Upon Further Review 2017: Offense vs Minnesota

Submitted by Brian on November 8th, 2017 at 5:23 PM

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FORMATION NOTES. Another jumbo day for the offense. I charted just seven snaps with 3 WRs, all of them passing downs. The closest thing to a 3-wide snap on a run down was second and twelve. Standard down offense was split about evenly between 2 WR snaps (20) and jumbo formations (18 1 WR snaps, 6 0 WR snaps, only two of which were short yardage).

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MEAT

If you're keeping score that means that Michigan has all but discarded the two major changes in the offense—inside zone focus and a bunch of NFL-style empty formations—to go full Harbaugh.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES. QB was Peters, obviously. OL was the usual except for Ruiz replacing Onwenu, and Runyan replacing Ruiz after Ruiz nearly got Peters killed on that one play. Ulizio got in for the last drive I charted, FWIW. Spanellis continued in his role as a sixth OL, getting maybe a dozen snaps.

RB was all Higdon and Evans with Isaac and Walker out; Samuels only got the Malzone drive at the end. Gentry and McKeon continued getting the large bulk of the TE snaps; Wheatley was out. Bunting did get 10-ish snaps. WR was mostly DPJ and Collins in single WR sets, with Schoenle and McDoom coming in for the rare 3-WR sets. Perry and Crawford were out.

