+22 in 50 snaps: okay [Patrick Barron]

Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs MSU Comment Count

Brian October 31st, 2018 at 2:24 PM

image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumb_thumb_thu[1]SPONSOR NOTE: Reminder that Matt is hanging out at the Charity Tailgate at 327 East Hoover (if you were at the preseason MGoEvents this year and last it's the same place). It's right next to the train tracks on Hoover. The band goes right by it on their way to the stadium, which is cool. Say hi.

When not tailgating Matt is also a person who will get you a mortgage right quick from the comfort of your own home.

FORMATION NOTES: Just one 3-3-5 snap, which didn't go so hot. Michigan is continuing with their rush package with Uche/Dwumfour/Paye/Winovich across the front, and semi-frequently went with a dime behind that. I have been filing Uche as a linebacker but I'm on the verge of calling him a DE.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Paye and Winovich nearly omnipresent with Hutchinson picking up a few late snaps. DT snaps got split about equally between all five contributors (Solomon, Marshall, Kemp, Mone, and Dwumfour).

Bush and Hudson omnipresent, as per usual. Ross and Gil split WLB snaps. Uche got about 20 snaps as a rush end; cameos from Furbush and Glasgow.

Secondary the usual. Long and Hill got more snaps than Watson but it was close to even. Thomas got in at the end.

[After THE JUMP: one broken QB, barely more yards]

