Upon Further Review: Offense vs SMU Comment Count

Brian September 19th, 2018 at 6:54 PM

[Patrick Barron]

image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumbSPONSOR NOTE: Reminder that Matt is hanging out at the Charity Tailgate at 327 East Hoover (if you were at the preseason MGoEvents this year and last it's the same place). Food trucks, beer, TVs, and also those things. 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: Closer to a 50/50 gun/under-center split, although a high number of goal line snaps (6) and short yardage I-Form (5) distort things. Outside of short yardage is was close to the 2/3rds gun ratio we've seen so far this year. SMU responded by playing MSU's defense, more or less:

4-3 over

4-3 over, over and over. Their safeties were less aggressive; their linebackers were more aggressive; their CBs were more prone to off coverage than press. Still pretty close.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: As per usual on the OL and at TE. With Higdon out, Wilson got maybe a third of the snaps. O'Maury Samuels got one near the end. WR rotation also pretty much what you'd expect, except Grant Perry got a fair amount of his PT as an outside WR since Michigan ran a ton of 2TE sets—2/3rds of their snaps. There were even three 3TE sets.

Ben Mason got his usual dozen snaps, in this case heavily slanted to short yardage.

[After THE JUMP: run woes, or no?]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Ace tight 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Power O Evans 6
No FB. McKeon comes around to insert along with Bredeson. Gentry(-1) gets a DE and gets stood up. Bredeson(+1) comes around to whack him and he must. Tough for Gentry to get a block here since he’s off the LOS. Onwenu(+2) and JBB(+1) fling a DT five yards downfield. He moves too far too fast for JBB to actually pop off on a LB, and then JBB turns around instead of going for the third level block. Evans(+1) does a good job to threaten out than cut, wiping one LB and giving McKeon(+0.5) and angle to get the other. Ruiz(+0.5) locks out the other DT. JBB turned back upfield after missing a LB and there’s an unblocked guy coming back from the outside once Evans cuts up. He gets Evans off balance with an ankle dive and the safeties finish.
M31 2 4 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 over 6.5 Pass Flare screen Evans 3
Gentry is supposed to release and pick off a LB but gets stuck at the LOS as the DE more or less starts blocking him (in Soviet Russia). MLB can flow free along with the playside CB. Evans(+1) does well to WOOP them and get three yards. RPS -1, not only did Gentry get picked off in a way he had no shot to recover from but this is zone with an overhang corner looking right at the play. (CA, 3, screen)
M34 3 1 I-Form Big twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 even 8 Run Power O Evans -2
McKeon(-2) does not block down on the DE, which seems very nonstandard and gets FB/OG confused. Gentry(-1) gets ripped through as he tries to get to a LB. DE let free and shows why this is nonstandard, as Mason is shocked and Onwenu can do nothing with a first level guy given a free pass.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M15 1 10 Ace twin TE H 1 2 2 4-3 even 7 Pass Y cross Perry Inc
Truly strange here as SMU runs a safety blitz from a guy at nine yards with no pre-snap motion. Line holds up super well. Ruiz has no one to block, looks at the whole LB level, and then decides to look for work just as the S comes through Evans, who also saw no threat and released. S gets to Patterson, who short-arms a throw to Perry in an effort to get the ball out before he’s hit. Uh. This is four seconds after the snap. I guess Ruiz -1 but I don’t want to do it since 99 times he does this it’s good. Uh. (MA, 0, protection 2/3)
M15 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under 7 Pass Dig Martin 19
Max pro against a four man rush. Evans gets a nice pickup on a stunter and Onwenu helps out. Patterson doesn’t like his looks at first and scrambles up in the pocket. He should just take off. Instead he fires to Martin. There’s a LB directly in front of him who should intercept, deflects, Martin picks up the scraps. (BRX, 3, protection 2/2)
M34 1 10 Ace tight 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Power O Evans 1
This time Gentry(+1) does get around and kick the end, who fires up field and makes this possible. Onwenu(+1) and JBB(+0.5) eject the DT again but no attempt to climb to a LB from JBB. Still make life difficult on him, Bredeson(-1) assumes Gentry won’t get his block and is too late to redirect; blitzball LB hammers in behind him. McKeon(-1) coming behind that; cannot stand the guy up. He falls in the lane that’s left. Evans tries to hit it, slowed by LB. Ruiz(-0.5) didn’t get movement and his guy can shed to tackle. RPS –1, blitzballed.
M35 2 9 Shotgun 4-wide tight 1 1 3 4-3 over 7 Pass Dumpoff Evans 4
DPJ motions across, no follow, zone. Three short routes are blanketed. Patterson appears to check them all before checking down. I kind of think Collins is about to be very wide open on a wheel route. Bah. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M39 3 5 Shotgun trips tight 1 1 3 Exotic 7 Pass Sack N/A -1
More zone as SMU rushes three. M runs mesh with two guys underneath, not great. On the outside they try to high low the CB as the zone option and Patterson doesn’t like it. Useful Millen Replay™ demonstrates that he’s probably correct to do so. There’s nobody open. Runyan eventually gives way, Patterson tries to scramble, zone eats that up too. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2, RPS -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 9 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M15 1 10 Ace tight 1 2 2 4-3 even 7 Run Jet sweep Thomas 11
Only blocks relevant are DPJ(+0.5) and Gentry; Gentry doesn’t get tested. Thomas(+1) is able to feint a little inside before deciding on the corner, which he gets because he’s very fast. RPS +1.
