Jon Runyan Jr had em on the ground most of the day [Bryan Fuller]

Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Michigan State Comment Count

Brian October 29th, 2018 at 1:05 PM

image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumb_thumb_thu[1]SPONSOR NOTE: Reminder that Matt is hanging out at the Charity Tailgate at 327 East Hoover (if you were at the preseason MGoEvents this year and last it's the same place). There are food trucks, beer, televisions, a giant colorful bus, and it's right next to Revelli so the band will march past. Check it out.

When not tailgating Matt is also 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: Michigan ran an absolute ton of 2TE sets in this game, with fullbacks and third receivers barely making an appearance. MSU continued to be MSU, running a base 4-3 over on virtually all plays.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: The usual at QB and on the OL, with Stueber getting the final mashing drive after JBB's injury scare. Higdon got the vast majority of RB snaps with Evans backing him up; Wilson got one snap.

Gentry and McKeon got most of the TE time, with Eubanks getting a fair number of 3 TE snaps and a few opportunities to replace the starters. Gentry and McKeon were out there almost the whole time.

Mason was again limited but able to get in a dozen or so snaps; Wangler had a couple cameos when Mason was at RB. Collins and DPJ got the bulk of outside WR snaps; Black got on the field briefly; Martin and Bell got their usual dozen or so snaps. Perry was the only slot.