[After THE JUMP: many yards; few plays.]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under 8.5 Pass Out DPJ 8
Minnesota super aggressive in the box to start with a very soft corner on DPJ; out is easy pitch and catch. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
M25 2 2 Offset I 2 1 2 4-4 under 8 Run Power O Higdon 47
Spanellis a nominal TE. M brings Poggi from the boundary to the field; Minnesota blitzes off the edge. Slot CB blazes upfield and eliminates himself. Poggi(+0.5) almost turns upfield to chase but restrains himself and gets a kickout on a LB. Further inside Cole(+1) and Spanellis(+0.5)eliminate guys; Ruiz pulls around and finds absolutely no one. He stops and redirects to the last LB in the front seven, which is correct, but he’s stopped right at the LOS and Higdon(+2) has no gap; he runs Ruiz over with help from the LB diving into his legs. McDoom(+1) got a solid cut on a CB to gets Higdon to the S and Higdon just runs around one guy and past a second.
O28 1 10 Offset I Big 2 3 0 4-3 under 8 Pass Waggle TE flat McKeon 4
Peters doesn’t like the short route much and appears to check both deeper TEs before deciding that he should just check it down in the flat. (CA, 3, protection N/A)
O24 2 6 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-4 under 8 Run Iso Evans 5
Poggi(-1) doesn’t adjust and get in a gap further outside as the DE inside of JBB stays there. JBB(+0.5) moves him but kind of loses him; still looks like that’s a win and there’s a gap behind. Evans(+1) sees he’s got no lead block and cuts backside, which is possible as Kugler(+0.5) and Bredeson(+0.5) carve a path.
O19 3 1 Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line 11 Run FB Dive Hill 1
Michigan maybe gets a generous spot here, refs +1. Push blocking, I guess?
O18 1 10 Ace H 1 2 2 Base 3-4 7.5 Run Counter Higdon 3
JBB(+1) wins, forcing his guy off the LOS by a couple yards; Gentry(+0.5) first checks that guy for a slant and then heads to the slot LB for a kickout. Bredeson and McKeon pull around; both guys go for the playside LB, who is setting the edge; no one for the other guy. Pretty sure this is McKeon(-2) as Michigan often has the last guy through kick out.
O15 2 7 Ace 4-wide tight 1 2 2 4-3 even 7 Pass PA Y cross McDoom 14
Fake pitch and crack block by Gentry as Cole pulls; this wipes out the whole linebacker level. Flood concept to the waggle side and McDoom is wide open. Peters hits him; called back because JBB(-1) wandered downfield a split second before the throw. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +2)
O20 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even SAM 7 Pass Throwback TE screen McKeon 20
Tackle over formation with McKeon the LT. Frippery with Schoenle in motion and going into the flat as M rolls the pocket to this; throwback screen to McKeon is so open Kugler has no one to block until he gets a shove in at the one yard line. Bredeson(+1) did get a cut on the only guy in the area. RPS +3. (CA, 3, screen)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 7 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M23 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-4 even 8.5 Pass Deep out DPJ Inc
Play action, again a very soft corner gives M an easy open throw. Peters leaves this a little short and forces DPJ to leave his feet to catch the ball; wonder if this is a route that wasn’t run to expectation? Even so this is wide open; also DPJ should probably catch this. (MA, 2, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
M23 2 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-4 even 8 Run Split flow counter Higdon 77
IU redux. JBB(+2) blasts his guy way off the LOS with help from Ruiz(+1), who gave some force to the first block and then gets off to cut off a LB who bit super hard on the counter action. One LB does get over the top of this. Hill(+1) fires him out. Bredeson(+0.5) gets a kickout. Counter action fools a safety and the other guy takes a bad angle; Higdon(+2) makes a sharp cut into the big hole to help that angle out. Then he runs a long way. RPS +2. Bad play from Minnesota turns this from a chunk into a forever run.
Drive Notes: Touchdown (missed XP), 13-7, 1 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M32 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-4 even 8 Run Split flow counter Higdon 12
Playside double to the left isn't as dramatic a blowout but Cole(+1) and Bredeson(+1) do collectively move their guy and get out to that WLB who can’t read this. Poggi(+1) kicks the other LB, who did read this well and nearly close the hole. Higdon(+2) picks through a tight gap with a nice cut that makes one guy irrelevant and then runs through a tackle. Collins(+0.5) harassed a safety. Kugler(+0.5) gave a little ground but held up enough to keep this lane open. Ruiz(+1) got a monster kick.
M44 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-4 even 8.5 Pass PA sack N/A -9
Dude is sent off the edge and gets a free run; he sacks. Gentry is in a two man route so he’s got to be correct. Cole(-2) looks to be at fault here; two guys dive inside and are picked up by Bredeson and Kugler; Cole keeps blocking Bredeson’s guy and doesn’t really do much with him. (PR, 0, protection 0/2)
M35 2 19 Ace twins twin TE H 2 1 2 4-5 under 9 Run Power O Evans 7
Man, this is zero coverage with DBs in the parking lot and M still runs. Can’t really complain but wow. Spanellis(+1) and Cole(+1) move the playside DE with Spanellis moving to a linebacker. Ruiz(+0.5) pulls and moves his guy on impact but can’t quite get a seal. Dude can make a diving tackle as Evans passes; if this doesn’t happen strong possibility Evans splits two guys converging and is gone.
M42 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Exotic 6 Pass Mesh screen McDoom Inc
This is supposed to be a mega-mesh screen to McDoom underneath. He’s the only guy running a route; the rest of the WRs are waiting to block. Minnesota zones this, McDoom gets disrupted, this isn’t working, and then the ball is wide anyway. No other options, possibly disrupted route? (Not charted, 0, protection 2/2, RPS -2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 13-7, 11 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M9 1 10 Offset I twins 2 1 2 4-3 over 7 Run Counter Higdon 1
This is the same counter except Hill starts at the spot he’d get to eventually if he was in a straight I. Bredeson(+1) seals the playside end; WLB gone again w counter action and Cole(+1) finishes that job. Hill(+0.5 )comes over to kick out and Higdon(-1) doesn’t cut upfield like he has before but bounces outside of this and exposes himself to defenders. Ruiz got another big kick but can’t maintain it; this is mostly Higdon not taking the opportunity, though.
M10 2 9 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-4 over 8 Run Split flow counter Higdon 12
Hill back to standard FB and same thing. Playside end rips outside; Cole(+0.5) stays attached and pushes. Bredeson(+1) pops off on that LB who’s always lost. Kugler(+1) blocks down on an NT who shoots upfield and tries to make a play; this is a crease up the gut that Higdon(+2) sees and hits. He then runs over a guy for five more yards.
M22 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-4 under 8.5 Run Split flow counter Evans 18
