Upon Further Review 2017: Offense vs Rutgers Comment Count

Brian November 1st, 2017 at 5:27 PM

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FORMATION NOTES. Hello, manball. Michigan's approach in this game was downright neolithic, featuring 32 snaps with one or zero WRs. Feel the Harbaugh goodness as Michigan goes with a goal line set on first and ten on their own 34 (the "WR" is Gentry and he will motion to a TE spot presnap):


Michigan did suffer to allow two wide receivers on the field 22 times; three WRs managed to get out there on 14 snaps.

Note that Michigan's formations were slightly less neolithic than the personnel: Michigan was happy to spread their TEs out as WRs for a half-dozen or so 2 WR snaps.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES. OL was the usual until Onwenu got dinged late. Runyan got 7-8 plays in his place. Peters replaced O'Korn about halfway through the second. TE was the usual: mostly Gentry and McKeon with Wheatley emerging into a more prominent role but still third; Bunting snaps were scanty. Michigan did use a version of Spanellis wearing 97 as a bonus OL on a number of snaps.

WR was mostly nobody, but when it wasn't nobody it was Schoenle or DPJ on one-WR plays. Perry was always in when there were multiple WRs. Collins got a little run and a catch. Crawford was out after being spotted in a boot this week.

RB was a Higdon-Isaac-Evans-Walker production, in order of declining carries. Samuels burned his redshirt for good in the last few plays. I try to not get peeved about RB redshirts.