[After THE JUMP: missed opportunities and a few taken ones]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over 6.5 Pass PA out Perry Inc
Double A twist from MSU is not picked up as Ruiz(-2) slides too wide and allows a LB up the middle. M is running a flare screen to one side and then curl/flat to the other side. Patterson tries the out, which is 5 plus some YAC but leaves it short and Perry can’t dig it out. (MA, 2, protection 0/2)
M25 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over 6.5 Run QB arc keeper Patterson 6
DE crash, no edge, pull. Patterson gets the read right but doesn’t set up his block well; McKeon is in a bunch of space against a safety and it’s really up to the runner to make the block work. Patterson(-2) does not threaten one side and then relocate; he is always running inside of McKeon’s block, allowing the S to come through and tackle. RPS +2; if Patterson gets this right it’s a huge play unless the CB is able to come off a block and tackle.
M31 3 4 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Nickel under 5.5 Pass Hitch Perry 7
MSU blitzes the two LBs and drops a standup DE but that guy’s in the wrong spot for a quick pitch and catch hitch. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M38 1 10 Shotgun twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Stretch G Evans 4
This has to cut back. Onwenu(+1) got enough of a reach on a DT to get a crease but not enough to prevent him from reaching out to tackle. Runyan blocks down on the other DT and that guy rips around him. Runyan stays attached and keeps shoving and manages to move this guy a bit to provide the other bit of the gap. +0.5, I guess. Other blocks aren’t really tested because of the cut; Bredeson(+1) did a good job to pick up a diving DE and kick him a long distance. Evans(+0.5) sees the lane and gets up in the gap. A little more from Onwenu and this could have been a chunk.
M42 2 6 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Jet sweep Bell 3
McKeon and Eubanks lead this out; McKeon(+1) gets shoved back at first but is able to recover and drive his guy downfield as he tries to give ground to get around. Eubanks(+0.5) gets to a CB setting the edge; An M WR finally cuts this up, so hooray for that, but Bell(-2) has a ton of room and should get the first down any more; his cut is too close to Eubanks and he trips. RPS +1, another potential chunk play that's 3 v 3 in space. Offsetting PFs after play.
M45 3 3 Shotgun trips H 1 1 3 4-3 over 6.5 Run Inside zone Higdon 0
Aaaaargh. MSU slides their LBs to the field and has a single high safety also set away from from the C. Zone read, DE shuffles but too far, Patterson(-2) misses a clear but not drop dead obvious read, and a pull here is almost certainly a TD. RPS +3. This play isn’t going anywhere because of the shuffle end but it could get a couple; M picks up blitzing LBs too well here, with Onwenu(-1) popping off on a guy Ruiz(+0.5) has already picked off. With JBB(+0.5) releasing to another LB the DT is able to come through. Probably cost M a couple yards and a fourth down decision.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 11 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M16 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Pass Flare Evans 9
Playside LB sets up to jam Gentry as he releases for a route, CB run off, Flare is open. Evans(-1) seems to have the corner easy for a first down and change but slows up and tries to cut back on guys; this is unsuccessful. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
M25 2 1 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over 7 Run Frippery Dive Mason 2
Mason shuffles out to the weakside and then takes a handoff back to the interior. Down G action from Onwenu but this is a vertical play; that’s frippery. M unfortunate to catch a CB blitz here. Actually a double blitz from the back. Evans picks off the corner; M has no one for the second guy. Ruiz(+0.5) and Runyan(+0.5) latch on to guys who start moving laterally as this looks like the down G stretch action initially; conversion easy. RPS push; do note that this was not any old dive and was an attempt to shoot Mason through the hole with trickery.
M27 1 10 Pistol 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Pass Waggle TE drag McKeon 8
Waggle drag is open for an easy eight yards as playside LB sucks to the run. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
M35 2 2 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Inside zone Higdon 6
Another double A blitz, picked up by Ruiz(+1) and Bredeson(+1). Runyan(+1) also gets a good kickout on a surprise DT. Gentry(+0.5) gets a second level block. Higdon(+1) pops through the hole and gets the first down; safety rips down and hits him at three yards but gets run over. RPS -1; almost a push but JBB and DPJ are both kind of running aimlessly and it’s not their fault.
M41 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over 7 Run QB arc keeper Patterson 4
Shuffle, pull by Patterson(+1). Perry(+0.5) cracks on the LB; this brings a DB in man on him down into the box before he replaces. McKeon(+0.5) is able to edge that guy and give Patterson the corner. S is drifting Patterson’s way and recognizes what’s happening, running up to make a tackle after a decent gain. Rain delay happens now.
M45 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over 6.5 Run Trap Higdon -2
Ruiz passes up on the NT when he swims inside of him and immediately goes to the LB; McKeon(-2) is sent inside to trap him. Or maybe not? McKeon also runs to the same LB Ruiz goes to. I think when you run by a giant unblocked green person that’s an MA even if that’s not entirely what you expected.
M43 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Exotic 6 Pass Cross Perry/Collins 10
The first tipped catch. Perry’s on a drag route and loses it, probably because the S on him does the same drafting technique that Watson’s pulled off a couple times the last couple weeks, refs -1. Pass ends up batted in the air and dug out by Collins. Throw is on point but WR has no separation; we don’t get a good replay. Punting. (MA, 0 (Perry)/1(Collins), protection 3/3)
O47 1 10 Ace tight 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Pass PA TE wheel Eubanks 25
Giant MSU safety bust leaves DPJ wide open over the top. This is not seen. Eubanks drags across the formation and then turns it up in a way that a safety coming down to be in a shorter zone is a bit confused by; decent window that Patterson hits confidently, going a little high to make sure that it gets over the zone defender. Can’t get mad at Patterson for not coming off a guy he thought was open, who was then open. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)
O22 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Tight pin and pull   6
Pin and pull plays are often trying to stretch to the sideline. This one wants to get upfield immediately off tackle and does. McKeon(+0.5) blocks down on a DE and seals him. Gives ground a bunch but it’s enough. Bredeson(+0.5) also gets just enough of the playside DT. Runyan(+1) pulls around tight and puts his kickout block on the ground. Ruiz(+0.5) pulls around as well and leads through the hole. He sees a LB coming from the inside and seals him. This leaves the CB available to tackle; Higdon has nowhere to go but into him because the seals on the inside gave up a lot of lateral ground.
O16 2 4 Shotgun twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Down G Higdon 3
Odd decision to bounce here from Higdon as Runyan(+1) blocks down on backup NT and handles him pretty well; Bredeson(+0.5) pops the DE outside. This should be good enough for a quick hit up the middle. That won’t be successful because Ruiz(-2) ran right by the MLB but I don’t think Higdon can see that. He bounces. This is okay as Eubanks(+1) thunks McKeon’s guy and erases him despite McKeon no longer having an angle. Higdon is able to get the corner but the LB Ruiz ran by makes the play.
O13 3 1 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Inside zone Higdon 2
Long doubles on the interior with Onwenu(+1) popping off his guy to pick up a charging LB and JBB(+0.5) getting enough motion for Higdon(+0.5) to ram through the crease.
O11 1 10 Shotgun twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Down C Higdon 3
MSU delivers too many LBs to this gap. Runyan gets an okay kickout. Bredeson(+0.5) is just able to force the DT inside of him and allow Higdon(+0.5) to get outside; Higdon does have to bend. Ruiz(+0.5) pulls into this space but it’s got two LBs and one him. He hits him. Higdon goes straight NS for what he can get. RPS -1.
O8 2 7 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Zone read belly Evans 2
Belly; DE shuffles down with a safety replacing on the edge He’s at six yards and the give is probably right. M shoves a DT down the line but without the DE being held this has limited upside. RPS -1.
O6 3 5 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Nickel over 6 Pass Dig Collins 6
Bunch to the top sees Collins on the outside draw a guy with outside leverage. He threatens post and breaks in; Gentry also breaks in and draws an underneath defender. Patterson looks left for two beats and then comes to Collins; he throws the ball up high and evades a couple of zone defenders’ hands. Collins makes a catch and gets hit at the same time. Short, but this is good. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M30 1 10 Ace tight 1 3 1 4-3 over 7 Run Pin and pull Mason 3
MSU DE widens outside as M motions a TE and the resulting pin and pull gets borked because of it. Eubanks(-2) does not adjust. McKeon(+1) does, blocking down on the DE; Eubanks needs to realize that and come off him to the LB level; never does. MLB is thus free and Mason avoids the gap in the middle of the field. MSU flowed hard over the top and the cutback is otherwise there. Mason is able to get the corner for a few yards. Runyan(+0.5) had a heavy kickout that put his guy on the ground as he tried to tackle on the bounce.
M33 2 7 Ace tight 1 3 1 4-3 over 7.5 Pass Throwaway N/A Inc
PA, M lets a delayed blitzer through. This feels like a LB in man on McKeon converting to a rusher, and M doesn’t pick it up. Runyan(-2) never comes off a DT that he’s doubling with McKeon. Patterson bolts out of the pocket and throws it away; JBB picks up one of those holding calls on which you’re fine until the blocking angle radically changes and you don’t let go quickly enough. Meh. (PR, 0, protection 0/2). M gets bailed out as MSU gets an illegal hands to the face on a safety in coverage(!) downfield.
M33 2 7 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Pin and pull Higdon 2
Higdon(-1) cuts back behind the POA here and gets swallowed by a DT who was sealed away. M again can’t anchor well enough to make the frontside gap here obvious but it is there. McKeon and Runyan(+0.5) do enough to create a crease Higdon can hit for some number of yards probably between 3 and 5. The cutback is inadvisable.
M35 3 5 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Exotic 5 Pass Wheel Perry Inc
M catches pure man coverage to the trips side and without any switches this should be it, but DPJ(route -) takes his slant route too deep and provides no meaningful rub on the S trying to cover Perry. He’s able to get over the top of the wheel. Patterson’s throw is pretty long and probably not catchable even without this; he is trying to fit it in what’s now a nothing window. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 11 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M49 1 10 Ace tight 1 2 2 4-3 even 7 Pass PA TE screen McKeon 16
