tell.


Grant Perry made a couple huge plays when needed most. Gentry too. Cole and, yes, Ulizio led the way on the OL.

Maybe not so heroic?

Speight tossed away 7-11 points. Onwenu had a couple big mental errors and had the most difficulty with that twist.

What does it mean for Air Force and beyond?

Breathe deep. Relax. Speight should cut out the turnovers. He's not freshman Ryan Mallett. He's never going to be an A+ QB but he'll be somewhere between a B and an A-.

Panic. Explode. Seriously, though, for everyone's sake let's hope Speight gets through Air Force without one giant meltdown play. We are on the verge of a trend.

The right side of the offensive line can mash. They're still finding their feet; aside from a couple mental errors from Onwenu and persistent trouble with twists in pass protection this was a very encouraging outing. They blew Cortez Broughton up on the ground—he had two tackles and no disruption.

Zach Gentry is a threat. Not only did he make some catches he dusted guys on two different routes. Linebackers cannot check him.

Grant Perry is going to lead the team in catches. He is always where you want him to be and is 3/3 so far on tough catches. Shut up, it was a catch.

The offensive line feels better than last year. Gotta smooth out some rough edges but they've got a couple of probable stars on the left side and some big upside on the right.



September 13th, 2017 at 5:11 PM ^

Pleasant surprise to see Ulizio grade out so well.  Overall, I think this OL has the makings of an improvement over last years OL.  Now that they've graduated, I think we can all agree that Kalis was slow footed and never lived up to his 5* hype.  Magnuson and Braden were middling muckers. Cole, Bredeson, Kugler, Owenu and Ulizio across the board seem more athletic.

Gentry moves very well at 6'7".  Could be Jay Riemersma 2.0 with better wheels.  Bummed to see Bunting kind of fade to the background.  I really thought he would be stepping up and filling Butt's shoes.  Wheatley doesn't stand out.  McKeon is solid and can contribute.

Early observation on DPJ:  he does not have the explosivity of even a Peppers on punt returns.  We are missing that explosive punt returner that Bo always seemed to have around.  In fact, I would say DPJ seems a tad less explosive than a Mario Manningham.  He can still be an outstanding player at Michigan, but I don't see a gamebreaker when I see him play.  Hope my first impressions are wrong.



September 13th, 2017 at 8:05 PM ^

Kalis was essentially the Joe Bolden of offense. It happens. Magnuson on the other hand was underrated. I graded him out much better than I expected. He'd be a sure fire starter on this year's line. Through 2 games the biggest unsung hero is Patrick Kugler. He is playing like a dude and allows us to play Cole at LT. I'm not sure if everyone understands how big of a deal that is.

Space Coyote

September 13th, 2017 at 5:29 PM ^

Everything about the blocking looks like Inside zone, but the backside misses their blocks.

On the Failed Higdon cutback play, you have to look at it from Higdon's eyes on what is almost certainly inside zone. Kugler completely lunges and whiffs his blocks, and Ulizio gets beat cleanly inside on his block. Higdon is reading playside A gap and can potentially cut backside A gap, but both of those gaps have essentially unblocked guys. Yes, maybe he can see the far cutback, but none of his reads are telling him that, that's two failed blocks that caused him to run straight into the line and get what he could. I get the desire for him to make that cut, because sometimes as a RB you see it, I just don't agree it's a -3 because what his eyes are telling him is that two OL just failed their blocks big time.

It's weird, last week I was defending Ulizio, but here on what is labeled zone counters, they are inside zone plays where he is getting beat inside (it happened to the TE too). Now, the great thing about IZ is if you lose you just try to push a guy past the play, and they did. They didn't lose and quit on the play and because of that something did open up. On one the RB was able to identify it and make a play outside the play design, but the Higdon one isn't on Higdon, it was on his OL. So it's not disaster, they are still doing OK, but they got some things to clean up in my opinion.

The WR screen run is interesting because Harbaugh had a lot of success with that same concept at Stanford. The backside safety did a great job diagnosing it here. Would like to see the TE on that play not try to block back though and go for the safety and try to force the LB (who is flat footed because of the PA) to try to have to play Black inside out. This was my only other problem with this UFR. Saying that PA fake on 3rd and 10 is bad, a week after UM picked up a bizzilion 3rd and long conversions running the football, on a play where the DE runs way out of the way because he bites on the PA, doesn't ring true. I prefer this play closer to the red zone where safeties are shooting up (that's where Harbaugh had most of his success with this play at Stanford), but I get the concept. I know I've beat this drum one too many times, but again, PA on 3rd and long can be fine. It was fine here, but the safety did a heck of a job tracking the play down and the timing felt a bit off. This is an RPS minus cause it didn't work, but it's something I've expected Michigan to run for a while and it only took until the third year.