[After THE JUMP: hundreds of pounds of ground cable subscriber]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 I-Form Big 2 3 0 4-4 over 8 Run Crack sweep Higdon 9
M has a bunch of shifts early in this game that are outside the scope of this charting. I’ll mention it if I think it gets M an advantage. Like here, was M pulls Gentry in to make this more or less a goal line set and Wheatley(+2) gets to hammer a DE who is lined up inside JBB. That guy gets blown out. Playside LB recognizes crack and flows out hard. Gentry(+1) reads he’s not going to get him and redirects attention to another force guy. Hard flow there means Higdon has to cut up. He can because the Wheatley block was so huge. Onwenu(+0.5) gets to another force guy; Poggi doesn’t make the same cut Higdon does, not sure how reasonable it is to expect him to; Kugler(+2) successfully reaches the NT, and Higdon(+0.5) gets a big lane. He zigs past a couple guys to maximize yardage. RPS +1.
M34 2 1 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 7.5 Run Power O Higdon 2
3-man front but one guy is tucked in near the NT and the other guy leaves a big gap; M runs outside the big gap. This requires JBB(+0.5) and Gentry(+0.5) to block down, which they do. Those guys are slanting away so it’s relatively easy. Onwenu sees no one at the first level and moves to the second but the LBs are shooting into the area the slant vacated and he has no angle. Poggi kicks one guy; MLB is free and hits in the hole. Higdon(+0.5) grinds out a couple. RPS -1.
M36 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 Base 3-4 4-3 under Run Jet sweep McDoom 9
Hill(+2) is the only relevant block here and he blows Douglas downfield. Oh, DPJ(+1) also locks up his guy. RPS +1.
M45 2 1 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 under 7.5 Run Fold off tackle Isaac 6
Spanellis in as 97. M runs an odd play that sees Hill head outside for a force player like this is split zone as a tackle pulls a couple gaps inside to the other side of the play. Cole then buries himself in the line. To what purpose? Probably to hold the backside LB? Meanwhile the rest of the line blocks down with huge doubles and there’s a gap to the Hill side. Spanellis(+1) helped move a DT and got out to a LB; JBB(+0.5) stays with him and helps stall him out. Hill(+0.5) with a kickout. M has nobody for the other LB because of this tackle pull, which is probably designed to blow that guy’s key up? I dunno. He is slow to get home so Isaac(+0.5) can run up Spanellis’s back and grind for a nice gain. RPS push.
O49 1 10 Shotgun trips tight bunch 1 2 2 Nickel under 6 Pass Bubble screen McDoom -3
Gentry and McKeon both run by the press corner and he blows the play up. I think this is McKeon(-2) as usually you see the outside guy go for the first corner since he’s got an easier time sealing him inside. This was set up for success if M executes, with two blockers on two DBs in the area, one of them dropping into zone. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)
M48 2 13 ??? ??? ? Penalty Illegal sub N/A -5
Someone avoids ignominy because there are no shots of who’s running off.
M43 2 18 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 under 7 Run Split flow counter Walker 2
Kugler(-1) is trying to cut off the backside DE, who lined up a yard off the LOS. I think this throws him off because he’s expecting stunt and instead the guy just runs down the line past him. Also, CB blitz. Guy is still lined up well backside of him and should be cut off; is not, and Walker has to dance around to get what he can. Cole(-1) also has troubles but not as severe. Frontside is blocked well as Spanellis(+1) reads the slant and adjusts to kick a DE out. Bredeson(+0.5) also does, getting a kickout. Onwenu kind of misses a NT trying to scrape over him; JBB(+2) sumos him three yards downfield. Mason(+1) gets a thumper and this is a good gain if the backside gets sealed. Onwenu(-1) could have read the NT move and gone to seal Kugler’s guy. RPS -1.
M45 3 16 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Pass Tunnel screen McDoom 7
Fairly well blocked but the timing isn’t quite right as the throw forces McDoom to stop and wait for it to arrive instead of allowing him to catch while moving forward. Perry(+1) gets a cut; Cole(-1) fails to get one on a guy who is reading screen; Bredeson(+1) gets out and cuts off a LB; McKeon has an okay block that may or may not result in a diving tackle if McDoom gets there; DL able to track down from behind. (MA, 3, screen)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 10 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 I-Form Big 2 3 0 4-3 even SAM 7 Run Crack sweep Higdon 7
Gentry(+1) seals in a playside LB trying to fire upfield but not fast enough. Wheatley(-1) comes out too shallow on a guy giving ground to get to the crack. He’ll come off that guy and find the backside LB but some damage done. JBB(+1) gets a nice cut of an aggressive force defender and Onwenu(+1) gets out to the DL Wheatley couldn’t get to. Poggi(+0.5) kind of hurls himself at another guy because there’s a lot of legs and that’s all he can manage. It’s enough to get Higdon(+0.5) to the sideline and seven yards before the safety comes down.
M47 2 3 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 3-4 7 Run Iso Higdon 4
This kind of looks like a zone of some sort but I think it’s just iso weak that catches a CB blitz. JBB(+1) sets up to kick out but is able to mirror the slanting guy inside; Onwenu(+1) follows suit. That’s a lot of movement. With Kugler(+0.5) getting out to a linebacker I think there’s a cutback lane for Higdon for a big gain but I get why he doesn’t take it; other LB is running up hard and submarining Poggi and he tries to cut off Poggi’s butt. CB grabs him, but first down acquired.
O49 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 7.5 Pass PA TE corner Gentry INT
Gentry has a step or two on the S and about a foot; O’Korn leaves this corner route short and to the inside where Harris can INT. FWIW, I’m pretty sure DPJ is blazing by his guy on a slant with no safety help, so while this was to an open-ish guy it probably wasn’t the best risk/reward throw. (INX, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-0, 6 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Ace twins H 2 1 2 4-3 over 7.5 Run Counter trey Isaac 9
Bredeson(+1) seals his guy inside. Not much movement but guy is gone. Cole(+2) checks that block and then hops out to the second level with a quickness you don’t see from OL. Onwenu(+1) pulls around for a kickout and blasts a guy out of there. Hill(-1) targets the CB and then changes his path to the S as he thinks he can get away with it; he’s not right but he’s not that wrong, either. CB barely recovers and tackles from behind at two yards; Isaac(+1) barely feels the contact until five and manages to spin near the sticks.
M29 2 1 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 under 7 Run Fold off tackle Isaac 3
Hill(+0.5) gets his kickout; Gentry(+1) first helps w the JBB(+0.5) block and then gets to a LB. Other LB isn’t fooled but his buddy didn’t funnel to him; CB is coming down unblocked and gets to Isaac’s legs quickly.
M32 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Nickel over 6.5 Pass Yakety snap O’Korn -13
Woof. O’Korn -3.
M19 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 6 Run Pin and pull Evans 6
Slot LB shuffles down presnap and comes hard; Cole(+2) manages to reach this guy despite taking a big hit from a guy outside of him. Gentry(-1) missed his block on a guy who is anticipating something like this and Evans(+0.5) only has the edge. He takes it and gets what he can.
M25 3 17 Ace trips 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Run Crack sweep Isaac 16
Rutgers blitzes right into this and Isaac(+2) has to dodge a CB to escape a -6 yard play. He does this. Nobody turned upfield so now M has the advantage. JBB(+1) manages to slow up a DL just enough to get Isaac a crease despite the bend Isaac had to make. McKeon(+0.5) gets a free one as his guy stunts away but holds it the whole play. Bredeson(+0.5) finds one downfield; so does Perry(+1). Isaac nears the sticks. RPS -2.
M41 4 1 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 8 Run Fold off tackle Higdon 1
Rutgers has a playside stunt that almost gets the job done here, with a DE diving in the backfield between Cole and Bredeson. Cole has to block a DT stunting around this short yardage gambit; DE falls in the backfield and OLB runs up at Poggi. Poggi(+1) blows him back; Higdon can bounce around this and have an easier time but is just going straight upfield, which I get on fourth and one. DE does the worm to get to Higdon and grabs his legs. Higdon may just get to the 42 but it looks like the refs(+2) give Michigan a critical half foot or so. Can we trade this in for last year’s OSU game? RPS -2.
M42 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7.5 Pass TE hitch McKeon 9
Zone; underneath guy sucks up on a drag and opens up McKeon near the sticks. O’Korn finds it and hits McKeon, ball is high but catchable. Borderline CA/MA. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
O49 2 1 Goal line 2 3 0 4-3 under 8 Run Power O Walker 13
Straight up power qualifies as weird right now, which is very Harbaugh. McKeon(+2) has a great edge block here; first he definitively turns in JBB’s guy and then he gets out to a LB he eventually pancakes. JBB(+1) was doing good work on the DE before McKeon’s help. Gentry(+0.5) gets a kick and Mason(+1) runs up to clobber a CB. Bredeson pulls through and goes to the safety. Kind of wish he’d gone for the LB but Walker(+1) runs through that guy’s tackle; Bredeson did get that S even if his ID was a wee bit off.
O36 1 10 Ace trips tight bunch 2 2 1 4-3 even LB slide 7.5 Run Crack sweep Higdon 2
Rutgers overplaying the crack, with a safety at 8 yards running to this as soon as he sees the action. I think this can still work but McKeon(-2) doesn’t ID this S as the threat and runs downfield with nobody to block. Cole(+1) reaches a guy he was in good position to reach; Pogg(+1) gets a full cut on the force guy. NT shaded to the crack and runs to it, no chance for M to get him. Higdon avoids and gets a couple. RPS -1.
O34 2 8 Ace twins twin TE 2 1 2 4-4 under 8 Run Counter trey Isaac 9