Ruiz(+1) pulls and meets a guy who is trying to dive inside of him; Minnesota’s run defense is devolving into a bunch of guys trying to make plays instead of playing their responsibilities. That guy does get inside and fouls a hole that looks like it’s otherwise there; Evans(+2) smartly bounces this since dude gave up the edge. Charging S is trying to play the counter as designed and not the bounce; ditto a CB that McKeon kicks. Those guys don’t read the bounce until it’s too late because the regular stuff is working. McKeon(+1) has the awareness to reengage when the LB tries to come back outside.
M40 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-4 even 8 Run Power O Evans 60
Cole(+1) gets a slanter and pushes him past his point to open up a hole; Either Poggi or Ruiz screws up as both guys go hit a LB crashing in… although I don’t really know what either was supposed to do there since there’s no room for either to run by him. Those guys do get that guy down. Evans finds the gap upfield and gets the unblocked LB the two for one buys… and he runs through his tackle. Now M is in business. JBB(+1) peels back to pick off a pursuer; Bredeson(+1) pancaked a LB when he tries to spin back. Gentry(+1) nails a corner, and once Evans(+3) breaks that tackle he’s got the agility to dodge a safety and the long speed to outrun the last man. RPS –1.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 20-7, 7 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M38 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 under 8.5 Run Power O Higdon 1
Minnesota again shoots a DE right behind their DT so there’s no lane for Ruiz to get through. Ruiz(+1) blows that guy up and then cuts off an edge blocker. Poggi(-1) then tries to engage with him downfield but doesn't get much contact; LB I’ve been giving stick to beats Bredeson(-1) and that guy fills the gap. Higdon cuts away from it and into the DE who Poggi and Ruiz hit. RPS –1.
M39 2 9 Ace twins 1 2 2 4-3 over 8 Pass Waggle TE flat McKeon 6
Edge blitz from Minnesota gets a guy in Peters’s face right as he turns around; he’s able to sling it sidearm, awkwardly, but it goes direct to McKeon. (CA+, 3, protection N/A)
M45 3 3 Offset I twins 2 1 2 4-3 over 7.5 Run Crack sweep Higdon 7
DPJ(+1) and Schoenle(+1) effectively clear the edge with downblocks. DPJ has some issues but does the job. LB scrapes over the trash well; CB buries himself at Hill’s feet to force it back. Higdon cuts upfield of this; he has to hop over Hill’s legs and this allows that LB to get an uncontested tackle. Kind of wish Cole checked inside before heading to the S but I get it; this LB made a Play.
O48 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 under 8 Run Power O Higdon 3
Gentry(+1) blows a DE way down the line; he sticks to that guy and doesn’t come off to get a linebacker because JBB is not doubling; he expects the thing Minnesota has been doing previously where a guy buries himself in the line. Instead, good scrape. Bredeson(+1) buries his guy on a pull; Hill(+0.5) gets a good kick. Higdon maybe can bounce this since the Bredeson block has so much authority but he sees the crease directly upfield and takes it. RPS -1?
O45 2 7 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 over 7.5 Run Pin and pull Evans 19
Bunting(+1) can't seal a DE booking for the sideline but does blow him way wide; Kugler(+1) gets out and cuts a LB driving into the gap inside; Evans(+1) makes a sharp and good cut directly inside of this block that Bredeson(+1) helped carve out by significantly slowing a DT on a downblock he didn’t quite seal on.
O26 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 under 7.5 Run Iso Evans 2
Kugler(+0.5) and Ruiz(+0.5) get good push on the NT and open up gaps on either side; one LB charges into the one Poggi(-1) is headed to and rocks him back. Evans cuts backside and that looks open-ish give or take a charging safety; Poggi’s guy grabs Evans just as he makes this move. Other LB scrapes after getting caught in the wash for a moment, but the Poggi block is probably the difference between 3 and 5-6.
O24 2 8 Shotgun twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under 7.5 Run Pin and pull Higdon 5 (Pen -15)
Huge slant away from this and Minnesota almost gets caught. Bunting(-0.5) can’t quite redirect from a DE flying away from him to the LB. Decent Never Turn Upfield Job here but he only get a hit in and can’t slow him much. Other than that this is gone to the safety as JBB(+1) gets a big kick and Gentry(+0.5) works to the force guy, correctly IDing his man after it looked like something unexpected happened. Kugler gets out and cuts the playside LB on a play that looks almost identical to the previous pin and pull but gets flagged because the opposition wasn’t square to the LOS? This is a bad penalty to have in the book.
O39 2 23 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even 6.5 Pass PA Post Schoenle Inc
JBB(-1) beat to the inside and Peters gets affected on his throw; can’t fully follow through. Peters is going for the big hit here and just about fits it in over the linebackers but puts it a bit wide of Schoenle. (MA, 0, protection ½)
O39 3 23 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Pass Hitch Schoenle 7
Open soft toss to grab some yardage and set up a field goal as the teams mutually agree on goals. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(49), 20-7, EOH.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M32 1 10 I-Form BIg 2 2 1 4-4- under 8 Run Iso Higdon 3
Bredeson(-1) gets slanted under and DT starts grinding to the backfield. Poggi(+1) stops and hits him to prevent a TFL attempt; unblocked LB tackles Higdon after a few. Meanwhile Kugler(-2) falls down as he tries to release and can’t get to this LB either. Poggi stopping could have gotten this to the safety if Kugler doesn’t fall. Ruiz(+1) got a big kickout that would have helped.
M35 2 7 I-Form tight 2 3 0 Base 3-4 8 Run Crack sweep Higdon 2
M starts in a goal line formation and then migrates a couple TEs outward; McKeon is used to crack. McKeon(+1) seals his guy in; Kugler gets caught up on that block, but he was unlikely to be helpful. Cole(+0.5) gets a kickout and Poggi(+1) slashes a LB to the ground, but safety started at 7 and is reading crack sweep all the way; he meets Higdon barely a yard downfiedl. RPS -2.
M37 3 5 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Exotic 6 Pass Sack N/A -7
Kugler(-2) never gets off the dude slanting outside and a looper gets around free for a sack. Ruiz(-1) also a problem as he’s not passing off another guy and looking for help. JBB got it right though. Woo. (PR, 0, protection 0/3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 20-7, 13 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M23 1 10 Ace twins H 1 2 2 4-4 over 8 Run Counter Higdon 5
Again the same counter except FB/TE starts near the LOS. Slant away. Ruiz(+1) fires his guy way out. Bredeson(+1) gets a DE to him quickly on his pull and stands that guy up to create a crease. JBB(-0.5) comes out a little off balance and can’t adjust to the slant; he hits a second level player but cannot seal. Bunting(+0.5) through and gets a free-ish block as other LB hopped to a zone. Higdon hits the gap; Minnesota was able to force it upfield quickly and the backside CB can flow and tackle with JB’s guy.
M28 2 5 Ace 3TE 1 3 1 4-3 even SAM 7.5 Run Jet sweep McDoom 1
