3 Observations from a first review of Cincinnati game film

Submitted by AJDrain on September 10th, 2017 at 11:35 AM

After returning back from the game last night, I preceded to watch the game tape of yesterday's 36-14 win over Cincinnati. I'm not going to do a detailed review and we will all wait for this week's UFR, but here are a few of my observations:

1.) Wilton Speight was actually pretty good yesterday and certainly better than against Florida. At the game I had the feeling that Speight was atrocious and that was certainly the thought of many other fans. But reviewing the film, he had only two blatant overthrows, both to DPJ. At the same time he delivered some bullets, the deep bomb to Crawford, the one on 4th down, the touchdown to Perry. Other throws that were incomplete were mostly tight coverage with no one really open, hard to blame him. Overall, his stat line was 17/29 with a few throwaways. He still needs to improve and have better consistency but in no way was he atrocious. I believe UFR will agree with me.

2.) Mike McCray was really, really bad. He has to be more hurt than we think he is. He looked slow, but even worse his head really wasn't in the game. There were two incompletions where McCray and the CB (one time Hill, the other Watson) miscommunicated and no one covered a receiver but the QB just missed the throw. That happened another time and it produced a first down. Twice McCray was asked to cover a speedy back running a route and twice he got burned. First on a wheel route for a 20 yard gain and the other where he was forced to hold the jersey on 3rd down, giving the Bearcats a fresh set of downs. And then there's the long QB keeper, where McCray bites completely on the RB in the read option, and doesn't cover the whole, letting Moore pick up a monster gain. 

3.) Nolan Ulizio had a much better game. Yes, this was Cincy and not Florida, and yes he did give up a sack and get an unsportsmanlike conduct flag, but as a whole he didn't blow nearly as many assignments and was pretty solid in run blocking. It was a nice step forward and should help build his confidence. 



September 10th, 2017 at 11:56 AM ^

I just went through the whole game and tweeted out a bunch of clips. Speight missed a couple but it's not nearly the travesty many are making it out to be. He hit some real good ones that nobody is taking about.

Ulizio and Onwenu had some issues with the twist but fixed it and picked it up on the Speight -Perry TD. They were much better this week.

Ty Isaac is a new man.

Mason Cole is really realky good.

Cincinnati picked the shit out of us. I complain about it but it'll nevef get called. For some reason it's an acceptable play these days.


September 10th, 2017 at 2:07 PM ^

I watched the condensed-into-30 minutes video and saw 5 times that Speight overthrew open receivers.  And another when he threw in the direction of someone who was covered--a good throw away from the defender _might_ have been caught, but the ball was well over the receiver's head.

Speight did have some good throws, but they're probably what should be expected of a second-year starter.

I agree with your other points.

Hoping for continued improvement all around.


September 11th, 2017 at 12:40 AM ^

9:12 and 9:17 I agree are "overthrows". But Perry and McKeon weren't really open. I don't fault the QB for missing when the receivers aren't open. I'd rather have him miss than make a bad mistake. 27:16 is one where he's on the run. Tough to fault him when he's scrambling. We can nitpick, but it was a better perfomance, save for 8:16 and 19:36, which were both blatant misses. Definitely watching the film, I agree with Speight's postgame comments about the footwork. That was certainly suspect in the DPJ misses. 


September 11th, 2017 at 1:46 PM ^

People are putting all of the offensive struggles on Speight because it is easy.  A lot of his bad throws are to covered guys after a fair amount of time with nobody getting open.  Those are just hopeful throwaways.  He's faced a fair amount of instant pressure in both games and in neither game has the run game up the middle existed.

I also think the playcalling has been pretty vanilla, which is probably necessary given the right side of the oline and general youth at wr but I think that has contributed a lot to the offensive struggles because we have been easy to defend in the red zone due to a lack of creativity.  I think that is something that maybe gets fixed to help the offense take off. 

Watching From Afar

September 11th, 2017 at 4:54 PM ^

The WR can't really be "early" on jet sweeps. He's supposed to get up to full speed and it's on Speight to time it. As for the handoff, could be a little of column A and B, but if it was because Crawford was already on top of Speight, then it's back to being on Speight. The handoff itself wasn't great either, a little high up.

Red is Blue

September 10th, 2017 at 11:57 AM ^

Don't remember exactly when, but there was a series where Speight botched the first play and then proceeded to overthrow open short passes on 2nd and 3rd down. Maybe it wasn't as bad as it looked from my vantage point live.