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-2-5 4-3 even SAM Press one high Run N/A Zone counter Winovich 1
Jet one way, attempted counter the other with the FB lined up in a wingback spot coming around to lead it out. M runs a twist between Winovich(+2) and Mone on the backside that sees Winovich shove an OL down the line and pop up at the POA for a tackle. RPS +1.
O21 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 even SAM Press one high Pass 4 Flare Bush 15
Bush(-2, cover -1) has a lateral deficit of a yard or two presnap and is in man coverage; he has to run through some traffic to get to this and is a little slowed; Scott is able to shrug off his tackle(-1); Kinnel cleans it up.
O36 1 10 ??? ??? ??? ? Run ? ? ? 3
Tape does not have this play.
O39 2 7 Shotgun empty 4-2-5 Dime over Press one high Pass 4 Slant Kinnel 8
Kinnel(-0.5, cover -1) is in okay position here but this is one of their trundling running backs and it feels like he should be a half-step closer. No opportunity to make a play on the ball because it’s way out in front; RB makes a terrific one handed stab to bring it in.
O47 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 under Press two high Pass 5 Fade Long Inc
Pocket clean(pressure -2). Long(-2, cover -2) is beat over the top on a regular ol' fade; won't be able to tackle. Davis drops it. Metellus(+1) is over the top of this and has a good shot of jarring the ball loose on the catch by delivering a heavy, clean hit.
O47 2 10 Wildcat 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 over Press two high Run N/A Inverted veer keep Bush 3
No edge but a keep anyway; would be interesting to see if Gil and Kinnel could keep up with Scott. Instead it’s Jefferson. Solomon(+1) keeps the LB level clean, occupying two guys and not going anywhere; he’s able to rip past them by the end of the play. Bush(+0.5) gets a free run and gets there. Kinnel(+0.5) redirects from initial Scott pursuit to help tackle.
50 3 7 Shotgun empty Rush D 4-0 quarter Press two high Pass 4 Sack Uche -10
Coverage sack as all five guys are covered(+3), with Hudson(+0.5), Kinnel(+0.5), and Watson(+0.5) the guys on the reads Lewerke (might) go through. Winovich(+1) comes through an attempted cut and draws Lewerke’s attention. Uche(+2, pressure +2) is stalled for a brief moment on contact with the LT but bashes his hands down twice and keeps working his feet to dip around the guy. He gets around at eight and sacks; Winovich’s threat sent QB into Uche.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 8 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O12 1 10 Ace tight jumbo 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press two high Run N/A Power O Marshall 9
MSU comes out in a huge set with what looks like some bonus OL and 0 WRs. M puts out a 3-3-5. The usual happens. Solo NT Marshall(-2) gets put on the ground by a brief double, gap up the middle. Paye is slanting to it when a pulling G blasts him. Bush gets two guys, nine yard run. RPS -2.
O21 2 1 Offset I jumbo 4-2-5 4-3 even Press two high Run N/A Power O Marshall 2
Better here as Marshall(+0.5) is able to keep his feet and fight back to the hole; Paye(+0.5) helps, sliding down and picking off a puller. Bush(-0.5) gets whacked and can’t fill the gap effectively.
O23 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-2-5 4-3 even SAM Press two high Run N/A Counter edge pitch Winovich 2
Power look one way, pitchout the other. Winovich(+0.5) and Ross(+1) are both able to string the play out, with Ross beating a block to do so.
O25 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 Nickel even Press one high Pass 4 Throwaway Winovich Inc
Attempted rub by MSU is defeated as M leaves both LBs in robber zones. Winovich(+1, pressure +1) rips inside the RT, causing Lewerke to bolt; Winovich then converts to chase. Hill(+0.5) in the pocket of the corner route to this side of the field and QB boots it OOB. Probably on purpose. Cover +2, RPS +1.
O25 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel even Press one high Pass 3 Dumpoff Ross Inc
QB has time as M rushes just three but he wants the ball gone. Watson(+1, cover +1) puts an attempted fade in the sideline. Checkdown to Ross(+1, cover +1) who’s on the RB and provides a tiny window. QB misses badly.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 12 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 even SAM Press one high Pass 4 Fade Long Inc
Long(+1, cover +1) in the back pocket, head around. Ball way too long. Pocket(pressure -1) good on quick fade.
M20 2 10 Ace twins 4-2-5 4-3 over Press two high Run N/A Jet sweep Kinnel -1
Motion one of their big ol RBs to a wingback spot and then jet with him. M in two high and Kinnel(+2, tackling +1) is already moving to this on the snap. Hudson(+0.5) forces it back and Paye(+0.5) redirects outside; Kinnel completes the TFL but this is going nowhere anyway. RPS +2.
M19 3 11 Shotgun trips tight bunch Rush D Dime over Press one high Pass 4 Dig Winovich Inc
Winovich(+2, pressure +2) around the corner at 8-9, dipping and getting a hit on Lewerke as he throws. Ball zings wide. Hard to tell who this is at. The TE is well covered by the WR on a post behind that is open for a potentially huge gain. There’s a lot of pointing pre-snap and I think Metellus(-2, cover -2) gets lost here; Watson is in outside leverage against this bunch and clearly needs S help to the inside, which is not there.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 10 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O6 1 10 Wildcat 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 even Press one high Run N/A Inverted veer keep Winovich 1
Kinnel(+0.5) creeps down to five yard and dissuades the give. He does so without spending himself on the back and he’s easily able to redirect after the mesh. Winovich(+1) blasts the puling G back and then shows up in the gap. Kemp(+1) shoots the gap and picks off the other puller. Ross(+0.5) is free and doesn’t screw up. Those guys meet. RPS +2. This is dumb and obvious.
O7 2 9 Shotgun trips TE 4-2-5 Exotic Press one high Pass 5 Slot fade Metellus Inc
M’s outside leverage on slots gets tested for the first time this year. Metellus(+2, cover +2) easily over the top, shutting the route off entirely. Lewerke throws it OOB anyway but there is basically no throw that is anything other than a contested circus catch.
O7 3 9 Shotgun empty Rush Q Dime even Press two high Pass 3 Fade Watson Inc
Davis gets maybe a step of separation from Watson but he’s well outside the numbers maybe 1.5 yards from the sideline so the window here is very narrow. Lewerke punts it OOB. +0.5, cover +1.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 7 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Offset I 4-2-5 4-3 even Press one high Run N/A Pin and pull Bush 6
