McCurry Getting Meaningful Snaps - Anything to Glean?

Submitted by funkifyfl on November 26th, 2018 at 10:07 AM

Rather than try to tackle any broad topic related to the OSU game, I wanted to ask the Board about McCurry's snaps in the OSU game and if there is anything broader to extrapolate from them.


Jake McCurry is a redshirt freshman walkon who I remember seeing score against Western earlier in the season and thinking, "what a nice moment for the kid". The only other memories I have of him this season are on ST, and every time I saw his name, I thought back to that TD.


In any event, McCurry was on the field for meaningful snaps against OSU on Saturday. I was not able to find snap counts, but I have to say I was surprised to see him out there at all. With DPJ, Collins, and Black as the no doubt starters, Perry having some success in the slot, Bell coming on late in the season, and even Martin starting to show signs, I figured McCurry would never see the field. Even Schoenle was ahead of him in my mind.


So my question (presented without any intended snark), is why was Jake McCurry in this game and is there anything to extrapolate from this? Is Jake better than I thought? Were we going 5-wide at times? I admit I was totally caught up in the moment for this game and couldn't process it the same way as usual. Assuming Jake got more than a couple of meaningful snaps, why do you think he got them and is there anything broader to take away from that?



November 26th, 2018 at 10:10 AM ^

It is absolutely absurd that McCurry and Tru got as much run as they did. 4 and 5 stars litter the roster, and we have 2 walk-ons getting meaningful snaps before the game was out of hand.


November 26th, 2018 at 10:13 AM ^

When we tried to run a fucking stretch play to get Tru Wilson the edge I knew we were fucked. Tru has been good this year but nothing about him is fast enough to get the edge on a defense. The coaching staff failed in this game. They thought they could out talent OSU and just play straight up, runs up the middle and man coverage down field, and they were wrong and ill equipped to adjust when it turned out to be false.


November 26th, 2018 at 10:43 AM ^

I agree with this take 100%. Tru was pretty good up the middle this year (better than Evans, worse than Higdon), but totally ill-equipped to outspeed the fastest team in the B1G.

I guess you could call that "breaking tendencies" but that's a dumb tendency to break. 

I think almost all the players played pretty well given the position the coaches put them in. The coaches, on the other hand, did an absolutely awful job putting those kids in a position to succeed. 


November 26th, 2018 at 10:15 AM ^

I agree completely on McCurry. I can't think of a valid reason beyond 3 or 4 WRs being hurt, and as far as I now, that was not the case.

Tru is another matter. He is the best RB blocker (and our OL was struggling) and he has shown a nose for tough yards all year, in non-garbage time. He played as much as was reasonable -- and besides, his playing is about 34th on my list of offensive concerns from that game.

Clarence Beeks

November 26th, 2018 at 11:05 AM ^

Because you can't just put him out there on running plays or it's a dead giveaway that it's a running play.  Then, on those passing plays, you through the ball to the best option given the coverage and match ups.  I mean, it's not like you can just say "I'm going to throw it to the best receivers on the team, irrespective of match up, and hope for the best"...  You throw the ball to the best match up.


November 26th, 2018 at 11:22 AM ^

No, you throw it to people like Nico or DPJ b/c -- even if they are covered -- they are physical specimens with skill who can still come down with the ball. Nico's down it all year.

I honestly can't believe you are asserting that throwing to a covered McCurry, on a jump ball, was the "best match up", but to each their own.

Clarence Beeks

November 26th, 2018 at 11:39 AM ^

This isn't complicated stuff.  Was the read less covered than the other players on the field, at the moment the throw had to be made?  If yes, you throw.  If no, you move on, eat it, or run.  You are seriously asserting that you throw it to a better player, who is completely covered, solely because that player is a better player?  I mean...


November 26th, 2018 at 11:48 AM ^

Uh, yes.

It happens all the time in football. You let your best athletes make plays; that's what makes them the best.

Hell, Matthew Stafford is on his way to making $250 million lifetime earnings b/c he figured out that throwing to a covered Calvin Johnson is not a bad move.

I would 100 times out 100 throw a ball to a covered Nico or DPJ vs a covered McCurry. Those are the two options. If McCurry is wide open, sure, throw it to him; but he wasn't. Patterson got bailed out.


November 26th, 2018 at 10:13 AM ^

It's part of a pattern.  One of Harbaugh's greatest flaws is his apparent belief that any player can succeed in any situation regardless of skill level. 

We've seen fades to Grant Perry, McCray covering Saquon Barkley, Tru Wilson trying to edge OSU on a stretch play, McCurry matched up against a 5-star corner, Milton and O'Korn playing over Peters, Gil playing over Ross, Watson in single coverage against Top 50 WRs.  The list goes on.  I don't know if it's stubborness, arrogance,  or just  plain stupidity, but this staff has no idea how to utilize its personnel.  It's why Harbaugh has yet to beat a more talented team at Michigan.