Probably unwise to run a jet at such a jet heavy opposition. Playside S starts running at the jet even before the handoff. Bunting runs outside to flank but does notice that the guy on the edge is shooting upfield inside of him and adjusts to block him. That still causes McDoom(+1) to bend and allows that S to get at him behind the LOS. He breaks that tackle but is still buried. RPS -2.
M29 3 4 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 8 Pass Sack N/A -7
Ruiz(-3) thinks the DT’s outside path means he’s on a stunt and that he can pass the guy off to JBB while looking for someone else. This is wrong; JBB has a rusher. Peters thunder-sacked. (PR, 0, protection 0/3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 20-7, 9 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
O46 1 10 I-Form Big twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 under 8 Pass PA FB flat Hill Inc
This is wide open for a catch and run and near first down. Peters turfs it. The last two passes were crushing sacks, in his defense. (IN, 0, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
O46 2 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 under 7 Run Power O Higdon 15
M adjusts to Minnesota’s approach here, at least somewhat, by removing the FB and having the crash DE handled at the LOS so one guy can pull. This would still be problematic if the WLB was scraping over the top but he’s not. McKeon(+1) fires in that DE; Runyan(+1) pulls and kicks out the playside LB. Bredeson(+0.5) and Cole(+0.5) move a DT and this may induce the WLB to bury himself in the line since there is a gap back there.
O31 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 over 8 Run Pin and pull Evans 5
Playside end will not get sealed. Gentry(+0.5) battles him and sort of loses but does enough to keep the guy occupied so that when Evans bounces he can’t make a tackle. Further inside Kugler(+1) slashes a LB to the ground and Bredeson(+2) fires a guy three yards downfield and eventually pancakes him. Evans has a cut upfield that he doesn’t take; his speed is sufficient to get the corner with help from a Cole(+1) block.
O26 2 5 Ace 3TE 2 2 1 4-3 under 7.5 Run Inside zone Evans 3
M caves Minnesota off the line with extended doubles; Evans starts inside but as Poggi’s guy dives into the backfield he decides to bounce since there’s no apparent force. Safety is that force and is coming down hard. Collins(+1) cracks him; Evans one on one with a CB. CB contains; Evans cuts upfield to near the first down. Kugler, Spanellis, JBB, Runyan +0.5 each for mashing the Minnesota DL downfield.
O23 3 2 Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line 11 Run Power O Higdon 4
Minnesota sends a LB and a safety right at the POA as they seem to anticipate this from M. So despite Spanellis(+1) and Bunting(+1) firing in their guys with authority and the two pullers getting hats on their guys there is a free dude right in the hole. Higdon(+1) doesn’t have much choice and bounces effectively. RPS -1.
O19 1 10 Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line 10 Run Crack sweep Higdon 3
Gentry(+1) fires in playside LB and the three pullers clear the inside unmolested. Minnesota flowing hard and forces it back. Poggi(+1) gets a good cut that’s basically identical to the Kugler chop block. Kugler(-1) is out there in space but neither peels back for a LB he can cut off or gets to the safety. Higdon chopped down after a modest gain.
O16 2 7 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 under 8.5 Run Power O Evans 1
Evans should probably cut back here but that is a tough ask unless it’s specifically being directed by the coaches. Minnesota plays this well; JBB(-1) has a guy spin off him to the playside and a LB scrapes over in a way M can’t do much about. McKeon(+1) fires in his guy; Bredeson(+1) gets to and drives a LB back; Evans can’t bounce outside because of a safety at seven yards filling the outside hole; he cuts upfield to get what he can get. RPS -1.
O15 3 6 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 4-3 under 7 Pass Hitch DPJ 10
DPJ gets press and his guy loses his balance trying to shove him out; DPJ forms up and Peters throws a pretty pass that’s out on or before the break. Conversion, first and goal. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, DPJ route +)
O5 1 G Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line 11 Run Power O Higdon 5
Cole(+1) and Spanellis(+1) pound the playside DE in. Spanellis ends up pancaking the guy. Bunting(+0.5) gets a piece of the playside LB and Higdon(+0.5) grinds out the last yard.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 27-7, 3 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M33 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 under 7 Run Counter Evans 67
Counter action erases WLB. No idea what he’s looking at and Runyan(+0.5) gets a hit, which is enough. Playside sees Gentry(+1) eliminate playside LB. Bredeson(+1) surprised by a guy diving inside of him but adjusts and fires him in. CB is coming down but wasn’t aggressive enough, probably, and Evans(+3) cuts upfield, breaking an arm tackle. He outruns most of the rest of the Minnesota D and jukes past a couple tackles for the last ten yards. RPS +2.
O3 2PT 2PT I-Form Big twin TE 2 2 1 Goal line 10 Run Power O Evans 2
Blocked well as McKeon(+1) puts his guy inside and Hill(+0.5) and Runyan(+0.5) get good kicks. Unblocked S happens at 3 yards tbough and Evans(-0.5) can’t quite get there.
Drive Notes: Touchdown(2PT failed), 33-7, 1 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M44 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 Base 3-4 7.5 Penalty False start JBB -5
JBB -1. JBB leaves(!) after this.
M39 1 15 Ace 1 2 2 Base 3-4 7.5 Pass Smoke Ways 0
CB at 6 yards which makes all the difference. (CA, 3, screen, RPS -1)
M39 2 15 I-Form twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 under 7.5 Run Crack sweep Evans -2
Minnesota shifts on the motion that implies a crack and gets a DE through as Gentry(-2) doesn’t hit the guy and he surges upfield, forcing an Evans bend and ruining the play timing. McKeon(+1) did fire his guy in.
M37 3 17 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Pass Feint screen Evans 0
This is set up beautifully with a fake screen the other way and a heavy pass rush leaving three OL and Evans against one dang defender. Kugler(-3) is the main offender here as he just runs by the guy trying to tackle. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 33-7, 13 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Offset I Big twin TE 2 2 1 4-4 under 8.5 Run Power O Evans 5
Good read by Evans(+1) as he cuts upfield; JBB(+1) paves a path by nailing a guy back. Bunting(+0.5) and Spanellis(+0.5) also get good blocks. At this point it’s 33-7 with 10 minutes left so RPS is out the window.
M25 2 5 Offset I twins 2 1 2 4-4 over 8 Run Power O Evans 1
Evans(-1) feints backside at a hole that isn’t there when running the play as designed is a good gain. Mason(+1) hammers a guy in; Bredeson(-1) does that thing where he runs into his own guy instead of adjusting. Evans could probably bounce if he hadn’t wasted some steps; as it is he gets overwhelmed.
M26 3 4 I-Form 2 1 2 4-4 under 8 Pass Hitch McDoom Inc
PA, two man route. McDoom(route -) does not sell his deep route effectively and is covered. Maybe this can still work but Peters throws a ball well upfield and inside. (IN, 0, protection 2/2, McDoom route -)
Drive Notes: Punt, 33-7, 8 min 4th Q. M’s last drive is with 2 minutes left and is not charted.

