Upon Further Review: Special Teams vs Indiana

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 20th, 2017 at 4:32 PM

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[Fuller]

Formation/Substitution Notes: Not much at all. No noticeable substitutions. In terms of formation, Michigan would drop a couple of wings a few yards back on punt when Indiana stacked the line. Michigan also brought the gunners in tight and staggered two wings when it looked like Indiana was going for the all-out punt block with a little over a minute to go in regulation.

max pro

[After THE JUMP: DPJ’s development, Ben Wallace-ing your way to success, and other items from Puntapalooza 2017]

Kickoff
Play Qtr Time Score Kicker From To n/a Rtn Rlt Tackle
Corner L 1 15:00 0-0 Foug 35-L O1 O27 16 O16 Mason
Hewlett does a nice job hesitating, freezing a defender, and cutting inside a block to slow the returner. Mason's tearing through the middle of the field with a blocker near him who doesn't want to engage because Mason's in front and that's obviously a block in the back.
Corner L 1 6:34 3-0 Foug 35-L O13 O30 OOB O13 n/a
Have to assume this is one of Foug's first miscues of the season and not a called directional kick.
Left 2 14:54 6-0 Foug 35-L EZ n/a TB O25 n/a
Lands near the front of the end zone, but deep enough for a fair catch.
Corner L 2 10:19 13-0 Foug 35-L O3 O25 13 O16 Hewlett
Michigan does a nice job getting two men out on the edges to allow the return only the middle, and Hewlett again is too fast for his blocker. Instead of forcing the return to help, this time he gets the tackle.
Left 4 10:25 20-10 Foug 35-L EZ n/a TB O25 n/a
Bombed out of the end zone.
Kickoff Return
Play Qtr Time Score From To Player Rtn Rlt
Middle 2 1:46 13-3 35-C EZ Thomas TB M25
Booted to the middle of the end zone.
Middle 3 15:00 13-3 35-C EZ Thomas TB M25
Up and out.
Middle 3 12:06 13-10 35-C EZ Thomas TB M25
Up and out again.
Onside 4 3:27 20-17 35-R M48 Sideline 0 M48
Bounces behind Michigan's first line right to Crawford, who attempts to high-point the ball. It smacks him in both hands and takes a 2015-esque ludicrous arcing bounce into Simmie Cobbs' arms along the sideline. He bobbles the ball a bit before stepping out with his right foot, and that, along with being called out of bounds on the field, is enough to give Michigan possession.
Field Goal Defense
Qtr Time Ln Dn Ds FGDis Hash
1 2:00 M33 4 3 51 Left
Blocked by Hurst, who crushes and drags a guard to get through. He puts his arm up and swats it as Metellus arrives (after hopping over a guy to get in on the play). Hill recovers and gets about 17 extra yards off of a really nice cut.
2 1:46 M14 4 9 32 Left
DO. Middle gets some height thanks to Hurst and Winovich, but the flight path of the ball is never in doubt.
4 00:02 M28 4 1 46 Right
DO, I think. Michigan overloads Oakes' left side; Hurst pushes through and Gentry and Peoples-Jones get vertical but to no avail. Oakes tucks this safely inside the right post.
Punt Return
Play Qtr Time In-Air Yd From To Player Rtn Rlt
Middle 1 13:04 52 O19 M29 DPJ 0 M29
Whitehead rolls to his left. DPJ has to extend to his right to field this, but he's able to bring it in. He heads toward the sideline, which is a good move, before cutting it back to the middle. There are two unblocked Indiana players who would have likely stopped a run up the sideline at the same spot he gets tackled in the middle, so no lost yardage here.
Left 2 13:05 58 O23 M19 DPJ 1 O20
Whitehead gets the punt off quickly and forces DPJ to his right again. Peoples-Jones fields it and fakes to the middle, a really intelligent move to slow the three guys bearing down on him. Already tight to the sideline, he takes the ball a yard forward before stepping out.
Middle 2 9:22 57 O7 M36 DPJ 6 M42
Really could use some all-22 film here. Peoples-Jones starts left, reverses course, head fakes to the middle, and shakes two defenders in the process. It looks like Thomas is a split second slow to turn and loses a step on one of the Indiana players releasing from the line, and then one step turns into three. Said player makes the tackle, but I can't see where the next defenders are downfield. Makes it nearly impossible to figure out how far Peoples-Jones would have gone with a block. At least Thomas resisted the urge to block the guy in the back.
Right 3 7:29 59 O6 M35 DPJ OOB M35
Bomb of a punt goes out along the right sideline.
Middle 3 4:03 55 EZ M47 DPJ -2 M45
Whitehead's really good. He takes a low snap in the end zone, bobbles it, appears to barely be able to flick it off his foot, and somehow gets it to Michigan's half of the field. Not taking yards away from Peoples-Jones because that's a ton of open field to his left that's worth taking a chance at picking up. A shoestring tackle doesn't do much more than twist Peoples around, but it turns him enough that he has to regain his balance, which allows the next man in to take him down.
Middle 3 1:08 56 O6 M38 DPJ 10 M48
Peoples-Jones' second best return of the season. He gets credited with every inch of the yardage gained on the return. Hewlett gets all of his penalty (-10) applied because it's away from the play.
Left 4 12:40 55 O29 M16 DPJ FC M16
Whitehead again punts on the roll to his left. Peoples-Jones calls for the fair catch and barely snags a ball away from his body that turns him 90 degrees to his right.
Left 4 8:25 55 O19 M26 DPJ FC M26
Nearly a carbon copy of the last reception; Peoples-Jones is able to catch this one facing the coverage team, though.