Space Coyote

November 26th, 2018 at 10:38 AM ^

Fades to Perry: The only "fade" that has been run to Perry, was rub routes. Michigan's base way of utilizing Perry is to run rub routes into the flat or in the short/intermediate area of the field. Those "fades" are designed to get the defense to go underneath the rub in order to defend the tendency and hit over the top. Never once has Michigan lined up Perry outside and run a fade. It's a tendency breaker

McCray Covering Barkley: Michigan knows that's a mismatch, because any LB on Barkley is a mismatch. But you pull Bush out of the box and you get one of the best QB draw teams in the nation without the threat of Bush on the spy/blitz. Everyone here loved press man coverage until they didn't. But when the RB moves out of the box, someone has to follow, it's part of the deal.

Wilson Trying to Get the Edge: How many stretch plays actually try to reach the edge? This comment is in this post twice and is stupid both times. A stretch play rarely gets the edge, if it did, it's because the defense played it terribly. Stretch plays are much more about vision (Hart basically only ran stretch at Michigan), and Wilson is maybe Michigan's best back in that regard. Talk about "stars", but if he's a walk-on and he's the best one at executing it, then I really don't give a damn about stars.

Playing Over Peters: There were obvious signs (and I believe acknowledgements) that Peters checked out when he didn't win the starting role last year. If that's the case, that's why JOK was above him as the backup, because you can't have your backup checked out. When he checked back in and got up to speed, he was the guy. It's also pretty obvious at this point that he won't be back. I hated playing Milton against OSU, but the game was out of reach at that point, and it's clear the coaching staff wanted to give him some reps at that point.

Gil over Ross: I like Ross much better and wish they didn't rotate as much against OSU, but let's not act like there is no reason to rotate. There are benefits to both players for doing so, and both guys will likely play next year.

Watson in Single Coverage: Then where do you want him. Like it or not, he's Michigan's third best CB. He isn't good in the slot. They were playing 3 CBs. When they switched to zone (and they did switch to zone contrary to what people are saying) OSU adjusted and started baiting the trap coverage. He's the best player Michigan had for the spot. It wasn't good enough. But "not understanding personnel" isn't why he was out there. He was out there because they understood their personnel and that was their best option.

I get people are pissed with how the game turned out. Half these takes really, really suck though. This lose happens and it's time to scrap the whole offense and defense, everything is bad, the coaches don't know crap, every little thing they do is wrong. These takes are stupid.

Ghost of Fritz…

November 26th, 2018 at 11:07 AM ^

Excellent points.  Watson is pretty good.  How many teams have a 3rd CB as good as Watson?  No many.

I have been blaming scheme more than personnel, and have argued (1) that Brown's base D is not great against OSU 2018 offense, and that (2) going forward Brown should install and rep the ability to run zone and zone blitz schemes.

Not saying that Michigan should abandon the press man 1 safety base D.  Keep it.  But I think they have to be multiple on D and have the ability to run zone and zone blitz schemes better, specifically because OSU is really good at creating mismatches against man coverage. 

I also agree that no defensive scheme would have worked last Saturday with the d-line getting no pressure. 

Would love to hear Space Coyote's counter arguments and analysis...


November 26th, 2018 at 11:23 AM ^

Fades to Perry:  Okay, but it's been horribly unsuccessful.  We ran it on third and goal against Northwestern, the defender went underneath the rub route as designed, and we still couldn't "hit over the top" because Perry is 5'10 and the defender easily recovered with the ball in the air.  And by the way, we did line McDoom up on the outside and throw a fade to him against MSU, which didn't even come close to working.

McCray Covering Barkley:  So the argument here is what exactly?  There was no worse option than to have McCray in single coverage on Barkley.  It was a free TD that was literally yards open.  

Wilson Trying to Get the Edge:  What is the purpose of running a play designed to displace the defense horizontally with a player who presents zero threat to get to the edge and lacks the lateral quickness to take advantage of cutbacks in outside zone?  Do you honestly think Evans or Higdon wouldn't have been preferable on that play?

Playing Over Peters:  It was two-score game when Milton was inserted.  If it's obvious that Peters won't be back, why is he getting reps at all?  Why are we wasting the practice time?

Gil over Ross:  Cool, you agree.

Watson in Single Coverage: Again, what is the argument?  Are you saying Michigan had no better option than to put a low three-star in single coverage against some of the best receivers in the country?  

Space Coyote

November 26th, 2018 at 11:47 AM ^

Fades to Perry - You're acting like it's a staple of the offense. It's not. It's a tendency breaker. And go back and watch the Northwestern film (or read Brian's UFR). Perry was open by a step or two. They missed the pass. 