September 10th, 2017 at 12:05 PM ^

Seemed like Cincinnati was able to profit by getting their RB matched up on McCray in space a few times.  Now that the game is over and M won, I'm kind of glad that happened so that Don Brown can address it before M faces a team that can really exploit that weakness.


September 10th, 2017 at 12:55 PM ^

for this reasonably assembled information. It's really becoming difficult to spend any time on this board during game day. I thought Michigan looked like the team we'd expected to see before the Florida performance adjusted our expectations. Yesterday saw a win against a team that was surprisingly well prepared. I agree with the McCray concerns, and felt like Cincinnati was able to exploit his weaknesses. I expect a lot of doom and gloom during next week's game, as well. Air Force will be a unique challenge, as we all should be aware. However, I still see no reason why this Michigan team can't beat any team on their schedule.


September 10th, 2017 at 4:12 PM ^

By difficult to spend time in during game day, do you mean, clogged with takes of questionable rationality?

Been that way for years. Just something to deal with, really. You can wait until things simmer down after the postgame venting, or you can try to engage some rational-sounding people in a subthread discussion, but there will always be floods of people with takes that are convinced theirs is the truly enlightened one.

Not like this board is the first place that has happened.


September 10th, 2017 at 4:38 PM ^

This is my fourth season as a lurker, and the amount of irrational takes is no surprise. I feel like Harbaugh has substantially elevated this fan base's expectations to the extent that they now resemble demands. Yesterday's game was frustrating to watch at times, but never as cringeworthy as the vast majority of content on this board. FWIW, I really appreciate the contributions users like yourself bring to the board. Just trying to stay above it and maintain some perspective.


September 11th, 2017 at 12:43 PM ^

If you take away Barrett's one 74 yarder against IU (which was a short throw and a long run), he's 36-69 for 413 yards, 2 TDs and a pick through two games. That's 5.7 YPA - that would have ranked 12th out of 12 qualifying starters in the Big Ten last year - worse than even Wes Lunt. 


You can say OSU fans are being irrational all they want, but they're getting bottom-of-the-barrell play out of their QB. That'll go back up some as they face less impressive defenses, but even last year he was only 8th in the Big Ten in YPA and it's not like he's going to get a ton better as a Senior. 


September 10th, 2017 at 1:34 PM ^

I've wondered if Gil or someone else may eat to McCray's playing time. He's a liability against spread offenses in space and that's most of their oppenents going forward.


September 10th, 2017 at 2:30 PM ^

The Speight discussion needs to simmer down a little without overblowing his flaws. He is not a bad QB, and he's probably average to a bit above average for a B1G QB.


The point of concern with Speight is that when you look at the top teams that are national championship contenders you see top tier guys like Mayfield, Darnold, Browning. Even 2nd tier guys like McSorley, Barrett, Francois (pre-injury), Mason Rudolph or Hurt usually are either better passers, or comparable passers who also add a running threat that Speight lacks. It's when you compare Speight to his peers at top 10 teams that he's a bit lacking. Not dramatically, but somewhat. 


Overall, Speight's fine. He's not great and won't ever be. But fine is enough to have a good season, go 10-3 and go to the Citrus Bowl. Maybe challenge for the B1G since OSU's defense has issues and Barrett can't throw downfield. It's not enough to win a CFP unless you are exceptional in every other regard, which we certainly aren't going to be this year given the OL. And probably not next year either given that we'll have no proven returning OTs. Such is life. There's gonna be a lot of 10-3 seasons in between the great seasons. 


September 10th, 2017 at 7:05 PM ^

Didnt watch it. Stats against Rutgers:

2017 Jake Browning 17/30 284 9.5 2 0  
2016 Wilton Speight 6/13 100 7.7 1 0  


Small sample size. Maybe Rutgers is worse this year; or maybe better. Obviously there are other variables. 


If you compare production from last year, Browning had an extra yard per attempt, 900 total yards more, 43 TDs vs 18, and 9 INTs vs 7.  


September 10th, 2017 at 3:04 PM ^

How much did McDoom play yesterday?  I'm a bit surprised we haven't worked him more into the playbook thus far.  He seems like a guy we could use the jump-start the offense when we're in a funk.


September 10th, 2017 at 4:08 PM ^

I don't know. Perry is clearly a better slot receiver and guys like DPJ and Crawford are just as valid options on jet sweeps. Eddie is fine on those but he doesn't bring much else to the table that isn't already supplied by guys ahead of him.

Kinda wondering if he gets spot duty this season and gets passed by Martin next year.