M seems to expect jet action here and sends Metellus down off the edge. Hudson is to that side and steps to it; Bush(-0.5) also steps to it. This gives a tackle the ability to block him and prevents him from getting to the hole. Well, he gets pushed past it. Same thing. Rest of the play is fine but M would be better off if Gil(-0.5) was able to hit his guy harder and shut the lane down more or force it back further inside. Bush did do enough to get Scott falling as he trips over the OL blocking Bush; Kinnel and Hudson just have to clean up.
O26 2 4 Offset I twins 4-2-5 6-1 over Press two high Run N/A Power O Winovich 0
Odd formation with two LB types flanking the line and Bush pulled out over the slot; Ross is the only ILB and he’s not centered. MSU goes tackle over and runs a power at the tackle over that gets thunked. M slants away. Winovich(+1) drives hard enough to pick off the puller and Ross(+0.5) scrapes over unblocked to tackle. Solomon(+1) fired his guy back and was able to come off a block and get to the gap as well. RPS +1.
O26 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide Rush D Dime even Press one high Pass 4 Slant Hill Inc
M zones double slants to the field in way that looks like they’re expecting this and trying to trap MSU. Looks a lot like M’s conventional approach with Hill in outside leverage on the slant and Watson in press. Kinnel(+0.5) creeps down to ~7 yards, though, and jumps the slot slant. Hill(+1) backs off a bit and then jumps the exterior slant, which is thrown. Lewerke either pulls the string on this as he realizes disaster is coming or just misses badly; if thrown well this is a pick six. RPS +2. Cover +3.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 4 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O15 1 15 Shotgun 3-wide 3-2-6 3-2 dime Press one high Pass 5 Out Ross 15
MSU gets the weird but explained delay call before this. MSU has rock to M’s scissors here as they half roll the pocket to a CB blitz (actually from Kinnel in the slot) and have a WR running into the vacated space. Lewerke stops and fires, damn near missing this one too. Stewart digs out a 1. Ross(-1, cover -1) did step to the LOS instead of getting depth here. RPS -1.
O30 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Rush D Nickel over Press two high Pass 4 Fade Long Inc
Long(+2, cover +2) wins over the top on the fade and is able to grind Davis so the pass is well long. Long’s even got a moment where he’s protecting against the back shoulder that isn’t actually coming. All over it. Uche(+1, pressure +1) around the corner at 7, no choice but the throw.
O30 2 10 Shotgun 2TE twins Rush D Nickel even Press two high Pass 4 Sack Uche -4
Davis goes down. This probably doesn’t have a big impact on the play because Lewerke looks the other way for two reads and gets swallowed just after he comes to that side of the field. Stunt gets Uche(+1, pressure +2) through as he’s pressing the gap too hard for the LG to get over after Paye(+1) effectively threatened him, feigning a rush, before looping around and drawing the T. Coverage(+3) suffocating.
O26 3 14 Ace twins twin TE Rush D Nickel even Press two high   4 Rollout Hitch Long Inc
MSU PA, rollout. Two man route that wants a wheel as the other WR picks off Hill. Long(+2, cover +2) jams the attempted pick, which gets Hill(+1, cover +1) over the top of that easily. Long then blankets the comeback. Lewerke throws it anyway and this is another ball that’s an INT if it is accurate.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 1 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O17 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 Nickel even Press one high Pass 4 Bubble slant Watson 20 +15 pen
PA, outside looks like a bubble. This brings the slot guy up. Watson(-2, cover -2) engages with the WR and then gets beat by the call as he assumes he needs to stay outside to contain the bubble; when WR breaks inside he’s wide open for a catch and run. RPS -2. Winovich(-2) gets a late hit on Lewerke that is very late.
M48 1 10 Shotgun trips H 4-2-5 4-3over Press two high Run N/A Speed option Mone 5 + 15 pen
This is run to the boundary, which also has all the WRs. Winovich(-1) charges and makes the pitch the easy read. Kinnel(-1) kicked and sealed upfield. M a bit lucky as back takes a -1 in hypothetical UFR with a bad outside angle and clumsy upfield cut that robs him of yards. Mone(+0.5) and Bush(+0.5) are able to flow and tackle after a meh gain. Bush then gets the first of a few completely nonsense unsportsmanlike calls. He tackles. He gets up. He flexes and shakes his head no. Flag. Refs -3.
M28 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-2-5 Nickel even Press one high Pass 4 Fade Hill Inc
This is thrown yards OOB. Hill(+0.5, cover +1) reacts to it well before the WR, who just keeps running, but no chance on the ball.
M28 2 10 Shotgun quad empty 4-2-5 Dime over Press one high Pass 5 Throwaway Winovich Inc
Gil(+0.5) shows blitz and runs it well, first threatening the RG and then heading outside. Winovich(+2, pressure +2) gets the same run between the LG and LT that Uche did on his sack. He splits the two OL and is about to do the same when Lewerke dumps it out to a very doomed decoy bubble route. WR smartly drops it on purpose.
M28 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Rush D Dime even Press two high Pass 5 Throwaway Winovich Inc (Pen -10)
Another stunt MSU can’t pick up, with Winovich(+1) and Dwumfour(+1) combining to flush and then contain the QB. Pressure +2. QB rolls and fires but I’m filing this as a throwaway despite a noble, futile attempt to bring it in on the sidelines. Never catchable. Winovich draws a hold, M takes it to boot MSU out of FG range.
M38 3 20 Wildcat 3-wide Rush D Nickel even Press one high Run N/A Speed option Winovich 0
Winovich(+2) fires the TE to the playside back, forcing a quick cut up and erasing the option threat. He then comes back to erase a gap or two and help tackle. Paye(+1) drives down the line to finish.
Drive Notes: Punt,7-0, 13 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
M7 1 G Offset I 4-2-5 4-3 over SAM Press one high Run N/A Pin and pull Bush 3
Jet motion, he stops, orbit motion the other way, pin and pull the other other way. Another tackle over, with both C and playside G pulling. Paye(-2) gets sealed inside by this guy, not blown up but super passive, not even fighting to get outside. Big hole now as OL get to Hudson and Kinnel(+0.5), who is able to force it back for Bush(+2, tackling +2), who is unblocked but has a ton of ground to cover against a very legit back and is able to make a touchdown saving tackle.
M48 2 G I-Form Big twin TE 4-2-5 Goal line Press zero Pass N/A Philly special N/A 4
Why does it get to be Philly Special when college teams have been running this for years? RPS -2.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 11 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O23 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 Nickel even Press two high Run N/A Inside zone Solomon -1
Solomon(+1) stands up his guy and two gaps him effectively. Marshall(+0.5) got a double and stood it up, no release. Winovich(+2) goes WOOP and is around the RT. Once back slows up because of the DTs Winovich eats him.