Another double A blitz. Picked up. Higdon comes off the play fake to pick up a DT let free as a result of the twist. McKeon leaks out after feigning a block, as does Runyan. Dump to TE, six MSU defenders gone. Runyan(+1) gets his lead out block; DPJ(+1) handles a corner. McKeon gets a chunk and would get more except for a DT who just manages to ankle tackle him. RPS +2. (CA, 3, screen)
O35 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 even 7 Pass Scramble Patterson 5
JBB(-1) beat around the corner by a hair. Willekes is able to get around at 8-ish; JBB stays attached and pushes him past. Patterson steps up past this and breaks the pocket. This time he really doesn’t have anyone and takes what he can get. (SCR, N/A, protection ½)
O30 2 5 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Jet sweep Bell -5
Playside DE surges to this; M unprepared. Eubanks stops to hit him but it’s too late. Bell has to bend around this. CB is unblocked and charging. McKeon(-1) run around, but all of this is very doomed . RPS -3. Inescapable major loss.
O35 3 10 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Exotic 6 Pass Slant Evans Inc
M puts quads to the field with a TE to that side, so Evans is one on one. S slides to the quads, all the blitzers there, super easy read. Evans is very open on a slant that’s at least go-for-it yardage and may be a first down; batted down. F. (BA, 0, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 8 min 2nd Q. M takes a delay before punting.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
O43 1 10 Shotgun trips H 1 1 3 4-3 even 7 Run Arc inside zone Higdon 0
Runyan(-2) tries to fire out on Willekes and misses entirely. Tackle at the LOS. This looked bad even so with MSU adjusted to the formation and assuming run. Both ILBs fire hard and get to the LOS and this is unlikely to be productive.
O43 2 10 Pistol 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Pass Throwaway N/A Inc
Happy feet from Patterson here as the line holds and Higdon gets a nice pickup on a blitzer. M has sent two guys vertical to the boundary and once they clear one LB they’ll be splitting a safety; Gentry will pop open if Patterson has the patience. He doesn’t, barely escaping the pocket and getting it OOB. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
O43 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Exotic 5 Pass TE out McKeon 5
Three man rush, Patterson immediately checks down to a quick out. I guess he was expecting man? It’s not, quick tackle. Still defensible since the five yards here put you in spot where you can go for it. Michigan does not, inexplicably. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 6 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M42 1 10 Ace tight 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Power O Higdon 38
Similar to the NW power O where the playside end gets left and should wreck stuff. Onwenu(-1) has to be coming out too flat here if they’re running the same thig with the same expected DE reaction. Willekes does have to bend around him and ends up missing a tackle on Higdon because of this but this is very close to a TFL. Higdon’s now out of planned lanes. Still works as Runyan(+3) and McKeon(+1) double a DT and blast him; Runyan extends to a LB and wrecks shop. Bredeson(+1)seals the other DT out. Higdon(+3) makes a sharp upfield cut into the gap Runyan paved and then busts a safety tackle to make this a long one. Collins appears to fail to crack the playside LB and Gentry doesn’t know what to do as the play develops in front of him. Feel like Gentry(-1) does make a mistake but Collins is supposed to go third level. Collins(+0.5) blocks a CB for a bit. Gentry(+1) gets his point back by flying up out of nowhere to whack that guy and extend this run significantly.
O20 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Inside zone Higdon 4
Just fine except for Gentry(-2), who is an inline TE. LB runs at his face and blows him up. They meet a yard downfield. Gentry ends up on his butt two yards in the backfield. Shame, as the rest of this is good. Runyan(+2) chips Bredeson’s(+1) guy and turns him in; Runyan gets a second level MLB block that turns the guy inside. McKeon(+1) gets as good kickout on a guy who didn’t want to be kicked out; he steps around and gets a yard of depth. Gentry block forces Higdon into his guy. If Gentry can get a block here this is Higdon running right at a safety.
O16 2 6 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 even 7 Run Pin and pull Higdon 3
McKeon(-1) blocks down on the DE and momentarily has him but then gets driven back just as the play gets to him. He gets shoved back into Ruiz as Ruiz tries to hit the gap. Ruiz goes over. Runyan(+0.5) got a good kick after his short pull and creates some space. Higdon’s able to stumble forward for a few.
O13 3 3 Ace tight 1 2 2 4-3 even 7 Pass Waggle sack N/A -4
Patterson’s worst play of the game. Waggle gets him on the edge with no pressure. CB sucks up into the flat. DPJ is one on one with a safety and has a clear yard, maybe two, of separation on a simple ten yard throw Patterson is rolling to. His refusal to throw is inexplicable. (TAX, N/A, protection N/A)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(36), 7-0, 1 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
O48 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over 6 Pass Waggle TE flat Gentry Inc
Questionable playcall here with 45 seconds in the half. MSU gets quick edge pressure as everyone’s thinking pass and Patterson is rolling out opposite his throwing arm. He’s unable to set his feet and the ball gets batted anyway. If completed this was about zero yards. (BA, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1) Another twist blitz but not one relevant to the play.
O48 2 10 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 3-2 dime 5 Pass Dumpoff Higdon 0
MSU dropping deep. Patterson takes a checkdown to Higdon; it floats to him because JBB(-1) was driven back to the QB and he cannot complete his throwing motion. This plus Higdon prioritizing OOB turns a five yard play into 0. (MA, 3, protection ½)
O48 3 10 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 3-2 dime 5 Pass Improv DPJ Inc
Three man rush, time, Patterson hangs in but cannot find anyone. He breaks the pocket. As he nears the LOS he loads up and bombs it to DPJ, who is over the top of the secondary but not by much. Patterson’s throw takes him vertical but is not quite far away enough from the safeties for the inch perfect completion. Still gives his man a shot. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, EOH.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M11 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over 7 Run Iso Higdon -2
Gentry(-3) gets delivered to Higdon in the backfield. Higdon has nowhere to go but down. Iso pretty jammed up but the left side is bashing the DL off the line so a cutback might be there if Gentry doesn’t get whooped like this.
M9 2 12 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 even 7 Pass Hitch Collins Inc
Patterson airmails a hitch. Open for seven and change as DB’s attempted jam turns into a jolting hit from Collins. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)
M9 3 12 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Exotic 6 Run Draw Evans -1
The fumble. A draw on which MSU stunts a linebacker around two OL and into the gap Evans wants to attack. Bredeson(-1) and Ruiz(-1) are the guys who get run by here. Neither realizes what’s happening in time. Evans(-3) avoids the LB by running into various DL, ball punched out. RPS –1, this was a give up and punt anyway.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-0, 12 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M11 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Inside zone Higdon 4
Ruiz(+0.5) and Bredeson(+0.5) double and move an NT slanting across Ruiz’s face. Onwenu hits a DE to JBB(+0.5), who puts him down. Onwenu can’t quite get to a LB hammering down; he’s running and falling and Higdon(+0.5) can juke around him to get a decent gain.
M15 2 6 Shotgun twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even 7 Run Pin and pull Higdon -1
This is not great from Higdon(-1) as a DT surges upfield of Bredeson. That guy an NT shaded inside of Bredeson and there’s a big bubble between him and the guy on the QB; a belly cutback here is a solid gain. Instead he bends all the way around the DT and has to bend so much that MSU can rally at the LOS. But also: why is Ruiz(-2) pulling here? He's got a guy shaded just outside of him. Line call busted, possibly because M is anticipating a double A twist?
M14 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Exotic 6 Pass Hitch Perry Inc
Pocket okay but closing. Perry gets good coverage from an MSU S who is all over him. He stops on the hitch and wants to drift away from the DB. This is absolutely the right decision given the coverage. He’s giving Patterson a chance. Patterson throws it directly at the DB and Perry(gold star) is able to rake it out. This is similar to another underneath throw against MD that was off except that was inconvenient instead of a near disaster. (INX, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 9 min 3rd Q. MSU fumbles it right back.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
O46 1 10 Ace twins 2 1 2 4-3 even 7 Pass Sack N/A -7
Torn on this one. PA fake takes a long time. Patterson has 2 seconds and change before he turns around, and hasn’t been surveying. JBB(-1) semi-beat around the corner but guy is around at nine and JBB is still pushing; this is compounded by a LB beating Ruiz(-1) after a beat. He’s coming up the middle. Patterson tries to break the pocket but slips on the turf. Mason is wide open on a dumpoff that Patterson does have time to get off, I think, but tough to blame him. (PR,N/A, protection 1/3)
M47 2 17 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Nickel over 6 Pass Hitch Perry 10
MSU playing super soft here; Patterson takes a quick hitch right in front of the zone. Perry is able to grab a couple YAC. JBB(-2) beat badly by Willekes but ball is out so fast it doesn’t matter (CA+, 3, protection 0/2).
O43 3 7 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Exotic 7 Pass Angle Perry 13
MSU shows man and a blitz; M’s route package kills the man coverage dead. DPJ(route +) gets press and drives his guy downfield. He’s trying to jam, DPJ jams him back. Perry starts outside DPJ, gets the DB to commit, and then zips back inside of him, tripping over his teammate. Easy pitch and catch conversion. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +2)
O30 1 10 Pistol tight 1 3 1 4-3 even 7 Run Arc split zone Higdon 8
Arc block threatened. DE vertical upfield, give, Patterson(+1). Higdon runs by him. JBB(+1) and Onwenu(+1) cram a DT and Onwenu slides off to pick off a blitzing LB. McKeon(-2) again comes around on his split zone block way too deep; he’s not kicking out here, the option fake does that for him. He needs to come tight off the RT’s butt and go to the LB. M fortunate that Dowell was held outside by the arc action as well; he can still grab an ankle tackle. RPS +2.
O22 2 2 Pistol tight 1 3 1 4-3 over 7 Run Arc split zone Higdon -3