Also agree on the red zone issue. I think it's some bad luck, a few bad plays where you can't afford to make bad plays and get behind the sticks, and a small sample size. Do they need to start converting some? Absolutely. If they had would these games be very different? Absolutely. But I think it's a little to early to tell. Michigan has been quite good in third and short so far this year, so it doesn't seem like a major issue yet other than needing to clean up the same basic things they need to clean up all over the field (it's just much harder to come back from a mistake on 2nd and G from the 8).


September 13th, 2017 at 8:04 PM ^

Difference on the three plays quoted is the position and momentum of the DL in question. You can't complain about bad calls that don't take into account momentum and then ignore it on this play. They're a yard and a half into the backfield and moving fast when Higdon clears the QB. Even if he sidesteps he probably gets tackled so it's a moot point. Isaac gets to survey the DL for a split second because they've been mostly stood up at that point, and he's peeking to check for LBs. You aren't doing that if a DL is in your face with momentum.

Also is that the correct usage of sealioning? That tends to get dropped on SJW types.


September 13th, 2017 at 9:14 PM ^

about momentum being very different there. At least for the DL. #96 is inside of Ulizio with about the same momentum on the Issac run as #44 and #48 have in the Higdon run. Both are at the LOS at handoff and in postion to hit the RB 1 yard deep.

Higdon makes it seem that way because of his momentum.The difference is that Issac immediately throttles down and hard cuts backside. He gets the ball 5 yards deep and has slowed to cut in ~ 1.5 to 2 yards. Higdon gets the ball 5 yards deep and starts trying to slow/cut after 3 yards, so his momentum takes him right into the penetrating DL. 

It might be that Higdon's aggressiveness to the hole is just right for him, and while he misses an opportunity here, it'll allow him to break other plays later. It also could be that his play was meant to more aggressively follow the lead block and Kugler/Ulizio just failed. Either way, his momentum was what kept him from being able to have a chance to read the cutback. 


September 14th, 2017 at 7:46 AM ^

Three OL got beat on Higdons missed cut. If he throttles down it's a three or four yard loss on the play. He has a split second to decide to cut or burrow forward for whatever he can get. I guess I look at that amount of time similarly to batters swinging: is a 35% hit rate really that bad in that situation? Plus higdon is known for his jump cuts once moving, not his standing jukes like Evans.


September 13th, 2017 at 8:11 PM ^

I did not watch the Higdon run much, but it did feel to me that he should get some -. But i agree it was not a -3 type of play. My only issue is that if he cuts even alittle right he has some room. And I also feel if Isaac is in, that a big gain. Isacc just seems to be better at finding backdoo cut.

I did however, watch the screen to black a lot.  I thought the exact same as you. The call was not as bad as it looked live, which i believe was the play that the crowd booed because they did not realize it was a sceen, instead thinking it was a 1 yard drag. The first rewatch my thought was there has to be a tackle or TE that shuld get out to the safety. Then n the second rewatch, I came to the conclusion you did. The TE needs to foget the backer and go upfield when there is a 2 high safety.

With how well Michigan did with 3rd and long runs last week, the lb is far more likely to bite on the playaction. Therefore, it is far better to have the lb as the unblocked man than the safety who is far more likely to diagnose and come up and make the play. I think that its probably a first if McKeon gets out and harrasses the Safety there. The other WRs had good blocks and black verse a flat footed lb seems promising.

I would be shocked if the play was not designed to have McKeon block the safety in 2 high looks.


September 13th, 2017 at 5:29 PM ^

Ulizio improved. Onewnu made the big mistakes this game, but in general, the only thing stopping Michigan's offense was Michigan. The defense helped out and the offense survived a bad day. That needs to be the only bad day, though. Need to clean things up and start clicking. Big Ten schedule starts next week. Need to get past Air Force with all knees intact.


September 13th, 2017 at 5:54 PM ^

On the one hand, it looks like Mason snaps his head at the last moment and decides in one second "Oh shit....well too late to get that guy, might as well go downfield". OTOH, since it's Mason Cole - downfield aficionado - I kinda also believe he knew that guy was probably out of the play and went downfield for a better block. Which would also support some of the stuff we saw last week where it seems like the OL are intentionally running by 1st level guys, assuming they'll overrun the play


UofM Die Hard …

September 13th, 2017 at 5:57 PM ^

Im sure most of us had some heartburn over our offensive performance.....not a lot of mistakes which was nice...but the mistakes that did happen were big ones.  Limit those to minor ones, and we are in good shape. 