O22 2 11 Shotgun empty 4-2-5 Dime even Press one high Pass 4 Slant Long Inc
Rare accurate pass is at Long(+1, cover +1), who is in the hip pocket and appears to whack both arms of the WR as the ball arrives to help force an incompletion.
O22 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide Rush D Dime even Press one high Pass 4 Sack Dwumfour 0
Dwumfour(+1, pressure +1) around his man quickly and gets pressure up the middle after coverage(+1) for about one read. Winovich(+1, pressure +1) is getting doubled, ish, and fends off a TE for a long time, eventually forcing it back for a zero yard sack.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 5 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
50 1 10 Ace tight jumbo 4-2-5 4-3 over Press two high Run N/A Power O Paye -1 (Pen -15)
Kemp(-2) fires upfield and then gets knocked over by a chip. Paye(+2) gets depth on his guy and causes the lead blockers to split. A second guy hits Paye, which means Ross is free in the interior gap. Scott presses outside. Hudson(+1) runs up and chops the other OL in the backfield, forcing Scott inside. Paye avoids the second blocker, sheds the initial one, and stands Scott up at the LOS. Bush(+0.5) helped force it back to him. MSU gets a suuuuper weak PF call on the guy who pancaked Kemp, refs +3.
O35 1 25 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 even SAM Press one high Pass 5 Drag Kemp Inc
Kemp(+2, pressure +2) goes right through the new C, who is a RFR walk-on, after Allen exits. Forces a throw. Metellus(+0.5, cover +1) is about step for step laterally and will tackle after bending around an attempted pick but the WR isn’t ready for the ball because it had to come out so fast.
O35 2 25 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 Nickel even Press one high Pass 4 Clearout slant Metellus 8
Similar to play M ran previously with a WR running vertical downfield and a slant/angle behind it. Metellus(+0.5) has to clear the disruption but plays it soft and tackles immediately, which is fine given D&D.
O43 3 17 Shotgun 3-wide Rush D Nickel even Press two high Pass 4 Throwaway Winovich Inc
Lewerke has nothing as both exterior routes lose over the top and the interior ones get brackets. Cover +3. Winovich(+2, pressure +2) drives through the LT and is about to sack; QB boots it. Comprehensive.
Drive Notes: Punt,7-7, 2 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun empty 4-2-5 Dime even Press two high Pass 4 Slot fade Gil Inc
Throwing at the big RB again, he’s in the slot. Gil drops to this route, more or less, but I think he’s open (cover -1), at least reasonably so. Lewerke throws it to Tacopants.
O25 2 10 Shotgun trips 4-2-5 5-1 nickel Press one high Pass 4 Slant Long Inc
Major missed opportunity for MSU as Long(-1, cover -1) gets beat on the slant; Kinnel(-2) goes down on the crappy turf. If this is completed it’s a Long tackle or a TD, probably. I think Long has recovered enough to tackle, but we don’t get to find out as Lewerke again misses badly.
O25 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Rush D Nickel even Press two high Pass 4 Fade Watson Inc
Watson(+1, cover +1) jams this and it’s going to take a perfect pass to convert. Nope.
Drive Notes: Punt,14-7, 2 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-2-5 4-3 under Press two high Pass 4 Scramble N/A 3
M show zone and Watson(+1, cover +2) does a good job shadowing one WR and then coming back on another when he reaches the sticks.Metellus picks up the deeper guy, nobody open. No edge(pressure -1); Lewerke gets what he can.
O28 2 7 Shotgun trips TE 4-2-5 4-3 under Press one high Pass 5 Rollout out Metellus Inc
Rub route out gets the slot open enough for a completion and 3–6 yards depending on the Metellus(+0.5) tackle; Lewerke misses badly. Winovich(+0.5) got up to cut off the edge and maybe make this uncomfortable.
O28 3 7 Shotgun trips 4-2-5 Nickel over Press one high Pass 3 Improv Long Inc
QB has the slot on the same route M hit for a conversion earlier as M has a bust from either Hudson or Kinnel. I think it’s Hudson(-1, cover -1), YMMV. This is more bad QB play than an achievement, but Winovich(+1, pressure +1) does beat the RT and flush. Long(+1, cover +1) sticks with his guy after he breaks to an improv route. If the ball is accurate Long is the guy catching it, again.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 9 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O13 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-1-6 Dime even Press one high Pass 4 Scramble Dwumfour 10 + 15 pen
Lombard in, scrambles out after coverage(+1) is initially good. Winovich(+1) gets pressure by spinning inside the LT. Dwumfour(-2, pressure -1) is spying and gets a little lost. He eventually flows and forces Lombardi out after about 9 yards… and then gives a late shove.
O38 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-1-6 Dime even Press two high Pass 4 Fade Thomas Inc (Pen +15)
Fade at Thomas draws a chintzy PI call. This is mutual arm-fighting, mostly, but it’s time to ref the score, I guess.
M48 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-1-6 Dime even Press one high Pass 5 Fade Long Inc (Pen +5)
Long(+1, cover +1) puts Stewart in the sideline and the window here is nonexistent. OOB anyway. Marshall(-1) didn’t get off the field before the snap. Refs short MSU a yard on the penalty.
M43 1 5 Shotgun empty 3-1-7 3-2 dime Press one high Pass 5 Fade Bush Inc (Pen +15)
Bush(+1, cover +1) doesn’t bite on a slant and makes the the window here nonexistent again; long. Winovich(+2, pressure +2) clowns the RG and hits Lombardi just after the throw, picking up one of those new low-hit roughing PFs. This should not be a call (refs-2), as the contact is clearly above the knee. Refs short MSU five yards!
M33 1 10 Offset I twin TE 4-1-6 Exotic Press one high Pass 4 Waggle comeback Long 9
M in a pass D, waggle does get the corner. One man route on which Long(-1, cover -1) does get beat. Lombardi makes it way tougher on his WR than it needs to be.
M24 2 1 Shotgun trips 3-1-7 Exotic Press one high Pass 5 Sack Bush -11
Attempted screen. Dwumfour(+1) shoves his guy back and is in the area; QB doesn’t want to throw, and that’s all she wrote when Bush(+2, pressure +3) gets a free run.
M35 3 12 Shotgun 4-wide Rush D Dime even Press two high Pass 4 Sack Dwumfour -4
Dwumfour(+3, pressure +3) around the G so fast he gets a solo sack. This almost never happens; this is more like a DE vs OT rush.
M39 4 16 Shotgun trips Rush D Exotic Press two high Pass 5 Heave Winovich Inc
Winovich(+2, pressure +2) again smokes a tackle. He’s heading in on the QB when a G trips him, no call, refs -2. He falls at the feet of the QB and QB steps back when if he stays there he gets another one of these goofy roughing calls. Ball is a panicked throw vaguely at a TE Hudson is covering.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 21-7, EOG