Higdon slips on the sodden grass before the mesh point, fumble. There’s a huge hole to the left that Higdon may get to if this doesn’t happen; Onwenu(-1) unprepared for a slant across his face and allows a sizeable amount of penetration. Ball goes right to that guy. Not dinging Higdon for the fumble, because it’s just a dumb rain at MSU thing.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-7, 7 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M18 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Inside zone Higdon 3
Runyan(+1) and Bredeson(+1) hammer a DT off the ball; they pick up a linebacker in their wake. Gentry(-0.5) fires out at a LB and gets stood up a bit. he’s still grabbing and nobody’s really going anywhere, but this flash of Green causes Higdon(-0.5) to dance around and stumble again. If he runs hard at the back of his OL and maybe runs over this LB who’s engaged Michigan gets another couple yards.
M21 2 7 Ace tight 1 3 1 4-3 even 7 Run Pin and pull Higdon -1
M pulls LT to C here, which, uh, is probably very wrong. Bredeson(-1) needs to block down, probably, or Ruiz attempts to reach him. Bredeson does get around to hit a LB; Ruiz ends up stopping and cutting off the DT everyone left. Eubanks(+1) turns in the playside end well. McKeon(-2) releases to playside LB, who is hammering hard playside, and misses as his angle to him is wrong. That guy then cuts Runyan. That creates a pile for zero yards.
M20 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Exotic 6 Pass Throwaway N/A Inc
Four seconds in the pocket for Patterson. When pressure finally comes he launches a dangerous heave in the direction of Gentry. Patterson has DPJ on a dig that is fairly well covered but DPJ has inside leverage and nobody underneath him. Throw the guy open. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2). Also Perry is held, refs -2.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 3 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M21 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 even 7 Pass Fade DPJ 79
Back to the old MSU approach with both safeties at 8. Homie can’t play that with Corey Person at CB. DPJ(route +) beats the dude over the top, Patterson hits him in stride, one broken tackle, seeya. (DO, 3, protection 1/1) RPS +1? I guess?
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-7, 2 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M16 1 10 Shotgun twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even 7 Pass Waggle TE flat Eubanks Inc
McKeon(-2) gets the wrong playcall and runs to the LB level to block, allowing a DE in free. Patterson is rolling to him. He gets a dumpoff in the flat to Eubanks, but leaves it well short and it’s dropped. Gonna get tackled immediately anyway. (PR, 1, protection 0/2)
M16 2 10 Pistol twins 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Pass Improv DPJ/Gentry 16
Patterson does hang in this time against a four man rush but can find nothing. He breaks the pocket. DPJ does work himself free for first down yardage and Patterson finds him but he throws it well behind DPJ; DPJ has to reach out and bat it, goes off the helmet of Bachie and then fielded by Gentry. (INX, 0/2, protection 3/3)
M32 1 10 Shotgun twins 1 2 2 4-3 even 6.5 Run Arc inside zone Higdon 5
Double A twist. M basically picks it up with JBB(+0.5) and Bredeson(+0.5) kicking out DL. Ruiz and Onwenu hit the first LB through. Onwenu then gets hit by the other guy just as he makes contact with the first and staggers back(!). Higdon(+0.5) hits a stalled LB a yard downfield and powers out some YAC.
M37 2 5 Shotgun tight 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Split zone Higdon 14
McKeon(+0.5) does come off the butt of the EMLOS this time. Gentry(+2) is that guy and puts Willekes on the ground with some help with bad footing;McKeon clumsily hits Gentry and slows up. But his presence is enough to induce an outside step from the LB and gives Higdon(+1) the opportunity to break an arm tackle. LB level buried itself for some reason and is gone, no scrape. Runyan(+0.5) and Bredeson(+0.5)fired a DL down the line to help with that, but mostly they’re just gone of their own volition.
O49 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Inside zone Higdon 0
Jet motion from Bell. This gives overhang LB free rein to come down and blitz. Slant away from the blitz to the play. M doesn’t quite handle it. Ruiz passes the NT off to Bredeson(-1) who engages but loses, losing a yard of vertical distance and getting shed. That cuts off the whole frontside. Higdon cuts back. Onwenu and JBB have locked their guys out; Onwenu’s guy is thus in the gap. Along with charging S they make the tackle for a minimal gain. McKeon(-1) again shot back by Willekes, so that frontside gap is un-testable.
O49 2 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Pass Fade DPJ Inc
MSU bails from a press man look to cover 3 so the CB is well over the top of this throw. Patterson does not see this and throws it like it’s man coverage. It’s well too deep but in a situation like this the back shoulder is called for. Or checking down. Patterson has Gentry for 4 plus some YAC. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)
O49 3 10 Shotgun trips H 1 1 3 Exotic 6.5 Pass Flash screen Collins 8
M in that apparently legal trips to the field. MSU plays way off on third and ten; M just throws the screen. Perry(+1) gets a solid block on a charging DB that allows Collins the sideline and sets up fourth and short. RPS push since this brings up fourth down. (CA, 3, screen)
O41 4 2 Pistol tight 1 3 1 4-3 over 7 Run QB arc keeper Patterson 11
Yooooo. Gentry arcs out, taking a CB. Split zone block from McKeon. McKeon hits the block; LB commits inside; Patterson(+2) pulls. He’s got the edge for the first down and adds some more with a broken tackle. RPS +2.
O30 1 10 Shotgun tight 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Split zone Higdon 9
Yet Another Double A blitz. Bredeson(+1) and Ruiz(+1) pick it up, and put their guys to one side. Higdon(+2) cuts behind this. He takes a shot as Runyan(-1) got a weak chip on Williams and Gentry is never going to ruin that guy. He has no angle because of the chip. Higdon bounces off that tackle and slashes for a good gain.
O21 2 1 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Inside zone Higdon 3
Probably duo as M just double both DTs and picks it up. Bredeson(+0.5) and Onwenu(+0.5) both get movement with Ruiz(+0.5) picking up one other guy. JBB(-1) has a kickout on a LB; that guy is able to shed to the inside and hold the gain down. If JBB can keep this guy kicked out decent chance this is a chunk. Offsetting personal fouls after Panasiuk tries to injure Ruiz and Onwenu tries to defend him.
O18 1 10 Shotgun twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Zone read keeper Patterson 11
MSU over plays; Patterson(+2) pulls. Shuffle end not at all prepped for this. Nobody is. S also steps wrong. RPS +2.
O7 1 G Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 9 Run Zone read belly Higdon 3
Not as much room here. Redzone means S can be a fill player since he’s so tight and end shuffles. Does not crash, though, and he allows M to eat up almost half the distance to the goal. Onwenu(+1) and JBB(+1) blow a DT off the ball and pick up a LB to provide the lane.
O4 2 G Goal line 2 2 1 4-3 over 9 Run Iso counter Mason 4
Designed cutback after M loads up with McKeon in a tight H back spot to the left. Wangler heads left too. Mason is already sliding weak as he takes the handoff. MSU takes the bait. Looks like Williams is re-gapping as the MLB is supposed to cover that. MLBgoes for the heavy stuff and vacates. Ruiz(+1) and Onwenu(+1) find Williams and put him in the endzone. JBB(+1) finds a LB and removes him. Mason(+1) has a dainty jump through low traffic at the LOS and barrels in. RPS +1.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-7, 10 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7.5 Run Zone read belly Higdon 6
Stueber(+1) fires Williams off the ball by himself, and there’s no slant here. Gentry(+0.5) and Onwenu(+0.5) get their blocks on charging LBs; Patterson holds a DE outside. Higdon hits a nice gap.
M31 2 4 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Inside zone Higdon 3
Duo. McKeon(+1) gets a DE shooting outside and locks him out, stands him up. Runyan(+0.5) and Bredeson(+0.5) drive a DT back a bit; they get split eventually but not until Higdon can go set up third and short.
M34 3 1 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Inside zone Higdon 3
Good read by Higdon(+1), who regaps early. Runyan(+1) puts a blitzing LB down; McKeon(+1) anticipates a CB blitz and kicks it out.
M37 1 10 Shotgun trips H 1 1 3 4-3over 8 Run Split zone Higdon 1
Williams stands up Runyan(-0.5) and Bredeson(-0.5); no movement and no ability to get off on a linebacker. Runyan does catch a LB at the LOS late; end result is a wad of bodies.
M38 2 9 Shotgun tight 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Split zone Higdon 4
Twist blitz picked up. Ruiz(+1) seals and drives his guy. Bredeson(+1) finds the other and holds him up, but a little less definitive. Higdon should hit this maybe. Instead he continues frontside where Runyan(-1) hits the DT slanting outside and then leaves him to go get a second level block; nobody there. McKeon can’t react in time to do anything about this. Higdon forced to bounce around this guy and is exposed to Gentry’s meh kickout block. Tackle from behind; Higdon grinds out some YAC.
M42 3 5 Shotgun trips H 1 1 3 4-3 over 7 Run Arc belly Higdon 5
Belly; Stueber(+0.5) and Onwenu(+0.5) move the playside DT far enough that Higdon’s got a gap. DE respects Patterson’s authoritah enough to make this work. Higdon gets a slightly generous spot, refs +1.
M47 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 over 7.5 Run Power O Wilson 3
Bredeson(-1) falls down on the wet turf. But so does the MLB. Wilson decides to cut away from what’s a pile of legs. Stueber(+0.5) got some drive on a DT and popped off on a LB; Onwenu(-0.5) also popped off on a LB Ruiz had and would have let that guy split them.
50 2 7 Pistol tight 1 3 1 4-3 over 7 Penalty False start Stueber -5
Stueber -1.
M45 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over 7 Run Split zone Higdon 6
Slot blitz, slant to the play. Bredeson(+0.5) picks up a guy coming to him and neutralizes him. Onwenu(+1) drives the other DT; Ruiz(+0.5) free release to the MLB. Higdon(+0.5) does well to find a small crease and fire through it to get six.
O49 3 6 Shotgun trips H 1 1 3 4-3 over 8 Run Arc split zone Higdon 2 – 15 Pen
Patterson should probably pull here. Only the CB is paying attention and he’s got McKeon out in front. So late, whatever, don’t risk the injury. But MSU gets to overplay this, with the split zone guy who got passed up getting in an ankle tackle from behind. Good kick from Stueber(+1) becomes relevant as Higdon cuts to that gap; MSU DT yanks Onwenu forward as he tries to release to a LB; Onwenu can’t recover, refs -2. Higdon tracked down by LB and unblocked EMLOS. After the play Panasiuk, who has Higdon’s leg, rolls over and twists it. Higdon says something about it, mentioning “96” and some other stuff I can’t make out. He gets flagged.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 3 min 4th Q. Final two plays not charted but FWIW the last non-kneel is another double A pickup.