Release Gentry...run him down the seam...LB wont touch him


September 13th, 2017 at 6:13 PM ^

Ulizio did not deserve the -12 last week, in my opinion. He got hit with a bunch of -2s last week for missing the DE consistently to help the TE on his block. In that case, he was clearly not going for the DE at all. Could it have been him simply not understanding that he needed to chip the DE to help the TE on his block? Sure. But it's also entirely plausible that he was coached to let the TE deal with that guy.


September 13th, 2017 at 7:55 PM ^

After reading Brian's analysis the headline for me is, "Our offense is slowly but surely improving and almost all extant problems are fixable with practice and experience...so it's mostly on Speight to get us beyond 10-3." On one hand OF COURSE b/c the QB is the most important player on the field. OTOH this is year 2 and that was the home opener against Cincinnati. "We're on the verge of a trend" may be the optimistic take?


September 13th, 2017 at 10:14 PM ^

1. Speight has clearly biffed the offense at times in both games. 

2. Speight last year had long stretches without these mistakes; he has made good passes and he makes good decisions. It's not at all unreasonable to believe that he's capable of making real improvements this year in the games that matter.

You Only Live Twice

September 13th, 2017 at 11:55 PM ^

Let's say the zebras don't rule the Perry catch incomplete.  

I only bring this up because it was a catch.

Let's say further that the zebras deign to call the blatant PI that gave Tarik Black no chance of reception.  These are game changers.  

Does that change this QB concern just a little bit?  Because OMG there is way too much attention being focused on Wilton Speight.  Who by the way will be just fine.

It's not Speight's job, or Harbaugh's job, to cover the spread.



September 14th, 2017 at 3:15 AM ^

I'm not seeing any complaining about the betting spread. I'm seeing a growing agreement that Speight seems to be passing to an imaginary receiver whose hands are approximately 19 feet above the surface of the field. Or three feet below.

And it's not getting better. In fact, it's pretty consistent going back to the start of last year: A few very good passes mixed in with quite a lot of inexplicably bad ones. And now the added fun of playing "holding onto the ball is hard and yes, my other hand is busy so I can't use it to assist like coach has asked".

I think we have more leeway here if our OL is MEN OF STEEL. But despite improvement we still seem to have some bits of empty Buckhorn cans out there that, combined with rickety QB play, won't get us to the point where the OSU game is a legit rivalry. I would rather very much like that game to once again be a legit toss-up.

Blue from Ohio

September 13th, 2017 at 8:08 PM ^

I feel good about the line.  Even though they're young for the most part, the biggest difference it seems is the toughness.  Harbaugh's bringing guys in that have an attitude and that's why I wasn't too worried about Ulizio and Onwenu.  They'll make mistakes but you can tell them guys, along with Kugler, Bredeson, and Cole like to enforce their will.  I think this will be the biggest difference in the line this year will be the ability to run the ball behind these guys.  They already showed it against a good D in Florida and gives me hope they continue to develop and can win games in the trenches in games like PSU, Wisconsin, and OSU to get a lead and hold onto it by running the ball to close the game out.


September 13th, 2017 at 10:19 PM ^

Ok, I'm late to this. 

This was a weird game and I suspect that the defense tomorrow will grade out reasonably well and the grades will thus kinda sorta resemble the blowouts we had against soup cans last year.

But this wasn't a blowout and if Cincy had any kind of real ability at all this could have been a disaster. 

Speight was unquestionably one of the issues (as Brian said, flip just a couple of plays and this offense looks a lot different on paper). The OL graded out fine. Our receivers are young, etc.

But the way the offense just ground to a halt in the second quarter was very worrying. At a time when they should have scored a couple of TDs to put the game firmly out of reach, they couldn't do... anything. Yeah, there was a bad call, but it shouldn't have come down to it in the first place.

I'd like to see the team run the ball successfully on plays that aren't RPS plusses. Most of Isaac's big gains have been big RPS wins. Those are nice from time to time but the situations will come where we will need to run the ball without RPS wins.

At least the OL is showing signs that it might be able to do that. But in time?


