Scouting Report: Wisconsin

Submitted by drexel on September 26th, 2008 at 12:17 PM

Bumped from the diaries for extreme usefulness. -ed

I've watched the first three quarters of the Wisco Fresno game, and the first half of the Marshall game.  Here are my thoughts.Wisconsin's Defense:

  • They base out of a 4-3.  As long as a tight end is in the game, they will stay in this front.  Against Fresno, they brought a safety down and played cover 1 behind it.  I think they were in cover 1.  Its hard to read coverages watching TV footage.  They did not blitz fresno very often, only on 2nd and long or 3rd and long.  They would usually put #2 over the tight end if the tight end was in the slot.  Against Marshall, they kept both safeties back and played out of a 2 shell.  They appeared to be running a soft two, where the corners get depth with the #1 receiver until their flat is threatened.  I think they were also running this when Fresno would go 5 wide. 
  • On third and long they will run a 3 man front and blitz.  Only once during the 5 quarters I watched did they not blitz out of this front.  They like to bring #11 on the outside.  If they other linebackers blitz out of this front, they generally go through B gap.  They blitzed Marshall more than Fresno.  Marshall was more of a passing offense so this makes sense. 
  • #91 and #92 are their best players on defense.  They are extremely quick off the ball and were very good at disrupting Fresno's zone running play.  91 is DT and just blew by people several times.  He was also offsides two or three times, so I think we will get some easy 5 yard gains here and there.  But Molk has got to be quick end get off the ball with power this week.  This guy cannot spend the afternoon in Michigan's backfield or we will not be able to run the ball.  #92 is the same way.  They get up field in a hurry, and one way to negate this are screen passes.  Both Marshall and Fresno got a couple big gains on well executed screens.  I don’t know if Michigan has run it very much this year, but running the inside trap should put #91 on his back and hopefully result in some good runs.
  • I think they will play us more like they played Fresno, so Carson Butler on #2 should be a huge mismatch.  He is not that good in man to man coverage.  Fresno’s tight end is not the athlete Carson Butler is, but consistently got open against that guy.  If Butler is going to break out in a game this year, it has got to be against #2 in man to man coverage.  
  • Their corners seem to be ok in man coverage, but not great.  Again, its hard to tell on TV film.  I think we will see a lot of man coverage, because we have not consistently beat man coverage.  If we see this, we need to make them pay for it.  We have to throw the fade accurately and run better routes.  They are physical corners, and Michigan’s receivers must be physical as well.  I don’t think our receivers have been good enough in this area.  They have been redirected on some of their vertical routes, and they have to be better.  If we start hitting on the fades and comebacks, our other routes will open.  The safeties are also ok players.  #12 gets to the ball quickly.  When they bring a safety down, I think it was #21 who they brought most of the time.  They also like to blitz him in their three man front when he is playing man over #2.  
  • Bubble screens could be difficult to run this week.  They mostly play with a man over every receiver, so by alignment we will be at a disadvantage for this play.  However, if we are successful running the zone/counter/trap, they may have to bring the man over #2 or #3 to the inside, opening up the bubble screens.  The three step passing game should be there this week too, especially if they are in man.  The three step slant is one of the hardest throws to defend man to man, especially if the corners think the #1 receiver is a vertical threat.
  • The linebackers are good players.  They are not incredibly athletic, but they play disciplined and are good tacklers.  However, if Michigan can take care of #91 and #92 and get to the second level, we can run on these guys.  They are susceptible to misdirection.  They bit on a reverse in the Fresno game, and usually bit pretty hard on the bootlegs.  

Wisconsin’s Offense:

