Mike Onwenu near a giant cavern that's why I call him the spelunker [Eric Upchurch]

Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Indiana Comment Count

Brian November 22nd, 2018 at 12:52 PM

image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumb_thumb_thu[2]SPONSOR NOTE: Hey folks, this column is made possible in part by Matt Demorest, who's been one of our longest-term sponsors. He's also caused a steady stream of unfailingly high praise to hit my inbox from people who use his services. He is a person who will get you a mortgage right quick from the comfort of your own home. If you need one, he's the man, man.

FORMATION NOTES: Pretty much the standard by this point in the season: Michigan alternates between 1 and 3 TEs, spends 70% of its time in the gun and/or pistol, uses Ben Mason a little bit less than you'd like, and has largely abandoned Stanford-esque manball formations.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: QB, OL as per usual except Bushell-Beatty came out after the first two drives and Stueber went the rest of the way. Higdon resumed taking the plurality of RB snaps, with Evans, Mason and Wilson spotting him about half the time. Mason got some FB snaps as well; Wangler had a couple out of the pistol.

WR and TE were about usual too. Black got more snaps; Bell and Martin fewer than last week, but it was still Collins and DPJ most of the time with Perry in the slot. Michigan was slightly less TE heavy, with McKeon and Gentry out there about two-thirds of the time; Eubanks got his usual 15-20.