Well, then, expound.

MSU had no chance. The #1 reason for this was their offensive line versus Michigan's. #2 was their WRs versus Michigan's DBs. #3 was their decision to start quarterback who couldn't throw a slant.

Actually that latter might have been a benefit. Brian Lewerke was clearly injured and couldn't throw straight, which saved him from throwing three interceptions. Michigan DBs were reduced to hopping around and clutching their helmets because they'd whooped up on the pattern and jumped the route only for the ball to drop harmlessly to the turf:

#24 M CB on slot

M baited that slant throw and it's tough to tell whether Lewerke was trying to avoid Hill or just as scattershot as he was the rest of the day. If that's thrown to Davis's numbers it's a pick six.

Michigan successfully combatted an attempt to pick off Hill on a wheel route and Lewerke threw it more or less directly at David Long, except he threw it into the turf like he did most of his throws:

This could have been much, much worse for MSU.

Okay but a version of Lewerke that can throw straight gets MSU on the board on non-trick plays?

Not as much as you might think. MSU did have two plays that could have broken for big gains. The first one was rescued by Chase Winovich hitting Lewerke on the release:

If that gets to Stewart, trouble ensues. The deeper WR there is being played by Watson as if he has cover 1 help over the middle but Metellus has left the building. This is real, real bad as there is no vertical threat to the left of MSU's formation; Davis goes on a mesh route.


There is no reason at all to get off the hash the play is on.

The second also saw an in-breaking route on which the safety was not in a position to help; this time Kinnel slipped on the Spartan Stadium turf-like substance.

CB #22 to top, also FS #23

Long is beat clean to the inside but what makes this dangerous is the safety not shutting a hypothetical completion down. Lewerke misses, and hopefully it's because he slipped on his plant because that would only be justice.

But that was pretty much it. Various other Lewerke throws that ended up incomplete had tiny or nonexistent windows . I threw out a number of cover +3s because Michigan had blanketed every guy in a route. The MSU fan retcon about "what if Lombardi plays the whole game" is hilarious: he's completing 4-5 more slants and the like and throwing three picks.


Here's what happens when the opposition tries to run a slot fade this year.

S #14 over slot in middle of trips


Glad you think so. Michigan did have a couple of dodgy moments on slants in this game, as described above. (The second is probably a skinny post if you are a pedant.)  These were a different kind of dodgy as both saw cornerbacks let their guys inside, expecting safety help.

The battle in the slot has moved from a weakness to a strength. Opponent slants are no longer an efficient means of gaining yards, and Michigan has been unfortunate not to pick up an interception or three when the opposition doesn't see a linebacker buzz or the trap Michigan sprung above.

Also slot fades are off.

Where was the infamous Michigan State July script?

I don't know. Its absence was downright strange. Michigan in fact got an RPS win on the first snap by stunting Winovich into a jet counter:

They picked up a first down on the next play, but on a basic flare that didn't even feature a pick. Then it was a slant, a fade that should have been a chunk if Davis actually caught it, a Very Bad Idea wildcat inverted veer, and then a third and seven coverage sack. Even the successful or should-have-been-successful portions of that are just regular stuff. That's a far cry from MSU ripping down the field for TDs early the last two years, often with innovative lead end-arounds and the like.

Things didn't get any better for MSU as the game progressed. They're out here running jet sweeps with hambeasts and Michigan has it downloaded:

#23 S to top


This wasn't as much of an RPS blowout as the other side of the ball but largely because it didn't have to be. Michigan's RPS minus events in this game were the trick play TD, a pretty clever bubble screen fake that popped a guy open for a chunk, Michigan's weekly "maybe we can run 3-3-5 on a standard down" play, and a rollout into a CB blitz that popped a guy open. These were scattered, not systematic , and half of them are regular plays from MSU that Michigan had bad responses to.

And then there was a whoopin'?

Pretty much, here's a

i'm a pumpkin




Defensive Line

Player + - T Notes
Gary       DNP
Kemp 3 2 1 One good rush, one pancake suffered.
Mone 0.5   0.5 Largely untested.
Winovich 25 3 22 Unblockable. Did not charge him for low hit PF, YMMV.
Paye 3 4 -1 Didn't get a ton of rush, one or two bad plays.
Dwumfour 6 2 4 Lot of rush on limited snaps, minus the PF.
Solomon 3   3 Reset LOS.
Hutchinson       DNC
Marshall 1 3 -2 Tough ask on the 3-3-5 play.
TOTAL 41.5 14 27.5 Insane pressure metric as well.
Player + - T Notes
Hudson 2 1 1 Eh
Glasgow       DNC
Furbush       DNC
Bush 6.5 3 3.5 Not a lot of action got to him.
Gil 0.5 0.5 0 Eh
Ross 3 1 2 Sideline to sideline on an edge pitch.
Uche 4   4 This should probably be in the DL section.
TOTAL 16 5.5 10.5 Ask again later.
Player + - T Notes
Metellus 4.5 2 2.5 Whooped up on slot fade.
Kinnel 4.5 3.5 1 Slipped for –2, YMMV
Hawkins       DNP
Hill 2.5   2.5 Unfortunate not to get a pick six.
Long 8 4 4 Excellent after first fade vs Davis.
Watson 4 2 2 Press, man.
Kelly-Powell       DNP
TOTAL 25.5 11.5 14 see also coverage meetric
Pressure 30 5 +25 heh
Coverage 35 13 +22 ha
Tackling 3 1 2 +2 on the Bush tackle right before TD
RPS 9 7 +2 Irrelevant, mostly.

