Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs Nebraska Comment Count

Brian September 27th, 2018 at 3:34 PM

[Eric Upchurch]

image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumb_thumb_thumbSPONSOR 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). Food trucks, beer, TVs, and a large bus you can honk the horn on. This is not a metaphor. It is a literal true thing. You'll be able to find it at Northwestern if you get lucky.

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: Nebraska was all gun and almost all single back, single TE. There were scattered snaps with another blocky/catchy type on the field. The only thing of note were frequent snaps with a covered slot receiver:


Uh. The idea is that the two outside guys are on the LOS and the #3 WR is not. This was a bad example but I forgot to grab a screenshot of it and the only clip is the failed RPO. Michigan did this on offense some as well. I've never been a fan since you're telling the defense a bunch of stuff about what you're doing and hoping they aren't prepared for your thing. This hijink has been around long enough that you should have a plan.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: A super quick hook for many defenders. Kemp, Mone, Gary, and Winovich all sat for the entire second half; Gary did come off a little sooner than the rest of the D but Winovich only got a few more snaps than he did—could just be a rotation thing. Second team line remained as you'd expect (Paye-Marshall-Dwumfour-Hutchinson); Rueben Jones, Donovan Jeter, and walk-on Carl Myers also got a fair number of snaps late.

LB level lasted much longer on the field for obscure reasons. Hudson's was less obscure, I guess. Bush and Ross played deeper into the game than any other non-Hudson starters. Ross is starting to assert himself as the starting WLB, with about a 2:1 snap ratio vs Gil. Furbush is still ahead of Uche, who got maybe a half-dozen snaps, and when Bush finally went out it was Jordan Anthony who replaced him.

DBs the usual. Hawkins, Kelly-Powell, Hughes, and Ambry Thomas all got significant backup snaps; absence of Myles Sims (and all other DBs) means redshirt is coming.

[After THE JUMP: the usual]