[After THE JUMP: everything but the girl]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Pistol trip TE 1 3 1 5-3 over 8 Run Counter Higdon 13
IU comes out with a five man line and an overhang LB who really looks like a DL as well but is probably not. This is designed to nerf the IZ M has done well with from this formation; M runs a gap blocked play at it. JBB(+1) fires in a DL; McKeon(+1) does a nice job to come around tight and fire in a charging LB. Notable improvement from a couple weeks ago. Bredeson(+0.5) gets a good kick. Eubanks(+1) pulls through and stands up a safety. Higdon(+1) picks his way through the hole and bounces, which is good. M doesn’t have guys for the backside S and LB and they track Higdon down. RPS +1.
M38 1 10 Shotgun twins H 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run PA rollout Hitch Collins 14
8 guys in the box and a safety at about ten; CB on Collins to the outside is in obvious bail presnap. PA fake, rollout, no edge from IU as McKeon blocks the backside end and there’s no one else. Patterson is able to roll up towards the LOS and shorten up the throw to Collins, who’s wide open for a catch and run. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O48 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 2 2 Nickel over 7 Run Pin and pull Higdon 8
Pin and pull away from the trips. IU is showing a blitz off the slot and a slant to the play and runs it. Times get desperate for IU as Runyan(+2) wins against a DE slanting to him, putting him three yards downfield and then that guy tries to shed inside; dead. Gentry(+1) gets a good, shoving kick that the play needs. Enough room to run away from the NT slanting to the play. Playside LB takes the coward’s way out and dives at the feet of both pullers. This should be illegal, for Newsome reasons. It takes them out. Higdon(+0.5) is able to get over that and pick up 8 but if this LB doesn’t take out two OL coulda been big.
O40 2 2 Pistol twins tackle over 1 2 2 4-3 over split 7.5 Run Pin and pull Higdon 14
Similar to the previous play from M but they put JBB and Runyan next to each other and a big split between the two DTs changes the look of what gets executed. Bredeson(+0.5) gets a kick; JBB(+1) neutralizes playside DT. McKeon(+1) takes one step to the edge and then redirects to pick off the MLB. This requires a step left on contact and still ends up in a stop. Runyan’s releasing as well and momentarily helps before trying to get to the backside LB, who’s already doomed because McKeon got to his guy to cut off the angle. Ruiz(+0.5) there to harass a DB in mitigation mode. RPS +1.
O26 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 over SAM 7 Pass Rollout out Perry 3
Rollout, attempt to flood the field side at three levels. Cover 3, CB bails, deep not there. Midlevel very probably covered. Patterson comes down to the short route too late and costs M a yard or three; Perry catches it and immediately steps OOB thanks to his momentum. (MA, 3, protection 1/1)
O23 2 7 Pistol twins tackle over 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Pin and pull Wilson 10
Same pin and pull tackle over to the other side of the line. Really well blocked here with McKeon(+2) getting an ideal second level block on the MLB, finding him as fast as possible and moving him out. Runyan(+2) turns in and moves the playside DE, loses him late but well after the job is done. Onwenu(+1) gets a big kickout; Gentry(+0.5) chases down the line and gets a meaningful block; Ruiz(+0.5) pulls around and ends up hitting the same guy but Gentry then moves on to help wall off a DB. Wilson(+0.5) slaloms through the gates well.
O13 1 10 Pistol twins tackle over 1 2 2 4-3 even 7.5 Run Pin and pull Higdon 1
Once too many times to the well. Heavy slant to the playside gets a DE to climb over both tackles who are over. McKeon(+1) again climbs to the MLB but for naught as Bredeson(-0.5) misses a tough cut and everything flows from the backside free. As soon as Higdon has to duck behind the kickout block they’ve got him. RPS -2, downloaded on PNP #4 on the drive.
O12 2 9 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-4 under 8 Run Pin and pull Higdon -2
Different pattern, bleh result. Eubanks(-1) mostly misses the playside end; JBB(-2) entirely misses the SAM. With the path of the RB this is always doomed once JBB whiffs the kickout.
O14 3 11 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Pass Throwaway N/A Inc
Directing malpractice here as it’s a tight shot on third and eleven from the 14 that doesn’t get to the EZ. No idea if anyone’s open. Patterson doesn’t find anyone; timer goes off. Pocket’s still fine but I get it. Still no one after the rollout, throwaway. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: FG(32), 3-0, 10 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M38 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 over 7.5 Pass Post Black Inc
Jet fake, handoff fake, dropback. Protection is mostly okay but JBB(-1) gets run around after an iffy chip from Gentry. Patterson can run up in the pocket and could take off for a decent gain on the ground but instead loads up for Black, who got past the deep safety and has a CB on his back. Window here is pretty small with the S involved, Patterson misses it by a yard or two by putting it too far out front. (IN, 0, protection ½)
M38 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under 6.5 Run Inside zone Evans 2
IU has a four man front with Ball as a SAM type guy; standup DL folds back and line slants to the play. This wins as JBB sets up to kickout this guy and he just drops back. DE inside of him shoots outside and upfield to be force. Line is now chasing everyone to one side and there’s no cutback because there’s no read on this play. Evans has to run at the slant, where there’s not enough room to get anything. Ruiz(+0.5) was able to shove a guy past and open up a couple yards of space. RPS -1.
M40 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-2 dime 5.5 Pass Dumpoff Edwards 5
Edwards in. Three man rush and M blows this very badly. JBB(-1) oversets right, Onwenu(-1) is looking for nobody instead of getting this guy, and the line sets away from a wide 9 DE who gets inside of McKeon(-1). Patterson bugs out and should. His dump to Edwards is always doomed against an eight man coverage. (CA, 3, protection 0/3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-0, 6 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M36 1 10 Pistol FB twins 2 1 2 Nickel under 6 Run Iso Wilson 5
Stueber gets the rest of the game. Mason shuffles from one side of Patterson to the other and then inserts in an A gap. IU oddly has just six guys in the box an is trying to make up the numbers with an S or something? They slant strong; Bredeson(+1) passes up the DT slanting away from him to go staple a LB inside. Big gap just outside of the apparent play design that Wilson hits. This may be a very subtle misdirection play. S away from the play is able to track Wilson(-0.5) down, and he tries to escape by going laterally. He does not succeed and fails to get another 2-3 as a result. Ruiz(+0.5) and Runyan(+0.5) both got adequate blocks to help the hole burst into existence.
M41 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over 6.5 Run Arc zone keeper Patterson 7
Bubble wrap off now that M’s down closing in on the end of the first. DE crashes, pull, McKeon(+0.5) kicks out the slot LB. Stueber(+0.5) goes to the same LB Ruiz does but Stueber has the angle to get him in case of a pull so maybe that’s okay? It does limit upside here as both S are able to head down and contain after the keep is clear. Patterson +1.
M48 1 10 Pistol twins tackle over 1 2 2 4-3 even SAM 7.5 Run Arc zone keeper Patterson 0
Another DE dive and a pull. No edge here for IU and McKeon(-1) is not quite suspicious enough about this. IU has swapped their LBs so the guy Gentry(+0.5) blocks down on is gone and the other guy gives ground to get around Ruiz. McKeon runs by this to the S. Tough. But gotta have some spidey sense here. Patterson(-0.5) should go get three yards but tries to escape and gets tackled at the LOS. RPS -1.
M48 2 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 under 8 Run Pin and pull Higdon 2
Another tactical L here as NT slants across and seeks to block Onwenu from getting downfield. He does. Bredeson is trying to block down on him and never actually has to; still a two for one. Ruiz(+0.5) gets around and hits a safety, Runyan(+0.5) kicks out, MLB free. RPS -1.
50 3 8 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 3-2 dime 5 Pass Dumpoff Higdon 6
Three man rush again. Stueber’s guy is around at maybe 9 but going too far upfield and not really a threat. Patterson surveys a long time, starts to bug out, and then dumps it down to Higdon. Close enough to go. (CA, 3, protection 1/1). Looks like the skinny post to Perry was open, FWIW.
O44 4 2 Shotgun 3-wide H 1 1 3 4-3 over SAM 8 Run Arc zone give Higdon 11
This seems like asking for it 100% with this covered slot trips thing featuring motion from DPJ. Nobody is paying any attention to the slot. And then it’s like whatever. Okay. Onwenu(+2) pancakes his dude. Stueber(+2) posts up the DE on his shoulder as he looks to move to the second level on this arc stuff and then smartly stops when he sees the LBs commit outside. Veteran move. Ruiz(+0.5) walls off the other LB as he charges the LOS. Higdon through the line. If M wasn’t in this goofy formation and the S had to respect Perry this could be a much longer play.
O33 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even SAM 8 Pass Double pass Gentry Inc (Pen +15)
Flip to DPJ, who tries to hit Gentry on a seam. Throw is okay but not QB quality; playside CB is able to recover in time to get in the way. This involves running Gentry over as he tries to get to the ball. (not charted, 0, protection N/A, RPS push)
O18 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even 7.5 Run Inside zone Evans 4
Evans(-1) misses a very obvious outside cut as Bredeson(+1) hits a DE slanting to him and moves him down the line as Ball blitzes off the slot and is picked up by Runyan(+0.5). There’s a LB sitting and waiting for his decision, unblocked; Evans dips inside and gets tackled by the guy. Outside and he’s got a real good chance of edging him. Stueber(+1) buried a LB on the second level. Ruiz could not get to this LB since the DE crashed down. Gotta bounce.
O14 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide H 1 1 3 4-3 even 7 Run Inside zone Evans 2
Covered slot. Black motions across. IU recognizes this late but does recognize it. They’ve also moved the field DE down right next to the DT. He goes for an arc block and leaves the DE. Patterson reading Ball coming down and gives; DE crashes and tackles. RPS -2.
O12 3 4 Goal line 2 2 1 Goal line 11 Pass PA TE corner Gentry Inc
PA gets Gentry wide open for a TD, opportunity spurned. (IN, 2, protection N/A, RPS +2)
Drive Notes: FG(29), 6-7, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Pistol FB twins 2 1 2 4-3 even 7 Pass Snag Black 5
Slot LB blitzes but is able to redirect to Higdon so the flare isn’t there. Patterson takes the quick snag route and throws it outside of Black, who makes a nice diving catch. (MA, 2, protection 1/1)
M45 2 5 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 even 8 Pass Fade DPJ Inc