I blame this unit for my temporary ulcer.

And you probably should. Michigan should have been up at least 21-0 at halftime but they spurned a lot of opportunities. You no doubt remember the ARGH PULL on third down on what should have been a walk-in touchdown that fired the RPS cannon thrice:

Someone in the box took off his hat and slowly ate it in anger after that.

The thing about that first drive is that Michigan had two other opportunities for chunk plays that didn't require much blocking and couldn't quite pull them off. The first was yet another Patterson pull that the defense was exposed on, but Patterson didn't set up his arc block. He indicates he's going upfield, inside of McKeon, and then does that. So a safety runs into him:

If he gets that guy to commit inside and then uses McKeon he's gone unless the corner can get off his block in time. The other safety is the guy to the top of this shot being blocked.


Patterson is a fast quarterback, not a surprise running back. That's the kind of thing you hope he gets right but it's not his wheelhouse and shouldn't be. There are only so many practice hours in a week. But maaaaan.

The second was the Bell jet sweep on which Michigan did the thing I've been urging in these columns: cut upfield. Bell does a good job to threaten the sideline and get the safety to commit, but he trips over the legs of one of his blockers when it's time to pay that off. The jet goes from this, where maybe the other safety (top right) gets him to prevent a TD…


…to three yards. The ARGH PULL event was the next play.

Michigan spurned another opportunity or two on their second drive but scored on it anyway, and then it was back to the temple-rubbing. Two of Michigan's next three drives ended on plays that coulda-shoulda. MSU played more man coverage in this game than they probably should have and Michigan caught them in it on third and five; Patterson correctly saw that he should have the wheel and then did not have the wheel. Why? DPJ didn't get a rub:

WR #9 to top of screen, also MSU DB in man on Perry

Patterson's probably not reading anything post-snap there. This feels like a thing Michigan caught on tape that was one of their big gotcha plays; it's essentially a one man route M feels will be there. DPJ's got to stop and pretend to be on a hitch to reroute the DB on Perry.

The final argh item was Patterson's failure to throw it to an open DPJ in the endzone. In these many ways Michigan allowed Michigan State to make this a sphincter-clencher for most of three quarters.

But in the clear light of day after a +300 total yardage outing things seem better?

Yessir. Michigan had a clear tactical W. All of the stuff above is RPS, with Michigan required to make one or two blocks (or routes) work to get big gains. The only thing in the really bad column was Bell's comprehensively doomed second jet sweep. There were some blips here and there when MSU had a slant on, etc.; the overall picture was Michigan not executing well enough to pay off the advantageous positions they were put in. Michigan finished +11 in RPS, which is a giant blowout.

Michigan got an easy third and seven conversion late in the game when they went back to the bunch. This time they got the rub and Perry had an easy chunk play:

The feel of that play could have been the feel of most of the game: "hell yes, coaching!" It was not to be, but also Michigan got pure man press coverage versus Donovan Peoples-Jones on a 79-yard touchdown.

M did eventually salt the game away on a drive heavy on guys Michigan didn't have to block. The early shoulda-coulda paid off when Patterson pulled twice, baffling the entire Michigan State defense:

A more subtle tactical win was the Mason touchdown, which was both a manball hamblasting as Onwenu and JBB crumpled a defensive tackle and an RPS plus. This is cutting back all the way; Mason has already started moving to the backside of the line as he takes the handoff.


More generally, fullback runs that end up on the backside of the line were almost always supposed to go there from the drop. And then there was the, you know…

What happened to that double A gap blitz MSU used to run all the time?

They still run it a bunch.


It just gets picked up. Ruiz got beat for a pressure on it on the first play of the game. Every other instance was a pickup and a reasonable amount of yardage.

M #51 and #74 C, and LG

The above was consistent. Double A blitzes after the first pressure: 6 yard run, 16 yard TE screen, 5 yard run, 9 yard run, 4 yard run. This pays off season preview speculation that Cesar Ruiz would be a major upgrade; the 5Q5A post on the offense specifically references the sudden lack of effectiveness that plagued MSU's signature blitz when Mason Cole moved to center, and the chaos that erupted when he returned to tackle. This was a return to two years ago. Michigan was slightly unfortunate not to break something bigger on those blitzes.

So "bad execution" was the only reason Michigan didn't put up a bucket of points?

Yes and no. There were a number of critical points at which Michigan could have pushed things out. MSU in contrast had very few opportunities that looked like they might be big plays if only Lewerke could throw straight—one or two depending on your faith in David Long's tackling. But the above section about coulda-shoulda plays has some Patterson issues and there were a bunch more of those.

Are you a Shea-ter?!?!

I know you're imaginary but I can still fire you into the sun.

I am prepared to denounce you!

Before any Patterson-related critiques are lodged let us first state that there are few QBs I'd rather have throwing a deep ball to an open receiver.

I watch college football in giant 14-hour blocks and those throws are flung anywhere but the receiver more often than not. Patterson's deep ball is deadly.