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-2-5 4-3 even Press two high Run N/A Inside zone Mone 4
Kemp(+0.5) and Mone(-0.5) both stand up single blocks and should be able to shut this down; Mone commits too soon to the interior gap and gets moved, The extra space allows the back to cut behind for a few yards. Winovich(+0.5), the unblocked EMLOS, tracks him down.
O29 2 6 Shotgun 4-wide 4-2 -5 Nickel over Press one high Run N/A Speed option Gary -3
Metellus(+1) reads and flows; he’s probably going to make contact at or near the LOS if the back continues. Back does not continue, which is a bad idea with Gary(+2) flowing inside out; he forced the pitch and got to keep running. Gary makes a nice open field tackle(+1) as the back tries to cut back to avoid Metellus.
O26 3 9 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 Exotic Press one high Pass 5 Improv Glasgow 32
M sends four guys from the right, with Carlo Kemp moving across the center to create a pocket. Nebraska can’t handle it. Glasgow(+1, pressure +3) gets a free run. Martinez runs away from him and punts it up as Winovich(+0.5) contains him. It’s way short and caught and largely just one of those things. I do think Kinnel(-1, cover -1) gets sucked out of the middle because he’s looking at the QB instead of looking up the routes and that if he sticks in center field he has a play on this ball. But it’s mostly just a shrug. RPS +2, engineered free run that induced a very dangerous pass.
O42 1 10 Shotgun trips H 4-2-5 4-3 even Press one high Pass 4 RPO slant Marshall INT
All three Nebraska WRs are off the LOS and maybe their RT is too, no call, refs -2. This is a doozy man. Play is an unbalanced RPO slant that sees the entire LB level suck up. M had this happen to them year or two ago, maybe, and I remember being frustrated that there’s a CB out in no man's land near absolutely no eligible WRs. Wide open, TD, Marshall(+1) intervenes with his hand and Metellus(+1) is able to snag the tip. RPS -3.
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-0, 13 min 1st 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 Nickel over Press one high Run N/A Inside zone Dwumfour 1
Dwumfour(+2) surges to the backfield and discards. RB has no choice but to run into the waiting arms of Marshall(+0.5) and Gary(+0.5)
O24 2 9 Shotgun trips 4-2-5 Nickel even Press one high Pass 5 Flare Ross Inc
Nebraska catches Michigan here in man with Ross three lateral yards behind the RB by alignment. Neb WR sets up to block Bush(+0.5) if he flows out but instead he attacks the QB and spooks him into a bad throw. Ross chasing; will be a first down and change if complete. RPS -2. Possible this is Ross, not RPS.
O24 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Exotic Press one high Pass 5 Sack Glasgow -16
Neb center keeps setting away from all the pass rushers so M gets another free run. Glasgow(+1, pressure +3, RPS +2) makes it count. Winovich(+1) also ripping through up the middle.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 9 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun empty 4-2-5 Exotic Press two high Pass 4 Out Gary 2
Gary(+2, pressure +2) literally knocks the LT three yards back on contact and blows up Martinez. Guy gets the ball out but it’s a bit upfield (understandably). M is playing zone with a hard CB so it’s simple to rally to tackle.
O27 2 8 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 Rollout out Bush 5
Bush(+0.5, cover push) is able to get around a rub and track this down almost on the catch. About 1 YAC here. Gary(+0.5) surging again.
O32 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Exotic Press two high Pass 4 Rollout out Gary -10
Nebraska tempos themselves out of a presnap read here as M is still aligning as snap comes and Martinez probably isn’t able to read two high. It is two high, so M zones America’s Rollout out and the first read isn’t there. By the time he looks to a second—also looks covered(+2)—Gary(+3, pressure +3) is able to run all the way around the corner and sack. JFC. RPS +1, zoned rollout out.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 7 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun trips H 4-2-5 Nickel under Press two high Pass 4 Screen Bush -4
Outside WRs are on the LOS now so they’ve got that going for them. Nebraska screen is obliterated by Bush(+3, cover +2, tackling +1), who is just too fast for anyone to get out on. He delivers a thump that makes all the fans go ooooh. Key here is how wide Bush gets as he reads screen. He goes completely lateral until he’s flanked the OL and then bang.
O21 2 14 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 Nickel over Press one high Pass 4 Throwaway Bush Inc