Safeties down into the box so time to take a shot at Jones, who’s just outside the hash to the field. CB bails on the snap; DPJ is able to get over the top but not by much. He is well inside the numbers so a throw outside would be a good shot; Patterson misses long. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)
M45 3 5 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Dime even 5 Pass Angle Perry 9
Perry the inside guy in the bunch; he drives outside with the other two and then changes direction. DB opened his hips and has little shot at recovering, easy conversion. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, Perry route +)
O46 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even 7.5 Pass RPO slant Bell 31
Zone look with a slot LB; Patterson appears to be reading him. When he’s stock still he pulls it out and fires a slant to Bell, who is wide open for a catch and run. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +2)
O15 1 10 Pistol FB twins 2 1 2 4-3 under 8 Run Zone stretch Wilson 2
Et Tru! Wilson(-2) misses a cut on the stretch. Runyan(+1) and Bredeson(+1) combo the playside DE, with Runyan blasting him downfield and Bredeson picking him up. There’s a LB who might be able to come under a block and do something about it but if he doesn’t, TD. Instead Wilson extends to the boundary sideline for little.
O13 2 8 Pistol 3TE 1 3 1 5-2 over 8 Pass TE wheel McKeon Inc
Big set from IU, M throws at it. They get a S running at the LOS against McKeon, so this looks like a good idea. S grabs McKeon’s waist to make up some distance, refs -1, rubbin’s racin tho. Patterson’s still got a panicking DB with no ability to get his head around and he tries to pick out the perfect throw. It’s high, and McKeon can only get one hand to it, barely. (IN, 0, protection 0/2). Runyan(-2) got whipped so Patterson had no choice but to throw.
O13 3 8 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even 7 Pass Improv Perry Inc
Stueber(-1) fails to get off a guy slanting inside of him and lets a stunting DT through. Patterson has to bail. He’s able to make a great throw to Perry in go-for-it territory really really late but Perry can’t hang on in a lot of traffic. (DO, 2, protection ½)
Drive Notes: FG(30), 9-7, 10 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M35 1 10 Shotgun twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Inside zone Evans 4
Jet fake, handoff up the middle to Evans. Jet motion triggers CB blitz from vacated area, Runyan(+1) recognizes and picks up. Bredeson(+1) shoots a DE downfield. Stueber(-1) releases to one LB; it’s the wrong one. Gets him, though. Evans has that guy unblocked in one gap and cuts away from him into the area cleared by Bredeson. Ruiz(+0.5) and Onwenu(+0.5) also helped carve it out. RPS -1.
M39 2 6 Ace twins 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Inside zone Higdon 2
DT times up the snap and Onwenu(+2) is able to stall the guy and pass him off to Stueber(+1); that’s a hell of a thing. Onwenu then pops off and hits a linebacker. This carves most of a gap on the backside; DT is coming through and maybe makes a tackle from the side for five. Higdon(-1) shifts to the backside and runs into Onwenu’s guy. Ruiz(+0.5) and Bredeson(+0.5) did a good job neutralizing the frontside.
M41 3 4 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 3-3 stack 6 Pass Flash screen Collins 5
Just two guys over the bunch with a safety at ten shaded over there. Screen looks good presnap and is thrown. Blocking is eh but good enough; Collins(+0.5) is going forward with a purpose this time and hits a DB and gets the needed YAC. RPS +1. (CA, 3, screen)
M46 1 10 Shotgun 3TE H 1 2 2 Base 3-4 8 Run Arc zone give Higdon 7
Perry motions in to an H-back spot, this is a 3TE formation minus a TE. M then runs their arc play, basically, with Perry nerfing the slot LB and tacking a guy in man to man away from the play. Runyan(+1) fires a DE down the line; he’s slanting but he goes a long way farther than eh wants. Bredeson(+0.5) gets a second level block. Higdon cuts behind Runyan and goes straight upfield, which is fine as far as it goes. LB Gentry is blocking is able to make an ankle tackle because his angle was for the keeper. McKeon(+0.5) found a guy and the AP version of this runs cuts between the two TEs. RPS +1.
O47 2 3 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 under 8.5 Run Counter Higdon 6
Tactical TD not executed. CB blitz from nowhere with the deep S replacing, so there’s nothing if someone can break through. Counter action. Onwenu(+2) staples a guy slanting to him inside. Big gap. McKeon(-1) gets a big boy slanting to him and loses, falling; Bredeson(+0.5) gives himself up to hit this guy and keep the path clean. Stueber(-1) does not release vertically enough to take advantage of a false step from the playside LB and then tries to hit him. He does, but only a partial hit. Other LB now attacks and he can’t do much about that. Higdon(+1) is able to cut behind this because of all the space but the cut gave some pursuit angles time to get home and instead of a TD he gets a few. RPS +1.
O41 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 8 Pass TE post Eubanks 41
Everyone within 8 yards of the LOS and to the TE side six. PA, let’s go. Pocket’s good, LB level sucks up on the PA, and now there are 3 guys running deep vs two defenders. Playside SAM is clearly supposed to get Eubanks but bites and he’s done. Patterson has an easy pitch and catch TD. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +3)
O3 2PT 2PT Pistol 3TE tight 1 3 1 Goal line 11 Pass TE out Eubanks Inc
Mere presence of Mason induces a step forward from a safety; Eubanks pops open in the endzone and Patterson misses. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown(2PT failed), 15-10, 4 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M39 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over 6 Pass Improv Evans 4
IU not set and M still gest got here as a CB blitz is not picked up by Runyan(-1) and Stueber(-1) lets a DE flow up outside of him. Patterson breaks the pocket and flips a nothing pass to Evans(+1), who does well to turn nothing into a few. (CA, 3, protection 0/2)
M43 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Exotic 6 Pass TE seam Gentry 42
Patterson looks off the FS and then comes to Gentry and fires it to him when he clears the LB level. Bang. Gentry(+1) dodges his tackle for another chunk. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
O15 1 10 Shotgun twin TE 1 2 2 Nickel even 6.5 Run Stretch G Evans 5
In the abstract this is fine but Michigan has 1:01 on the clock on the ready to play and snaps a run 14 seconds later. FFS! IU slants to the play. McKeon(+0.5) chucks an edge guy to Bredeson(+0.5); Runyan(+0.5) gets depth but not a seal. Solid chip from Ruiz but no chance at a seal on backside DT ,tackle after 5.
O10 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under 7 Run Arc zone give Evans 3
Blitz off the edge, give. IU’s alignment gets them a free guy on the edge into Evans who forces it back to help. RPS -1. TO. 24 seconds.
O7 3 2 Pistol 3TE tight 1 3 1 4-3 over 6.5 Run Split zone Mason 4
Patterson(-1) misses a keep read. Backside of split zone is still okay as Mason(+1) grinds out 3 YAC even after the DE crashes into him. Runyan(+1) stood up and drove a LB going full bore at him. 19 seconds until ready to play.
O3 1 G Pistol tight 1 3 1 Goal line 11 Pass TE flat McKeon 2
Snap, no rub, hit after two yards. Why the hell is this your second call? Everyone in the endzone. Is this your call from the 5 on first and goal? FFS. RPS -3. (CA, 3, protection N/A)
Drive Notes: EOH, 15-17.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M33 1 10 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even 6.5 Run Pin and pull Higdon 1
Jet motion, CB doesn’t move, blitzes off corner. Stueber pulls around and gets cut by that guy. Line slanting to this in addition, which is bad. Gentry can’t seal the end, ends up driving him outside but not ideal. Onwenu lucky not to get called for a hold(refs +2) on the DT. Both go down. Higdon off balance as those guys are at his feet; DT from backside runs hard to get there and does. RPS -1. Jet is not buying you anything but CB blitzes.
M34 2 9 Shotgun empty TE 1 1 3 Nickel over 6 Pass Throwaway N/A Inc
Patterson is throwing a slant at Perry, who’s running an out. This is probably on Patterson as the routes on both sides look sensible and DPJ in fact breaks open for a nice catch and run on slant to the other side. Patterson barely holds onto the ball and tries to break the pocket. IU able to pursue and prevent him from getting his shoulders around, booted OOB. (BR, N/A, protection 2/2)
M34 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Dime over 5 Pass Dig DPJ 16
Three man rush, no problem. Patterson can’t find anyone immediately; he moves up in the pocket and fires a dig to DPJ that’s open as the LB under it started moving up on Patterson. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2) DPJ sat nicely when he saw zone (route+).
50 1 10 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 4-3 over 6.5 Pass Out Collins 13
Heavy-ish look gets a CB over Collins in the parking lot and M just goes right at it. DB bails on snap, Collins runs out at sticks, first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
O37 1 10 Shotgun 3TE H 1 2 2 4-3 even 7.5 Run Arc zone give Evans 7
Again WR in H-back spot. DL slants away from the arc area and gets moved. Gentry(+1) does a good job to realize the DE is Runyan(+1)’s job and whacks a LB instead. McKeon reads this a little later and can’t quite get to the slot LB but does hit him, he’s annoying and around, push. Evans(+0.5) cuts up between the TEs and gets hit by McKeon’s guy and the S. RPS +1.
O30 2 3 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel even SAM 7 Pass RPO slant DPJ 14
Bubble look to the trips side with DPJ(route+) sliding outside until he isn’t anymore. PA fake, RPO look from line, may not be real read but DPJ is wide open for a chunk and run. (CA, 3, RPO, RPS +1)
O16 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Pass RPO post Black Inc
Another RPO clears out the LBs and draws a safety up to about six yards as Patterson fires. S still has to be thrown over so can’t exactly throw the guy open short but this throw does kind of take Black into the DB. Black gets both hands to it but he’s getting hit; ball comes out. (CA, 2, RPO, RPS +1)
O16 2 10 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over 7.5 Run Pin and pull Higdon 6
Bredeson(+0.5) kicks; Gentry(+1) and Runyan(+1) turn their guys in and eliminate them. Onwenu(-0.5) mostly misses a LB charging hard; Higdon(+1) is able to dodge his arm tackle and go get some yards. Stueber’s following the last LB in case of something like this but he gets bumped off his chase by Gentry’s guy and his dude is able to make an ankle tackle.
O10 3 4 Pistol twins tackle over 1 2 2 4-3 over 8.5 Run Arc zone give Higdon 5
Patterson(-2) misses a pull read that’s a TD. He’s pissed about it, too. Despite getting an unblocked DE into his side Higdon(+3) is able to power out the first down here. This is some weeble-wobble business. Drive from Onwenu(+1) and Ruiz(+0.5) gives Higdon the space.
O5 1 G Shotgun twins H 1 2 2 5-2 over 9 Run Split zone Mason 1
Five man line from IU, NT jumps snap and hits between Ruiz and Onwenu; guy next to him also hits Onwenu. Onwenu falls backwards. Both DTs go over with help from Stueber but a yard in the backfield. Mason(+0.5) is able to pick his way around this to get a little something RPS -1, this was seemingly directed at this very play.