More like Goldy the Roadkill amirite

That's not alliterative. Also just because he is roadkill doesn't mean he's not a gopher. You don't go to a funeral and say "this person is now named in the manner of their demise."

okay but srs roadkill

Yes, srs roadkill. Let's get that big beautiful chart in here:

Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Cole 8.5 8.5 Did have a pass pro screwup, probably.
Bredeson 13.5 3 10.5 Second +10 week in a row.
Kugler 5 6 -1 Main guy who got that screen blown up.
Ruiz 7 7 When he hit people on pulls they moved 2-3 yards.
JBB 7 3.5 3.5 Best block on the opening TD.
Runyan 2.5 2.5 Effective late.
Spanellis 4.5 4.5 Moving people with some consistency.
McKeon 6 2 Sealing the edge much better last month.
Bunting 3.5 0.5 3 Same
Gentry 5.5 2 3.5 Same
Eubanks   DNP
Wheatley DNP
Hill 2.5 2.5
Poggi 4.5 1.5
Mason 0.5   0.5 
TOTAL 70.5 18 80% One pip short of last week's percentage.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
O'Korn   DNP
Peters  
Isaac DNP
Evans 11 1.5 9.5 Broke tackles on both long runs, new age dawning?
Higdon 9.5 1 8.5  Running power very well.
Walker   DNP
Samuels     DNC
TOTAL 20.5 2.5 18 Don't get that many long runs without your RBs doing work.
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Crawford DNP
Black DNP
DPJ 1  
Perry DNP
Schoenle 1 1
Ways        
McDoom 2   2
TOTAL 4 4 I have nothing to say about this.
Metrics
Player + - T Notes
Protection 11 9 55% Ruiz –4, Cole –2, Kugler –2, JBB –1.
RPS 14 12 +2 Many negatives in second half when S got to RB near line, but whatever.

Second consecutive 80%+ week, and 80% seems close to the theoretical ceiling for any game not against Delaware State. The blocking percentage metric has historically ranged from 50% to 80%; Michigan is scraping the ceiling. Against jabronis, yes.

But the mental mistakes have all but fallen out of the offense—at least on the ground. Minnesota had a couple plays where they shot a DE inside on the snap and got two Michigan players to block him, but that was more of an RPS thing that an error on the part of either blocker, and Michigan adjusted. Other than that there might have been one or two missed assignments for the game.