Outside WR motions to an H-back spot. M rotates Long back and Bush(+1, cover +1) hops over the TE. Snap, token PA, Bush has the first read covered and then Glasgow(+1, pressure +2) is in again unblocked (maybe block him). He can’t get Martinez down but does halt him as he tries to tackle. Winovich(+1) has beat a block and is roaring in to finish things when Martinez boots it OOB to save the yardage. Gary(+0.5) is drawing so much attention that they’re just letting Glasgow in free.
O21 3 14 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 Nickel even Press two high Pass 4 Scramble Dwumfour 15
Paye in at DT here. Both Winovich(-1) and Dwumfour(-2) lose their rushes here and get pushed upfield. Gary is about to come back and sack or at least pressure Martinez when the RG, who doesn’t have a rusher, bangs into him. Paye was left as a spy but he has way too much space to shut down. Martinez breaks pocket and goes. Metellus(-1) doesn’t see a cutback and changes direction way late; Watson ends up in a ton of space and just forces QB OOB to fight another day. Pressure -3.
O36 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 4-2-5 4-3 over Press one high Run N/A Inside zone Hutchinson 1
Kemp(-1) eats a double and gets shoved out of the hole. He’s slanting away but even so. Hutchinson(+2) rescues it by controlling and ripping through the TE, covering a lot of ground as he gets a tackle in at the LOS. He had Glasgow blitzing outside of him and was always going to try this; the amount of space he shut down is impressive. RPS +1.
O37 2 9 Shotgun 4-wide 4-2-5 Nickel over Press one high Run N/A Speed option Ross 1
Ross(+2) does a great job to fight over a tackle free-releasing to him and jet for the pitchman. His recognition and COD is just too much for the OL to handle, and he finishes.
O38 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Exotic Press one high Pass 4 Seam Hill Inc
Pocket solid(pressure -2). Hill(+1) is playing outside leverage here to force it back to Kinnel(+0.5), who seems to be over the top. Hill is right in the WR’s pocket and any windows here are going to be tiny. Ball is well off so not tested. Cover +1.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-0, 1 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O17 1 10 Shotgun twins 4-2-5 4-3 even SAM Press one high Run N/A Inverted veer give Bush 2
So You’ve Decided To Outflank Devin Bush. M has no apparent edge so QB gives. Bush(+1) probably in man on the back so starts moving with him and easily outpaces him to the edge, forcing a cutback even before he gets to the other hash. Gil(+0.5) able to track and finish after Bush can’t quite tackle.
O19 2 8 Shotgun trips TE 4-2-5 4-3 over SAM Press one high Pass 5 Circle Metellus Inc
All three WRs in a bunch and run slants. Innermost guy converts his route to a circle. Metellus(+1, cover +1) reads this and is able to fall off the outside guy to help force an incompletion on a poorly thrown ball. Metellus likely to tackle for little if completed. Pocket comfortable(pressure -1) on quick throw. Cover +1.
O19 3 8 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 Exotic Press one high Pass 4 Sack Winovich -1
Coverage sack as QB has time. Nebraska left 7 in against 4, and the pocket is decent. Three guys in routes all have CBs in their pocket and a couple of zone defenders in the passing lanes(cover +3). Martinez hesitates. Winovich(+0.5) comes through, flushing. Dwumfour(+0.5) is able to drive his guy and disconnect to tackle with help from the LB level. Pressure push.
Drive Notes: Punt, 23-0, 12 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 4-2-5 4-3 even Press two high Pass 4 Y-cross Glasgow Inc
Happy feet from Martinez as he bugs out of a mostly fine pocket. Mone(+0.5) did push his guy back in a way that may have been uncomfortable. DEs now burst through and converge to force a throw… that’s almost a 25-yard dart just in front of Glasgow(-0.5), who’s beat by a step but after a really long time in coverage(-1). Ball is high but should probably be caught, is not.
O25 2 10 Shotgun trips TE 4-2-5 4-3 even Press two high Penalty N/A Delay N/A -5
O20 2 15 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 3-2 dime Press one high Pass 5 Sack Winovich -12
Bush sucked out of the box by the alignment so Ross gets the benefit of Furbush, defensive fullback this time. Line sets away from the pressure, Furbush(+0.5) drives inside to give Ross(+0.5) a free run; tackle missed but Winovich(+2) whooped his guy to the inside and finishes it off(pressure +3).
O8 3 27 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press two high Pass 4 Sack Bush -3
TE and RB both block Paye instead of Devin Freakin’ Bush(+2, pressure +3), who makes no mistake.
Drive Notes: Punt, 30-0, 6 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O10 1 10 Shotgun empty 4-2-5 Nickel even Press two high Run N/A QB power Dwumfour 12