O4 2 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under 9 Pass Rollout seam Gentry Inc (Pen +2)
Little half roll to the field; Gentry gets in one on one coverage with the MLB. MLB runs and whacks Gentry with the ball in the air, never looks back, easy call. (CA, 0, protection 1/1)
O2 1 G Goal line 2 2 1 Goal line 11 Run Down G Higdon 2
A paving where Mason has no one to hit. Tackle over from M. Runyan(+1) and Stueber(+1) caves in playside DE. Bredeson(+0.5) kicks the SAM. McKeon(+0.5) gets to the safety. FB and RB walk in.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 22-17, 9 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M43 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Run Split zone Evans 7
Six in the box is tough for IU. They’re exchanging on the backside; Gentry(+1) reads it and is able to seal the DE as he shuffles down the line. Evans(+0.5) shifts outside of that. Runyan(+1) gets a good second level block that puts his guy to one side and moves him. DT from the backside able to spin back and chase this down. RPS +1, this was a soft look from IU.
50 2 3 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 under 7 Pass RPO slant DPJ INT
RPO; Runyan(-2) sets way far left and the OLB coming off the corner gets inside him untouched. Fake bubble to slant on the outside again but Patterson gets blown up on the throw and it sails to IU. (PR, 0, protection 0/2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 22-17, 8 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Pistol trip TE 1 3 1 4-3 over 8 Run Counter Higdon 3 (Pen -10)
Onwenu(+0.5) and Stueber(+0.5) fire in edge guys moving away or in Stueber’s case, foolishly up. Bredeson(+1) pulls around tight and puts the playside end inside. McKeon(+0.5) finds a kickout. Eubanks(-2) runs outside this kickout, oof. If Eubanks hits it up inside a safety likely spends himself running to contain and this is a nice run. Instead Higdon has a couple of bad choices. He follows Eubanks and gets what he can. McKeon then gets the classic this-play-is-supposed-to-go-inside-of-me hold. Not his fault.
M10 1 20 Shotgun 3-wide H 1 1 3 Nickel over 7.5 Run Arc zone keeper Patterson 11
Covered slot. DE dives, pull. Patterson(+1) pops outside. LB is able to climb over the top of Stueber. McKeon pauses for him and then lets him go, which is questionable but works out. Stueber’s in a dangerous position that is frequently a hold but gets away with it, so sure +0.5. McKeon(+1) seals a safety inside; Bell(+1) gets a driving block on a CB.
M21 2 9 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 5-1 nickel under 6.5 Pass Throwaway N/A Inc
Higdon(-1) does not find the LB looping around in time to get over and stop him. He does hit him; Patterson sees it late as he was checking Black, who didn’t get off the LOS clean. He rolls out, realizes he’s going down and flips it OOB near enough to Black to not be grounding. (TA, N/A, protection ½) On replay it looks like he checks out an open out and passes it up; this should have come out.
M21 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Exotic 6 Pass Improv Gentry 41
Gentry’s running a wheel and has two yards on the LB trying to check him. Patterson leaves the pocket when he doesn’t really have to, but things are getting tight so I get it. No edge. Patterson can stroll, and uncork a bomb down the sideline for a big play. (DO+, 2, protection 2/2, Gentry route +)
O38 1 10 Ace tight 1 1 3 4-3 over 7.5 Pass PA post Collins Inc
PA, Gentry stays in, all day. Patterson loads up and fires to Collins, but short. Desperate safety has it go off his helmet, I think. (MA, 0, protection 2/2)
O38 2 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even 7.5 Run Inside zone Wilson 15
Slot blitz, Runyan(+1) picks it up. Ruiz(+0.5) and Bredeson(+0.5) pick up the DE slanting inside and the LBs are reading. The DT movement gives them concern. Bounce is there; Wilson(+1) hits it.
O23 1 10 Shotgun twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even SAM 7.5 Run Inside zone Evans 8
Jet fake, mesh on which Patterson can keep, DE holds up, give. Runyan(+0.5) gets a kick. Bredeson(+0.5) and Ruiz(+0.5) again move a DT and get a LB caught up in the wash. This isn’t going to buy M much as the CB opposite the jet falls off and fills at about two yards. Evans(+2) is able to stiff-arm the guy, then stiff-arm him again, second one puts him on the ground. He’s got the edge for a nice gain. RPS -1?
O15 2 2 Pistol twins H tackle over 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Pass Waggle TE flat McKeon Inc
Nobody covers McKeon out of the backfield; this is a TD; DE bats it down. F! (BA, 0, protection N/A, RPS +2).
O15 3 2 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Goal line 10 Run Down G Higdon 0
LBs shaded to this side and IU applies one more body than M has blockers. Mason(-1) picks the wrong guy, too. The MLB is coming tight and vertical and is much more of a threat than the CB, who Higdon can probably run through. Either way this is dodgy. RPS -2.
Drive Notes: FG(32), 25-17, 2 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M44 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 Nickel over 6.5 Run Inside zone Higdon 4
McKeon(+1) and Stueber(-1) move a DE but Stueber gets off the double late and allows a LB to shoot the gap. Actually, he never gets off it at all. This prevents Higdon(+0.5) from running up the backs of his OL and waiting for a crack to appear; he can bounce and does; when that’s not promising he’s able to cut back inside of that LB and grind a few.
M48 2 6 Pistol FB twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 7 Run Split zone Higdon 13
Tight front from IU. One DE loops outside. NT slants to Onwenu(+2), who then might change his mind? He redirects just before contact and Onwenu ejects him from the solar system. Giant hole. LB comes up, Wangler(+1) knocks him over as he tries to redirect inside. Stueber(-1) releases to no one, passes up Wangler’s guy, and then looks left. Nobody there either. He should extend to a safety. Alas. Two S can converge and shut this down.
O39 1 10 Shotgun twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under 7 Run Arc zone keeper Patterson 2
Patterson pulls as he sees the OLB he’s reading move outside. Eubanks(-2) airballs on him when he redirects inside. Patterson(+0.5) has to dodge that guy and does. He then gets as vertical as possible to scratch out a few yards.Give here looked really good; live I was like YES and then no. Ruiz(+1) blew a guy down the line to create another big crater.
O37 2 8 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 under 7 Run Inside zone Wilson 6
McKeon(+1) steps down, finds the DE outside of him, and kicks him out. Bredeson(+1) moves the NT to create a gap. Runyan(+0.5) picks the LB trying to scrape over and gets a useful block but I wish he’d gone for the S and maybe that guy scrapes and maybe not. S comes down to tackle.
O31 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide H 1 1 3 4-3 over SAM 7 Run Arc zone keeper Patterson 19
Covered slot, this time one barely outside the tackle box. Grumbles but it works so okay. Optioned DE shuffles down, doesn’t crash; pull; he does not recover. Ruiz(+0.5) has no angle to the LB but is able to make contact and get enough of a tug in to neutralize him but not enough for a flag, refs +1. McKeon(+1) gets out in space and reads the situation right, going for the S; DPJ(+1) stalks and then fends off the CB. Patterson(+1) goes OOB instead of taking the hit for a few more at the end. RPS +2.
O12 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 even SAM 7 Run Zone read belly Evans 3
If there’s a pull here Patterson(-1) misses it; SAM charges and the playside S also hammers down inside; SAM able to tackle Evans(+0.5) at the LOS but Evans is able to grab a few. Eubanks(+0.5) with a good shove to open up the space. Probably thought Patterson would get more respect after the last play.
O9 2 7 Shotgun twins 1 2 2 4-3 even SAM 7 Run Pin and pull Higdon -1
DE shifts outside almost on the snap. McKeon(-1) picks him up but is unable to hold up; he gets shoved back a yard or two. Bredeson(+1) and Ruiz(+1) both get hammering blocks on the edge but Higdon(-1) trips over McKeon’s legs and goes down.
O10 3 8 Shotgun empty quads 1 2 2 5-1 nickel under 6 Run QB draw Patterson 4
Very conservative call here is probably right up 8 with 10 minutes left. M can’t get an OL to release downfield as IU stunts. Stueber(-1) does not get off his guy and pick up the looper; Patterson(+1) has to make him miss. Unfettered LB makes the tackle. RPS -1.
Drive Notes: FG(25), 28-17, 10 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
O47 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over 6 Run Split zone Evans 2
Evans(-1) misses an obvious lane off the frontside as Bredeson(+1) and Ruiz(+1) blow up the NT. Evans doesn’t like the Onwenu block, which might be valid but also is not going to prevent him from getting five yards, and cuts to the backside, where there’s not much room. By the time he cuts back to the original gap it’s too late and a LB is able to track him down from the back.
O45 2 8 Pistol FB twins 2 1 2 4-3 over 7.5 Run Arc zone keeper Patterson 15
FB shuffle. He moves for split, DE shuffles down, pull. Wangler(+1) stops and fires in a LB charging backside; McKeon(+1) locks up a CB. Patterson(+1) pulls and has a lane; LB false step gives him even more yards. RPS +1.
O30 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 4-3 even SAM 7.5 Run Inside zone Higdon 5
Bredeson(+1) gets a thunderous chip on a DT but Runyan(-1) doesn’t step around and finish the block. Right side of the line is 3 V 2 vs a couple DL and moves them some; Stueber(+0.5) is able to pick up a linebacker. Higdon(+1) cuts back as not a lot of room to the front and is able to duck the DT Runyan didn’t kick out; Runyan is shoving the guy to help a little. OLB closes it down.
O25 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 5-1 nickel odd 7.5 Run Arc zone keeper Patterson 6
OLB crashes and then tries to pick McKeon(+1) off; McKeon is able to take the hit glancingly and keep moving. Patterson(+1) pulls and gets around the OLB, then smartly gets vertical between him and the contain player.
O19 1 10 Pistol FB twins 1 2 2 4-3 under 7.5 Run Zone stretch Wilson 5
NT tries to go upfield of Ruiz(+0.5), who is able to stop and annoy the guy a bit. He’s eventually able to grab Wilson from behind but only at the end of the run, and his absence is the crease. Runyan(+1) drives a DE down the field and comes off on a LB as Bredeson(+0.5) picks him up. Wilson(+0.5) makes the cut he missed earlier.
O14 2 5 Ace twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 7.5 Run Inside zone Higdon 0
Gentry(-1) gets beat as the OLB on the edge dips under him on the snap. He’s able to attach to the guy and shove him; Higdon(-1) should cut behind this if he can. He’ll get something. He doesn’t and the OLB trips him up; stunt had gotten the other OLB in the same gap.
O14 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide H 1 1 3 4-3 over 8 Run Arc zone keeper Patterson 2
Once too many times to the well, but whatevs really. M absolutely should run this, under 3 minutes left and they’re about to go up 11, no risks.
Drive Notes: FG(28), 31-20, 2 min 4th Q. M’s remaining snaps are kneels.