Nonstandard alignment from Rutgers implies some goofy stuff and M adjusts to it. Kugler(+2) reads the 3T slanting to him and cuts him off. This is probably enough for Isaac to rip through the gap but then that guy loses his mind and tries to go back the other way, opening it up large. Bredeson(+1) got a good driving block on the NT; Spanellis(+1) had a kickout that he drove well downfield. Isaac(+1) sees the lane and cuts away from the POA to jet upfield. RPS +1.
O25 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 2 1 2 4-3 even 7.5 Run Counter trey Isaac 3
Bredeson(-1) gets a little movement on a DT but he’s able to extend his arms and shove Bredeson off; he sheds and tackles as Isaac reaches him. Onwenu(+0.5) and Hill(+0.5) get kickouts; Cole(+1) gets a good downfield block; DT still tackles.
O22 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 2 2 Base 3-4 6.5 Run Pin and pull Isaac 21
RU aligns nobody outside the RT and he’s got a tight end attached so there’s a huge gap in the front. RU is blitzing from the slot to fix this but nooope. Gentry(+2) puts the playside DE on the ground and the cavalry pulls around him. JBB(+1) and Onwenu(+1) cut second level guys to the ground and seeya. Perry(+1) and McKeon(+1) get second level blocks; Isaac nearly scores but is just short. RPS +2.
O1 1 G Goal line H 2 3 0 Goal line 11 Run FB dive Hill 1
Spanellis as a bonus fullback in front of Hill. He surges forward with everyone else; Hill initially stopped but lurches forward.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 12 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M23 1 10 Offset I Big 2 2 1 4-3 under 7.5 Run Yakety snap O’Korn 1
Oops. O'Korn –3.
M24 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-4 strong 6 Pass Rollout hitch McDoom Inc
Tackle over. M rolls away from it and tries to throw. Short covered; O’Korn tries deeper but the guy on the short route makes a nice play to read it and get a hand on it. McDoom can’t haul in the deflected pass. (MA, 1, protection 1/1, RPS -1)
M24 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide H 1 1 3 Nickel over 6 Pass Improv DPJ Inc
Pocket’s fine; O’Korn has Perry breaking away from a LB but doesn’t fire, instead going into run around and stuff mode. He throws to DPJ, and he gets tripped. That’s usually incidental and the DB is probably going to PBU anyway. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 10 min 4th Q. Peters enters.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M23 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 7 Run Pin and pull Higdon 8
Another play where the TE side badly outflanks the Rutgers D. Gentry(-1) shoves his man in but allows upfield penetration. This causes a Higdon bend to the outside. Cole(+1) locks on to the force guy and does a good job to control him and not hold as Higdon(+1) bounces outside; his shove as the dude tries to disconnect puts him off balance. Perry(+1) cuts a DB and that gives Higdon the edge.
M31 2 23 Goal line 2 3 0 Base 3-4 9 Run Power O Higdon 12
Cole(+2) plants the playside DE on the ground after moving him. McKeon(+1) does a good job to stay attached to an OLB sort who first rips outside and then back inside. All this gets him is a ride downfield. Kugler(-1) gets away with a hold(refs +2). Higdon(+1) feels the gap inside and cuts away from the POA, This cut takes out a couple second level players.
M43 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 7 Pass Waggle flat Wheatley 15
PA, Wheatley blocks the guy in man on him and then releases smartly; wide open. Peters makes the easy toss. (CA, 3, protection N/A, Wheatley route +, RPS +1)
O42 1 10 Offset I Big 2 2 1 4-3 under 7.5 Run Split flow counter Walker 4
Gentry(+1) fires in the playside OLB. Bredeson(+0.5) kicks a blitzing corner. Hill(-1) gets around and disrupts the playside OLB; other guy bit on power action after M ran it a couple times. Walker through the line and one on one with a safety in a lot of space… he loses. Hill had a bit of a weak block and Walker had no choice but to go outside.
O38 2 6 Ace FB 2 2 1 4-3 under 7 Pass FB stick Poggi 10
Poggi is probably the first read here since this checkdown happens super quick. M’s other routes are verts. Peters has excellent timing and placement here; soft toss that’s very catchable and in just the right spot for YAC. Too short for DO but really nice. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O28 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under 7 Run Crack sweep Isaac 5
RU caught slightly off guard. DPJ(+1) gets a good crack on the OLB. Cole(+0.5) gets a good kick; McKeon(-1) momentarily has his guy but gets thrown past and his guy flows out productively. Poggi(+1) gets a good cut. Isaac has to head outside because of the pursuit from McKeon’s guy and that exposes him to a safety after a decent gain.
O23 2 5 I-Form 2 1 2 4-4 under 8 Pass PA hitch Collins 13
Collins against press, stumbles out, still pops up very open and Peters puts it on him with excellent timing. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O10 1 10 Ace 3TE H 2 1 2 Base 3-4 7.5 Run Counter trey Higdon 10
Cole(+1) gets a slant away and plants it. Gentry(+2) drives and seals his guy three yards downfield. Mason(+2) finds a linebacker and stands him up; that guy tries to peel back and Mason sticks on him, eventually burying him in the endzone. Bredeson(+2) has a similarly extended block that ends in the endzone. Higdon(+1) keeps his feet after running into Bredeson and toughs out the last few yards.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-7, 3 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
O49 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 6.5 Run Pin and pull Higdon 3
Same setup as the Isaac run down to the one but Rutgers flows much harder. Gentry(-2) gets run around by a DE who gives ground to get around; he gets into Onwenu’s pull and cuts off the outside. Kugler(+0.5) and Cole(+1) are flowing down the line with the rest of the crew and get blocks that clear the way for a Higdon(+0.5) cutback for a few.
O46 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even 6.5 Run Zone belly Higdon 4
Higdon(+1) has to cut it all the way back as Onwenu leaves immediately and JBB can only push his guy down the line into that gap. Given the blocking it looks like M is trying to hit this cutback; Gentry and Onwenu are releasing to the LBs such that they will cut them off if this cutback happens. It does. Unblocked DE shuffled and got to it after a reasonable gain. JBB(+1) got a lot of movement. RPS -1; lack of respect for Peters pull.
O43 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Pass TE hitch Gentry 13
Tempo from Michigan catches Rutgers off guard and their pass rush is hopeless as a result. Peters steps up and fires to Gentry as he sits down; throw might be a hair late but gets there before the safety as Peters rips it instead of the earlier soft tosses. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
O30 1 10 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Dime over 5.5 Pass Fade DPJ Inc
Looks like Peters is throwing this no matter what since DPJ (route -) doesn’t get off well and gets put most of the way into the sideline. He’s still got a shot at a ball punted up to him but Peters’s attempt goes into the sideline. (IN, 0, protection ½). JBB(-1) almost beat; his guy falls and this ball is going out quickly, so it doesn’t have an impact. Still tetchy.
O30 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide H 1 1 3 Nickel under 6.5 Run Split zone Isaac 10
Rutgers is in a mess here, barely lined up, and with one guy out of position. Cole(+1) locks up and drives a guy; McKeon(+1) gets a thumping kickout; Bredeson(+1) get a second level block. Isaac cuts outside away from traffic and get a nice gain. RPS +1.
O20 1 10 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even SAM 7 Pass Slant Perry Inc
In breaking slant against a zone that is there if thrown on time. Instead Peters waits a beat, unsure of what he’s looking at, and fires too late. This is candidate #1 for possible reasons Peters has not been playing. (BRX, 0, protection 1/1)
O20 2 10 Shotgun tripst TE 1 1 3 3-2 Dime 6 Pass Wheel Evans 20
Rutgers moves their LB level away from the passing strength and has three guys for the three in the bunch so if anyone’s getting Evans out of the backfield it’s a doomed LB or a doomed DE; it’s the DE. Evans runs right by him; Peters sees it, probably presnap, and lofts it to him. This is a bit short and outside but plenty good enough. (CA, 2, protection 2/2, RPS +2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-7, EOH.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M46 1 10 Ace twin TE 2 1 2 Base 3-4 7 Pass Improv Isaac 10
PA and attempted bomb that Peters comes off of. Lots of time; it runs out and Peters exits the pocket, finding Isaac on the run for a conversion. This was a two man route with two deep shots so if he didn’t like either it’s either this or check down to Hill, who does pop open. (CA+, 3, protection 3/3) Endzone shot seems to indicate there's nothing there deep.
O44 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 7 Run Fold off tackle Isaac 7
Par for the course here with the backside T doing nothing of note, really, as Isaac heads off tackle the other way. Cole(+1) wins against a DE; Gentry(+0.5) gets an okay second level block. Hill(+0.5) gets an easy big kickout as playside LB overplays the threat of a crack since DPJ came down inside. Still no blocker for WLB but Isaac can run away from him and get tackled by a CB, gradually. RPS +1.
O37 2 3 Goal line 2 3 0 Base 3-4 7 Run Power O Higdon 32
McKeon(+2) ejects playside LB from premises. Poggi(+0.5) gets a solid kick. Onwenu(+1) pulls through to the safety, who decides he’d rather fall over than try to take him on. Bredeson(+1) gets out and a confused LB is trying to hold up against him instead of running down to Higdon. Gentry(+1) sealed in another LB. Higdon(+1) bursts through the line and runs through a S tackle to set up first and goal. RPS +1.
O5 1 G Offset I Big 2 2 1 Goal line 10 Run Split flow counter Walker 5
McKeon(+2) drives his guy downfield two yards and inside of Cole and that’s easy for Walker as a result. Onwenu(+0.5) and Mason(+0.5) pull around and get kickouts. Walker just has to run at the big hole.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-7, 11 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M34 1 10 Goal line 2 3 0 Base 3-4 7 Run Power O Higdon -1