Dwumfour(-2) gets put on one side of his man and flings himself upfield. Escorted out of the hole. Bush dropped out presnap and looks up a potential slant in his zone drop and cannot react. Gil has a lead blocker and a ton of space to shut down and forces it back but can’t do more. Marshall looks like he’s going to fight back and hold the damage done but I think he gets grabbed by the OL and held a bit, so he can’t close it down. Kinnel(+1, tackling +1) shuts down a dangerous situation well. RPS -2, 5 v 5 in box with safeties at 12 yards. It’s first and ten.
O22 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 Nickel over SAM Press one high Run N/A Reverse Dwumfour 0 (Pen -10)
Dwumfour(+2) gets so deep here that he forces the WR to bend around him, giving M valuable time to rally. Also he might have gotten deeper if he hadn’t been tackled, drawing a holding flag. Paye(+0.5), Marshall(+0.5) and Metellus(+0.5) all use the slight delay to rally and tackle at the LOS.
O12 1 20 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 even Press one high Pass 5 Tunnel screen Metellus -1
Mostly a timing and throw issue for Nebraska here. Metellus(+1, tackling +1) is only about three yards off though and he’s able to track the WR down before he can get under his shield of blockers. RPS +1. Hutchinson(+0.5) read this well and was likely to be useful if Metellus couldn’t finish the job.
O11 2 21 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press two high Pass 4 Screen Hutchinson Inc
Hutchinson(+1, pressure +1) let go as Nebraska tries to assemble a traditional RB screen; he’s able to bat the ball. It goes to Martinez, who bats it to the ground but had it in his hands for a nanosecond too long and after much discussion a safety is awarded.
Drive Notes: Safety, 32-0, 4 min 2nd Q. A missed hitch with three seconds left in the half is not charted.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O8 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 30 nickel slide Press one high Run N/A Inverted veer keep Bush 4
Kinnel shows on edge, keep. Ross(-2) sent on a blitz and should have a killshot on the QB but weirdly seems to tackle the pulling G? Paye(-2) blown out huge by his double so there’s a lot of space. Bush(+2) is able to shut it down by running around an OL who released from Paye and coming all the way around to tackle. RPS +3, this should have been a TFL.
O12 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press two high Pass 4 Rollout throwaway N/A Inc
Nebraska seems to be running three different plays. Zone vs rollout to boundary puts a lot of guys in space around the only three WRs that can get hit. Cover +2, RPS +1.
O12 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Exotic Press two high Pass 5 Tunnel screen Hudson -1
Hutchinson(+1, pressure +1) is let go and slows up, anticipating screen. He’s very big and annoying and probably batting anything that’s a good throw. Possibly as a result this ball is just past his outstretched hand and about three yards away from where it should be. M can rally, with Hudson(+1, tackling +1) delivering a stick to end it.
Drive Notes: Punt, 39-0, 9 min 3rd Q. DPJ returns ensuing punt.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-2-5 Nickel even Press one high Pass 5 Slant Kinnel 9
M shifts bush over the TE in the slot late and sends Hudson(+1, pressure +2) off the edge. He crunches the QB in the back an instant after he throws. Kinnel(-1, cover -1) beat on the slant, immediate tackle.
O36 2 1 Shotgun trips 4-2-5 Nickel even Press two high Pass 4 Bubble screen Watson -2
Watson(+2, tackling +1) is in zone so looks at the QB and reads this play before the WR can get to him. He fires inside and blows the guy up on the catch.
O34 3 3 Shotgun twin TE 3-3-5 4-3 over Press two high Run N/A Inside zone N/A 6
Michigan is running Paye as an NT and Nebraska runs right at him. Furbush, at DE, stands up and backs off; Marshall can’t push through a ton of meat. Pile surges for first down. RPS -1, this is a pass defense on third and three that gets got.
O40 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press two high Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
O35 1 15 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 5 Screen N/A Inc (Pen +15)
Michigan overwhelms a screen and gets two penalties. Both are just those things. Ross gets a PF for hitting the QB low. I don’t know what he’s supposed to do. He’s rushing the QB, a Nebraska guy trips him, and his momentum keeps him going forward. This is a stupid rule because one guy got injured. The other penalty is holding on Bush, which largely happens because Nebraska guys run into each other and Hutchinson(+0.5) pops up in the passing lane and the QB holds the ball forever. Bush(-1) tackles the guy. If ball is on time this is probably another killer TFL.
50 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 6 Fly Watson 27