Missing DPJ on a bomb is just one of those things. I can't be mad at a guy for finding an open receiver for 20 yards. Patterson thinks his guy is going to be open, so why would he come off it?

Patterson was also able to look left for two beats before coming back to Collins on the first touchdown; given how close the MSU linebacker was to getting a finger on it that was important. Also he flings it high:

If that LB is able to drift left on the snap and leap instead of flinging a hand up on a dead sprint he probably deflects it. That was a DO by my reckoning.

The downfield bomb at the end of the first half was also good even though it was incomplete. Patterson may or may not see the safety come up in response to his movement, but that is what opens up the post over the top, which was a hair short of being a back-breaker for MSU:

All of these things plus 36 critical yards on the ground: not bad.

Patterson's day was enough. It was enough largely because of the two touchdown passes, one of them a strike in limited space, the other a back-breaker that was exactly the kind of thing I saw when I reviewed various games from Patterson's 2017 season. It was enough because the dual-threat ability he brings is top-end.

I feel a giant multi-line "but" coming on



…"enough" is what it was.


  Good   Neutral   Bad   Ovr
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% -

Patterson continues to frustrate, in part because his natural tools are superior. His accuracy is excellent. He pairs that with the kind of athleticism that's greatly aided Michigan's last two wins. The combination of those two things is uncommon. If he could just be creepy accurate and gritty fast and also throw the balls to the blindingly open guys on half-field reads with no pressure, that would be great:

A similar instance happened on the play that ended the drive before the big DPJ touchdown. This is another replay where the color guy, a former QB, is saying nobody's open when there's definitely someone open:

#9 WR to top, outside

The DPJ dig sees him win to the inside. There's a guy on his back but there's nobody underneath him at all; a throw that makes DPJ come back for the ball is likely to work out. Patterson doesn't have enough interceptions. There. I said it. Throw some picks! Not on purpose!

Also not because you're putting it in the wrong spot! Patterson had two other near-disastrous throws, one of them the improv event that DPJ deflected off an MSU player's helmet for Gentry to snag. That was well behind his guy and probably just a weather thing. Patterson's hardly less accurate when on the move; the throw was a good idea, just off. We can dismiss that.

The near-interception that Perry had to rake out was less dismissably benign. Perry gets tight coverage from a safety but does give his QB a window by getting a wee shove in at the end of his route and drifting away from the DB. Patterson throws it directly at said DB.

This exact thing minus the tight coverage happened on a completion against Maryland earlier in the year:

In that case there was ambiguity because Perry was not covered well. There's none here, and the two clips taken together make it seem like Perry has a characteristic drift that is good route running and Patterson is still failing to anticipate that.

And we continue to get a few plays a game where Patterson does not have the required patience. This is a blitz pickup that sets the outside MSU player free. Patterson does have time to sit in the pocket and find someone, but leaves early:

He has time to wait for Gentry to clear the LB here; he also has DPJ on an out. Gentry's exiting the screen to the middle here; he and DPJ are splitting a safety.


That LB is drifting outside; there is a big area in the middle of the field Patterson would be able to throw Gentry into if he had stood his ground. Instead, a bail and hurried throwaway.

Conditions were difficult, what with an hour-long weather delay followed by the Spartan Stadium turf turning into a slip-and-slide—apparently tarp technology has not reached East Lansing. This is likely to be the negative outlier in Patterson's season. It was largely his issues that prevented Michigan from breaking this game open into the blowout the yardage says it should be.

On the other hand, what #1 rush defense?

I mean they were all right.

All right ain't #1.


This was another day on which Michigan's offensive line got a decisive W. The tight ends… not so much. One thing to keep in mind is that Michigan's final drive (aside from some kneel-downs) was a nine-play affair that would have kept going except for a false start Andrew Stueber committed. The OL racked up a ton of positives on nine straight runs against a demoralized defense; the matchup was significantly closer before that.

Offensive Line

Player + - Total Notes
Runyan 13.5 4.5 9 Largely insulated from Willekes, who did TE work.
Bredeson 11.5 4.5 7 More relevant and came through against two tough TDs.
Ruiz 7.5 5 2.5 Most of his minuses for mental issues.
Onwenu 7.5 3.5 4 Piled up some points late.
JBB 5 1 4 Not as relevant but consistently good… on the ground.
Stueber 3 1 2 False start the only negative.
McKeon 7.5 9 -1.5 Missed a trap block, a pull across the formation, got blown up some.
Gentry 4 6.5 -2.5 Run over twice.
Eubanks 2.5 2 0.5  
Mason 1   1 That was on the TD run and is not in the total.
TOTAL 62 37 63% OL easily hit the 2:1 mark; TEs held things back.
Player + - T Notes
Patterson 6 4 2 Mostly right on options buuuut
McCaffrey       DNP
Higdon 10 2.5 7.5 Ripped off a 38 yarder on which he had to make much of it himself.
Evans 0.5 4 -3.5 Fumble.
Samuels       DNP
Wilson       DNC
Turner       DNP
TOTAL 16.5 10.5 6 Charged Higdon fumble to bloody-mindedness of universe. YMMV.
Player + - T Notes
Collins 0.5   0.5  
Perry 1.5   1.5  
Bell   2 -2 Tripped on jet.
TOTAL 2 2 0 Eh
Player + - T Notes
Protection 33 12 73% JBB –5, Ruiz –3, McKeon –2, Runyan -2
RPS 19 8 +11 Hello sir.

Now: two straight first downs and a third series that gained 11 yards but also lost five to that penalty does mean something. Michigan's four-minute drills under Harbaugh have almost never managed that. I do think the OL blowout above is a wee bit misleading. We've all seen Michigan's defense crumble late due to exhaustion. This was similar.

The tackles saw their pass protection get a bit exposed by Kenny Willekes, particularly Bushell-Beatty, who gave up a bad insta-pressure on a play that was a quick completion….

RT #76

…and then picked up three more –1 events. I'll take scattered –1s, which are usually salvageable, from JBB against a high-end DE. (And yes, Willekes is that despite being a former walk-on.) This game was a reminder that Bushell-Beatty has come a very long way but is still an average-at-best pass protector.

Both guys got solid Ws on the ground, although I didn't end up grading a ton of JBB's plays for whatever reason.

The tight ends were… uh… less successful?

Yeah. This game made me miss Devin Asiasi (1 catch on the season for 2-6 UCLA) and Ty Wheatley Jr (one appearance for FCS Stony Brook), or at least miss what those guys seemed to offer before they lost their damn minds and transferred. Too many of Michigan's plays in this game got blown up by poor TE blocking. This was the most spectacular instance:

#83 TE to bottom

But there was also another, this time from a linebacker:

#83 TE second from bottom

Gentry's 6'8" and this is always going to be a vulnerability; it would be nice if Michigan had more of a rotation between skillsets.

Other issues were mental. McKeon's pulls across the formation went badly more often than not. This looks for all the world like a trap that's going to get a chunk until McKeon runs by the DT:

#84 TE pulling left

That could be a Ruiz error but given the context my bet is it's on McKeon. Even if it is Ruiz you should probably hit the giant green thing in front of your face.

He's still running way too deep on some of these split-zone-ish plays. Instead of cutting off an OL's butt he's getting to the second level having already lost, with no angle to the linebacker:

TE #84 pulling across formation

He's running that like he's getting a kickout block on split zone, but the QB is getting that "block."

