September 19th, 2017 at 9:53 AM ^

"Michigan has snapped the ball 88 times on first down. The Wolverines are averaging a not-completely-awful 5.3 yards per play, but of their 464 total yards gained, 211 have come on five plays. They have gained one yard or fewer 43 times. Success rate: 33 percent — 27 percent rushing and a much healthier 46 percent passing."


September 19th, 2017 at 9:58 AM ^

Problem: glaring inability of OL to move DL off the ball in tight spaces.  Also, abysmal yds after contact numbers for Isaac and Evans.

Remedy: more TE's, more Higdon in Red Zone.  Btw I miss Asiasi.


September 19th, 2017 at 10:51 AM ^

The point of the piece appears to be we can't gain any yards rushing on first down. When Speight is consistently having to bail out the offense with 2nd and 9 and 3rd and 9 passing situations, it's pretty easy for the defenses to dial up the pressure. When he has time, he's been accurate as indicated by the success we've had passing on first down.


September 19th, 2017 at 11:55 AM ^

elite OL don't move the DL off the ball. They sustain blocks and keep defenders off the ball carrier's body.

We need to stop with the OL needs to move DL off the ball meme because these are rare and reserved for top 5-10 pick in the draft.


September 19th, 2017 at 5:31 PM ^

I think it is less rare than you posit. I have seen a lot of Michigan OL over the years (that weren't top 5-10 draft picks) regularly move over-matched opposing DL off the ball, especially in the 4th quarter. 20 years ago, this was a common occurrence when any top 2-3 Big Ten team played a .500 MAC team. Greater parity has come to college football, but these mismatches do still occur with some regularity and it doesn't take "top 5-10 picks" to make it happen. OLs that are near the top of Power 5 conferences regularly get significant and visible forward push against DLs that rank near the bottom nationally. 



September 19th, 2017 at 9:57 AM ^

He doesn't seem to explain why the offense is broken.  He just states that the numbers are bad, particularly on first down.  I was hoping to learn why the numbers were bad, which was something I think we all already knew.  


September 19th, 2017 at 10:03 AM ^

Connelly isn't an x's and o's guy, he's a numbers guy.  But what I think the first down success rate stuff shows, especially in the red zone is that when Michigan is running into teams that expect a run we are getting less than nothing, and thats an offensive line issue.  

I know its tough to believe with Speight at QB but given the oline's inability to get any push in expected run situations I think we need to go to a pass to run offense rather than a run to pass offense because the run game just isn't there consistently and its really hard to sustain drives when you are looking at 2nd and 8-10 on on 70% of your first downs after a run.


September 19th, 2017 at 10:31 AM ^

I haven't read the article yet, but to me it seems like we are passing alot on 1st down in the red zone.  Usual RZ sequence seems to be Inc pass, 1-2 yard run, inc pass.  0 yards on 1st down in the RZ is a killer. 

I Like Burgers

September 19th, 2017 at 10:37 AM ^

That's also where it gets into a problem with a bunch of new WRs and TEs -- the vast majority of whom are still getting their first major action in a game.  If they are having problems getting open, and it appears they are, then that really limits your playcalling.  Especially if the OL can't hold their blocks long and you have to go max protect frequently and the WRs can't get open quickly.


September 19th, 2017 at 11:29 AM ^

Don't forget to throw in everything esle Speight has to do this year, that he didn't have to do last year.  Last year, he had to call the play and read the defense, maybe check to another play based on the defense.

This year he has to call the play, read the defense, check the OL calls (blocking), check the WR splits, point out blitzers to the RB and OL, make sure the TE is looking at the right guy, maybe check to another play, and snap the ball.  Then he needs to read the routes while making sure he's not going to get beheaded from a missed assignment.

But by all means, lets blame all the things on the QB!  Maybe the redshirt freshman would be better because he can throw a prettier ball?  I mean, he can't do anything else nearly as well (well, not at all, according to the coaches), but he sure can throw a pretty ball!

True Blue Grit

September 19th, 2017 at 11:05 AM ^

I think we've gotten too predictable in the redzone and other teams have picked up on it.  Running on first down too much?  Maybe.  Another problem is the completely ineffective fade route into the corner of the endzone.  Speight can't hit that if his life depended on it.  Is he hitting it in practice and not in the games?  Doubtful.  Either way, it's become a completely wasted down.  Maybe they should try something different like a throw to the TE in the middle of the endzone?  

If our OL isn't run blocking well enough in the RZ, then we need to come up with a different strategy that spreads the defense out a bit more.  

The Mad Hatter

September 19th, 2017 at 10:08 AM ^

I mean, if you watched the games you would know that the numbers were bad.


Although I didn't realize they were that bad.

"108th in success rate (98th rushing, 99th passing, 114th on standard downs), 118th in points per scoring opportunity"

Woof.  Those are some Rutgers level numbers.


September 19th, 2017 at 11:25 AM ^

Why do people assume Jess Fisch was such a savior? Michigan was much experienced on offense last year, and they still had multiple dud performances on that side of the ball. I very much doubt that Fisch would somehow alleviate the issues we are having with all the youth in the passing game.


September 19th, 2017 at 9:58 AM ^

I, for one, am prepared to admit that I underestimated the impact of how damn young this team is. I was hoping that Speight, being a veteran, could rally the team around him, but it just isn't happening.


September 19th, 2017 at 10:59 AM ^

So the guy that almost never makes a bad read, adjusts plays at the line of scrimmage, and corrects the young guys in their positions to make sure we don't get a penalty isn't "rallying" them enough..... I for one am tired of this hot take. I get it Speight probably isn't gonna win a heisman and has had a bit of bad luck on turnovers (2 self inflicted, 2 he had help) but damn.... This fan base of ours needs to take a step back. We're 3-0 going into the meat of our B1G schedule. Atleast part of the issus is play calling


September 19th, 2017 at 11:04 AM ^

Fair enough. "Rallying" is not the best word to use, and I have been as big a Speight apologist as anyone, but the guy has just not been the same QB he was a year ago. I don't think there's any denying that. I really hope he's just adjusting to a new offense, new receivers, still rusty from surgery, etc. If he can figure out how to get back to where he was last year that would be a huge boost


September 19th, 2017 at 11:07 AM ^

Right side of the OL sucks, Speight is mediocre (at best) and the playcalling has been...meh. It's pretty discouraging to be in Year 3 of Harbaugh and still have such a crappy offense. 

Plenty of youth on the defensive side of the ball and they are still pretty much kicking ass. Thank goodness for that mustachioed, mad-genius Don Brown.


September 19th, 2017 at 11:13 AM ^

I think it's really hard for any average fan to be critical of playcalling with any legitimacy. Playcalling is so complex, based on countless hours of practice and game film analysis, and often the result of the play is heavily based on the QB's decision making, or failed execution. We are getting really ahead of ourselves in assuming that the playcalling has been bad.


September 19th, 2017 at 12:00 PM ^

Maybe not bad but could there be easier playcalls to make? OL is a weakness and we have lots of guys who are excellent at catching the ball (TEs & RBs could line up as WRs too) so why not pursue a more short qick passing game?

Remember when Al Borges REFUSED to call any bubble screens despite them being right there for the taking? Could we have our own version of that happening now?


September 19th, 2017 at 10:00 AM ^

We gained fewer yards per play in games we lost than we did in wins, you guys.


I'm no statistician but I suspect we may also have scored fewer points in those losses.