Six man pressure gets Ross(+2, pressure +2) through but not for free; Ross gets a G to him and is able to rip through and threaten a sack. QB gets it off. Watson(-1, cover -1) is a step behind can’t get his rake in quite right. His momentum is wrong to be able to rip the ball out after the catch. Still not the worst.
M23 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 4-2-5 4-3 even SAM Press one high Run N/A Speed option Bush 2
This absolutely should work. Hudson(-1) blitzes and can’t hold up after the mesh is gone, easy quick pitch. Bush takes a false step based on the OL action and is two yards behind the RB laterally when he catches the pitch. Devin Bush(+2) don’t care! Gonna run this guy down after two yards! Yo!
M21 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 over Press one high Run N/A Inside zone Bush 1
M aligns with a giant gap over the C, inviting this run, and does the thing where they blitz two guys off the backside. Hutchinson takes the QB and Bush(+1) the RB. RPS +2.
M20 3 7 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 Exotic Press one high Penalty N/A Offsides Hutchinson 5
Hutchinson -1.
M15 3 2 Shotgun twin TE 4-2-5 4-5 over Press zero Run N/A Inside zone Dwumfour -3
Dwumfour(+1) on the nose and fires off low into the C, shoving him back two yards. Kemp(-0.5) gives ground against a double but Dwumfour has closed that off. Paye(+0.5) surged through a TE. Hutchinson(+0.5) gets depth on another OL. Ross(+1) is free and makes no mistake.
Drive Notes: FG(35), 46-3, 5 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 even Press one high Run N/A Split zone Metellus 0
M goes with eight in the box and more or less zero coverage so Metellus(+1) pops up unblocked in the only gap. RB tries to redirect outside, Metellus is having none of that.
O25 2 10 Shotgun trips 4-2-5 Nickel even Press one high Run N/A Inside zone Ross 1
Jeter(+1) gets a double and splits it. Backside not a great idea and no release. Ross(+1) able to flow and tackle as a result.
O26 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Exotic Press one high Pass 4 Improv Metellus  
QB has a moment and then Dwumfour(+0.5) and Hudson(+0.5) get through to force a flush(+1 pressure). QB throws it at a very covered TE that Metellus(+1, cover +1) has. Ball is way high anyway.
Drive Notes: Punt, 49-3, 14 min 4th Q.
O25 1 10 Shotgun trips H 4-2-5 4-3 even Press one high Run N/A Inside zone Paye -2
Hudson(+1) moves late and blitzes hard off the edge, drawing the LT. Nebraska interior OL not prepped for this and Paye(+1) gets a free run he TFLs on.
O23 2 12 Shotgun trips bunch 4-2-5 Nickel even Press one high Pass 4 Flare screen Bush Inc
Bush(+1) flares out presnap and then comes around two guys trying to pick him to induce an incompletion. Even if QB manages to fit this in it’s a quick tackle in all probability.
O23 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 over Press two high Pass 5 Dumpoff Bush 4
Fake flare and an attempt to get behind it as D reacts. Good depth from Furbush(+1, cover +1) dissuades immediate throw; Bush(+2, pressure +2) then zips past RB and gets in on the QB. Forced to throw it to the RB who was the decoy. Thomas tackles.
Drive Notes: Punt, 56-3, 12 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O5 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 3-3-5 Exotic Press two high Run N/A Inside zone Jones 0
Jones(+1) rips through a TE to get to the RB after a cutback; Anthony(+0.5) gets over to help tackle. Cutback largely RPS but RPS is off.
O5 2 10 Shotgun trips H 4-2-5 4-3 even SAM Press one high Run N/A QB split zone keeper N/A 22
Hudson(+1) zips inside an OL to force a kickout. Hutchinson is elaborately, spectacularly held without a call (refs -3) and edge against man equals yards.
O22 1 10 Shotgun twin TE twins 4-2-5 4-3 over Press two high Run N/A Inside zone Hutchinson 0
Myers(+0.5) gets doubled and falls but does so in the lane they’re trying to get him out of so productive. Hutchinson(+2) stands up and rips through his guy. Bounce forced and Hudson cleans up.
O22 2 10 Shotgun trips H 4-2-5 4-3 over Press two high Run N/A QB split zone keeper Myers -4
RB tires to draw LB level away, doesn’t matter. Meyers(+1) stands up OL, discards inside. Hutchinson(+1) does same. Combine for TFL.
O18 3 14 Shotgun trips H 3-3-5 Exotic Press two high Pass 4 Screen Hudson 6 (Pen -9)
M zones this and Nebraska has a covered slot so there’s a ton of guys in the area. Hudson(+1) attacks the three OL and every one tries to block him; Uche(+0.5) on the cleanup. Hudson draws a chop block.
O9 3 23 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Exotic Press two high Pass 4 Improv Anthony Inc
Anthony(+0.5) blitzes; gets past RB enough to flush but nowhere near a sack, QB moves up in pocket and fires it wide of a guy about 15 yards away from the sticks.
Drive Notes: Punt, 56-3, 9 min 4th Q. Final drive is a mishmash of whoever and not charted.