McKeon did get himself in the right spot a little bit later, and while he didn't actually do anything to the relevant linebacker his mere presence helped out, because the LB is suddenly worried about getting edged:

TE #84 pulling across the formation, also TE #83 to bottom

But also even that doesn't quite work out despite Gentry getting the best-case block on Willekes.

Ben Mason is clearly the walking wounded at this point in the season; if he was able to get healthy over the bye week I wouldn't be surprised to see him grabbing some of these snaps. He's enough of a receiving threat that his presence isn't a dead giveaway, and he's squat and more agile than the TEs. This should be his wheelhouse.

Is Jon Runyan Jr Legitimately Good?

…maybe? It's hard to put images from the first game out of mind. But if you were going just on this game, yes. Runyan survived better against Willekes than JBB and turned in some eye-opening blocks. He got a +3 on the long Higdon run because he not only drove a DT off the LOS on a double but when he popped off on a linebacker that block went one way in a hurry:

#75 LT

Higdon needs all of that room to break off the big run. The next play was a +2 as he got a jarring chip on a DT and then definitively won a linebacker block:

#75 LT

Here he's able to get around tight and pancake his kickout block:

#75 LT

The worst guy on MSU's front is a thousand times better than the guys Wisconsin was forced to throw out at DE and Runyan got a definitive win, with just one bad pass pro incident on a delayed blitz he didn't read. I am willing to offer a Legitimately Good to Runyan pending the results against Penn State.

Karan Higdon did a thing!

We haven't actually talked about Karan Higdon, or Michigan's running backs in general, this year. That's because there's not a whole lot more to say: Higdon is a tough inside runner who has guys slide off his pads, is able to break a fair number of tackles…

…and is fast enough to slip through gaps in the line and go the distance when given that opportunity. He's got good balance and will probably get drafted in the mid-rounds. He's Michigan's best running back, non-Denard division, in a long time.

To the bad side, his vision is questionable. Here he cuts back into a DT who's sealed away when the down G gap is there:

A later incident where Michigan seemed to get their pin and pull pattern wrong resulted in a TFL when an immediate cut behind the main issue probably yields a few yards. This one is a tough ask, buuuuuut:

It would be nice if that happened occasionally.

What was with the [lists several hundred personal fouls]?

Most were the usual harmless post-play shoving. There were two incidents worth noting on offense. One of them has been discussed in depth already: Jacub Panasiuk bending back a trapped Cesar Ruiz well after the whistle:

That's hard to interpret as anything but an attempt to injure. Bachie and Dowell have stopped. All of Michigan's players have stopped. Panasiuk is shoving a guy whose legs are caught in a pile. This resulted in offsetting personal fouls; it should have seen Panasiuk ejected.

Especially because he followed that up with another sketchy play. Higdon's seemingly inexplicable personal foul was actually caught on the sideline mics, sort of. If you turn it all the way up you can hear him yell something about #96 being trash or garbage or something, and that's because Panasiuk twisted Higdon's leg after the play. This doesn't look like much of anything, but there is also zero reason to hold onto a guy's leg as you flip 180 degrees:

Higdon felt enough to get pissed off.

And then the QB stuff chipped in? 

You can feel the impact of Patterson's six carries a game on other parts of the run game. It hasn't paid off on a big run yet but it is opening up small chunks. Here Evans cuts back on a down G. He gets tackled from the side by a guy Onwenu couldn't quite reach block; it's still four yards. Meanwhile watch the DE containing Patterson:

MSU DE to bottom

That's full-on respect. The DE is now removed from the play and if Evans can squeeze through that gap he's ripping off a big chunk. The threat of Patterson is removing backup plans from opposing defenses and contributed to Michigan's NCAA-average day against the #1 run efficiency D in the country entering the game.


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

Player 0 1 2 3   0 1 2 3
DPJ 1 0/1   1/1   3 1/4 1/2 20/20
Collins   1/1 1/1 1/1   1 1/3 5/6 14/15
Martin           2 1/3   4/4
Perry 2   0/1 3/3   4 0/2 2/3 9/9
Bell               1/1 2/2
McCurry               1/1 1/1
McKeon       2/2   1   3/3 8/9
Gentry     1/1     4 0/1 6/6 16/18
Eubanks   0/1   1/1   1 0/1 1/1 3/3
Mason                  1/1
Evans 1     1/1   1     6/6
Higdon        1/1     1/1    4/4
Wilson                 2/2
Thomas                    0/1

Routes: DPJ – + +.

Not a lot of throws but note that the deflected catches show up in the chart twice. The first was a 0 for Perry and a 1 for Collins; the second was a 0 for DPJ and a 2 for Gentry.

I've already embedded all the WR stuff above; in general I'm in-between about their performance levels. Routine drops have been close to nonexistent and the catch rate on 2s—usually around 66%—is way up. You can't help but wonder if some of Patterson's issues where he can't find anyone could be addressed by crisper routes and more separation. Also DPJ did dorf a rub that could have been a big play.


Suddenly-critical Andrew Stueber did some work on Michigan's late four-minute drill. Caveats apply: he's fresh; MSU's defense is spent and demoralized. Still fairly impressive that his first play was a +1 on Raequon Williams:

RT #71

He should get some extended time against Rutgers and maybe Indiana, which will be more data with which to judge.


Most of the OL, particularly Runyan and Bredeson.

Maybe not so heroic?

The tight ends got whomped in run blocking and weren't big parts of the pass game. Patterson's erratic day cost Michigan two clear TDs in the first half and probably won't be enough against Penn State and Ohio State.

What does it mean for Penn State and beyond?

Final exam time for the tackles. Penn State has some dudes at DE. Three different guys have 7.5 or more TFL. Yetur Gross-Matos has 12.5 and is on fire over the past few weeks. Michigan mostly passed their test against Michigan State, but Penn State will bring two Willekes-ish guys to the table and rotate a third in. That's not going to go great. If it goes okay that should be enough.

A Patterson run game is a different run game. Michigan didn't quite clobber Michigan State's rush defense but it was close enough to a clobbering that anyone who isn't a top 10 rush D should be a mite worried. Michigan's late success was one part Patterson running and two parts Patterson establishing himself as enough of a threat that Michigan got to option guys off.

Improvement week, let's go. Patterson had his worst game at Michigan just in time for the bye that ignited Jake Rudock's season two years ago. He has all the tools; if he can just get more confident with his reads Michigan's gonna have a good time .

Ben Mason for Wing TE. McKeon's issues were largely mental. Gentry's were not. If Mason was able to get back to full strength over the bye week his snaps should eat into TE snaps.

You probably shouldn't put a corner with no safety help in press coverage against Donovan Peoples-Jones. Yep.



October 29th, 2018 at 6:03 PM ^

I think Shea has mentioned this in at least one interview. His job was to learn how to manage a game and he wants to prove he can do that. I believe that is part of his getting ready for the NFL and is a primary reason he chose Michigan & Harbaugh. 

There are only so many Brett Favre's types. And as much as fans like the idea of the gunslinger QB, it's great until the turnovers cost the team an important game. And for every gunslinger who won a championship or Super Bowl, there are just as many game managers who have won as well.

OPPSSSS: Meant to reply to the post below by Communist Football.

Communist Football

October 29th, 2018 at 1:32 PM ^

I wonder if Patterson's failure to see the open receivers / conservative throwing is driven by Harbaugh & Pep -- that is, when Patterson came to M, they were so concerned with his TD:Int ratio that they told him that his job was to be a "game manager" and avoid turnovers. And Shea has overcorrected in that regard.