M26 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 even 7 Run Down G Evans 7
One ankle tackle attempt from six, probably. Down G gets M a crease and delays two bits of the LB level. Runyan(+1) blocks down and moves a DT. Bredeson(+0.5) kicks out. Gentry(-0.5) gets a blitzball LB and is not prepped for this guy to go hell for leather. He comes out too vertical; he is able to redirect and hit the guy. He goes through; he’s falling. Evans is able to pick his way through that guy’s arms but gets a little off balance and is slowed. DPJ(+1) comes into pick off the safety and CB is a wee bit slow to react, but he’s able to get in the ankle tackle as the last man. Evans(+1) did maximize this tricky-ish run.
M33 2 3 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even 7 Run Power cut Evans 2
I think this is one of those power plays that’s actually a subtle cutback run. Ruiz gets a DT slanting to him to the power O’s playside. He shoves him and passes him off, then goes to the MLB. The guy Ruiz is passing his DT off to, Bredeson… has released to the same LB. With Runyan firing to the inside of his guy and kicking him out instead of downblocking I have to assume that he and Ruiz are right and Bredeson(-2) has an MA. Evans(+1) cuts back into the free DL and then the LB as his movement robs Ruiz of an angle; does well to get two.
M35 3 1 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 even 7 Run Power O Evans 8
This is a cutback on a play not designed for it. Evans gets chased from the play design by blitzing overhang corner. There’s a gap to the rear of the line as Ruiz(+1) sealed his guy away and Bredeson(+0.5) and Runyan(+0.5) got movement on the other DT. Evans(+1) hits it fast. Playside saw Mason(-1) mis-ID the kickout and force plan B.
M43 1 10 Pistol twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under 7 Pass PA TE corner Gentry 33
I wish I gave out special stars for clobbering pickups. Hell, let’s do it. GOLD STAR for Tru Wilson(*) on this play for finding a middle linebacker going flat out and ending him. Rest of the line has three guys and handles them well. Patterson is clean and can find Gentry on a corner route. Is this high? Yes. And no. Results-based charting. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
O25 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Down G Evans 9
Playside DE dives inside… uh. Actually Onwenu(+2) kind of picks him up and gently places him inside. This is partly on the DE because as a defender you can always be force if you play it right. But also a friendly bear just mauled him. No edge, Evans(+1) hits it. DPJ(+1) got the S. JBB(+1) sealed his guy inside; Gentry(-1) blown through. Evans can’t juke the corner for the TD. Nuts.
O16 2 1 Ace tight 1 2 2 4-3 even 7 Run Inside zone Evans -1
Onwenu(-2) releases downfield, which is a problem. Gentry has the EMLOS and JBB has no one over him so he heads to the playside LB. Onwenu goes to the same guy. Ruiz(-1) is engaged in a single block with a DT and can’t get any movement. Bredeson's guy comes inside and isn’t doing a whole lot but also impacts Ruiz, and then a linebacker comes in to nail Ruiz. With three guys pushing him and bonus momentum he goes over. Evans gets swallowed. This should have been an easy first down if Onwenu doubles to the LB. Gentry(+0.5) did get a good kick.
O17 3 2 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 over 7 Run Power O Evans 1
SMU slants to this, which is normally not a huge problem but there are no doubles on this play? Which is a power? A short yardage power? I don’t know exactly what to do here since it seems like you should at least check to see if SMU gave you a false read presnap and are slanting to you before releasing. I guess Ruiz -1, Onwenu -1, JBB -1, Gentry -1, because the guys who block both get beat badly but need help. Evans(+1) is faced with a wall of unfriendly meat and does well to cut back fast enough to get anything.
O16 4 1 Goal line 2 2 1 4-3 over 10 Run Down G Evans 2
Finally this looks like Michigan knows what it’s doing. Bredeson(+0.5) pulls, kicks. McKeon(+0.5) gets enough to make his guy a nonfactor. Gentry(-0.5) gets a hit but his guy comes through. Mason picks him instead of the S, quick decision and defensible. Evans is able to slice past him for the first down.
O14 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 even 8 Run Power O Wilson 2
Big gap between standup DE and DT. Runyan(-1) and Bredeson(-1) double the DT. He moves. SMU is running a double A twist blitz, which induces Runyan to pop off on the wrong LB. Bredeson gets chucked past the DT. DT and free LB are there in the gap and tackle, with the DT making first contact. Mason(+0.5) good kick, Ruiz(+0.5) locks his guy out
O12 2 8 Goal line 2 2 1 4-3 over 8.5 Run Down G Wilson 0
Again going at the bubble. Standup end slashes inside. Bredeson is the short puller and kickout guy. He only gets a brush. That’s still probably enough. Mason(-2) aborts to hit the same guy, which… why? If you hit him this still happens, which is Wilson is exposed to an unblocked CB at the LOS. Gentry(+0.5) got a solid LB hit; Runyan got a push block on a DT inside.
O12 3 8 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Exotic 7 Pass Comeback McKeon INT
First read is DPJ on an out. He draws a bracket, but not a useful one. Patterson comes off it. He’s got Gentry on a slant in one one coverage with a LB and looks at it and doesn’t throw. Instead he motions McKeon to come back. McKeon starts to come back. Patterson throws. McKeon stops coming back. INT. This game just does not want me to have easy things to grade. OK. Uh. (BR, 0, protection 3/3, McKeon route -). Dunno why the 6’8” guy with a CB who’s beat and has his back turned isn’t the obvious call. Refs(+3) try to pretend it’s not an INT but replay(-3) corrects them.