  • There isn’t as much to say here.  This is an I-formation offense that is looking to drive you off the ball.  They like to keep two tight ends in the game most of the time.  With the athletic tight ends they have, they can run or throw out of these formations.  Beckum especially is a threat lining up in the slot or outside.  They are also decent blockers, but we have to get by these guys when they are blocking on run plays.  
  • Their favorite formation is a tight end other either side with twins to the wide side of the field.  They can run the belly to either side or throw out of this formation.  They also like to put both tight ends on the same side with a fullback in the backfield.  They will pull the center and play side tackle out between the tight ends and run the fullback through the hole as a lead blocker.  They run this a lot and have success with it.  They also motion the wing tight end to the other side.  They run to the motion and run the counter away from it.  Sometimes, they pull the motioned tight end back to the play side and run a trap.  Any pulling lineman will take you to the play side.  When lineman work off double teams and get to the second level, they go after the outside linebackers, and leave the Mike for the lead blocking full back.  When they pull, it looks like they are looking for the first man to show.  
  • Their passing game is based around their tight ends.  They will run them on deep outs, down the seam, and down the sideline.  They also like to run crossing routes with these guys.  They look for these guys first.  Their wideouts do not seem like much of a threat.  #7 is a big tall guy but can get pushed around.  #3 and #85 are smaller quicker guys, but did not get much separation against Fresno db’s.  They will run some bubble screens out of twins and trips if the defense is way off the line of scrimmage.  Everidge is a typical Wisconsin qb.  His arm strength and accuracy or just ok, and he can make a few plays with his legs.  We need to hit him early and often.  I think this is possible.  Marshall got some pressure on him early, and Fresno was able to get some as well.  We need a big day from Jamison and Graham on passing downs, and I think we will blitz a lot on these downs as well.  
  • As a defense, we have to stop the run game.  This is not going to be easy to do all day.  However, I think we can do it.  Our DT, have to stand up the double teams, and not allow the Oline to release to the lb’s.  When our lb’s take on a lineman or a lead blocker, they cannot let them get into their bodies.  They either have to take them head on, extend their arms, and shed the block, or take them on with their correct shoulder and make the play with their free shoulder.  Even if this is just forcing the play back to the middle, it has to be done.  Our lb’s have got to deliver hits this week.  Putting their heads down and lunging will result in big gains for P.J. Hill.  He will run through arm tackles, and if we try to hit him high, he will get 5 yards after contact.  He is a big guy, but he runs pretty upright.  We have to hit him low, wrap up, and drive him back.  I think we have the athletes at lb to make these plays, but until now they have been lunging.  Hopefully, they have been working on this for two weeks and execute better on Saturday.  
  • We have to hit the tight ends as they come off the line of scrimmage.  We do not have a linebacker that matches up well with Beckum.  Maybe Mouton can stay with him, but if he catches a ball, does Mouton bring him down immediately? The other TE, Graham, is not as physical as Beckum.  We can knock this guy down right off the line of scrimmage and take him out of the game completely.  We need to hit Beckum too on every single play.  When these tight ends try to release off the line, we need to put them on their backs.  You can hit a guy in college until the ball is in the air, and we have to beat these guys up.  Warren and Trent should have no problem locking up their wideouts.  
  • I expect to see Michigan run some cover 4 in this game where the safeties are buzzing their feet at the snap and reading the play.  The corners are man outside, and if the safeties read run they come up in run support.  If they read pass, they have deep half.  From what gsimmons has posted about the defense, this coverage is now in Michigan’s arsenal.  Whatever coverages they run, I expect to see safeties coming down in run support.  
  • One last thing, they run a play action where they fake a zone stretch play and bootleg, dragging the tight end from the original play side.  They hit it for big chunks of yards against Fresno.  However, they ran the play action 3 or 4 times in the games I watched, but only handed off once.  If you see the zone stretch, it is most likely a play action.  Again, we have to hit both tight ends on this play and cannot let them release cleanly.  

 Well that’s what I have for this week.  I definitely think we can move the ball against their D, but we have to execute the fade route better.  We also have to be able to run the bread n’ butter zone read play with 3 or 4 wide receiver sets.  Defensively, our lb’s have to improve significantly at taking on lead blocks and delivering a hit on tackles.  We need to hit Everidge early and often, and we have to keep the TE’s from getting a clean release off the LOS.  I really believe this is a winnable game.  We definitely have the weapons on offense to hurt them in secondary.  Our Oline needs to execute, and we absolutely cannot turn the ball over.  


Six Zero

September 23rd, 2008 at 10:28 AM ^

Agree--great post!

Obviously put some time, effort and thought into this-- haven't seen Wisconsin at all this year and appreciate the player-by-player scouting report.

Like we've seen all over the InterWebs, I think the key to this game is Ezeh vs. Hill.


September 23rd, 2008 at 7:08 PM ^

Ha. Thanks, I have had my eye on the "worst state ever" shirt for a while.  I just like watching games, and if people like to read my thoughts, I'll try to keep writing.  I did have a thought last night that I didn't put in the post.  Fresno ran five wide and was able to get the Wisconsin D into what we called "ace"  where the front turns into a 4-1 or 3-2 and you have 5 on 5 with the O-line.  I think it would be interesting to line up Brown at Qb and run 5 wide.  If we get ace, we run the qb draw.  If they bring a guy into the box from the 3 reciever side, he could throw a bubble screen to that side.  If they bring the safety down into the box, we run a slant/bubble play to the two receiver side.  Anyway they try to defend it , we would have an advantage somewhere.  The throws he would be asked to make are not that difficult, and it would add a real threat to the offense.  I really doubt they would do anything like this, but its fun to think about different things they could do with this offense.


September 24th, 2008 at 9:58 PM ^

Well done here; quite helpful.

If the safeties play a lot of run support, that means they will have to tackle. Scary proposition, no?

I would personally like to see the linebackers stop playing so tentatively. Even if these guys don't have a nose for the ball yet, I'd rather they get beat on a few good cutbacks or misdirection plays and make a majority of tackles in the hole.


September 24th, 2008 at 10:41 PM ^

Yes, our safties have to tackle well on Saturday too. Hopefully, they are helping Ezeh and Thompson get Hill down and are not forced to make a ton of solo tackles. I agree about the linebackers.  Maybe if they are flying to the ball and force cutbacks, the back will get buried by a backside defensive end squeezing down on the play.  I think the biggest think will be shedding pulling lineman and their lead blocking fullback.  If our linebackers don't take on the lead blockers with force and let these big guys get into them, they will get pushed around.  I think Ezeh, Thompson, and even Mouton are capable of this, but they did not do it as well against ND as they will need to against Wisconsin.  They have also had two weeks to work on all this stuff, so I'm hoping we see improved play.