Punt
Play Qtr Time Kicker In-Air Yd From To Rtn Rlt Tackle
Left Hash 2 5:20 Robbins 35 M40 O25 FC O25 n/a
Appears that Robbins was going for big hang-time, which he got, to the detriment of location.
Left Hash 3 13:30 Robbins 48 M18 O37 FC O37 n/a
Another hang-time induced FC.
Left corner 3 8:29 Robbins 44 M44 O12 FC O12 n/a
Robbins lofts it to the corner and puts Michigan's defense in excellent position. If you're going to have to punt from Indiana's half of the field, at least you have a punter who can do this.
Right 3 6:04 Robbins 54 M26 O15 OOB O15 n/a
Harris is trying to clear his teammates out when this goes over his head and out of bounds.
Middle 3 1:59 Robbins 60 M31 O9 6 O15 Poggi
Indiana gets no pressure up the middle, which allows Poggi to release down field. Thomas does an excellent job getting off a block and not allowing Harris around him, which forces Harris to cut upfield and allows Poggi to bring him down.
Left 4 14:44 Robbins 49 M34 O17 15 O32 n/a
Excellent coverage from St-Juste. He breaks down and prevents Harris from going up the right hash, then pursues him to the sideline. He pays the price--he gets lit up near the sideline--but Glasgow is getting enough push that Harris steps out of his own accord.
Left 4 6:47 Robbins 48 M20 O32 FC O32 n/a
This punt is a good reminder what an effective weapon hang-time can be. I mean, you're punting to J-Shun Harris of all people and he's calling for a fair catch with just one guy (Thomas) near him.
Middle 4 4:18 Robbins 57 M16 O27 54 M19 Metellus
Harbaugh said that this was supposed to go to the opposite boundary and the error was compounded when Robbins accidentally kicked the laces so chalk this up to a growing-pains-are-painful type of miscue. Metellus' strength is impressive here, as he almost runs past Harris but is able to get one hand on his back and spin him down.
Right 4 1:11 Robbins 55 M45 EZ TB O20 n/a
Punt itself is fine, but the holding call on Cheeseman is ridiculous. Don't block people, I guess.

Remember how you predicted a blocked kick earlier this season?

I do!

Remember how you predicted it would be a blocked PAT? Lol why would you predict that, what a stupidly specific thing of little consequence.

You are a cruel and unforgiving bolded alter ego. But yeah, I know. Should have gone with a blocked field goal. Rookie mistake.

I am simply trying to compliment you on your incredible football foresight. Takes a heck of a scout to see that Mo Hurst is good at getting through the line.

You’re worse than the commenters on Facebook Live. ANYWAY, what he did is really, really impressive.

That’s a blocked kick executed while pulling a guy’s body weight with him. It’s also a one-handed swat. There’s no way there’s a more MAKE PLAYS defensive tackle in the nation than this guy.

Anybody else MAKE PLAYS?

That’s the only good segue you’ve ever had but yes. Time for more ch—

CHARTS

Indeed.