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-0, EO1Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M43 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even 6 Run Inside zone Evans 4
CB blitz from the boundary. This successfully jams Michigan’s blocking up. M is able to pave a gap in the backside as Gentry(+0.5) and Ruynan(+0.5) are able to find and kick guys out. DT pinch allowed by the CB blitz prevents anyone from getting to the other LB. He fills. Evans(+0.5) is able to cut back and get a couple. RPS -1.
M46 2 7 Shotgun 4-wide tight 1 1 3 4-3 even 7 Pass Scramble Patterson 3
JBB(-2) lets a DL inside of him without even trying to block the guy. Everyone else is reacting by sliding left and there’s no blitz so he’s got to, you know, attempt a block. Patterson(+1) is able to dodge the sack and get a couple. (SCR, N/A, protection 0/2)
M49 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even 7 Pass Seam Gentry 24
Perry motions to the boundary so he takes the CB vs Gentry out of the equation. MLB comes scot free up the gut. This could be Ruiz or Evans. Given the previous Wilson pickup where he immediately headed for the MLB I think it’s Evans(-2). Ruiz sets left, takes DL. Bredeson sets with him, harasses him, has eyes up on other LB the whole time. LB fakes blitz, is on Evans, sucks him up and gets a block. MLB free. Patterson is still able to get a pass off to Gentry, who ran through a LB jam and has a small window up the seam. Patterson could put this a foot higher but that is a hell of a nit. (DO+, 3, protection 0/2)
O33 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even 7 Pass Waggle out Perry 18
PA, rollout, high-low of zone corner. Easy read. Patterson is rolling out against his throwing arm though and this is difficult-ish. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O15 1 10 Shotgun 3TE 1 3 1 4-3 under 9 Run Pin and pull Wilson 7
SMU does not adjust to the fact that the WR coming in motion is a TE or that he sets up on the LOS. They’re edged presnap. M exploits that. JBB(+2) pulls and sits on the playside LB. McKeon(-0.5) should probably do a better job on the playside DE, who he lets through, but the delay is more than enough to provide the edge. That guy is able to delay Ruiz some and so Ruiz can’t get out to the S. Wilson can’t dodge him. RPS +2.
O8 2 3 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 even 8 Run FB dive Mason 2
Onwenu(-1) gets shed but Mason(+1) just runs the dude over.
O6 3 1 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 even 9 Run FB dive Mason 3
Ruiz(+0.5) intercepts a charging LB. Onwenu again gets shed but he’s still pushing so when Mason(+1) meets the DL he goes over even more emphatically.
O3 1 G Goal line H 2 2 1 Goal line 11 Run Yakety snap N/A -2
Looks like it’s on Patterson(-2).
O5 2 G Goal line 2 2 1 Goal line 11 Pass Scramble Patterson 3
S overhanging does a good job to get out on the edge here but there’s a brief window here it looks like Patterson can hit Gentry and does not. It also looks like that S might get Gentry down short. Patterson doesn’t risk it and takes the edge yards. It looks like he’s shorted a Very Big Deal yard, fwiw. (SCR, N/A, protection N/A, refs -1)
O2 3 G Goal line 2 2 1 Goal line 11 Run Down G Evans 2
Gentry(+0.5) blocks down, gets his guy inside but can’t really move him. Onwenu’s guy kicks himself. Mason tries to get to a LB and affects him but not that much. Evans(+0.5) does a good job to not bounce and use his momentum combined with Mason’s to grind out 95% of the yardage needed.
O1 4 G Goal line 2 2 1 Goal line 11 Run FB dive Mason 1
Good thing you called all your timeouts before this?
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 7 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide H 1 1 3 4-3 under 6 Run Inside zone Evans 6
Playside stunt by SMU. Bredeson(+0.5) and Runyan(+0.5) handle it, but the initial DT thrust gets them a yard in the backfield so Evans(+1) has a tough-ish job to get around them and to the edge that’s now open. He does. Once he’s in space I kind of think he’d get more yardage by trying to hit it upfield instead of cutting behind a LB but eh.
M46 2 4 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 over 6.5 Pass Flash screen Collins 3
Patterson’s throw is a bit high and behind, delaying Collins a bit and preventing a conversion. DPJ(+0.5) and Perry(+0.5) both got enough to provide a lane despite the delay. (MA, 3, screen)
M49 3 1 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even 7 Run Inside zone Evans 0
Patterson(-3) must pull this. DE flies at Evans, TE flares to overhang LB, it will be a conversion. He does not pull. M paves a lane on the backside that Evans can’t use because of the DE. His frontside cut is futile. LB managed to get through Onwenu; Onwenu put him on the ground but he’s able to fall into Evans and grab his legs. This is a belly play on which I’m not going to ding Onwenu(+0.5). In fact he and JBB(+0.5) cave in the spot that the need to get the first down if the DE shuffles.
M49 4 1 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-5 over 9 Run Power O Evans 1 + 15 pen
Gentry(-2) blocks down on an overhang LB instead of a DE he needs to get. DE gets into the backfield where Mason(+1) stones him, but Onwenu now has nowhere to go and Evans must go directly upfield into a crap ton of traffic. He does but meets heavy resistance and seems clearly short. Michigan gets a gift(refs +3) and then Dykes gives them 15 more.
O35 1 10 Ace tight 1 2 2 4-3 even 7.5 Pass Cross DPJ 35
Fake jet, fake up the middle, flood the left side. Eubanks runs off the S and the LB level is crushed flat by the PA. DPJ wide open, hit, turns up, TD. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +3)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-7, 2 min 2nd Q. Pick six on final drive of first half.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M38 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-4 LB slide 6.5 Run Inside zone Evans 5