September 10th, 2017 at 4:41 PM ^

This looked like an easy blowout after the first drive, but what happened?

First half:

On the first cincinnati TD. It came at the end of a 6+ minute defensive stretch that 1. included the pick-6, 2. the botched punt return turnover, 3. a third and long tunnel screen that was a RPS win and took out devin bush, 4. another stop on downs that they gave them a b.s. PI call and 5. three runs to get the TD, the last two of which was the RB going against the backup ILB, who is a former walk on.  Those are points the defense really did about as much as you could do, but with all that help, it's almost impossible to stop. 

The offense then went down the field quickly, but a fumble by wilton on 1st and goal stalled the offense and took an FG. 

Cincinnati then had a 6-play drive killed by some great michigan D. Then the Michigan offense was moved right down the field again, only to fumble on the sweep. Then a 3-out by the D. 

3 and out on the next drive because there was a sack on first down and black was stopped just short on a catch at the line.  This is a freshman mistake because he caught it as a 1st down, ran back and didn't reach the ball across the line like a more experienced receiver would have. 

Michigan's D then forces another 3-out, including a nice sack on 3rd and long, and Michigan's offense gets hosed on a catch they ruled wasn't a catch on the bounce (it was a catch). Michigan D then gets beat on two RPS wins, a screen and a wheel route, before they shut down momentum to force a long 4th and 11 throw away, which is called holding. all that leads to a missed FG.

That's still pretty damn dominant on D (and on O for the most part), with some big unforced errors on O and special teams, and some gift penalties that ultimately led to the TD.

Second half:

Cincl has a nice drive, that ends in a TD. Michigan's D has some freshman mistakes on this drive, and they get burned.

Some nice runs by Isaac and then the Michigan offense then falls apart with Ulizio taking a personal foul on before a punt. Why they went away from Isaac I'm not sure.

Michigan D then gets a 3-out, and a O-hold negates a long Isaac run. Some questionable short plays?? and a short punt. Things looked pretty bad at this moment.

Again the D steps up and gets a 3-out, and when Michigan gets the ball they finally start to move the ball again, before a quick slant to perry for the TD. 

From here, its very stout D and meh offense except Isaac.

In retrospect, the defense was quite good outside of one drive to start the first half and the offense wasn't great, but suffered from some very conservative play calls that were not well executed. 

SD Larry

September 10th, 2017 at 6:37 PM ^

assessment.  After a big first game win over Florida, can almost understand a bit of a let down by a young talented team.  There were a lot of mistakes made yesterday that are correctable.  Would not surpise me if that is one of the flattest games we play this year.  Harbaugh said post game the dropped handoff to Crawford was a matter of time before it happened, the way Wilt has been holding the ball.  I doubt we see that or many muffed punts the rest of the season.  Keep improving week to week and this could be a great season.


September 10th, 2017 at 11:07 PM ^

Is not good enough to win a championship. I've said it since last year. The guy is just simply way too inaccurate on short throws. Instead of a catch and run for ten yards, our receivers are consistently having to adjust and fall to the ground to make the catch. Those types of plays ruin drives and take points off the board.


September 13th, 2017 at 7:04 AM ^

B1G Championship or National championship? The team was a step away for the fomer last year (he was a big part of the losses and the wins as a top 3-4 QB in the conference) so he's more than good enough to lead the team that far, national championship...few teams have a QB that's good enough to lead a team that far. 


September 11th, 2017 at 12:12 AM ^

Is how uncomfortable Speight looks. Mechanics look off, he seems jumpy, and he looks confused when he has to go through his progression. He appears to not trust his offensive line at all, even when they do hold up.

Also agree with the McCray take. I thought uzilio looked a ton better, but onwenu really struggled.


September 11th, 2017 at 12:42 AM ^

This is basically an entirely new offense. New receivers, new OLine, Speight is having to work with a new set of dudes. Not sure he's comfortable yet, but hopefully he'll adjust as they get more games under their belt. 

Also agree that Onwenu had a bumpy game. Again, this is a young team. There are going to be growing pains. 


September 11th, 2017 at 12:45 AM ^

bit of a letdown game. Young team spends the whole offseason prepping for the opening game, comes out on fire. No matter how much the coaches say to not overlook the next team, there was going to be an element of that. Both sides of the ball are still getting used to each other, gelling. This is a young team and there are going to be some growing pains. But two weeks in, two really good defensive efforts, some promise on every part of the offense and #7 in the country is not bad at all.