Punt Summary
Player Returns YdsGained YdsLost TotalYds SsnYds
The ball 30 30 30 (2gm)
Metellus 19 19 19
Poggi 5 5 5
Thomas 5 5 5

PR Summary
Player Returns YdsGained YdsLost TotalYds SsnYds
Peoples-Jones 3 17 0 9 80
Hewlett 0 0 -10 -10 -10
The ball 0 0 0 -14 -14 (2gm)

I see you’re still including the ball in your charts despite it’s complete lack of impact on this game.

It could easily have been a factor, though. The main thing I took from this game was how quickly Donovan Peoples-Jones is progressing. There were a number of punts that easily could have gotten past him.

It’s almost as if playing a game in the escape scene from Shawshank Redemption has an impact on punting.

Well, yeah. But this is more than something that was dependent on external conditions. Peoples-Jones face a punter who rolled out often and had a very quick release and earned every bit of his 17 yards and then some.

This is his second best return of the year.

Whitehead consistently snapped the ball off his foot with a short follow-through, and adding to the tracking difficulty is that every single one of Whitehead’s punts were long and low. Here Peoples-Jones is able to step up to avoid pursuit from behind while simultaneously side-stepping a two-man wall to the sideline. I found that so impressive because he generated every one of those yards on his own. It speaks to what he can do just by virtue of his field awareness, and that’s something that will only improve with time.

What about the Footloose-chair-scene-bouncing-punt-wet-rock thing?

Look at this punt. Roll out, quick kick, gliding toward the sideline.

DPJ gets turned, but he manages to secure the ball while simultaneously sliding upfield. He allows that block to set and reverses field. The end result isn’t much, but there’s a lot to like in his vision and athleticism.

Then there’s the subtlety of traffic direction with the eyes. Peoples-Jones stops two free runners with a hard step upfield at about the 37.5, then keeps one of those two at bay a second time by staring up the middle of the field before trying to stop and weave to the right hash. It looks to me like he thought that stare directly up the middle would also freeze the guy who got past Thomas, but give him credit for not biting and making an excellent open field tackle. If that guy does bite, though…

Okay, sure, great. Now let’s talk about all the awful things.

Michigan’s attempt to recover an onside kick late in the fourth quarter went from bad…

…to worse…

…to fine!

It turns out Cobbs did indeed bobble the ball and step out of bounds. The thing is this seems fairly straightforward in its execution with one big mistake that takes a ridiculously dumb bounce. Hoping any coaches or others deeply into special teams will leave their take in the comments because I don’t have much to add. Michigan has six guys to their right side of the formation, five go up to block, Crawford skys for the ball and plunk, there it goes. The one thing I can think of that’s really obvious considering the middle-school fence vault, viral box jump video, dunking over like an entire basketball team at Cass Tech, etc. is switching Crawford for Peoples-Jones.

Can’t disagree. I can only agree. But hey, why do you hate Quinn Nordin?

Absolutely do not. Honestly, the field goal table broke and I have to leave to go scout for FBO so here’s a video of a moonball (but, like, in a good way).

That may be nothing considering his range, but it’s not every day that a guy wedges a ball under a construction site.

What does it mean for Penn State and beyond?

Peoples-Jones: quite good. Unfortunately Ace’s scouting reveals that Penn State’s punter is kind of awesome and there probably won’t be many opportunities for a return.

Brad Robbins is great and his hang-time is otherworldly but don’t expect him to place it with precision. It’s gonna take some time. We knew that in theory, but now there’s pretty clear evidence.

Quinn Nordin is still Quinn Nordin. AHHH YOU PUT IT THROUGH THE UPRIGHTS AND OVER A SCOREBOARD.

Ace’s scouting does bear some good news. He noted in our work chat that PSU kicker Tyler Davis badly missed a 40-yarder, then they had their next attempt blocked because they let a guy up the middle.

Comments

kevin holt

October 20th, 2017 at 5:34 PM ^

I'm not a coach or anything but if Crawford lets that ball go, it's out of bounds way before Cobbs gets there. Kicker hit it way too hard. But of course you don't want to just let a ball go and it had bounced so the reaction time was very short (and impressive for Crawford honestly). It even still should have been out of bounds but (1) somehow Cobbs had psychic powers to know it would go there or this was the play they drew up, somehow---what I'm saying is Cobbs took himself completely out of the play and somehow ended up with it anyway---and (2) the exact bounce it took was extremely fortunate for them, going straight to Cobbs. On the other hand, yay for bobbling it.