So back to this again.

Yeah, back to this. Michigan crushes the opposition, gives up a few plays here and there but so few that there's really no pattern to discuss, and wins by a bundle.

I like it.

I like it too, but it's kind of like Mo Hurst The Defense in that there's not a whole lot new or interesting to say. Tactically, anyway. Michigan is a fully weaponized 4-2-5 Don Brown defense that runs a ton of man to man coverage. The main development this year has been the increasing deployment of two-high zone looks. My charting is rudimentary in this department but you can take one high versus two high as a rough estimate of man versus zone, and in this one that was 60-40.

That's a lot of zone for a defensive coordinator who just doubled down on his man-first approach to defense.

Brown tends to practice his less common looks in blowouts, I wouldn't read too too much in to that. It's not headed to 50-50 any time soon.

But it is clear that Michigan is pretty comfortable in that mode, which is important when running quarterbacks come to town. Two high safeties allow you to fire one down to the perimeter on run action as the other guy plays centerfield, which Michigan did frequently against Notre Dame once it became clear their gameplan was full of plays aimed at man free. So that's nice.

Anything... you know, else?

I have Various Individual Player takes, but first we should

you will find me in the faces of your loved ones, waiting

uhhhhhhhhhh maybe have a chart? Take this one with a grain of salt. Due to Nebraska's inability to stay on the field and the nature of the game, almost nobody got more than ~20 snaps except the ILBs. And the corners, I guess, but they didn't factor in much.

Defensive Line

Player + - T Notes
Gary 8.5   8.5 Extrapolated out over a whole game and dang.
Kemp 0.5 1.5 -1 Got moved a wee bit on few plays where relevant.
Mone 0.5 0.5 0 Starting DTs largely untested.
Winovich 5.5 1 4.5 Low snap count.
Paye 2 2 0 Blown out a couple times as DT-type substance.
Dwumfour 6 4 2 Very aggressive.
Solomon       DNP
Hutchinson 8 1 7 About half of this real late. Still.
Marshall 2   2 Forced INT.
TOTAL 36.5 10 26.5 Also Myers +1.5, Jeter +1, Jones +1.
Player + - T Notes
Hudson 5.5 1 4.5 Did a lot of work late.
Glasgow 3 0.5 2.5 Couple of rushes. Put the potential TD on RPS.
Furbush 1.5   1.5  
Bush 16 1 15 "Let's see if Devin Bush can run" –idiots
Gil 0.5   0.5 Lost snaps.
Ross 6.5 2 4.5 Nice blitzin'
Uche 0.5   0.5  
TOTAL 34.5 4.5 20 Also Anthony +1.
Player + - T Notes
Metellus 5.5 1 4.5 Always in right place.
Kinnel 1.5 2 -0.5 Good open field tackle.
Hawkins       DNC
Hill 1   1 avoided
Long       even more avoided
Watson 2 1 1 -1 on long completion to Morgan.
Thomas       DNC
TOTAL 10 4 6 Honestly don't remember the last negative unit grade.
Pressure 27 6 +21 Swarmed.
Coverage 14 4 +10 Couple of coverage sacks.
Tackling 5   +5 No leaked yards.
RPS 12 8 +4 Probably would have been worse if competitive. 

Pretty much the only negative worth talking about was in fact a turnover. Michigan's early interception was a touchdown if Lawrence Marshall didn't get his hand up in time:

IIRC Michigan had some similar issues covering RPOs out of this and needed to make a tweak. Here they need to make a tweak. Michigan is deploying David Long as a safety to a side of the field that has no eligible receivers, because normally a trips formation like this will have a TE or WR to the boundary who needs covering. Without that player, Long is a non-factor. They should probably have someone else set the edge and start running Long under these RPO slants.

Those numbers. I thought you said there were no snaps?

I mean... there weren't, really? Except for Bush.

My god.

Seriously. Nebraska was not ready. He and Ross were the only guys to get a reasonable sample size worth of snaps in. In those snaps he did Devin Bush things where his sheer sideline to sideline speed and remarkable agility make him one of the best linebackers in the country. Nebraska got Michigan (again) on the zone-read-to-speed-option play, but despite taking a false step like everyone else Bush is able to shut it down after two yards:

Spencer Tillman is a stopped clock here: that should not happen. In similar news, Michigan has no apparent edge here so we get an edge give on inverted veer. Bush turns it in before the back even makes it to the other hashmark:

That is absurd. Earlier he drilled a screen by reading it perfectly and widening out so far that the OL had no hope to get out on him:

#10 ILB to left

His curved path takes longer but still gets him there in time, and without obstruction.

Finally: what?

#10 ILB to left

Just out here running all the way around a block to shut down a huge amount of space. We're going to have to have the David Harris vs Devin Bush conversation pretty soon. I loved me some David Harris... but... I mean.

Is Ross starting to distance himself?

I think so. In three of four games he's out-graded Gil by a significant margin; this time the snap counts began to reflect that. Ross didn't have a ton of opportunity to MAKE PLAYS with few Nebraska snaps getting to the LB level, but he did have an excellent scrape over a blocker to defeat a Nebraska option play:

LB #12 to top

He got a Devin Bush Classic run at the QB thanks to Furbush playing defensive fullback, but he couldn't finish. Winovich beats his guy clean and is able to clean up:

#12 LB

Ross had another bad blitz moment on the Devin Bush What play above. He's sent inside of Kinnel and should be obliterating the QB just like that one BC-vs-ND vine, but instead appears to react to the handoff threat—not his job—and ends up tangled with the LB. Bush demonstrated the right play on an opportunity he had. That's just a missed assignment that should get cleaned up. That was his only minus on the day; he was aggressive and an excellent tackler when called upon.