NEVER BUNT HIT DINGERS

So the thing about redzone offense is

AIN'T HEARIN' IT

Well it's just

DINGERS

FFS here's a drive chart:

  • 65 and 67 yard TD drives
  • FG drives of 61, 52, 47, 65, 51, and 36 yards
  • 59-yard drive ending in Debacle
  • one three and out, one INT after two plays

Indiana didn't stop Michigan until the redzone, and then the things that happened in the redzone didn't seem like tactical issues but rather just a reprise of Michigan's season-long tendency to get in great scoring positions and then dorf it, whether that's at the opposition 35 like it was against Wisconsin and Michigan State or inside the 20 like it was here.

But the playcalling?

A somewhat valid complaint in the first three quarters. Late, no. Michigan's final two drives were 15 runs and zero passes that took eight minutes off the clock between them. Both ended in field goals to put Michigan up 11. Those were perfectly defensible conservative decisions.

Michigan's other FG drives:

  1. First and 10 from the 13. They've already run three pin-and-pulls on the drive; they run a couple variants on first and second down and get stuck in third and 11 from the 14. This was bad playcalling, allowing IU to tee off on something because of a lack of variation.
  2. Michigan pops Gentry wide open on third and four and it doesn't quite come off. Bad execution.
  3. Tru Wilson misses a cut on first down; Patterson doesn't give McKeon a chance on a wheel route on second down; Stueber forces an early flush on third down. Bad execution.
  4. A sure TD to McKeon is batted down on second and two; a third and two down G sees IU get an unblocked MLB to Higdon. 50/50.

Is this a redzone problem or an offense problem?

It's an offense problem.

Is Wilson missing a cut on this stretch play a redzone problem or an offense problem?

It's an offense problem. (Also… sigh. Be nice to a running back and he stabs you in the back, every time.)

Is this third and two conversion a redzone issue or an offense issue?

Well… maybe that's a playcalling issue as Michigan runs directly at three Indiana players with a plan to block only two of them.

I'm not saying there aren't problems with the Michigan offense but they're not systematic redzone issues. They're a combination of the failures any offense has with a run game that's in year one of a new regime and a quarterback in year one at a new school.

OKAY BUT DEBACLE

Debacle was a debacle indeed, but I think we covered it in the game column. That wasn't a redzone issue per se, but a WHAT ARE YOU DOING GET A MADDEN KID issue.