DL tight inside so no DE to let go to the playside. Onwenu(+1) moves out one DT. Ruiz(+0.5) finds a LB who’s blitzing. JBB(-0.5) driven back but his guy can’t do anything. Evans cuts behind Onwenu and goes straight N/S for a solid gain.

M43 2 5 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 4-3 over 7 Run Inside zone Evans 0
Option nobody with just five blockers and this happens. JBB kicks a DE. Onwenu(-1) blocks down on a DT. He gets driven. Ruiz(-1) left immediately and no help for him so Evans cuts back and eats an unblocked LB.
M43 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide H 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Pass Improv Gentry 11
Evans(-2) IDs the MLB this time and completely fails to cut him. Patterson is able to bug out and Gentry is wide open after SMU forgot about him; he stayed into chip for JBB. Catch and run to convert. (CA+, 3, protection 0/2)
O46 1 10 Shotgun 2TE tight 1 2 2 4-3 even 7 Pass Scramble Patterson 21 (Pen -10)
Wilson in after the pass pro screwup. He meets the same MLB blitz in the hole and stands the guy up. Patterson has time and what looks like an open DPJ to the side of the field he’s scanning but no throw, and then he bugs out. Wilson(-1) has grabbed the LB and does not let go after a shed, drawing a fair holding call as Patterson jets by. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
M44 1 20 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over 7 Pass Dumpoff Wilson 11
PA, LBs get deep drops on first and twenty, calm checkdown that Wilson can turn up. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O45 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide H 1 1 3 4-3 under 7 Run Insert iso Wilson 7
Onwenu(+2) ejects the NT from the premises. MLB doesn’t fall for the zone action and cuts behind Ruiz’s block; Ruiz is able to shove him into McKeon(+1) and his guy and he goes down. Wilson(+0.5) finds the gap; JBB(+0.5) had a solid kickout.
O38 3 2 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even 7.5 Run Zone read belly Wilson 3
McKeon(+1) chips the shuffling DE and then goes to get a linebacker; JBB(+0.5) and Onwenu(+0.5) double and eject a DT. No second level but MLB went frontside, McKeon has one LB, and S can’t fill fast enough.
O35 1 10 Shotgun 2TE tight 1 2 2 4-3 under 7 Pass TE seam Gentry 28
Protection excellent. Patterson is clean and Gentry’s running past the LB level in the zone. Patterson throws a strike. (CA, 3, protection 3/3). Slightly behind Gentry so no DO.
O7 1 G Shotgun 3-wide H 1 1 3 4-3 under 8 Pass Back shoulder fade DPJ 7
RPO-ish, with Patterson clearly aborting a run play to throw this fade. Only -ish because this is a pre-snap read, not a post-snap read. The mesh point isn’t holding a linebacker. The throw is a perfect back-shoulder throw that DPJ spins to bring in. Indefensible. (DO, 2, protection N/A)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-7, 9 min 3rd Q. Failed onside gives M good field position.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
O41 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even 7.5 Pass PA waggle comeback Collins Inc
Rollout and Patterson fires wide of Collins. Live I though this might be a Collins issue rather than Patterson but he’s offscreen and no replay so I cannot confirm that. (IN, 0, protection N/A)
O41 2 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even 7 Pass Post DPJ 41
SMU bust lets DPJ run free and that’s Patterson’s wheelhouse. Protection good enough but Runyan lets his guy inside alarmingly; Bredeson comes over to help enough to let Patterson fire unmolested. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-13, 1 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 even 7 Run Inside zone Evans 35
Jet fake. Ruiz(+1) and Onwenu(+1) blast guys out of the way. Gentry(+0.5) able to do enough to keep his guy from closing it. Two LBs erased by jet. Last one inexplicably runs outside? Evans finds the hole and is probably gone for 80 until he pulls up lame. RPS +2.
O45 1 10 Shotgun 3TE 1 3 1 4-3 even 7 Run Pin and pull Wilson 12
No LB level react to TE motion across. Playside DE then dives inside and halts as if he’s shuffling. McKeon(+0.5) seals him. Gentry(+1) extends to MLB immediately; Onwenu(+1) gets around and seals playside LB inside. No edge. Wilson’s got Ruiz(+0.5), who gets to harass the first guy who shows. When the cavalry comes Wilson(+1) is able to grind out 3-4 YAC. RPS+1.
O33 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 over 7.5 Run Zone stretch Wilson 3
M runs a stretch for probably the first time all year and naturally someone dorfs it. That appears to be Eubanks(-2), who runs downfield instead of trying to widen the DE or seal him. That guy goes direct to Mason(+1), who turns him in Wilson(+1) hops outside of that and then immediately cuts upfield off Mason’s butt, which is pretty instinctive since no run play is supposed to work like this. M almost creases the D but the bend Wilson had to make allows the LB level to converge after a few yards.
O30 2 7 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Inside zone Wilson 3
Jet fake brings both S to six yards pre-snap and makes this tough. OLB doesn’t have to widen for jet. DL slants hard to playside and forces it back to this guy. Gentry(+1) shoves his guy way down the line and Runyan(+1) pops off to get a blitzball LB but Wilson’s cutting back into an unblocked dude and a MLB is able to scrape over the top. RPS -1.
O27 3 4 Shotgun 2TE tight 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Pass TE Out Gentry Inc
This is short of the sticks but if Gentry can just fall forward it’s a conversion or close enough to FB dive it. Patterson throws it a hair low and Gentry drops it. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: FG(45), 38-20, 8 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M32 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Jet sweep DPJ 7
All DPJ as S comes down on that motion and Gentry’s guy flares out. DPJ(+2) is able to get the corner anyway.
M39 2 3 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 even 8 Run Zone stretch Wilson -1
Onwenu(-2) does not chip a DL lined head up on him and leaves him for Ruiz, which is an impossible task. He realizes his error late and turns around, which doesn’t help and also allows a LB to jet up scot free. JBB is doing an okay job on a DE. Mason tries to hit it up outside of him and gets held by that DL, no call. Wilson gets buried by many.
M38 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide tight 1 2 2 Nickel even 7 Pass Scramble Patterson 18
Left side can’t handle a stunt, with Bredeson(-1) slow to realize it. DE is able to split the two OL. Bredeson grabs the guy and he goes down, no holding call(refs+2). DT looping around never got to the edge so Patterson is able to escape and takes off for a first down. (SCR, N/A, protection ½)
O44 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Inside zone Wilson 8 + 5 pen
SMU doesn’t have the edge set. Runyan(+1) gets a slanter to him, passes him off to Bredeson, and releases. McKeon(+1) gets a second level block. Wilson(+1) reads that there’s no edge and runs out there. SMU follows this up with an illegal sub.
O31 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Inside zone Wilson 4
Ruiz(+0.5) and Onwenu(+1) double a DT, with Onwenu getting out on a blitzball LB. Runyan(+0.5) and Bredeson(+0.5) grind their guy downfield. Gap directly up the middle that an OLB is scraping over to fill after a few yards.
O27 2 6 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Down G Samuels 18
Down G at the giant bubble in the line. Runyan(+1) blocks down and eliminates NT. Bredeson(+0.5) kicks DE. Gentry(+1) gets to a linebacker. Other one blitzed to the backside and is gone. Samuels(+1) into the secondary. He leaps a safety T and gets taken down from behind.
O9 1 G Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 even 7.5 Run QB arc keeper Patterson 0
Both backside players pull; DE left alone back there chases and Patterson pulls. Eubanks(+0.5) goes and ties up the slot LB, so this looks good. Patterson gets to the LOS though and finds that the DT is uncommonly aware here, on the backside and chasing him to a safety. Patterson could get a few yards here but goes down in a slide, which yeah there are two minutes left stay healthy little buddy.
O9 2 G Ace 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Inside zone Wilson 9
Jet fake. Onwenu(+2) staples a DT inside of him. JBB(+1) gets to the MLB and seals him away. Gentry(+0.5) gets enough of his guy to force a crease. Wilson(+2) gets the last four himself by running through a tackle and having that momentum alteration help a safety miss.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 45-20, 1 min 4th Q. EOG for O.

I guess? What?


I dunno.

I mean, it was good?

Was it?

It didn't feel that good but Michigan scored 38 points in nine drives. Drive breakdown:

  • 1 three and out, 1 first-down-and-out that should have been a quick INT.
  • 73-yard drive ending with INT near goal line.
  • 48 yard FG drive
  • TD drives of 57, 60, 62, 41, and 68 yards.

That's good! That's 7/9 drives that go 40+ yards and 6/9 that score.

But it didn't feel that good?

Ah, the Black Pit of Negative Expectations.


BPONE did put a layer of ash over things live but now that we're removed from that, I mean, Patterson...