Kugler(-3) pretty inexplicably  does not block down on the DE outside of him; he’s through on the backside of a power and TFLs. Tough to judge the other blocks but McKeon(+1) turned his guy in well.
M33 2 11 Ace 4-wide tight 1 2 2 Base 3-4 7 Pass Out Perry 15
This is stealing as Rutgers is playing a super soft zone. Perry motions from a bunch to outside WR to the field and runs an out. Wide open, Peters knows where he’s going presnap and gets it out there quickly enough for Perry(+1) to dodge a tackle and pick up the first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +3)
M48 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under 7 Pass TE Y cross Wheatley Inc
Good pocket and Peters again knows where he wants to go. Wheatley’s open for a 17 yard chunk but the ball is high-ish and clanks off Wheatley’s hands. Catchable; marginal. (MA, 2, protection 2/2)
M48 2 10 Offset I Big 2 2 1 4-3 under 7 Run Yakety sax N/A -1
Welp. Peters(-3) can’t make the handoff to Evans. Damn shame too as M absolutely caves Rutgers in here. Cole(+2) blasts a DL down the line as Evans cuts back behind him, without the ball. Poggi(+1), DPJ(+1), and Kugler(+1) all get downfield blocks and this is at least a first down otherwise.
M47 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over 6 Pass TE Y cross McKeon 15
Peters again knows the Y cross TE is open and looks for him for the duration. He has to scramble out because Cole(-2) is beat more or less clean; rest of the line does well enough. He rolls out, gets pressure from a DE, and throws off his back foot out of necessity. It’s low and behind McKeon; McKeon digs it out. (CA+, 1, protection 1/3)
O38 1 10 Ace twins H 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Crack sweep Walker 1
Rutgers blitzes this to death, getting two guys upfield to pick off pullers and filling with a safety hard. This could still work! DPJ(-2) peels off his guy after he hits Bredeson and looks for other work and this guy gets to flow down the line. This forces Walker outside and allows the S an easy tackle. Walker still runs him over for a yard. RPS -2.
O37 2 9 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 under 7 Run SF metacounter Walker 9
This is a counter to the split counter they’ve been using, with Bredeson(+1) firing out away from the backfield action and locking out a DT that’s bamboozled. LB level flowing to the counter and easy to lock out as Walker cuts back. Cole(+0.5) is out there but LB blocks himself. JBB(+0.5) in position for a kick but that guy runs way out of the play and JBB goes downfield to look for work. Ways(+1) gets a good CB block. Walker pops outside of it and I kind of want him to blast upfield instead but he sheds a tackle and nears the first down. RPS +1.
O28 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 8.5 Run Power O Higdon 4
Bunting(+1) fires in the playside OLB. He falls but he’s done enough. Onwenu(+1) gets a good second level block; Bredeson(+1) kicks a charging LB well. JBB(+1) wipes his guy. NT can get to the play after leaving Kugler because Bunting’s on the ground. He does; Poggi(-1) turns around after the LB Bredeson gets goes by him and doesn’t do much. He does get the S eventually but Higdon’s already going down with the NT tackling.
O24 2 6 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 under 8 Run Crack sweep Higdon -2
RU again all over this. Two playside guys shoot upfield. Gentry(-1) gets a piece of his guy and the pullers clear him. Schoenle(-1) doesn’t really and two guys get disrupted. No force block, Higdon has to cut up and Gentry’s guy gets him in the backfield. Tons of dudes in the area and they just blew up a crack, this is a Bad Call. RPS -2.
O26 3 8 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 7 Pass TE cross McKeon 7
Pocket pretty good; Peters steps up into it as  it starts to break down, and checks down to McKeon. Gentry is very not open; can’t see the deeper guys. Sets up a makeable fourth down, at least. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(37), 1 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M39 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 8 Run Power cutback Higdon 12
Another subtle counter where backside isn’t hinge blocking to pave the way for the power. Cole(+1) fires out with the intent to staple his man to the nominal playside as the rest of the line runs power more or less. Also it looks like Kugler's angle is to the backside of this play; unfortunately he gets tripped coming out so still a little fuzzy. Bunting(+0.5) does hinge; Higdon hits a cutback lane Cole created. LBs are gone. Schoenle(+1) does get a safety effectively. RPS +2.
O49 1 10 Offset I Big Twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 even SAM 7.5 Run Power O Higdon 49
Plain ol’ power. Tackle over, though. Cole(+1) controls and turns in his DE. Gentry(+1) does a good job to mirror a LB heading outside and seal him out. Poggi(+1) gets a solid kickout against an OLB. Schoenle(+2) wipes the playside S. Onwenu(-1) pulls through the hole and doesn’t see anyone to hit; he should get the other ILB, who nearly tackles Higdon(+2), but Higdon runs through that and sets sail. WLB juked at air for some reason; this is a confused defense. Also a CB runs outside to do nothing. RPS +2.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-14, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Offset I Big 2 2 1 4-3 under 8 Run Counter Isaac 9
Counter step freezes LBs for a moment and then Isaac heads backside. No pull here, just mauling. Cole(+0.5) gets a free-ish kick. Wheatley(+1) gets a contested one. Bredeson(+1) and Kugler(+1) blow a DT off the ball with a double; Poggi(+1) gets a second level block. WLB is able to get over the big blowout double and get there with a CB; Isaac(+0.5) makes it fall forward with help from Wheatley.
M29 2 1 Offset I Big Twin TE 2 2 1 Base 3-4 8 Run Split flow counter Isaac 2
This is a check Peters makes in response to RU movement from one front to another. Also it’s tackle over. M runs at the weakside, featuring Wheatley as nominal RT. Wheatley(+2) blows playside DE out and cuts him at the end. Onwenu(+1) turns in a DT. Bredeson(+1) gets a good kick on a LB charging. Poggi(+1) moves the LB he hits. Isaac hits the hole and tries to bounce outside since safeties are rolled up at like 7 yards; he’s about to hit a big play when the force guy can barely grab him from behind. I’m not going to RPS a run that converts with 10 minutes left and a 21 point lead, but the S positioning holds this down.
M31 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-4 under 8 Run Power O Isaac 6
Excellent Mason(+1) kickout on a LB who needs some moving. He’s moved. Wheatley(+1) fires in an OLB and doesn’t let him back out. Onwenu(+1) gets around and gets the playside ILB; DPJ(+1) gets to the S. Isaac has a free path for four or so yards until the WLB gets there; no angle for Kugler. Isaac(+0.5) pounds out a little YAC.
M37 2 4 Offset I Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 7 Run SF metacounter Evans 15
Another SF counter look where the backside T is trying to carve a path. JBB(+0.5) gets a shove on a guy who’s booking to the supposed playside. Wheatley(+0.5) gets a kickout on a hinge. Evans(+1) is fast. The rest of this is free. RPS +2.
O48 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 3-4 7.5 Run Power O Evans 3
This is going to be successful but Mason(-2) gets too hot and stumbles as he’s about to impact the force guy. Spanellis(+1) fired in edge; Bredeson(+0.5) probably got a good block on the MLB that allows Evans to jet but because the force guy forces it to him there’s a lot of bodies including that dude.
O45 2 7 Offset I Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 7 Run Counter Isaac 2
Another no-pull lead play with a counter step. Rutgers blitzes off the edge and the counter step plus a lack of respect for a potential QB keep allows that guy to close the distance from behind and tackle. Split zone action is probably a nice gain here because the backside LB gets wrecked by McKeon(+1) and JBB(+1). Cole(+1) gets a good kick; Bredeson(-1) struggles with an NT slanting to him who gets across his face about a yard downfield. W/o blitz this is getting a few more but it’s not breaking bug unless Isaac can cut back. Hill(+1) got a nice downfield block. RPS -2.
O43 3 5 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 under 7.5 Pass PA flat Higdon 8
Hill cuts the playside LB to the ground; Higdon pops open in the flat; Peters makes the simple throw. It’s a little upfield but Higdon makes the catch on his feet and can turn up for the first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
O35 1 10 Offset I Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 7.5 Run SF metacounter Evans 5
Runyan in for Onwenu, who got dinged. Another gaping hole on this intentional cutback, but one ILB has seen this enough to not bury himself in the other side of the line. Runyan(+1) and Kugler(+1) kick the NT and Kugler gets to the second level. Wheatley(+0.5) and Cole(+0.5) get easy kickouts, big hole up the middle but M has no blocker for the other ILB so he can tackle Evans. First contact is at five yards but Evans(-0.5) gets just those five yards and nothing more as he gets stood up.
O30 2 5 Offset I 2 1 2 Base 3-4 7 Run Split flow counter Evans 0
Backside stunt from DE and OLB w CB blitz puts OLB directly in the running lane. JBB can’t do anything about this. Evans escapes and bounces but Rutgers rallies and he can only get back to the LOS. RPS -2.
O30 3 5 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 8 Run Power O Higdon 2
Rutgers sends the kind of all out blitz you use on third and short and Michigan gets a couple yards but just that. This is a mess and difficult to judge, but Bunting(-1) gets shed really quickly and forces Runyan(+1) to kick his guy. Kugler(+1) realizes LBs are flooding into the backside and gets enough of a shove on one to give Higdon a lane. LB who Gentry doesn’t have an angle to and the last blitzer converge to tackle. RPS –1.
O28 4 3 Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line 11 Pass PA waggle corner McKeon Inc
Waggle with two main options. Short is covered and Peters is reading low to high; he sees that McKeon(route +) has burned a CB and fires… short and incomplete. (IN, 0, protection N/A),
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 35-14, 5 min 4th Q. M’s last drive is backups and not charted.