If you've ever wondered what a UFR chart looks like when the opposition gets 94 yards, that's it. The LBs don't share in the bounty much because everything is a doomed run that doesn't get to them or a desperate fade, the metrics are absurd, and if you have a really good DE he sucks up +22 on 50 snaps and everyone else struggles to get on the board.

Winovich did Winovich things. MSU's tackles were never going to neutralize him.

DE #15 to bottom

He's entering the Hurst zone where I say "yep, real good" but have nothing new to offer. Relentless edge rusher, now a very good run defender, All-American level player. MSU's final drive saw Winovich get pressures on three plays, each by toasting a tackle immediately.

I did not charge him for the low hit personal foul for reasons I'll get into a bit later. If you want to charge him for that in your mind and give him a mere +20, go nuts.

Those metrics. Good god.

Some variety of that pressure metric could be expected, but the coverage ratio there is nuts, especially since Michigan came out with a few minuses on the first drive. Afterwards it was either one of the two plays on which MSU missed opportunities referenced above or nothing.

David Long was the DB most frequently involved with the nothing. He did get beat clean twice. Neither cost Michigan; Davis dorfed the catch on MSU's first drive and Lewerke zinged an open slant wide later, as discussed in the section above. Otherwise he was crushing. Here he's over the top of a fade and when Davis checks back for the potential back shoulder he anticipates because he knows he's lost, Long is right there with him.

CB #22 to top

Ball is off, doesn't matter, Long had all of that. He had all of the near-INT above, and put various other routes into the sideline. There are no good answers when the question is "which Michigan cornerback should you target?"

Those DL numbers outside of Winovich… a wee bit disappointing?

No, just low usage. The 5 DTs each rotated through about 20 snaps. +4 in 20 snaps is pretty good. If Dwumfour and Solomon had been able to maintain their per-snap productivity over 50 snaps they're both in double digits.

Even with the limited snaps Solomon showed enough to suggest he'll be a most welcome addition to the DT rotation down the stretch. Here he gets a straight-up play-long double and not only holds his ground to keep his LBs clean but ends up ripping to the play:

DT #5 to top

This is Winovich's TFL but Solomon successfully two-gaps the C:

DT #5 to bottom

That's Brian Allen, not the redshirt freshman walk-on who replaced him, and therefore worth a little something.

What about the other Rude Youngs?

Paye's settled in as the responsible one. He's been excellent on the ground but hasn't made a ton of impact as a rusher. This is a jumbo set from MSU featuring bonus OL, so this is not a tight end he treats like a crappy tight end:

DE #19 to top

He is out there on the Rush package snaps, lining up as a DT and looping somewhere most of the time. He's in the right spots and making the right feints to help Michigan's rush structure go right; we have not seen much dip around the corner from him. That may be circumstance since he doesn't get to play DE on passing downs. He ended up with a slightly negative day largely because he had one bad play right before the TD; I wouldn't read too much into that long term.

Mike Dwumfour, on the other hand, continues to beat up on opposition guards when it's time for interior pass rush. He had the second nail in Rocky Lombardi's coffin on what was essentially a DT-vs-OG speed rush:

DT #50 to top

Don't see that very often. He probably set that up by beclowning the RG in a different fashion on an earlier insta-rush up the gut:

DT #50 to bottom

Dwumfour must be haunted by this. There is nothing worse than a zero yard QB scramble, statistically. Except getting half your sacks credited to Mike Onwenu.

Okay but maybe the LB numbers are a wee bit disappointing?

I was a bit miffed that Bush got flanked on a simple flare route but other than that, no, this is again a volume issue despite the fact that Bush and Hudson played the whole game.

MSU almost never got a running back past Michigan's defensive line and Bush wasn't used as a blitzer much. He did make one play that I don't think many LBs do right after the fumble. Paye gets blasted inside here and he's got almost a whole third of the field to shut down against LJ Scott, who's still a rumbling mass of meat. Bush zings out of the middle here and makes a touchdown-saving tackle:

He also turned MSU's last drive from mildly concerning to sack fiesta with a trademark rabid squirrel rush. He comes in free; he's able to help dissuade an immediate throw with his hands up and then makes no mistake.

Bush is exceptional at converting on opportunities to sack the QB, an underrated trait.

Meanwhile the eternal WLB blood war continued unabated. Due to MSU's OL it was largely moot. Ross did have an impressive sideline-to-sideline play as he beat a block and still caught up to Winovich to limit a sneaky edge pitch:

He had a couple other plays I liked and one bad zone drop.