  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% -

...eh, pretty good.

Things started out rough but on review a couple of those issues were more explainable. He could not step into the early turfed ball to Perry, which saw him sit for a long time in the pocket and get a safety blitz:

Ideally that ball gets out faster but that's less bad.

The interception was partially a McKeon problem, as he gets waved forward and steps to it, then stops.

He's got to drive that all the way back to the QB until the ball is in his hands. On the other hand, what part of "throw it to the ent" was not made clear by the rest of this game?


Punt that baby up for Jumpy McArmsalot. Still: should have been a PBU from behind at worst. I filed that as a Bad Read without the X and gave McKeon a route minus.

A couple of frustrating THROW THE BALL moments turned out to be ACTUALLY DON'T THROW THE BALL NVM. Protection is decent on one of the sacks he took but an eight-man zone successfully covered the zone-beating portion of the pattern Michigan ran:

Coulda-shoulda dumped it to DPJ and hoped to get lucky but there's really no other option and by the time that's open he's got to move.

The BRXXX at Martin did not improve any. Yikes.

Those issues were largely offset by Patterson recovering from that early period to do the thing he does to all defenses that leave guys open while not crushing his lungs: torch 'em. The long DPJ TD was wide open but after the last few years I'm sure everyone appreciates a QB who can hit the wide open guy dead in stride:

That's a very rare 40 yard completion on which I mark the catch routine.

He was able to stand in against some of those MLB blitzes and still fire in chunk plays:

And this is just butter:

Note that this is not really an RPO, at least as the term seems to be understood by college football coaches. Patterson makes a pre-snap read to abort the handoff and take his shot. RPOs have genuine mesh points that the QB reads a linebacker out of, post-snap. But I like it anyway.

Patterson's very good at throwing the ball. Running... hm. It really seems like he does not want to pull the ball. This third and one should be a conversion. Michigan's running RR's old zone belly play and the DE crashes. With a TE arcing out to the second level a Patterson pull here is an easy win:

Instead Evans has to run away from the play design and hope for the best. Patterson did pull just before Michigan's final TD, and he should have pulled. He slid down for zero yards when the pocket of space got shut down by a DT who unexpectedly popped up.  That's absolutely the thing to do when there are two minutes left in an 18 point game but I still wonder if Patterson's not making these pulls because he doesn't want to be running around with the ball.

Okay but the run game felt real real bad.

It did. Part of the ugly numbers are a preponderance of short yardage carries. Michigan had a whopping 11 carries that were either third or fourth and two or less or grinding goal line items. Seven of these went well. Three did not, and one gets a big ol' asterisk—the fourth-and-short conversion that we got a Notre Dame spot on. Collectively Michigan gained 19 yards on these plays.

Another four runs were Patterson sacks/scrambles that collected 23 yards (another 21-yard scramble was called back for holding).

Runs that were 1) actual runs and 2) not short yardage collected 155 yards on 26 carries, 6.0 yards an attempt.

But it feels worse than that?

BPONE issue again since Michigan started badly and came into the game later. I don't think the late yards should be discounted since it appears SMU was still playing their starters. That data is about as valid as first quarter data.


Yeah, I mean. Not wrong. Chart:

Offensive Line

Player + - Total Notes
Runyan 6 1 5 Nothing spectacular but not much clearly his issue.
Bredeson 4 4 0 A dorf or two.
Ruiz 5 3.5 1.5 Fairly basic day.
Onwenu 14 7 7 Alternated mashers with errors.
JBB 7 1.5 5.5 JBB/Onwenu doubles are mean.
Spanellis       DNC
McKeon 4 3.5 0.5 Was hoping for a bit more.
Gentry 7 8 -1 Rough rough start, good recovery.
Eubanks 0.5 2 -1.5 Stretch error.
Mason 5 3 2 One dorf.
TOTAL 52.5 33.5 61% Inconsistent day mentally with a lot of –2s.
Player + - T Notes
Patterson 1 5 -4 Fumbled snap, bad missed pull.
McCaffrey       DNP
Higdon       DNP
Evans 9   9 Did well with what he had. Pass pro issues.
Samuels 1   1  
Wilson 5.5 1 4.5 Ran through some guys.
Turner       DNP
TOTAL 16.5 6 10.5 Short yardage issues might have been partly Higdon's absence.
Player + - T Notes
DPJ 5   5 Jet he made work himself, some blocking.
Perry 0.5   0.5  
Thomas 1   1 Jet on which he got a tough corner.
Black       DNP
TOTAL 6.5   6.5 Eh.
Player + - T Notes
Protection 23 8 74% Evans –4, JBB –2, Ruiz –1, Bredeson -1
RPS 9 5 4 Blitzball took some Ls.


Again we're confronted with a philosophical question: what do you do with a run game that breaks a few big plays but otherwise struggles against a blitzball outfit? By the time Chris Evans gets the ball on this play the playside LB is running full speed a yard away from the LOS:

SMU LB to bottom

That makes life difficult for the pullers, who indeed can't fire that guy out of the gap and Michigan gets a yard. The flip side to that is Chris Evans busting into the open field for what probably would have been an 80 yard TD if he didn't come up lame halfway through it, with no linebackers even demanding a relevant block:

Evans was one cornerback ankle tackle away from another potential big gain on a down G play where the LB level erased itself:

SMU LB level

There's no scrape and no hope of a scrape there because SMU's guys just run, no read. Ditto that power cutback that was probably organic. Evans is again one DB tackle away from a giant run:

Tack 45 yards onto Michigan's total for the cramp/hamstring and adjust for the high number of short-yardage dives—fully 10 of Michigan's rushing attempts were against stacked lines in short yardage situations—and the vibe coming out of this game is a bit different. Add one more big Evans run and it's very different. Michigan got the short end of the variance stick. That's life against blitzball.

Well, how do you slow those guys up?

Mostly by running play action that cripples them. Michigan didn't do that much but one of the times they did they got a wide open receiver for a dead simple 35-yard TD:

Michigan could have gotten stuff like that whenever they wanted. Not doing so more often was defensible since every drive after the first two either scored or got down to the opposition 12 before a turnover.

Michigan also did some of the stuff that you do against teams like this by running a few plays that would give a false key that the LB level had no hope of recovering from. The Evans runs above are examples. Also this is probably a "power" play that's designed to cutback into the void the LBs leave when they see that guard pull:

Ruiz and Bredeson end up both passing off the DT and going to the same LB, which gets back to a legitimately concerning thing about Saturday's performance on the ground: dorfs.