Tell me about the babe you saw in swaddling cloth.

I mean... he was fine?


The move had to be made and Peters should be the guy going forward because he's at least as good as O'Korn right now and will be infinitely better next year since he'll still have eligibility. But the training wheels were on, and Michigan was clobbering Rutgers on the ground, and we just saw this happen with O'Korn in the Purdue game. There's a lot left to prove.

Please tell me you're about to say "but"

Okay, yes, but: good start, demonstrating the ability to alternate touch throws and blast it in when necessary. His first two throws were soft tosses that were almost casual pickup stuff:

That latter is straight butter, perfectly placed and easy to catch for a fullback. It's not a DO because it's like a four yard throw but it's the kind of short pass that makes it cross my mind.

He ramped it up for a ten yard hitch...

...and continued to fire it hard when the situation called for it. He was accurate and confident for the most part.

He also demonstrated that he has the ability to break the pocket and throw on the run, once hitting Isaac for a first down...

...and once converting third and long with a tough ball to McKeon.

Do that too often and it's a crutch, but on both of these plays Peters had a very good reason to leave the pocket and didn't appear to miss a read. Both deep routes seem covered on the Isaac catch and there's nothing much short; Cole gets beat so quickly on #2 that he doesn't have time to read until scramble mode sets in. Note also that both of these were blindside rushes. He got a shout, I'm sure, but that's good pocket presence. This also felt like good pocket presence:

Buuuuut: when O'Korn did that against PSU he couldn't go as far because the pocket had gotten pushed more and the RB block wasn't good so he got it stripped; the margins on these things are small and maybe in another situation this becomes a turnover. Not enough data yet.