And then there's the guy who leads Michigan in sacks.

Yes, despite having scanty snaps. Josh Uche is indeed the X factor on this defense. I mentioned in the game column that Uche felt a lot like Winovich two years ago and that was reinforced by a detailed re-watch. His first sack remains the most Winovich thing a non-Winovich person has done since the Dawn Of Winovich. Uche does not win around the corner here; he then wins around the corner because he is relentless with hands and feet.

DE #6 to left

His other sack was also in the "relentless" category as he's able to press the gap between the LT and LG hard enough that when Paye loops around him there's no chance for the G to recover:

DE #6 to top

A bit later Winovich helped out our comparison by pressing the exact same gap on a near-identical rush in a near-identical fashion. The only difference here is that Gil is blitzing instead of Paye stunting:

DE #15 to top

Two years ago Winovich was a spot rusher still adding weight after coming to Michigan as an edge OLB. Now he is a Viking.

Uche is very, very similar. The sacks don't always come even if you're getting there; consistent impact in limited time is the best sign for Uche long-term. That appears to be the case. He's around at 7-8 yards here:

DE #6 to top

This is the third straight week he's had an impact in limited time, but the time is getting a bit less limited: with around 20 snaps of MSU's ~50 this was, on a percentage basis, the most playing time he's received in game by some distance.

Is there one tiny thing that drives you completely insane beyond all bounds of reason?!?!?!?!?!

Michigan only did this once but the 3-3-5 on a standard down again got gashed. Marshall ate a –2 here but I sympathize with him because he's not a nose tackle in any way.

Just once.

And did any of the refereeing strike you as also INSANE?!

The tail end of this speed option is the action from Devin Bush that draws a 15 yard flag:

Your guess is as good as mine. The refs would later offset that with a super weak call on Kevin Jarvis, who gave Carlo Kemp a couple of stay-down shoves after a pancake. None of the actual cheapshots got flagged in this game, just this junk.

And while we're on bad personal foul flags, Winovich got hit with another one of those roughing the passer calls for hitting guys before the knee. He got this one for hitting a guy below the waist.

The whole point of this rule is that when you hit someone below the knee in a passing stance all the force goes into a planted lower leg and there's no way to mitigate the blow. The twisting, knee-bending fall of the QB is mitigating most of that blow. This is not "at or below the knee":


It becomes low as the QB twists away from the hit and goes down, which he can do specifically because Winovich hit the guy in the thigh. If you're going to have this rule—you should not—can we at least call it correctly?

Are we worried that Ambry Thomas gets a lot of pass interference calls?

Not really? To me the flag he got hit with is pretty chintzy, as it looks like arm fighting that falls under the rubbin's racin' rubric:

You're probably going to suffer some calls like that over the course of the game if you're playing good aggressive man to man. Michigan had not had even one PI call before that and there are two minutes left in a game that feels decided. We've seen drives like this where it appears the officials are reffing the score.

Most of Thomas's snaps are in this twilight area of the game and thus more vulnerable to chintzy calls.


Everybody! But Winovich most of all.

Not so heroic?


What does it mean for Penn State and beyond?

Dwumfour and Uche are confirmed rush threats. Bad competition, yes. Still, this is a month during which they've been consistently dangerous. That rush package is killing people. Can either play any run defense? Tune in next year to find out!

Winovich is probably an All-American. This is his second +20 of the year. The grip and rip he's doing to tackles has made him a brutal edge defender to try to check, and now he's ducking inside guys on his rushes, which they are unprepared for since his speed rush is so effective.

DT depth is suddenly quite good. Five guys rotated through and with the exception of Dwumfour all of them looked like solid standard down options. Solomon is still the key if Michigan's going to get an increment better down the stretch.

Don Brown's shut off last year's weakness and then shut off this year's weakness. Slot fades are gone, as Metellus demonstrated. Slants are occasionally there but not very efficient. The new weakness is… uh… well, Trace McSorley might be able to find one. Until then I dunno.

Pick your poison. Michigan has the best trio of CBs in the country.



October 31st, 2018 at 4:13 PM ^

I think a more likely scenario is McSorley dropping back to pass, having nobody open, getting pressured from the edges, but then having a gap open up in the middle to run it. We need to figure out a way to prevent that, either with Hudson or Bush (or both) hanging back to shut down the middle. If we can figure out a way to contain McSorley though, especially on third downs, I see a big win over PSU.


October 31st, 2018 at 4:26 PM ^

In no situation will you ever see both bush and Hudson spying Mcsorley.

The viper is used to lock down their TE, so when they say it should always be bush doing it with the Will manned up on the back.  I could possibly see bush manned on the back and the Will in spy, in some situations. However,  when they spy, it will only be with one guy.

Moreover, the dt have done a good job with being there when the QB has to step up. 

Ali G Bomaye

November 1st, 2018 at 10:38 AM ^

There are three non-WR PSU players who need a relatively speedy interior defender assigned to them: McSorley, Sanders, and Freiermuth, the TE. I'd anticipate Bush and Hudson assigned to McSorley and Sanders, with the specific assignments depending on the play call, and Metellus assigned to Freiermuth.