Michigan went with a lot more straight-up power runs in this game but had several inexplicable dorfs on them. Power's rules are pretty simple: if there's a guy shaded inside of you, block down on him. Michigan's initial short yardage failure saw McKeon start to do this and then suddenly abort:

#84 TE to top

Mason's running for the kickout block that McKeon's just decided he needs to make and Onwenu is pulling tight  Neither has any ability to do much with that guy. Gentry would make the same error later in the game, blocking a linebacker over him instead of blocking down.

When trying to distinguish dorfs from the subtle changeups most running games are constantly inserting to tweak reads I try to figure out if there's a way for that downblock to not get made and have the play succeed, and I try to see if multiple players are doing stuff that implies the hypothetical tweak is not a tweak but is in a dorf. I can't figure out what that might be trying to accomplish and the OG/FB wrapping around look surprised so the –2s come out.

I have no idea why that's happening. Both guys played all last year and blocked a ton of power. There is no reason they would suddenly forget what to do.

There were other scattered dorfs. Onwenu made Ruiz look pretty bad on one play because he released immediately and three guys shoved Ruiz over:

#51 C and #50 RG

That's some bad counting since JBB also releases to that LB; added force on the interior probably sends Evans to the safety. And I don't know what Michigan's doing here on a short yardage power play where nobody actually gets doubled:

basically the whole line except Runyan

I kind of get that you might swing for the fences but on third and two from the 17 just blast people on doubles and pick it up.

These errors were alarmingly common since they all came on plays that are basic staples of the offense and had no real mitigating factor. You can't even blame last year's chaos since they were just fine running this stuff last year. (Michigan also had dorfs both times they tried to run a stretch, which is much less of a concern since they haven't run stretch consistently in forever.)

Ruiz was bad!

Uh what

Someone said that!

He wasn't out of this world but he was fine. Of note is that the issues above are all single player MAs and not holistic issues about what Michigan is running on any particular play.

Michigan got a lot of pressure directly up the gut but I don't think much if any of that was actually on him. The turfed ball to Perry linked above sees Ruiz set up in a ton of space, see nobody coming, and then go look for work. A safety blitz with no presnap motion from nine yards evades his detection in part because the guy is coming up behind the guard:

99 times out of 100 what Ruiz does is exactly what you want. I gave him a –1 but I'm not stressed about that.

The rest of Michigan's issues with linebackers roaring up the middle unblocked I put on Evans, because Michigan's protection scheme was the same every time. Ruiz and Bredeson would double a DT while sliding left a bit or Ruiz and Onwenu sliding right; Bredeson/Onwenu would keep his eyes on one of the OLBs in case he got frisky. The running back had the MLB. That was the case on this Evans whiff...

...and a couple of Tru Wilson pickups. Wilson in fact came in right after this play and picked up the same MLB blitz:

One other incident saw Evans head for the OLB Bredeson is keeping an eye on as the MLB got a free run.

None of that is Ruiz. MLB == RB in this game.

That's a high number for Evans, a guy who didn't get a ton of yards.

Evans isn't a pile-mover but if you can get him even a crack he's able to take advantage of that. Michigan's first play gave him that crack; he threatened outside and then made a decisive cut upfield, removing a linebacker from the equation:

Michigan barely threw so Evans's space opportunities were limited. He did juke a guy out of his jock on the first drive on an attempted screen that got RPSed:

Evans did have the pass protection issues mentioned above. After the second Michigan pulled him for Wilson temporarily, another indicator he and not Ruiz was responsible for a couple of those rushes. FWIW, he did have some nice pickups as well.

Evans's game was a broken tackle and a cramp away from being a 150-200 yard day on 18 carries.

That Onwenu number is a Not Boring Number.

It is. Some of that was already discussed in the dorfs section. I had him for three separate –2s. When not doing that, hoo boy. When not doing that and doing something with Juwann Bushell-Beatty, look out. The right side of the line got back to their 2017 goings-on in this game, with several plays on which a JBB/Onwenu double team saw the opposition crumble immediately.

#50 RG and #76 RT

That is a wall of meat moving at great speed. On top of that Onwenu had a couple of eye-opening single blocks. Here he gives Evans the edge by ripping a defensive end inside of him:

#50 RG pulling

And he paved a DT by himself on the Wilson TD run, shoving him so far that he was able to cut off a linebacker:

#50 RG

JBB, who is on the PFF Big Ten team of the week(!!!) had his own solo excursions as well. Here he sits on a linebacker in space:

RT #76 pulling

As a bonus for him specifically, no pressure in this game was ceded by the tackles.

wait what

I mean, you see the chart.

okay but

Yes, all the caveats about opponent. But this was a different outing than WMU, a game in which Michigan's dropbacks were infrequently rollouts or quick throws. Most of Patterson's attempts required a fair amount of protection and the OL delivered it.


aw man do we have to do that every




Anyway, Bill Wilson


Bill Wilson had extended playing time thanks to the Higdon injury and did well with it. For the second straight game he had a blitz pickup where the linebacker fails to get up at all:

The holding call embedded above is unfortunate but you can live with it. Guy just needs to feel when his man is trying to release and let it go.

Meanwhile with the ball in his hands he looked pretty good. He palpably lacks Evans's open-space jukes but was able to grind out a surprising quantity of YAC:

The touchdown embedded above in the Onwenu section was a tackle and a half broken as well.

He feels like the an instinctive runner as well. This three yard run features an unusual pattern because of another blocking dorf. Wilson ends up cutting outside of his fullback, whereupon he immediately goes north/south right off Mason's butt:

That is the maximally efficient path and not something Wilson has specifically repped. So far so good for him.


Again a lack of throws and Patterson's accuracy shoves what numbers there are in the routine category, with little to discuss.

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

Player 0 1 2 3   0 1 2 3
DPJ     1/1 2/2   1   1/1 12/12
Collins       1/1       1/1 4/4
Martin       1/1     1/2   3/3
Perry 1     1/1   1 0/2   4/4
McCurry                 1/1
McKeon 1         1     4/4
Gentry     1/1 3/4   3   1/1 6/8
Eubanks                 1/1
Evans       2/2         4/4
Wilson       1/1         1/1

ROUTES: McKeon –.