Here is a chart. Two charts, now.


  Good   Neutral   Bad   Ovr
Indiana 2016   6(1) 1   2 3   1 1 3* 2   46% -2.5
Florida 1     1     1*   50% -
Purdue 6++ 14(2)+++   3 2   1 3 2   75% -
MSU 3 16(4) 2   4 5   2 4*(1) 6*   60% -
Indiana 1+ 9(3)+   2(1)   3 3 3***   44% -
PSU 3+ 9(3)+ 4 5 3+   5** 1 1   65% -
Rutgers 2(1) 2(1)   1 1*   N/A -


  Good   Neutral   Bad   Ovr
Rutgers 10++     1   2 1*   77% -

That is a very clean chart, save for the one asterisk.

Can he read defenses and come off reads, though?

Maybe? Kind of? Probably not real well right now? Peters didn't have to come off first reads much, if at all, and there were a couple of plays where he delayed his decision a split second. The most obvious and potentially disastrous of these events was the near-INT. This isn't a bad read; it's a late read.

If Peters throws that in rhythm as soon as his foot hits the end of his three step drop it's a completion with the safety tackling immediately after. The beat he waits gets him in trouble, and that's the #1 candidate for "reasons Peters was not tried earlier."

Also: Perry sits down, feeling zone. Peters appears to throw it as if Perry was going to continue at the same speed. One of these guys is a junior with a ton of playing time; one is a freshman. Once you're looking for it there's a moment of hesitation on a number of Peters's throws. I'm not sure if this is Peters waiting for the right moment or having a moment of indecision despite Perry being wide open:

Again there's a second after the drop is complete before the ball is out. Here it's totally fine because Perry's wide open. In the context of the near-INT I'm a wee bit leery.

OTOH, redshirt freshman instead of redshirt senior, and there were some blips. This appears to be a second read throw as Peters comes off of Perry to find Gentry:

What Peters would have done if the LB behind Perry stays in his zone is an open question. Hamilton did say the soft toss to Poggi was a checkdown; if so that's a quick and good read. His incompletion to Wheatley sees Peters read the right side of the field the whole way and throw when Wheatley runs into it, open:

That's not staring down a guy, that's reading a flood concept, right?

Okay, but what about the other babe in swaddling cloth?

My large adult babe?

That would be the one.

Yeah, Michigan's run game was an epic asskicking all around. Here's a slightly different version of last week's parade of one guy plays, this one featuring various Michigan players giving Rutgers folks the business. Ty Wheatley on the opening snap:

#17 TE to bottom

Juwann Bushell-Beatty on an otherwise unsuccessful run that we'll talk more about in a bit:

#76 RT

Cole stands up a charging LB and seals him inside on a weird pull-reach that looks super tough:

#52 LT

Gentry pancakes the playside end here:

#83 TE to top

Ben Mason puts his guy in the endzone from ten yards out, admittedly with some help from the guy himself:

#42 FB in a wing TE position to top

Mike Onwenu uses the power of his mind to FUS RO DAH a Rutgers DB:

(More seriously, McKeon does work on the playside OLB.) McKeon would later provide Walker a walk-in touchdown by blowing a 245 pound guy out:

#84 TE to bottom

Rutgers got paved. Even a lot of the runs that didn't work featured Rutgers getting paved. The Peters botch on the handoff featured an absolute cavern that Evans probably felt sick about:


all my beautiful yards, up in smoke

Wave your hands about just Rutgers all you want but this was the best run blocking performance Michigan has had under Harbaugh, no matter the opponent.

Sounds like a chart intro.

Yeah, this one can be Rick this week.

Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Cole 21 2 19 Y'all ready for this?
Bredeson 13 2 11 Steady Eddie this week.
Kugler 9 5 4 V good except for one play he got blown up.
Onwenu 9.5 2 7.5 Used the power of his mind
JBB 12 12 Mauler in this game.
Runyan 2 2 Few plays late.
Spanellis 4 4 Extra TE type guy.
McKeon 11.5 5 6.5  Mashers but blew a bubble screen and had another –2.
Bunting 1.5 1 0.5
Gentry 11.5 5 6.5 Twins!
Eubanks   DNP
Wheatley 6.5 1 5.5 Couple mashers.
Hill 5 2 3 Tonkers.
Poggi 8 7 Clonkers.
Mason 5.5 3.5  Bonkers.
TOTAL 120 28 81% Guarantee that's a record.
Player + - T Notes
O'Korn 6 -6 Two fumbles.
Peters 3 -3 One borked play.
Isaac 5.5 5.5 Nothing huge but a consistent diet of cuts and YAC.
Evans 0.5 0.5 0
Higdon 9   Zero missed holes and 3-4 missed tackles.
Walker 1   1 Runs angry!
Samuels     DNC
TOTAL 16 9 7 Maybe it was just impossible to screw up with the holes.
Player + - T Notes
Crawford DNP
Black DNP
DPJ 4 2
Perry 4 4
Schoenle 3 1 2
Ways 1    
TOTAL 12 3 9 Amplitude here goes up.
Player + - T Notes
Protection 25 3 89% Cole –2, JBB –1.
RPS 24 18 +6 Good win given near total lack of passing.

If you're like me the first thought you have is "that's too good to be true." Rutgers's statistically decent rushing defense seems likely to be a mirage that will evaporate by season's end. This is already in process: the Michigan game cost them almost 30 spots in the S&P+ rankings; they fell from 48th to 77th.

On the other hand, that only emphasizes what a paving this was. I have never charted a Michigan run game as dominant as this against someone other than the likes of Delaware State. 7.6 YPC on real carries, man. That's nuts.

How...? I don't...? I mean...?

This did seem to be coming as Michigan matured into the season. The Mathlete's got another demonstration of Michigan's increased run prowess for you:

image (1)_thumb[1]

Similar to the Line yards, this is OL rush success rate, odds of getting 3 yards or a first down on a run play by week. Ohio St is #1 at 73% on the season. Michigan was 86th after the first 5 weeks, up to 43rd for the season now.

In addition to paving a bunch of dudes, Michigan seems much smarter as a run unit. Let's go back to that first play. Check Gentry, who wants to seal his guy inside and finds that impossible because dude is booking for the corner. Okay, I'll just get this other guy.