September 14th, 2017 at 2:57 AM ^

I fear that starting the lower-ceiling guy with perma-yips this year because, seemingly, he has the best memorization of the playbook will result in an unsatisfying result this year, and, worse, us being in the same damnable situation next year. Barring a miraculous month 33 leap, I'm not convinced that our record at the end of this year with Peters starting and taking first team practice reps is likely to be substantially worse that the status quo. My non-scientific gut says the odds of better results are about the same as for worse results. And we'd in a better position next year at this time instead of having the same debate.


September 14th, 2017 at 8:22 AM ^

"So, you think you know more than Harbaugh!?".

In all seriousness, everbody's concerns with Speight as the starter are well documented. I think we should all start appreciating the fact that Michigan's (seemingly) largest weakness happens to be a well-documented area of strength, concerning Jim Harbaugh's coaching abilities. My guess is that Wilton will show steady improvement, and will maintain the starting job all year. I think Brian does a great job of articulating how much command WS has over this offense, which should outweigh the dissapointment of his inaccurate pass attempts. Brandon Peters may have vastly superior throwing ability over Speight, but if he isn't able to do things like tell a freshman WR where he needs to be on a given play, that's a tremendous detriment.... one I think could stall this offense more effectively than an occasional errant pass. If Wilton's improvement stagnates, or god forbid, he gets any worse, I think seeing Peters play over O'Korn is a real possibility. I don't disagree about the future, and playing O'Korn over Peters would be a mistake in that regard. But, I certainly don't know more than this coaching staff.... or any for that matter. *shrug emoji*


September 14th, 2017 at 8:50 AM ^

If Peter's issue was mechanics or talent, I might agree with you.  But from what we've heard, his problem is that he doesn't seem to have command of the offense and hasn't shown up as a leader.  That might be ok at most other schools but Michigan's offense is complicated.  Throw a QB out there who doesn't have a good hold of it and you're basically asking for disaster.  That's why Wilton Speight will remain the starter.  Because he understands/commands the offense and he can make the right reads.    

Mr Miggle

September 14th, 2017 at 8:50 AM ^

Speight isn't playing because he has the best memorization of the playbook. That's kind of silly, as is concluding he has "perma-yips".

He clearly has a very good command of the offense and makes good decisions. Plus he can motion to the WRs presnap without us questioning whether he's tipping plays because he doesn't speak English.



September 14th, 2017 at 9:09 AM ^

Starting peters over speight tells what message to the team? Speight has earned the job, therefore he should have it until someone steals it from him. He hasn't been that bad and the team is still undefeated. Also, Harbaugh is only going to make decisions that benefit the team for this year. How unfair would it be to the team this year if Harbaugh started playing guys on the basis of potential for the small chance that it pays off in the greatest way possible rather than start the guys who earned jobs. That's the type of stuff that erodes the trust the players have in the coaching staff and unmotivated guys. They may have less potential but if they have earned jobs, it means they have played well enough to be trusted on the field. Don't forget that in the grand scheme of things, we have one of the best defenses in the country. They are going to keep the team in every single game of the season. Pairing an average offense with an outstanding defense is a recipe for success. It may be frustrating at times but the smart coaching move right now is Speight.


September 14th, 2017 at 8:55 PM ^

I see the defense of Speight and it sounds a lot like the same defense of Gardner early in 2014. I just wonder when can we finally admit that Speight isn't the right guy? Can it be before Michigan state please? Because losing to them due to Speight doing "ok but not bad" after airmailing open throws and sending Sparty DBs into the end zone with the football will make me permanently stop reading this sight. Everything up to this season has been SPOT on mostly but its looking like we are reaching very far for a tiny spec of hope in fancy stats. "He gave up points and stalled a bunch of drives but the numbers look really good when you arrange them just so" . When you suck you suck. 8-5 season. Then after let's admit we should have seen it coming against Cinny.


September 14th, 2017 at 10:39 AM ^

The one where you keep saying Speight missed and it was a good decision to miss. Haven't seen that play from the Broadcast angle, but that was right in front of me at the game. Seemed like the ball was close enough and Black needed to go thru the CBs chestplate and go after it. At worst you draw a PI call there, right?

I mean, maybe not with this crew. 


September 14th, 2017 at 12:45 PM ^

Just a note: In a TV broadcast "useful replays" or lack thereof are the responsibility of the Producer. In most cases, it is the producer who chooses which assignment a camera is shooting for replay and it is the producer who chooses which replay tells the story best.

Basically a director chooses the live camera shots while a producer chooses the replay. The director is merely responsible putting the replay into the broadcast.