Gentry did have a drop. He had one earlier in the year and a couple last year and we have enough information to say he's probably a wee bit less reliable than you'd like on simple throws. But still...

...throw it to the Ent.

The only other WR event of note was DPJ's body control on the back shoulder fade above. Sometimes you wonder if the really fast guy is a natural WR or just a really fast guy; that looked like a natural WR. Somebody tried to man up Crab.

Anything else?

Ambry Thomas is fast:


I don't know if Michigan can or wants to do anything else with him other than jet sweeps. Khaleke Hudson timing up some SMU snaps (and getting robbed of a beautiful TFL by a bogus offsides calls) shows you the danger of definitively tipping your snap count and the many teams on the schedule who will obsessively prepare for Michigan will no doubt be aware that Thomas implies this action. If I was Michigan I'd be preparing some Ambry decoy action.


Patterson after the first two drives, DPJ, Gentry, TACKLES CLEAN IN PASS PRO WOO

Maybe not so heroic?

Bredeson had a meh day with an even score on the ground and a pass pro minus. McKeon didn't offset his meh blocking with a bunch of catches.

What does it mean for Nebraska and beyond?

A glimmer of hope. Let's not put too much on beating up on what projects as a miserable SMU pass rush. But 31 points of pass pro grading in just 18 throws and zero protection minuses for the tackles is a little something. JBB continues to be a mauler on the ground.

Tru Wilson: pretty good. He's not a dynamic player but he's instinctive and quick and will cut the hell out of linebackers.

Hopefully the run issues were just a weird thing? There wasn't any pattern to them except too many coming from Onwenu. Many of them were truly inexplicable stuff that shouldn't recur.

Shea Patterson will deal if you don't get pressure to him. Another 18 throws of evidence.

Gentry is a downfield weapon to be repeatedly exploited. Also he might drop one or two.

DPJ + machine who hits open guys downfield = a good time. If Michigan can trust its pass protection he's going to explode.



September 19th, 2018 at 8:36 PM ^

Evans is often one ankle tackle away from a big gain. The good news is that last year he wilted at the sight of a tackler in the vicinity. So, making progress.

Next year we'll (hopefully) get to watch Charbonnet run over, around, through and away from people!!! Love the clip from his last game where a blitzer has him stone cold in the backfield and he literally throws the kid to the ground and runs left for a TD.

Communist Football

September 20th, 2018 at 10:58 AM ^

I commented on this after the ND game -- Higdon and Evans continue to be terrible at picking up blitzes. If they continue to be not 100%, why not start Wilson? His pass pro game is excellent, and opens up the downfield threats.

BTW -- can someone remind me what the pluses and Xs mean in the Hennechart? I can't find the original reference to them—and I've looked. Maybe worth updating this post?


September 19th, 2018 at 8:52 PM ^

Very encouraging for the tackles and maybe a reason the coaches were smarter than we are by not sticking 2 freshmen in the lineup right away. 

Also, I don’t think there was any chance Evans was scoring on the play he cramped up. He was cutting right into the path of #8 who had a full head of steam. Maybe if he had cut it to the left on the sideline. 


September 19th, 2018 at 9:11 PM ^

Ugh - Evans pass pro is pathetic.  Seriously, I think Wilson is a better all purpose guy than Evans given his pass pro chops.  If Higdon is good, I would elevate Wilson to more snaps.  They just don't use Evans in the pass game, so he is not effective unless he can stick his f-ing nose into a LB's gut and stone him.


September 19th, 2018 at 9:40 PM ^

Had Wilson not come in to provide excellent pass pro, we may have scored 14 less points.  That -4 from Evans in pass pro could have been -8 if he finished that game.  I mean Evans is a liability in the pass game when he is being counted on to pick up the blitz.  Wilson is the only back willing take on that LB nose-to-nose.  Even Higdon is an ole' guy and not very good at pass pro.

Tru Wilson can be trusted and should get way more snaps.


September 20th, 2018 at 11:39 PM ^

Dude, backs at the college and NFL level are taught to go low on blocks on certain occasions. Saying its a courage thing is stupid. Evans is not the only who has cut block on our team. Does our coaching staff lack courage for teaching low blocks? Also he did not gain 25lbs. You made that number up. Don't make stuff up. His post-Herbert pic on instagram said he we went from 202 to 217. But in 2017 he said our last strength staff got him up to 212. 


Our mgoblog spring weights have him at 200 in '16 and 206 in '17 and his mgoblue roster weight is 216 for this season.

I agree with you about Evans not being very good at it and missing Smith's blocking.

Saludo a los v…

September 19th, 2018 at 10:15 PM ^

"don't know if Michigan can or wants to do anything else with him other than jet sweeps...If I was Michigan I'd be preparing some Ambry decoy action."

Well they used up an obvious change up  with the wide open play action pass to DPJ for the 35 yard catch and run td. I loved that play but was pissed that they had to use it against SMU.

The thing about the Thomas jet sweep is his speed is so scary that it really frees up some play action on those biting safeties/linebackers. I would love to see that sweep used as a decoy for a seam / skinny post route against MSU.

Speaking of trick plays, when are we going to see a transcontinental where Gentry throws it back to Patterson?


September 20th, 2018 at 6:07 AM ^

Well they used up an obvious change up  with the wide open play action pass to DPJ for the 35 yard catch and run td. I loved that play but was pissed that they had to use it against SMU.

I love that everyone's complaining that Harbaugh's playcalling isn't creative enough for them  and then when he does get creative (which he does quite often in fact), it's "why isn't he saving this?"

Saludo a los v…

September 20th, 2018 at 9:52 AM ^

I was not complaining about the coaching staff's playcalling. I actually was pointing out that the play call that got them the easy TD to DPJ was exactly what Brian was talking about in the Ambry Thomas section. The thing about a play call like that is that you would prefer not to use it against SMU because executing your base stuff works. I would rather see that play be used against MSU who is going to play hyper aggressive like SMU did and be vulnerable to play action with their weak pass defense.

I am hopeful from what I have seen thus far that there are some interesting wrinkles that they are saving for when they need them. That is why I mentioned the concept of a seam route or skinny post off of that jet sweep action. When Thomas is on the field, his speed is such a threat that it can give a guy like DPJ or Collins the extra separation on a safety that is watching the sweep action.


September 19th, 2018 at 10:24 PM ^

I think its an awareness issue AND a whiff issue.