FWIW, I didn't put any negatives on Ross for the roughing the passer call. He's attacking the QB and gets shoved, starts falling, and doesn't have grav boots so his momentum inevitably takes him into the QB:

That roughing rule is based on two injuries in the history of NFL football, one to Carson Palmer and the other to Tom Brady, and necessarily involves a lot of guessing:

And it’s incumbent on the defender to avoid (that area) when the contact is avoidable.

That's all gray area. The NCAA rule is also very gray and Ross probably should have escaped a flag for two reasons:

Violations will lead to a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty. The rule will be in effect for the 2014 season.

The exceptions:

•When the passer becomes a runner, inside or outside the tackle box.

•When the defender grabs or wraps the QB in an attempt to make a conventional tackle.

•When the defender is not rushing unabated or is blocked or pushed into the passer.

Ross did wrap up to try to make a regular tackle and the reason he was low is that he was pushed. So no minus for him.

So here's the bit where I ask a que—




haha no i just tried to flank Rashan Gary

Ah. Gary barely played after the first quarter but he still left a hell of an impression. The speed option track-down was assisted by Josh Metellus coming down and the running back making a very bad decision to try a cutback...

DE #3 to bottom

...and was not the most impressive play of the day. That would be this:

DE #3 to bottom

Gary should do that to everybody all the time. Nobody is ready for 290 pounds travelling that fast.

Or maybe it was this rush on a rollout that came so quick Martinez couldn't get to a second read. If Devin Bush did this I'd be "dang, Devin Bush, you are good at football":

When a 290 pound DE is doing it, well.

Are we concerned that he came out so early?

Maybe a little? There were preseason rumors that he was nursing a shoulder thing, and he had that shoulder thing last year. The quick hook might be a precaution because he could aggravate something.

If he has a lingering issue it doesn't seem to be affecting his play much. His lack of crushing domination seems more like an approach issue where he tries to get the corner too much when he should be firing OL directly into the quarterback.

How did Glasgow do?

Fine. Hudson racked up a bunch of points upon entering and did feel like a more dynamic player when directly compared. But Glasgow was not any sort of liability. The slot RPO issue feels more schematic than something that's definitely a Glasgow thing. I think the solution there is moving over a DB.

When not doing that, Glasgow was mostly getting free runs off the edge as Nebraska set their line away from him. He closed fast and made it count:

#29 OLB to bottom

A second instance wasn't quite as good, but he doesn't miss badly; he hits and stalls the QB, forcing a throwaway:

#29 OLB to bottom

(Also note that Gary gets a play long double here because Nebraska is so concerned with him.) These were about the only plays I charted for him. He does get a chunk of credit for a very good coverage number.

Man that's a weird DT distribution.

It is. I had almost nothing for the starters, who only got about 20 snaps and were rarely tested during those snaps. instead it was Mike Dwumfour who got most of the action, good and bad. He had some plays here and there, and he was (mostly) going up against Nebraska's experienced and good interior line starters. This early penetration and shed is against Tanner Farmer, a returning PFF All Big Ten player:

NT #50

Farmer might be expecting a chip from his center; Dwumfour still controls him and sheds. He had another good drive later in the game. This gets depth in the backfield and forces the play to an unblocked Ross:

But he's still too swashbuckling to play much on standard downs. He does one thing: penetrate, penetrate, penetrate. Sometimes this gets him in trouble. This is first and ten; Dwumfour gets definitively put on one side by his blocker and then goes hard upfield:

#50 DT to top

Similarly, a broken-pocket scramble was mostly down to Dwumfour going all out on a rush, not realizing that he's lost this one, and continuing upfield. Winovich does the same thing next to him and suddenly Kwity Paye is all alone in a ton of space:

#50 DT to bottom

(Gary gets a pass because he's trying to come back inside when he gets doubled.) That's worse from a DT than a DE, because the lanes DTs give up when they rip upfield are directly in front of the QB and more dangerous. Martinez can threaten one side of Paye's blocker and cut to green grass because Dwumfour isn't there to dissuade.

On the other hand sometimes that penetration does pay off. He's the guy zipping to the backfield and drawing a holding call on the Nebraska reverse:

#50 DT to top

That is in fact the play right after the QB power two clips above.