#83 WR to bottom

Michigan isn't at the point where the second and third pullers see this and adjust themselves and may never get there, but there were a number of plays on which I thought Michigan was smarter about what they're doing. Here Cole checks to see if Bredeson needs help before hopping downfield for a second level block:

#52 LT

That's rare agility from an OL and a correspondingly rare +2 downfield block; if Rutgers did slant to this Cole would likely have cut it off for Michigan's profit.

Isaac's big run on third and long was a classic Never Turn Upfield example, because Michigan gets got by a (slot) corner blitz. Nobody can help Ty Isaac, so nobody tries:

And once Isaac beats that guy Michigan's a blocker up for the rest of the play. Never Turn Upfield has rarely been executed in my experience, so that's a thing.

Also, a couple weeks ago I complained that Michigan's OL didn't check for slants well, citing a chunk play from a Rutgers game a couple years ago on which Kalis perceived he needed to cut off a guy in the gap behind him. Kugler managed that here:

#57 C

This was not a universal or even common occurrence; slants did defeat a number of Michigan rushes. It's still progress.

In contrast to last week, big individual errors were rare. When runs were unsuccessful it was usually Rutgers putting on a good call, whether it was a line slant that got their LBs to a power play...

...or a backside stunt that sent an OLB directly to the gap. Other than an ugly power play where Kugler couldn't lock out a guy on the backside, a couple TE dorfs, and Ben Mason getting hyperactive and tripping over his own guy, big errors were about nonexistent.

Michigan had particular trouble dealing with corner blitzes, which tend to make all OL assumptions about how the defense intends to fill their gaps null and void. I had to look at this play a few times before I realized it was just an iso play that got a CB blitz.

Michigan, particularly JBB, blocks that one well and may give Higdon a lane to the safety but Higdon's cutting off Poggi there, probably because he's not expecting the corner to come and whack him from the side. CB blitzes are 100% run blitzes that suck at getting to the QB; Rutgers was able to call so many of them because Michigan had no passing game with O'Korn in and not much of one with Peters.

Anything as Harbaugh this week as podcast with Judge Judy or having a Halloween candy weigh-off?

Yes? I think yes. I'd been wondering if we'd see anything like a subtle power cutback play that Smart Football linked to on twitter a few weeks back. The upshot is: team runs a regular power play except that a couple linemen are actually trying to open up a backside hole. On the example he cited the Chiefs ran a power while their center hopped around a DT, opening up a lane to the backside.

So. Michigan has that "split flow" counter play that got them a critical TD against Indiana. That's on film and Michigan's run it a bunch in the Rutgers game and then suddenly there's this spate of plays that look like the Indiana counter and feature huge holes up the middle away from the nominal point of attack.

It's possible that this is just Rutgers overplaying it and a cutback but I think this looks intentional by Michigan. Kugler checks Bredeson's guy and when he moves away he goes to the second level; if that guy needed to get hit by Kugler, Kugler is hitting him to the playside to open up this gap. Also the RB's angle of attack is more vertical than it was against Indiana. Contrast that angle of attack with Isaac's on an actual counter a bit later. Michigan got two more gaping holes up the middle that the running backs looked totally unsurprised to see, so... yeah.

YMMV, but this one's pretty clear as Runyan and Kugler are splitting two guys in preparation for a jet up the middle.

Also, Mason does an otherwise crazy thing by helping Cole shove his guy way down the line.

Similarly this feels like an intentional cutback, where Cole's forceful shoving of his guy to the playside and Kugler seemingly taking an angle to the backside of the play, where he would be able to cut off a recovering linebacker, make me think this cutback is planned:

Also the angle here is vertical and actually bending to the backside before Higdon makes a decisive cut.

And then there was this weird thing, which sort of worked and only sort of worked. Check the tackle to the top of the screen pulling into nothing.

That was as designed. Every time Michigan ran this that dude did that and Michigan went off tackle the other way. I imagine that's supposed to hold the backside linebacker; it didn't, really. Here it did enough to get Michigan five yards, and that's about what it got the rest of the time. It was mostly a short yardage ploy (3/4 attempts were X and 1), so maybe that's intentional?

The lone first and ten edition of this play gives a hint as to the backside tackle pull's purpose. Watch the Rutgers OLB to the bottom of the screen widen out on the snap:

He's anticipating the crack and Michigan does pull that backside T on it. (For what good it does. Usually he runs behind the play and observes it.) He gives Hill a free kickout block and that's enough room for the RB to run away from that unblocked WLB.

This still feels pretty mysterious to me. It'll be interesting to see if Michigan keeps doing it and if they add some other stuff to play off this tackle fold more productively.

Perhaps more important than the modest yardage this play acquired was its contribution to a run game that was a flashback to that of the last couple years. It was one of a blizzard of different plays featuring virtually no zone blocking. Setting aside a FB dive and a couple of QB borks I had Michigan running

  • 12 edge runs: seven crack sweeps, a jet sweep, and four pin and pulls,
  • two zone plays, one a split zone to Isaac and the other an old style Rodriguez "belly" play, and
  • 30 gap blocked plays in eight different flavors.

That's 13 different things to deal with, and I'm pretty sure the botched Peters handoff was #14. Michigan mixed them such that Rutgers was frequently running itself out of position. If we can go back to the Onwenu shout run, check the LB Bredeson engages with:

Rutgers MLB blocked by #74 LG

That guy is looking at a standard power play and once Bredeson gets to him he thinks "oh crap" and looks back inside because he's frozen in fear that Michigan's countering him. Bredeson has no angle to cut him off but because of that indecision Higdon flies by.

Also in standard power plays that baffle Rutgers linebackers, the long Higdon TD sees a Rutgers linebacker juke at nothing mid play because he thinks he's going to eat a cutback.

Rutgers #15, ILB to bottom of the screen

This was the play right after that power cutback thing. Onwenu decides not to block that guy, which is a mistake, but the delay still gets Higdon through.

Michigan didn't just  grind Rutgers down physically, but also mentally. By the second half their linebackers were chasing ghosts, and... I mean, I get it. There's a reason that Harbaugh's been able to keep ahead of the curve on the ground and this kind of stuff is how he did it at Stanford.

Well that's certainly the largest RPS sec—

Also in the realm of RPS wins, hello wheel route.