Michigan has focused on a thing and gotten it down, and now opponents will react to it. A flailing Maryland maybe not so much, but Michigan will have to have a bunch of RPS stuff in their pocket for Wisconsin and Ohio State. At least they have the ability to force the defense to overreact to something now.

How was our first extended look at Cesar Ruiz?

Mostly positive. Ruiz occasionally showed his youth, most notably on the sack he gave up.

While that is Very Bad at least he's keeping his head on a swivel for stunts? Just needs to check real quick presnap to see if JBB has a guy or not.

He also came out too wide on the first long Higdon run, as he doesn't expect Minnesota to get so thoroughly caved. He eventually realizes what he's supposed to do and moves to do it, just in time for the LB to dive at his feet and Higdon to plow into him from behind:

#51 RG pulling

An older version of Ruiz probably takes a path a bit further inside and doesn't have to change direction so suddenly.

When not doing this he was whoopin' up on people. His kickout blocks were usually huge. Here he pulls to a DE and that guy reacts like he's a defensive back trying to hold up:

#51 RG pulling

I usually give relevant kickouts a half point because they're often a mutual agreement between offense and defense that the ball will go in a gap. Something that big is a full point because on certain runs that extra room is going to be worth yards. Not so much in this game, because everything was going further inside. But sometimes. Ruiz was consistently moving whoever he impacted.

This was more relevant on the Evans bounce play. He gets surprised as the guy he's pulling to is trying to dive inside him instead of accepting a kickout; his ability to stall and then drive that guy saves Evans a critical yard or two on his bend to the outside and helps give him the corner:

#51 RG pulling

Poor damn safety #8.

And while we're talking about OL introducing themselves, Stephen Spanellis has been effective as a sixth OL. He pancaked the relevant DE on Higdon's five-yard TD:

#97 TE to top of screen

He got up to +4 in this game on limited snaps; he's the first effective bonus OL Michigan has deployed under Harbaugh. He's just a redshirt freshman and likely has the mental side of the game down if he's bombing press conferences with six dollar words. I don't know how Michigan's OL is going to shake out next year but Spanellis is in the conversation. He was a large slow guard-only sort when he arrived but he's reshaped himself considerably since then and might be a possibility at tackle; also you have to think Michigan will take a swing at having Bredeson play tackle.

Even if Spanellis doesn't emerge into a starter next year he'll contribute; Michigan is on the verge of having good guard depth. (Tackle? Uh.)

I like watching running backs doing the running part, it turns out.

Yes. They've come a long way themselves, almost as far as the OL. Earlier in the year I complained about "zero cut" running that left no question about where you were headed, and requested a cut. Michigan's backs have started doing this very well on power plays.  The most whizbang example was on the long Higdon touchdown, which happened in part because Higdon's path convinced #8 that he needed to be farther outside:

(Other bits: counter action holding WLB and other safety; JBB and Ruiz mauling a DL.) Higdon had less spectacular results on better and more subtle cuts. This is a much narrower gap that he commits to late; once again that safety is in the wrong gap:

And this is Higdon cutting away from the intended gap when something opens up further inside.

These are decisive shallow cuts that allow Higdon to maintain speed and exploit thin gaps in the defense. The big missed cuts from early in the year are gone. He'll occasionally miss a crack or do something somewhat suboptimal, but the caverns power plays carve out aren't a surprise; he's benefited from the power focus as much or more than the OL.

Then when he hits the second level he's been an excellent combo of yards after contact and explosiveness. Evans's long speed featured prominently in his recruiting profile and is not a surprise. Higdon's is. Most of the scouting reports in his recruiting profile go out of their way to mention that he's not a home run hitter, doesn't provide a big play element, lacks long speed, etc. Since "runs fast in the open field" is probably the easiest thing in the world to judge, I accepted those takes and compared him to Mike Hart.

Higdon's not Mike Hart. He's not a missed tackle genius who gets caught from behind. Higdon's run away from a lot of dudes the last few weeks, and nobody gains on him. Most guys are doing well to keep even with him. On his first long run he darted outside a Minnesota cornerback and even when both guys were fully turned and going flat out that guy couldn't make up even a step.

And if Higdon surprises by going the distance when given an opportunity, here's Chris Evans blowing through a linebacker tackle.

Like Higdon, Evans made a bunch of almost entirely good decisions, whether it was bouncing it when the edge was there or making a slashing cut upfield on a pin and pull. He is electric in the open field:

Michigan's various problems on offense obscured this; Minnesota provided a reminder. Evans is a weapon, hopefully one that will be revisited next year when throwing the ball is less of an issue.

The other stuff... tip of my tongue... throwing? Throwball? Good bad?

Brandon Peters got an incomplete, more or less. Only eight throws made it in the DSR, plus three others that I didn't count for various reasons.