IS THERE ANY GOOD NEWS BAH

This was a paving that Michigan didn't pay off with a long run or three. Michigan gave up one TFL and a fairly desperate Tom Allen played a ton of games that got Michigan a bunch of RPS minuses. Michigan responded with a bunch of RPS of their own, resulting in the most RPS-heavy game since Northwestern.

Also there were a lot of snaps. This is me trying to brace you for some absurd homerish numbers.

Offensive Line

Player + - Total Notes
Runyan 17 1 16 5 pass pro minuses though? Still.
Bredeson 14.5 0.5 14 IU DTs were not ready for this
Ruiz 9.5   9.5 or this
Onwenu 11 0.5 10.5 or especially this
JBB 2 2 0 Left early.
Stueber 7 5 2 Some promise but clearly behind the starters in terms of targeting.
McKeon 13.5 3 10.5 Rapid improvement: check.
Gentry 5 1 4 Less heavily involved on the ground.
Eubanks 1.5 5 -3.5 Two –2 whiffs.
Mason 1.5 1 0.5 Positives all with ball, –1 to total..
TOTAL 72 19 79% Wangler also +2-0=+2.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Patterson 6.5 4.5 2 Missed a couple pulls in the redzone.
McCaffrey        
Higdon 8 3 5 Rescued a bad give with weeble wobble first down.
Evans 4.5 2 2.5 Double stiffarm, whoah
Samuels       DNP
Wilson 2 2.5 -0.5 Missed zone stretch cut in redzone.
Turner       DNP
TOTAL 21 12 9 Average-ish day given number of carries.
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
DPJ 1   1  
Collins 0.5   0.5  
Perry        
Martin        
Thomas        
McCurry        
Bell 1   1  
TOTAL 2.5   2.5 Eh
Metrics
Player + - T Notes
Protection 24 12 66% Runyan –5, JBB –2, Stueber –2, Onwenu –1, McKeon –1, Higdon –1.
RPS 23 18 +5 Lots of funny stuff.

An unprecedented whoopin' on the ground, especially across the OL. If JBB was full go this could have been a real thing. Michigan didn't pay this off with a 350 yard day because they managed to have 48 carries without anything longer than 19 yards. That's hard to do, average 5 yards a pop with nothing truly long.

That's offset with a bit of a step back in pass protection. It's possible JBB's early issues were more about his injury than his level of play. Runyan maybe not so much. He had his worst play since the Notre Dame game, and it bit Michigan as hard as possible:

He also had another scary callback to his early days:

LT #75

We have enough data on him now that these are genuinely outliers, but if he could have had his two big outliers against Rutgers and then done very well against Indiana I'd feel better.

When not doing the above he maintained his very good level of play from the previous two months of the season. His ability to drive guys despite not being Onwenu-sized continues to surprise; this DE gets put three yards downfield:

#75 LT

I didn't have a bunch of +2 WOW blocks from him other than that but he spat out a steady stream of +0.5s and +1s, like his partner…

Ben Bredeson, Michigan's best OL and the third-best G prospect in the NFL draft?

I guess? He has not graded out as the line's standout star by my reckoning. He's been good, but I often have fewer graded events for him than other guys on the line. He doesn't leap out. He does consistently make good decisions, which is something I treasure after 85 years of watching Michigan fail to block guys shaded outside of them on inside zone.

This doesn't look amazing but the consistency with which Michigan executes this stuff, and Bredeson's consistency in particular, is the #1 reason the line has gone from a sack of cats to an army on the march.

#74 left guard

Guy slanting away? Pass him up, go get a linebacker. Like Runyan he racked up a blizzard of +1s and +0.5s for executing what he was supposed to be doing on about every play.

Did anyone put up a bunch of +2 WOW blocks?

Yessir; this was a game in which Mike Onwenu looked like the bulldozer you imagine when you hear tell of a 350* pound guard. Onwenu's been more up and down than his compatriots on the left but man when he gets you he gets you. There were multiple giant caverns that were largely his doing. Here's a skycam shot that does the best job of communicating the whooping handed out.

RG #50

This was a theme. Here's another one that I swear isn't the same play:

Michigan's fourth and two conversion early saw Onwenu flat out pancake his guy without help:

#50 RG

You guys want some grapes?

This inside zone run sees a DT successfully time the snap; Onwenu's able to stall him, shove him back, and then get to a charging LB. I be like dang about this:

RG #50

Deserved better from Higdon, who got a pass into the secondary if he cuts behind Onwenu and can escape that DT.

Indiana's DTs are just guys and everyone whooped up on them; Onwenu is the guy who shows up occasionally with a mauling block while the guys on the left are metronomically effective.

How did Stueber do in his first real action?

He was clearly a step down from the rest of the line, with a couple of wobbly moments in pass protection. He also had some issues finding guys when he released to the second level; he'd hit the wrong guy or wander around in search of a dance partner. Neither was he the road grader JBB can be when he gets it right.

He didn't look out of place, though, and he did a couple of promising things. Let's embed that fourth and two conversion a third time, because it's a play that is designed to clobber the very thing Michigan runs, with LBs flying outside to eat up the potential arc keeper. Stueber puts the DE on his shoulder, reads the LB flying outside, and is able to redirect and stop the DE dead in his tracks:

RT #71

I saw Kyle Kalis do that once against Rutgers, once, one time, and it stuck in my head as a really good thing I want OLs to do but never happens. I think I link that clip annually. And there's a guy in his first start(ish) executing it to perfection.

A little later he absolutely buried a linebacker on the second level:

RT #71

That is, as they say, nasty. A version of Stueber with another offseason beneath his belt is probably going to be a guy you can have confidence in as a new starter in 2019.

A couple of weeks ago you clucked about Sean McKeon and look at that!

Hey, I also said he'd just had a ton dumped on his plate midseason and the prospects for rapid improvement where there. McKeon did indeed rapidly improve. After a couple weeks of complaints that McKeon wasn't pulling tight to the line when he came across on certain plays, he executed that from the drop:

#84 TE pulling across formation

When asked to pick off linebackers downfield he did so with aplomb. This MLB is hauling for the play and McKeon both finds him fast and eliminates him entirely.

#84 TE motioning

As mentioned, when McKeon makes contact it almost always goes well for Michigan. He doesn't whiff much; he doesn't get stood up much; he doesn't get blown back in a heap. It was just getting to the point where he's making contact almost all the time. That happened this weekend.

Were there a number of new items? 

Michigan treated Indiana like a real opponent and is glad they did in the aftermath. Their first play was a new item, although not a particularly surprising one. They brought out their trip TE package and ran a counter from it.

Indiana prepped a five-man-line package to combat that and ended up getting gashed for their trouble. That wasn't an RPS+ for me because Michigan still had to execute a lot of blocks to get that chunk.

Michigan then brought out some tackle over formations and ran pin and pull from them. Whatever that tweak exposed in the IU defense is beyond the scope of this column; the fact that Michigan was carving out canyons is not.

Unfortunately, Michigan went to the well too much on that first drive; their first redzone snap saw the playside DE fight like hell to get over the downblock and all-out pursuit from the backside. There's not much any particular blocker can do about this:

 

 

The other new item was a variation on something that it seems like everyone in the Big Ten is doing: covering a slot receiver. Michigan's seen shotgun trips formations with a TE off the LOS in most games this year. When you have trips and a non-inline TE you have to cover up a slot WR or it's an illegal formation. For some reason teams are signing up for this enthusiastically.