All-motor all-the-time was Mo Hurst's MO as a redshirt sophomore but it took a Ryan Glasgow injury and his insertion at nose instead of three-tech for that chink in his armor to get exposed—Indiana stretched him to death as he shot upfield over and over again. He calmed down the next year and became a solid all-around run defender. Dwumfour has a ways to go. PFF on Hurst after his third year in the program:

His +38.0 overall grade ranks third among returning interior defensive linemen despite playing only 418 snaps and he ranks with the top 15 among returnees as both a pass rusher (+20.4) and against the run (+20.4). Hurst shows the explosion to shoot gaps and the power to push the pocket while moving around on the defensive front.

Dwumfour is a guy flashing some talent who has issues and will do well to get draftable. Hurst was immediately a terror.

Aw, nuts. Anybody emerging? Maybe someone with a really obvious big number on the chart.

Yeah. I'm much more positive about Aidan Hutchinson. Hutchinson looks like a guy who is capable of a blow-up sophomore year. He's already shedding guys and covering a lot of ground:

DE #97 to bottom

This rip-down is reminiscent of Ryan Glasgow, who used to fling guys past him all the time:

He had a near-identical rip on the next play. Another 20 pounds and an offseason and he should be ready to go as a full-time starter. With Paye coming along at about the same rate the dropoff from Gary and Winovich shouldn't be crippling.


You have no cause to do so. Metellus got the deflected INT, helped Gary on the speed option above, and had a couple other good plays besides. This bunch formation is clearly designed to bust man coverage and gets it. Michigan does switch it, with Metellus coming up to help force the incompletion:

He was in good spots whenever tested and picked up an excellent +4.5 day despite a lack of snaps and tendency for quarterbacks to immediately die when they dropped to pass.


Devin Bush was first amongst terrors. Rashan Gary had the kind of game—er, quarter and a half—we were hoping for. Metellus was excellent.

Maybe not so heroic?


What does it mean for Northwestern and the future?

The full Brown selection. Zone is a regular feature this year instead of an occasional sidelight. We're also starting to see some switching man to man stuff. This is year three, which has historically been a hell of a year for his defenses because the whole thing gets downloaded into his players' brains.

Maybe find some RPO solutions though. A Penn State repeat would be pretty disappointing.

Maybe you shouldn't try to outrun Devin Bush without blocking him? Just sayin'? I mean?

Ross inches towards the clear starting WLB job. Both in performance and snaps. Occasionally feels pretty Bush-like. He's not Bush, nobody is, but neither is he McCray. He's much more sideline to sideline.

Josh Metellus is interesting in a non-boring way. All over the place and very precise. If you want a downer, Kinnel did give up another slant. But he is also cutting down on his missed tackles.

Glasgow is completely fine. Hudson's absence shouldn't be a problem against a very bad Northwestern offense.

The far future. Aidan Hutchinson continues to improve rapidly—that was the whole story of his recruitment—and has the frame and bloodline to be a really good player as early as next year. Dwumfour is a lot more variable; he could stick as this kind of eh player or put that first step to better use as we go along here.



September 27th, 2018 at 4:01 PM ^

Devin Bush would be the player that would suck to play against most in the old NCAA games.He would be the impact player on defense and fuck up all of your inside runs. Then be the guy that covers the slot or TE when you try to run crossing routes for easy yards and fuck those up too.

Sione For Prez

September 27th, 2018 at 4:33 PM ^

Did Gary go back in after the Martinez 15 yard scramble near the end of the first? I saw him tap himself out and jog off holding his shoulder in the "this hurts" position. It was 21-0 at that point but I'm hoping it isn't something that will end up knocking him out of a couple series against a better opponent. Winovich stayed out for maybe 2 or 3 more series after that.

Diagonal Blue

September 27th, 2018 at 6:25 PM ^

Not surprised Ross is getting more run than Gil, he was the significantly higher rated prospect coming out of high school. Only a matter of time before his talent was too much to keep off the field.


September 27th, 2018 at 7:43 PM ^

We should only play Solomon in the last 4 games (even if he becomes available prior to that time) so we can redshirt him and still let him play those (hopefully) important games. 


September 27th, 2018 at 11:01 PM ^

That Metellus number makes me happy in a non boring way.

I do hope they figure out the RPO issues, but this game was so out of hand early I'm not sure Brown would really waste time showing it off