October 29th, 2018 at 3:04 PM ^

They're designing plays that give him open looks, they presumably want him to take them.

I think the issue is more likely the combination of the complexity of the playbook--it's not just RPOs and fades--and the simultaneous emphasis on not messing up the game. It's not that they don't want him to make plays, but they don't want turnovers, and that informs what they emphasize in the room.

Speight also seemed hesitant at times, particularly after the picks against Florida last year. 

The one guy they did turn into a game manager was Peters last year. Simple routes, very little passing. They're giving Shea the whole playbook.


October 30th, 2018 at 5:01 PM ^

Maybe I am overly optimistic but I think this year Harbaugh is finally implementing a "Sandbag Strategy." It's something that come very naturally to me, so I may be seeing it when it's not there, but it's basically this:

"Practice and implement in games, apparent advantages in your offensive game plan (like the zone reads early on when Patterson basically NEVER kept the ball).  Only start to use these advantages slowly and sporadically or when needed."

So,  I think Patterson is DELIBERATELY not throwing it to open receivers.  I mean they may be medium risk passes anyway.  And why not keep them in reserve.  You start making those throws in a game and while good defenses will adjust, they won't be as prepared for it as they could have been if we had put the passes on film and could have been prepared for them.  If we had been running Patterson keeping the ball on the zone read 5 to 10 times a game going into MSU there is no way it would have been that effective.  MSU would have been ready for it.

How often has Ben Mason run the ball recently?  4 times against MSU, 0 times against Wisconsin, 5 times against MD.  We could (and maybe will) run him a lot more, but only if necessary.  Don't use him on 4 and 2 against a weaker team and if the time comes that we need it against PSU or OSU, it will be available, less expected. And remember the pass to him?  It was in the first quarter of the Maryland game, score tied, went for 15 yards.  We haven't thrown it to him since.

You don't that pass to Mason will be available against PSU?  It sure will.  And almost certainly against OSU if we don't use it against PSU.

I also think (hope?) that Patterson is practicing fades / jump balls to Gentry and Collins every week but we won't see them until the OSU game. Maybe not even if we are in danger of losing to PSU.

I guess we'll find out how much sandbagging Harbaugh is doing if we get into trouble against PSU and OSU.


October 29th, 2018 at 2:57 PM ^

Well, the last time I spoke with him was....uh....never.

So I really don't have any insight. Ask UMBig11. ;-)

Perhaps he learned he'll not want to aspire to OC duties again, and you get to reap the benefit from his learning process journeying through life. O-line version of Don Brown-level contentment?

4th phase

October 30th, 2018 at 8:36 PM ^

No real insights here but I get the impression that he does not have OC aspirations. He originally signed a 2 year deal to be an "offensive analyst" here, so thats a pretty big step back. And while, there may have been some sort of gentleman's agreement to eventually make him OL coach after Drevno left, that was not a given. That said he has a clause in his contract that allows him to leave for a head coaching job, so maybe he does want another shot?


October 29th, 2018 at 1:55 PM ^

Overall, pretty encouraging as this is probably the best D that Michigan will face the rest of this season (post-season pending), they were a couple of near-misses away from blowing it open, and it feels like Shea hasn't played his best game yet.  Bye week at a perfect time.  Put it together vs. PSU and OSU and both games could be fun to watch, as neither D is as tough as States.  Engage Rudddddock-Post-Bye-Jump and here comes one!


October 29th, 2018 at 1:59 PM ^

The first chunk play opportunity you note above, with Patterson not setting up the arc block, is going to get cut down by #2 after a decent gain. Missed opportunity for a nicer play, but don't think that's going to be a chunk. 


October 29th, 2018 at 3:21 PM ^

Can't have it both ways there.  If he sets up the safety inside, then cuts back out, McKeon is spent on that guy.  He's slowing to block that guy for exactly this, and only has momentum beyond that point because the safety doesn't engage him.  If Patterson cuts it back out McKeon gets occupied.  Brian's right it would have been a nicer play.  Maybe he thinks if he guns for the pylon (i.e. moving away from #2) he can go a long way.  But I think that guy has the angle, and he's a corner.  

EDIT: watching again, Brian may be right.  Hard for me to gauge Patterson's speed through that window.  Not a TD, but maybe a chunk play. 

yossarians tree

October 29th, 2018 at 2:16 PM ^

I agree that DPJ was open on that play where Shea could not pull the trigger, but only early after his cut. As the play extended it looked like the corner was trying to bait a throw and go for the pick. 

And is it me or did that route by Jones look a little too rounded off? He has such great straight line speed that he could run guys off and turn out all day long it seems, but with a cut like that it is not as effective. I'm surprised we don't run more outs to Jones and Collins.


October 29th, 2018 at 2:16 PM ^

On that play that Shea is looking at DPJ "open" in the end zone, I think it's smart to not throw that. DPJ isn't running anywhere near full speed because the sideline is closing in on him. The DB is all over that route, but is baiting Shea into a throw so he can actually jump it. To my eye, the DB beats DPJ out of the break, then throttles back down to bait a throw later in the route.

Read the DBs body language, and you can tell he is never in "oh shit" mode.


October 29th, 2018 at 2:22 PM ^

I disagree. I think an early throw toward the sideline (right when DPJ is out of his break) gives DPJ plenty of room to accelerate and catch when he already has 3 yards of separation from the DB. 

I agree that late in the route the DB is trying to bait the throw; but it was definitely there early with about 20 yards of space to the sideline. Patterson needs to throw that ball with touch to the sideline and let DPJ use his athleticism to beat the DB to it - just give DPJ a chance and let him make a play. 


October 29th, 2018 at 3:00 PM ^

I'm with tkokena1. The time to throw isn't after Shea has stared the play down for a few steps. That's not what people are frustrated with. The time to throw is when DPJ makes the break and is open and Shea is rolling out. That's when Shea throws to the sideline where DPJ can bring the ball in easily without any threat from the defender. 

Once he hesitates, of course the play is over and making the throw would be a mistake. But this is big-time QBing, you don't get to hesitate. You have a window and you make the throw. Shea had the window, and he didn't make the throw, and Michigan left points on the field. 


October 29th, 2018 at 2:20 PM ^

RE: Patterson's throw location on the near-pick that Perry raked out. Not excusing it - INTs are bad, bad, bad. But the location does seem to be influenced by the passing window the DL gave him.

carolina blue

October 29th, 2018 at 2:46 PM ^

I agree, but it was the “Penn State will bring two Willekes-ish guys to the table and rotate a third in. That's not going to go great” part that took me from “in the bag” to “we’re going to have to grind this out”.  I’m still confident Michigan wins, perhaps even comfortably, but I no longer feel it’s a completely forgone conclusion is all. 


October 29th, 2018 at 2:34 PM ^

Rudock was three years ago and the bye was actually between the MSU and Minnesota games. Jake wasn't particularly amazing in either game (he got injured late against Minny and a not-ready Speight thankfully pulled out a rabbit). It wasn't until Rutgers that Jake's season really took off, finishing the last five games (bowl included) with a 14:2 TD:INT ratio and 314.8 yards per game.

Now, I will completely agree that the bye coming when it did is perfect for Shea to clean up some areas for improvement (when it pull/give, when to let it rip) and kick Michigan's offense into a higher gear.