BRANDON PETERS

  Good   Neutral   Bad   Ovr
Game DO CA SCR   PR MA   BA TA IN BR   DSR PFF
Rutgers 10++     1   2 1*   77% -
Minnesota 9(3)+     3 2   2   75% -

Peters could do nothing about the three sacks he took. His other negative events were a turfed pass in the flat to Hill—that was directly after he'd taken two huge sacks, FWIW—and a pass too far upfield of McDoom late. He also had a marginal throw to DPJ on a comeback that was open and catchable; another MA was issued on the throw just wide of Schoenle on second and 23 where JBB's guy got into him and affected his motion. YMMV on that one:

I thought that was almost a really good throw in a tight window under duress and didn't want to issue the IN. (I did not chart the odd third and twelve play that looked like an attempted mesh screen that McDoom was disrupted on.)

When doing good things they were pretty open good things, like Michigan's opening play.

And the McDoom crossing route that got called back. This is a second read here:

Earlier in that drive Peters had another waggle play where he clearly checked all three options before accepting a checkdown to the flat guy for four yards. The rest of it was "let's have our guy win a route against a bad corner."

So there wasn't much good but neither was there much bad. I would have liked to seen Peters taken out for more of a spin in the second half, but when consecutive Michigan drives end with sacks because of comically bad pass protection it's tough to continue doing that instead of mashing face.

What was with the Kugler cut block penalty?

I have no idea. If that's a call, the refs missed a bunch of identical plays. Kugler penalty:

#57 C

Near identical:

#57 C

That continued happening on every pin and pull, without a call. The "10 and 2" thing intended to prevent clips and the like is stupid since it relies on the body position of the defender, and that can change between your decision to cut and arrival. Also as demonstrated there's no consistency on this call.

Any fun scheme stuff?

Michigan was largely content to pave Minnesota with the same power plays after they got out to a lead, but the first drive had a couple of new wrinkles. There was the above-embedded crossing route to McDoom on a fake crack sweep that erased the whole linebacker level, and after that got called back Michigan hid McKeon on a tackle over play for an easy six on a throwback screen:

This is a good time to remind people that redzone offense is not a thing. After starting the year with just one touchdown in 10 tries, Michigan has 13 TDs in their last 17 trips. Did they go from the worst offense in the world to elite? No. They went from bad to okay-ish. Is redzone offense a small sample size phenomenon that counts first and ten from the 20 the same as someone getting tackled at the one yard line? Yes.

One other play of note: Michigan had this screen set up for a million yards.

Alas.

Receivers?

This week's receiving chart is the most unremarkable yet.

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

  THIS WEEK   SEASON
Player 0 1 2 3   0 1 2 3
Crawford      2/5   0/2  10/12 
Black       1   0/1 10/11 
Perry   9 1/3 4/6   15/15
DPJ 0/1 2/2    5 0/1 2/5 11/12 
Schoenle   1/1   1   1/1 2/2 
McDoom 1     1/1   5 0/1   8/9
Ways     1/1   2      3/3
Collins         1/1   
Wheatley             0/1 3/3 
McKeon 3/3   1/1 1/1 21/22
Gentry     1    0/1 1/1 8/9 
Eubanks         1/1 1/1 
Bunting                   1/1
Hill     1 0/2   1/2 1/2   
Poggi                     2/3
Evans   1/1    1       2/2 3/3  
Isaac               3/3
Higdon       3       0/2 4/4

ROUTES: DPJ +, McDoom -

There is nothing to say about that, except maybe DPJ should be able to dig that ball out that he did not dig out.

Heroes?

Virtually the whole blocking outfit again, with special emphasis on Bredeson, Cole, and Ruiz—except Ruiz gave up that sack. Both running backs made the most of their blocking.

Maybe not so heroic?

Pass protection.

What does it mean for Maryland and the future?

Please be 80% as good as this. This will be Michigan's best ground output of the season. I accept this. If I keep saying this maybe by the time Michigan gets to Ohio State they will average 25 yards a carry.

They're probably 80% as good as this. Michigan will be tested physically by Wisconsin and Ohio State; mental errors have become rare as Michigan focuses on one thing. And I've got growing confidence that Michigan will be able to cope physically against just about anyone. Main concern going forward is whether the passing game can back anyone off enough to make the improved blocking count against the big boys.

Goodbye, zone. One play that was not gap-blocked.

Ruiz is already a mauler. There was little difference between him and Onwenu. The big obvious bad thing was big, obvious, and bad, but aside from that he ejected people. Excellent sign for Ruiz's presumed ascension to the starting C job next year.

Michigan has a lot of guards. In addition to Ruiz, Runyan and Spanellis also played well. Ben Bredeson's entrenched at left guard but I wonder if they give him a test drive at tackle this spring just in case he's clearly the top option there; the dropoff on the interior will probably be minimal even though he's playing very well right now.

Tight end blocking has greatly improved. McKeon, Gentry, and Bunting all did work this week.

That's a positive increment for Peters. A small one, to be sure, but issues in the passing game were mostly not his fault.