I think our DL should be able to crush PSU's OL without needing to blitz Bush, freeing him up to stay in a spy role all game. That's vital, because it seems like most of PSU's big plays on the ground against good defenses have been McSorley breaking contain.


October 31st, 2018 at 2:55 PM ^

Dwumfour and Uche are confirmed rush threats. Bad competition, yes. Still, this is a month during which they've been consistently dangerous.


 My favorite line of the article.  MSU doesn't qualify as a good test.


October 31st, 2018 at 3:02 PM ^

Wonderful read. Great to have this real analysis. Looking forward to PSU. I really wonder how Brown and Harbaugh (and the team, obviously) respond to last year's beat down from PSU. Part of me wants revenge, but the sane part of me wants to get up the score and then give lots of playing time to the 2nd and 3rd string. And long, demoralizing drives by the offense to try out new things, but not to try to score 50 again.

A State Fan

October 31st, 2018 at 3:14 PM ^

Both these UFRs came out about how I thought they would.

For MSUs offense, a healthy Lewerke might change things slightly, but he also hasn't been the same at any point this year as last year. I'm glad you said Lombardi playing would have led to more picks. I said to a friend I thought a line for him might be 10/25, 100y, 2INTs instead of Lewerkes 5/25, 66y. He's not changing this outcome.

The lack of trick plays or wrinkles can probably be attributed to either a) too many moving pieces week in week out or b) just the lack of talent to try them with. Stewart/Nailor limited, White out, Davis out (2nd half). You've got Cam Chambers with a cast on his hand, and 6' walk-on Sowards as your receivers.

There was just no one on the field who could beat their opposite athletically. Nailor/Stewart did against Purdue this weekend, but Purdue ain't Michigan, and watching them run routes last week they weren't close to ready.

I do think playing Michigan helped MSU against Purdue, because man it must have been nice to not be getting blown up every play.

edit: I should mention Layne was probably a Michigan-week position switch, but I've liked him on O so far. Against Michigan he got behind Long and Watson, not that it mattered much. Against Purdue he smoked their corners DPJ-style. He was a top 300 WR I think coming in, I hope to see him on that side of the ball a little more.

Watching From Afar

October 31st, 2018 at 3:30 PM ^

RE: Layne

Was a very highly rated WR in HS and is physically capable of playing both positions. Not hard to run a fly route if the guy can get off the LOS and just flat out run. Wouldn't be surprised to see MSU put him out there to take shots down the field to help Stewart and Chambers out since they can run the more complex stuff underneath.


October 31st, 2018 at 4:12 PM ^

I think MSU may have used up some of their Michigan stuff against PSU too.  With the loss to NW and the previous wins not looking convincing, there was a lot of grumbling among fans/media and the real potential for a couple more losses to bring them to 3-4.  So they had to break out new stuff early to halt the slide.


October 31st, 2018 at 3:22 PM ^

Can this defense hold PSU to the revengeful "goose egg" ?  I wouldn't bet against Don Brown, who has had an entire year to dream about it ...


October 31st, 2018 at 5:55 PM ^

It's going to be a day of quick McSorely scrambles, arm punts, and PI calls.  PSU will hit on some of them, we have to be prepared for it.

The Michigan offense needs to get some early scores to keep the pressure on, and not F around for 2 quarters and give McSorely the chance to pull a 14-0 rabbit out of his hat in the first half.  He's capable of it.




October 31st, 2018 at 5:05 PM ^

I may be in the minority, because I am genuinely worried about Ambry Thomas as a full time cb. He seems to be consistently out of position when he’s on the field. I wouldn’t mind a full time move to offense 


October 31st, 2018 at 5:36 PM ^

By all accounts, Dan Marktonio is a good football coach. He's a horrible human being, but he knows his football. So why did he let Lewerke stay in there so long when it was obvious he wasn't getting the job done? I mean, 5 for 25. That's their new 27 for 27 and I hope it sticks with them for a long time.

I suspect that Dan Markopolo knew that if he played Muhammad Belichick at QB, our defense would completely destroy him and would cost MSU any chance they had at winning the Purdue game (or any other game until Lewerke is back to 100%.) It was a "pick your battles" situation and Tony Markymarkandthefunkybunch chose to sacrifice Lewerke. Notice, how many of MSU's passing plays were quick, just sling it to the sidelines and pray, type plays. Lewerke is credited with 4 attempts for -11 yards. I don't remember how many of those were just sacks, but they basically eliminated their best offensive play (Lewerke's legs) from their attack because they didn't want him murderated. They didn't want Lewerke to take a beating, but they didn't want to throw Sugar Ray Bryant to the wolves, either.


October 31st, 2018 at 6:22 PM ^

A better test will be this weekend.  UM has faced one decent offense all season and that was ND.  Wisconsin sucked and MSU was playing a bunch of scrubs.  We’ll see this weekend. 

Ali G Bomaye

November 1st, 2018 at 10:34 AM ^

Extremely excited that Solomon appears to be back to full strength. Our other DTs are nice and versatile, but Solomon is the one who's the key to shutting down the PSU and OSU running games.


November 1st, 2018 at 10:53 AM ^

The new weakness is… uh…

Yeah, that's how I feel about the whole team.  There are definitely spots that are stronger than others, but what's the biggest weakness of this team over the last month? Occasionally spotty place kicking?  I'm cool with that.