RB needs the awareness to abort the fake play action to protect.  Too often, our RBs wander into the flat while their man is is putting pressure on the QB. 

And,  hen RB attempts to protect, whiffs happen too often:

Evans diving at #57's knees. 



#57 with the pressure


Incomplete pass



September 19th, 2018 at 10:55 PM ^

"no pressure in this game was ceded by the tackles." 


2nd play of the 4th drive, JBB lets the DE, the farthest most player on the right, go by on the inside to go block no one. 

The Man Down T…

September 19th, 2018 at 11:44 PM ^

DPJ + machine who hits open guys downfield = a good time. If Michigan can trust its pass protection he's going to explode.


This 100 times over. When the offense completely gels it will be the death star of offenses.  Hopefully they can fix that exhaust port of blocking issue they have.

Cranky Dave

September 20th, 2018 at 12:06 AM ^

I also feel better about the offense now than during the game.  One thing I thought about is how much better Onwenu s conditioning is this year. He’s been playing solidly all the way until the 2nd team comes in. 

yossarians tree

September 20th, 2018 at 1:45 PM ^

I get why they were trying to rep base running plays in the first half (sort of?), but I just wanted them to slow that run blitz a bit by the exact type of play DPJ scored his first TD on. And 11 plays against 3rd or 4th and two? That's partially why it seemed like a death march at times. Then when they did open it up in the second half they scored on six straight possessions.

The only reason Michigan didn't eventually score 60 points was because SMU drives ate most of the clock in the second half due to penalties and their excellent WR who had several nice balls to catch and caught them.


September 20th, 2018 at 5:25 AM ^

"... but I still wonder if Patterson's not making these pulls because he doesn't want to be running around with the ball."

It could be that he doesn't, but here's the thing: It's great when your QB has the ability to tuck and run, and turns a 3rd and long into a first down. But it's even better when you have a QB who can avoid mistakes, keep plays alive with his feet, and most importantly, HIT WHAT HE'S THROWING AT!

Last year we didn't have one (or we didn't have three.) Now we do. And I think keeping him healthy for 12+ games would be a good thing.

So if he doesn't want to be running around with the ball, and risk both his health and the team's season, I'm really OK with that.


September 20th, 2018 at 7:41 AM ^

Thanks for the great analysis.  I thought this game was a great learning opportunity/experience for the offensive line and the coaches approached the game that way.  They faced a team that played hard and played blitzball but who were physically outmanned.  They were only average but they weren't as bad as last year.  Tru emerged as a legitimate player for his ability to protect the QB and more.  Patterson struggled at first and then righted the ship.  All with a vanilla offense and without Patterson risking an injury by running too much. There is much more to prove, but I think it's a step forward and am happy.

The coaches should be relatively happy, I would think, at least as happy as coaches ever are during a season.


September 20th, 2018 at 8:23 AM ^

If I was Michigan I'd be preparing some Ambry decoy action.

I 100% expect us to never do that and Ambry Thomas being in on offense will be screaming what play is about to happen as much as Peppers being in at the wildcat or Eddie McDoom being in did. Harbaugh just seems bad at that stuff for whatever reason

Saludo a los v…

September 20th, 2018 at 10:01 AM ^

Except Thomas has already been used as a decoy and there is plenty of potential to utilize Thomas in other interesting ways on offense. Comparing Thomas to Peppers or McDoom is not that useful because they are not similar players. Thomas is much faster than McDoom and a receiver, whereas Peppers was a running back. With Thomas we have seen jet sweep and play action off of that sweep. I fully expect that at some point Thomas will catch a pass or two this year.


September 20th, 2018 at 10:50 AM ^

JBB has two pancakes from the footage above.  That's outstanding against any level of competition. 

Make yourself big and keep your balance on pass pro, young man.  You can play. 


September 20th, 2018 at 12:28 PM ^

Maybe this is one of those games that you have to wait and see what happens next to know if this was a good offense shackling itself and having some bad luck (as suggested here) or a struggling offense deluding itself with what ifs. There are definitely a lot of what ifs and if only's in this article.

It felt to me like the game was on a knife edge when Michigan went for it on 4th and 1 from midfield tied 7-7. SMU had just ripped through the Michigan D for a long TD and the Michigan offense was clearly scuffling.

Michigan WAS FORTUNATE to get that first down and scored a TD on the next play which they followed up with a pick 6 on an otherwise promising drive by SMU and the rout was on. There was a good bit of luck of Michigan in that turn of events.

It is the struggling to run in short yardage that concerns me the most. This piece wants to remove those runs and have them not matter when I think they are the most important plays of all. A good running team can confidently run on 3rd and 2 and get it. Just bash the D into submission. Maybe even 3rd and 3, in college against a cupcake. Michigan failed on short yardage far too often. Only the quick FB hand off worked with any consistency in that situation.

In my opinion, if you can't run for short yardage against a good D then you aren't much of a running team. You're just running to bide time until you pass.

Michigan could not run consistently on short yardage, at least with their RB rather than the FB, on Saturday. That is a bad sign. If they don't get that kind spot on the critical 4th down, we're looking at a white knuckle second half.


September 20th, 2018 at 2:42 PM ^

There was 5:16 left in the 2nd quarter when that 4th and 1 occurred.  You're missing the difference between a red herring and a red flag. 

Do you remember when MSU played Alabama in the playoff, and were completely outclassed in every way, didn't even belong on the same field?  Do you know the score with 5:00 to go in the 2nd quarter of that game?  It was 7-0 Alabama.  It ended 38-0.  Lots of mismatched teams hang around early before being overwhelmed, and there are a lot of occasions where you can say "team X let team Y team hang around until the 3rd quarter, they're not that good."  These are most often misleading.  How did the game finish?  Was it 45-20 and team X really never had a chance of losing?  It's a red herring.  Were they actually losing the game with two minutes left (MSU vs. Utah State) or were forced to overtime (PSU vs. App State)?  It's a red flag.  

You criticize the write-up for dismissing short runs, then dismiss the fact that M converted the 4th and 1 and made a great play to pick 6 (and you're missing the point of what Brian is saying: situations where the goal is 1 yard or 2 yards to gain a first down are necessarily going to those where YPC are expected to be low).  Metellus made the interception because he's a much better player than his counterparts on the SMU team.  He returned it for a TD for the same reason.  Michigan won by 25 points for the same reason.