I get it as a weird changeup nobody's seen before, but it's so prevalent this year that it seems like any benefit you'd get from the potential to break the opposition's run fits would have been wiped out.

So Michigan runs a half-dozen covered slot snaps and even more strangely they motion the WR not on the line of scrimmage across the formation, so now it's just a regular-ass 3 WR shotgun set where someone's ineligible. I've got my sackcloth and ashes all ready, and then:

Michigan rips off chunks while doing this. Pretty much every time. Even though Indiana has clearly recognized the covered slot guy and decided to ignore him. Ball, their spacebacker, completely ignores Perry above, as does the playside S. It doesn't end up mattering. But maybe you could have sucked that safety away with the slot? I dunno.

The next time Michigan pulled this out IU did get a win largely because of it. You can see Ball recognize the slot is covered and point the guy out to the S before leaving him and crashing down. DE crashes to the back; IU has numbers for the pull, and there's no LB screaming outside to tell anyone on the LOS to stop and hit the DE.

What possible rationale you could have for this escapes me.

On a happier note, when Michigan had an eligible slot receiver they occasionally used him.

That is a bonafide RPO.

And then the arc came out late.

Those game-sealing drives had a heavy dose of Michigan's arc keeper—five of Patterson's nine carries on the day came on those last fifteen plays. It's hard to believe that we're this deep into the season with an established tendency to run arc reads on third and short and this is still happening:

McKeon pops around the corner and ain't nobody here but us chickens.

Even when the opposition is able to apply a human to the designated area it's not enough.

FB #5

Michigan had set that up with a couple other FB shuffle plays on which Wangler or Mason ran backside to do something else; once it was one of those blocks on the DT Michigan used against Nebraska; once it was a regular old split zone block. It's tough for opponents to prep for the arc keeper because it looks just like everything else, and now Michigan's running RPO stuff and in general has a quarterback you have to respect as a pocket passer.

Opponents have started gaming for it, albeit with limited success to date. Indiana did manage to create Michigan's only 0-yard QB run of the year with a game. Watch the IU LBs flip:

McKeon needs to be a bit more suspicious about a wide open edge where there's no one for him to block. The other unsuccessful Patterson keeper was more Eubanks missing a block than anything else:

TE #82 to bottom

Even if Eubanks allows Ball to dip inside him there he's got a way to make this work by latching on and pushing him, which gives Patterson a less circuitous path downfield and likely gets him a decent slice of yards before that safety can grab him.

IU also tried to cut off McKeon on the final drive. McKeon was able to get around Ball despite the hit and threaten the outside, giving Patterson his lane:

TE #82 pulling across formation

That says somethin' about somethin': that is an opposition player attempting to volunteer for a split zone kickout block.

This is Michigan's go-to offense on its most successful period of clock-killing late drives in the Harbaugh era. It's about to get its resilience tested against Ohio State. I think it'll go pretty well. Michigan's done a great job of running arc from all sorts of formations, starting from the basic split zone variant it started as to using inline playside TEs to using a fullback from the pistol. Recently they've added some jet looks to widen guys out further.

The combination of Warinner's decade in a spread to run system and Harbaugh's surfeit of tight ends has made for a legitimately innovative offense. You don't see many teams running non-spread shotgun sets.

The other thing with the ball? The throwing? 

Patterson's day was slightly off his usual standard of play by DSR but featured no starred throws and 3 DOs; the only really bad incident was the coulda-shoulda touchdown to Gentry. The rest of his throws in the negative column were pretty benign: missed deep shots, a bat down on a rollout, a ball he pulled down instead of throwing.

SHEA PATTERSON

  Good   Neutral   Bad   Ovr
Game DO CA SCR   PR MA   BA TA IN BR   DSR PFF
Notre Dame 2+ 18(4)+ 1   5 1   1(1) 2 2 1*   77% -
WMU 3++ 9(2)++     2 1     1 2     77% -
SMU 3+ 9(1)+ 3     1     2 1 2*   74% -
Nebraska 2 11(2)+     1         2 1   79% -
Northwestern 2 12(2)+ 3   1 3     3* 4     68% -
Maryland 3 17(1) 1   1 4   1   1 1   87% -
Wisconsin   15(2)     2 3     4** 1 1*   68% -
MSU 2 9(1)+ 1   2 3   1 3* 4** 1   55% -
Penn State 1 11(2)+       3     2   3   66% -
Rutgers 5+ 14(2)+       1       5(1)     81% -
Indiana 3+ 14(1)+     1 3   1 1 5 1   67% -

Patterson was accurate on everything short of 30 yards—except, you know, that—and a couple spectacular ones past that…

…and he continued to show his better command of the pocket in a more hostile situation.

He did seem to leave the pocket early on the deep shot to Gentry that leads this section's embeds, but that was about the only time I thought he was making even a debatably bad decision. The rest of his pocket exits were justified; he did not leave just before his guys broke open without reason.

His seam shot to Gentry was a confident read; he looked left, seemingly to hold the safety, and then when he came back right the ball was out quickly.

We wanted to see him take apart some zones on which he knew where the gaps were going to be; that looks like an occurrence.

RPOs were a sudden staple on which Patterson looked extremely comfortable making the read and hitting his man in stride after the mesh point:

 

Michigan threw four of those. Two were easy chunk completions; one was a ball that hit Black's hands in the endzone at the same time a DB hit Black; the fourth was the INT.

Patterson did miss on deep routes an unfortunate amount. This will happen. PFF keeps putting out rankings with Patterson near the top on deep ball accuracy because he's around 60%. But there are deep balls like the Eubanks TD…

…and deep balls that are not free TDs, which get completed at a lower rate. Here Patterson was just off on a number of shots. This roll-up and fire to Black was one of them:

He left another deep shot to Collins slightly short, as well.

Hiccups remain but were rare and ended up being relatively benign. I gave Patterson a BR for this non-throw, which appears to be a miscommunication. If he wants to throw the out he can; it looks like he expects something else, and then it's improv time that doesn't come off.

Rudockening tentatively continues.

Hey! Be nice to Higdon!

Okay. Higdon had a much better week, with no obvious missed opportunities and one third down conversion on which he rescued a bad read from Patterson. NFL folks are talking about "contact balance" when discussing Higdon's NFL prospects and that balance allowed him to grind out a critical third and four conversion before Michigan scored their go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter:

Derrick Green fell over just watching that. That's Higdon's best asset.

Receivers?

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

  THIS WEEK   SEASON
Player 0 1 2 3   0 1 2 3
DPJ 2     2/2   8 1/4 3/6 27/27
Collins 1     3/3   2 1/4 6/7 21/22
Martin           2 1/3   6/7
Perry     0/1 2/2   5 0/2 2/4 11/11
Bell       1/1       1/1 5/5
McCurry               1/1 1/1
Black 1   1/2     1   1/2  
McKeon 2     1/1   4   3/4 9/10
Gentry     1/2 1/1   5 1/2 8/9 20/22
Eubanks   0/1   1/1   1 0/2 1/1 4/4
Mason                  1/1
Evans       1/1   1     12/12
Higdon       1/1     1/1    0/1 6/6
Wilson                 2/2
Thomas                    0/1

Routes: DPJ ++, Gentry +, Perry +.