Where have you been all my life. Rutgers is clearly shifted away from this and likely to drop the DE in coverage on Evans; it is so and it is a touchdown.

This was a good offensive gameplan.


I just want you to know this was a really annoying chart to type out, with so many catches spread over so many receivers.

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

Player 0 1 2 3   0 1 2 3
Crawford      2/5   0/2  10/12 
Black       1   0/1 10/11 
Perry 1 1/1   9 1/3 4/6   15/15
DPJ 1       5 0/1 2/4 9/10 
Schoenle           1/1 1/1 
McDoom 0/1   2/2   4 0/1   7/8
Ways       2      2/2
Collins   1/1     1/1   
Wheatley       0/1 1/1         0/1 3/3 
McKeon 1 1/1   1/1 1/1   1/1 1/1 18/19
Gentry   1/1   1    0/1 1/1 8/9 
Eubanks         1/1 1/1 
Bunting                   1/1
Hill         0/2   1/2 1/2   
Poggi       1/1               2/3
Evans   1/1      1       2/2 2/2  
Isaac       1/1         3/3
Higdon     1/1   3       0/2 4/4

ROUTES: McKeon +, Wheatley +, DPJ -

I just wanted you to know that. Also, McKeon hit for the cycle.

So... Kareem Walker now exists?

Walker gives off a distinct A-Train/Brandon Minor feel where he "runs angry," which is an idiom that's never made any sense but... I mean. Runs angry. He had a nice gain on a power play where he ran through an arm tackle and lowered his shoulder into a safety.

A couple of less successful plays also saw Walker finish his run like that, grinding out a yard or two on contact. He seems like he's all legs and hair but he brings it.

I have a bad feeling you're about to link to something you clipped just because you want to justify your occasional statements that Matt Millen is good at anything, in this case being a color guy.

Look... okay, I remember "follow the fullback" but the guy points out subtle stuff with some regularity, and has a knack for immediate ID of things. This is good analysis!

Nobody cares about the Lions! Get over it!


Literally everyone involved in run blocking. Or running the ball.

Maybe not so heroic?

I mean... the QB change was for a reason.

What does it mean for Minnesota and the future?

Please be 80% as good as this. This is going to be Michigan's best ground output of the season. I accept that. I am serene about it. But if Michigan can maintain a level of play a notch or two down from this they will go into Wisconsin at 8-2 with a real shot.

Brandon Peters, welcome to now. All you have to do the rest of the season is run play action and convert the occasional third and eleven. Maybe this one is the one.

Boy, they've got a lot of guards. JBB would probably be just fine at guard. Runyan and Spanellis are looking functional. My kingdom for pass protection, though.

Harbauffense is here. Yeah that zone stuff from early in the year is completely gone now after being 40% of the offense even after a shift midseason. That may be a matchup thing: on the Friday podcast I speculated that a team with big solid DE/DT types and a weak edge would be one M could attack with power concepts. I assume that IZ practice they put in is going to be at least somewhat useful going forward.

If McKeon and Gentry can block... I still think the jury is out on them a bit since their opposition has been weak. They both have the potential to be Michigan's best two-way tight ends in a minute here—Butt was always an average blocker.

Ben Mason's going to be just fine at FB next year. Nice to check that off the concern list.


Yinka Double Dare

November 1st, 2017 at 6:12 PM ^

Millen also does a good job of quickly ID'ing stuff on the lines. Which makes sense considering he played over a decade in the NFL on the line at a high level, but not everyone can actually verbalize it for a broadcast, and he can. It's what John Madden was so great at back in the day. 

Of course, I'm not a Lions fan, so I don't have the instant aversion others do. 


November 1st, 2017 at 9:22 PM ^

I met Millen once at Detroit Metro right before the Lions hired Mariucci.  So it was in the early middle of his Lions' tenure. Just talking with him for a few minutes, you could see how much he loved football and how sharp he was at talking about it. 

People forget he was considered the heir apparent to Madden when the LIons lost their minds and made him team President. His failings were many in a job he just didn't have the experience or background to do well. That's inarguable. And it's also pretty irrelevant to his clear ability in the booth.

I think he's an extremely interesting broadcaster at times, and I learn things when he does games. That was always the case going clear back to the 90s.  

And if you want at least some possible insight as to the "why" the Lions hired him: out of the couple dozen or so "famous" people I've met through the years, he stood out above all others on the personable spectrum.

You had no doubt you were the most important person in the room talking to him and he was enjoying the chat.  And he was in a hurry trying to catch a flight to get home around Christmas. Very likable. 


November 1st, 2017 at 6:25 PM ^

I like it. 

I was a little unclear what you meant about executing the Never Turn Upfield play, though. I get the concept very clearly, just not your meaning here. Are you just saying that a bunch of guys turned upfield (very briefly), but it still worked out? 


November 1st, 2017 at 7:55 PM ^

I believe the point is that no one wasted themselves attempting to turn upfield and block the unblocked blitzer (which would have been impossible). Instead they all went and did something that was at least potentially useful, and it turned out to be the right choice when Isaac beat the blitzer.


November 1st, 2017 at 6:33 PM ^

That soft pass to Poggi looks like the identical play to the one O'Korn had against PSU where all but one guy were in verts and O'Korn refused to throw. Except Poggi was more open and Peters had the soft touch; also the down and distance were substantially different. Routes appeared identical, though.

It's not perfect or anything, but the OL is clearly improving over the course of the season. I hope that the zone stuff gets better too, because having both zone and gap in the playbook is tough for defenses to deal with. But, if you have to pick one, pick the one that is absolutely caving defenses like this. 

There's some stuff with timing and pass location that Peters did not have here that seem like things that a couple weeks of first-team reps will improve noticeably. (Alert: Expert-sounding statement that is actually the wild guess of a total amateur ahead) Nothing replaces reps with the receivers to develop the timing and spacing knowledge needed to know exactly where to throw the football. The Evans wheel throw wasn't perfectly placed but was well-placed enough; five or ten reps of that play and he might be able to hit him in the breadbasket. 

The more worrying thing with Peters is that he seems to be a first read guy. When his first read wasn't open he was hesitant and occasionally inaccurate. Combine that with what appears to be a very limited grasp of the playbook and he's going to have some limitations on what he can do.

I mean, he's a redshirt freshman, sometimes guys don't have it all down at his age. But it seems like mastering all of the reads is something complex enough that it might not be something he is ever smooth at this season. Which is fine if he can avoid mistakes and make the occasional solid throw.