Comments

stephenrjking

November 8th, 2017 at 10:45 PM ^

Sure it was. A completely defensible decision that anyone in that position would make.

Still would've been nice to have a redshirt senior year from him instead of have him anchoring a mediocre line that played out the string under a doomed Hoke, if only Hoke had developed other tackle options. We didn't get Wilson or Hamilton, either--this is all revisionist fantasy. 

A2toGVSU

November 8th, 2017 at 10:57 PM ^

Is approaching the "Never Forget" levels of RR defensive backs.

Guys who could have potentially helped this season:

LTT - left team
Newsome - hurt
Hamilton - decommitted
I. Wilson - whatever that mess was
Swenson - processed

TrueBlue2003

November 9th, 2017 at 1:43 AM ^

feel better, the latter three probably wouldn't have helped much this year.  I know RT has been bad but unlikely any of those three as true or RS freshmen would be better.

Wilson isn't on the 2-deep for UGA, even though another lower ranked OT in his class is starting. Hamilton is backing up a true freshman that passed him on the depth chart and Swenson isn't on the 2-deep in his second year at OU.

It's next year that we'll really regret not having more third year tackles in the program.

OwenGoBlue

November 8th, 2017 at 8:51 PM ^

The over-litigated tackle situation isn't ideal for 2018 but it's not going to be a chasm.

  • JBB is showing improvement as a pass blocker. He's not going to be a plus protector but if he can get to eh there and maul in the run game that's fine for a RT. 
  • For the other spot (or both if someone beats out JBB) there are a ton of bullets with Hudson/Stueber/Honigford/Newsome/Runyan/Ulizio/Filiaga/Bredeson.
  • Good OL coaches who are clearly improving young guys rapidly as evidenced by players on the field this year.
  • The stunt/blitz pickup stuff is the bigger pass pro weakness of this team and that should get better with experience. 

EGD

November 8th, 2017 at 6:18 PM ^

Prediction: (1) Peters hits DPJ for another important conversion on a quick out this weekend against Maryland, (2) DPJ torches a Wisconsin DB on an out & up the following week.

ST3

November 8th, 2017 at 6:40 PM ^

We rag on JBB's pass blocking, but the three sacks were on Cole, Ruiz, and Kugler. In addition, he had fewer protection minuses than those guys. He is not great at protection, but you can live with him at RT because the QB can see when he whiffs. LT in '18 is the big question.

bronxblue

November 8th, 2017 at 6:34 PM ^

Feels like Wisconsin is going to get a bit of the Michigan vs. PSU treatment where they show a bunch of wrinkles because they've had about a month to prepare and rep counters to stuff they do really well. I'm excited to see what the running game looks.

Gulogulo37

November 9th, 2017 at 5:35 AM ^

Man, it probably won't happen, but I really hope we win that game comfortably. That would allow us to keep some things for The Game. Obviously bagging it against Wisconsin doesn't guarantee a win against OSU, but honestly, I'm not sure I'd like Harbaugh to throw every little trick he has out there to beat Wisconsin if it means saving it for OSU. Wouldn't mind a little of Dantonio's mentality against Michigan.

goblue4321

November 8th, 2017 at 9:23 PM ^

Pretty sure he was in last series I saw a #1 and a big tattoo on arm that’s Crawford not Thomas, and I believe Crawford has been in dog house since Penn state, he has been a big disappointment this season. Not only has he had zero production but he’s made a lot of mental mistakes and flags

markusr2007

November 8th, 2017 at 6:49 PM ^

Michigan needs to make some moves throwing on Maryland with positive results.

Peters needs that experience. Harbaugh especially mentioned the importance of Peters throwing on the sideline during defensive series to stay warmed up and ready. Clearing a throwing area on the UM sideline instead of Peters sitting on bench.

Wisconsin’s secondary is talented and experienced and a major challenge for young Peters.

Ohio State’s secondary and LBs in pass defense have been inconsistent at best and a train wreck at worst (vs Oklahoma, vs Indiana, vs Iowa). I actuallu think Peters will have more success throwing vs the Buckeyes than the Badgers.

Whats lacking for Peters is a big game throwing the ball and TD throws vs Michigan’s urgency to establish a running game. Hopefully he gets that vs Maryland.

I think Michigan will have major issues rushing against Wisconsin and Ohio State because those teams are not Rutgers or Minnesota.

M-Dog

November 8th, 2017 at 7:58 PM ^

Have we ever been successfful zone blocking?

I can think of lots of bad games with it:

(This was not a screen.)

But I can't think of any good games with it.

 

YoOoBoMoLloRoHo

November 8th, 2017 at 8:04 PM ^

The guy was fantastic at RG and showed exceptional agility, hip explosion and speed (cannot get over his sprinting after Higdon). He has a feeling for space and holding blocks. The blown pass block was tough, but you can see him processing the play and spacing correctly initially - I doubt he makes that mistake again. Impossible to judge line calls, but he is physically better than Kugler already.