(Also: Berkeley Edwards had a routine catch.)

Zeroes or routines for most of the day. No route minuses.

Heroes?

Every OL except the RT. McKeon.

Maybe not so heroic?

Nobody really. Runyan's moments of scary pass pro, I guess.

What does it mean for The Game?

They're ready. This OL (wsg McKeon) is now executing everything Michigan's coaches are throwing at them. Maybe OSU will be able to physically overpower them—even without Bosa they've got some dudes on that line. But they're ready. Michigan has their system down. Mental errors in this game were close to nonexistent.

Signs of the Rudockening remain present. Patterson's misses were mostly deep; there were no breakdowns this week where Patterson is already leaving the pocket when his receivers bust open. This was more of an accomplishment than last week, when Rutgers forced zero pass pro minuses. Indiana got to him a decent amount, so this was really awareness and not just the ability to sit in the pocket without worrying about a rush.

RPOs ho. Michigan will get 80 yards on RPOs in the Game. This was a live fire test drive. OSU's LBs are nuts and will be out of position. Michigan will chunk them.

A true dual threat quarterback is the hardest thing to defend in football. Michigan has one, and the bubble wrap is about to come off.

No whammies in pass protection. Runyan's reversion was just an off day until it isn't. Nervy.

If Andrew Stueber's the right tackle next year it'll be fine. He did not look out of place. He flashed some advanced understanding and the proverbial nasty streak. Still a long way to go; by midseason 2019 I'd be he's just another mean ol' Michigan OL.

Comments

stephenrjking

November 22nd, 2018 at 1:22 PM ^

I’ve spent much of the last two years arguing against Pep haters, who have in my estimation just been looking for a scapegoat. My position is largely the same, but based on the theory I use to understand the design/calling process for Michigan’s offense, I have to be fair when things go wrong. 

That pass to Mckeon in bounds at the end of the first half is on Pep. They’re calling two plays, they MUST anticipate that they’ll have a couple of yards to go, and he calls a play with a route that gets caught short and in bounds. 

That’s 100% on Pep. 

evenyoubrutus

November 22nd, 2018 at 1:30 PM ^

I think Pep is fine. The problem for a long time was top many cooks in the kitchen. I have a feeling that Drevno was too controlling and micromanaging and it probably cost us in cohesiveness and organization. But really, the offensive line just hasn't been very good until this year, and we won 28 games in the first 3 seasons in spite of that. That's not bad.

The Denarding

November 22nd, 2018 at 11:51 PM ^

I concur - you can argue Pep’s creativity but he is Gaurdrailed by the constraints of Harbaugh’s offense which is primarily creative in the running game to open up passing options.   Those routes have to push deeper into the end zone or else the disaster scenario of an in bounds tackle is a non zero event.   I felt part of it was the throw was slightly too far inside so there is a momentum shift that allows the in bounds tavklecto be made.   Credit the IU player for making a great tackle as well.   But honestly that play has to be perfect to work and when perfect likely gets you short of the end zone but the clock stopped.   That is the max return.   Wrong call in that scenario.   

The Denarding

November 22nd, 2018 at 11:58 PM ^

Honestly I was surprised that was not the actual hurry up call if first down happened but I assumed maybe individuals with far greater coaching knowledge knew something different.   Maybe the thought is clock stops on the first down so no need to spike?  But that argues even more for throw into the end zone or kick a FG.    So again appears to be that the assumption was they could get that route as a leading throw and carry the momentum into the end zone and the pass was just slightly behind because Shea Patterson isn’t Tom Brady (who makes those throws into TDs better than anyone in history).   Regardless bad call, learning lesson, hopefully never repeated. 

Durham Blue

November 22nd, 2018 at 4:42 PM ^

I was on the (non-vocal) Pep hating tour for most of last season.  This season I think Pep has redeemed himself.  Amazing what a good QB with good protection and a run game buys you.  I chalk that McKeon dorf up to a mistake.  We all make them.

EDIT: adding to this point, I think Michigan may have underestimated IU's tackling ability.  I talk about it later in the comments as well.  The McKeon tackle short of the goal line and in bounds is just one example of some really good tackling by them.

M-Dog

November 22nd, 2018 at 2:04 PM ^

Just about anything in space is going to work.  OSU LBs are going to make one quick read and then blast like hell to that spot.

There is a free TD whenever we want it, when Shea keeps if he flips it out to a vacated TE or WR right before he gets to the LOS.

You can see an example of this in the "Arc Keeper - FB #5" video above.  If Mckeon (TE #84) lets go of his block and drifts out and Shea flips it to him as he gets to the LOS, it's a walk-in TD.

It's open to DPJ in the video above it as well.

 

Durham Blue

November 22nd, 2018 at 4:53 PM ^

I think the deep balls to Collins, DPJ and Black are going to hit at least three times against OSU.  The long passing game has been there this season but feels like it's been held in check, mostly by conservative leaning play calls.  I have a notion that the floodgates will open and we'll see Black sprung free on two long TDs, mainly because Black has paid his dues and he is now overdue.

socalwolverine1

November 22nd, 2018 at 5:00 PM ^

Regarding our red zone impotence, I wish we would stop being so predictable based on our formation look at the line of scrimmage. Do the opposite of what our formation suggests based on our tendencies. Use a lot more motion to unsettle the defense. Spread out the formation like we did a few times earlier this year near the goal line and dial up something new and different. 

Durham Blue

November 22nd, 2018 at 5:03 PM ^

I was really impressed with IU's tackling ability.  Seems whenever they had a guy in the vicinity with the chance to tackle, our guy was on the ground.  They have a capable QB, good blocking OL, good RB and WR's.  How in the F they are 5-6 is beyond me.  It wouldn't break my heart if IU didn't make a bowl game but jeebus, if they don't it's one hell of a wasted season.

Michigan Arrogance

November 22nd, 2018 at 7:01 PM ^

I'm wondering what could that covered inelig. slot WR do besides block? I'm trying to imagine a play based off of the D abandoning that slot when they realive he's not eligible, then the slot comes in for a behind the QB screen type pass? or an end around?

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

November 22nd, 2018 at 10:29 PM ^

Well… maybe that's a playcalling issue as Michigan runs directly at three Indiana players with a plan to block only two of them.

I mean, so that really seems like a red zone issue.  Why are there too many Indiana players there?  Because they can focus on the line of scrimmage without having to worry about anything much deeper than 10 yards.  So if that's a playcalling issue, it's probably a red zone issue.

randyblueman

November 23rd, 2018 at 9:29 AM ^

Any chance covered slot becomes deadly crack block on crashing CB/S with a QB draw? I'm looking at that play in the redone where Higdon got 2 yards and seeing a touchdown if Shea keeps it.

markusr2007

November 23rd, 2018 at 5:23 PM ^

Gotta crash that line of scrimmage and dominate.

Team that out-gains the opponent on the ground ALWAYS, ALWAYS! wins this game.

That is right up Michigan's alley this year. And it just happens to not be Ohio State's forte.