McCray Covering Brakley - The argument is that you can't just change a defense willy nilly. There are rules. There are assignments. There are play calls. You can check out of playcalls and then that leaves you exposed elsewhere. Michigan got burned in a bad play call by the defense and a good one by the offense. It sucks. But you can't prevent everything with every play call.

WIlson Trying to Get the Edge - Read about Stretch Zone. Look at who has been most successful running stretch for Michigan this year. Speed to the edge is not even close to the most important part of stretch. Iowa ran stretch for years with Moose Backs. Contrary to what you keep repeating, outside zone is not a sweep play. Wilson has been value added for a handful of snaps a game, and the stretch is probably his best play. So no, Evans or Higdon may not be the best option all the time, and this time specifically.

Playing Over Peters - This is a valid criticism. I agree with Magnus's take on the coaches handling of Peters. He's likely their nominal backup at this point. I don't think that's the best way of handling it but there is some rationale.

Gil over Ross - I agree to an extent. I also said last week the likely reasons Michigan is doing it. It likely helps Ross play better by being on the sideline sometimes, likely keeps him fresh and lets him see what's happening. I don't mind them splitting. I think the split should be about 3:1 at this point though.

Watson in Single Coverage -The argument is he's the best they have for it. Do you want Michigan to put out worse players because Watson isn't good enough? 


November 26th, 2018 at 10:47 AM ^

That's fine if Peters is gone after this season. The writing is on the wall.

Here's my problem: Then don't give Peters reps. At all. Not in practice, and not in games. Peters came in as the #2 QB to throw that pass to Evans, so obviously he got the reps in practice to run that play and the coaches trusted him to throw that ball. Meanwhile, Milton didn't get those reps and/or the coaches didn't trust him to run that play.

If Milton's the #2 guy right now, treat him that way in practice and in the game. Otherwise, you're wasting reps.

The #2 guy at various times this season has been McCaffrey, Peters, and Milton. You're burning a lot of reps in there somewhere.

Clarence Beeks

November 26th, 2018 at 10:14 AM ^

Really happy for both him and Tru.  They've worked hard and earned it.  The talent identification ability of this staff is off the chart.  To be able to identify really good kids like those two, who work incredibly hard, bring them in as PWOs, and get them to the point of contributing (and early) is fantastic and something we should be proud of.  They are both incredibly good run blockers and that's why they were playing.  This is a complete non-issue.

Blue in PA

November 26th, 2018 at 10:18 AM ^

Kovacs  and a couple Glasgows were walk ons.    Although the coaching staff laid and egg on Saturday's game plan/play calling, I'm guessing they know who they have and why they're using them.

I Love Lamp

November 26th, 2018 at 10:19 AM ^

Michigan seems to have built the roster up enough to compete and beat the PSU, MSU, Wisconsin’s of the B1G, but holy hell did Saturday show us we are quite some distance from OSU in speed and athleticism.  Probably needs to be the next thing addressed with the team on a personnel level.

Seemed to me like Harbaugh and Brown were as stubborn as a mule and it surprised me to see the lack of adjustments.  

We aren’t where we want them to be, but we are much better off than we were a few years back.  Just have to see if the program has what it takes to take the next step.


November 26th, 2018 at 10:42 AM ^

I think we have the speed and athleticism to compete.  We got outschemed.  You can't play man with a non-existent pass rush.  We went into that game with two banged up edge rushers, so I assumed we would play heavy zone with plenty of blitzes mixed in.

Oh well, at least Haskins was able to put plenty of stuff on tape for NFL scouts.

Durham Blue

November 26th, 2018 at 11:09 AM ^

I think we have the speed and athleticism to compete with OSU.  Agree on the poor scheming comments.  There is no reason to get beat on crossing routes as much as we did against OSU.  Don Brown had to know he'd see more of it this season as soon as SMU's Proche torched us for 166 yards in game 2 (?).  Indiana exposed us.  Then OSU REALLY exposed us.  If OSU's crossers were unstoppable then that's all they'd run in the passing game.  MSU and PSU seemed to deal with them just fine and do those teams have better speed or athleticism than Michigan?

Swayze Howell Sheen

November 26th, 2018 at 10:23 AM ^

Weirdly, it seems like the coaching staff really truly believed we were nearly equal talent-wise. Honestly, this is the most worrying thing about this game. Instead of playing as underdogs, we came in with a favorite mindset. OSU did this too a bunch of times this year, but not last Saturday...

matty blue

November 26th, 2018 at 10:23 AM ^

i'd like to know the actual snap count (offense only) for mccurry...i suspect it was in the single digits. 

looks like it's on rivals under a paywall, here:  

(edited...just noticed i didn't copy the link.  sorry about that.  but thanks, magnus!)

matty blue

November 26th, 2018 at 4:47 PM ^

oh, hell, i don't know.  maybe we had that group out for a specific blocking scheme and had to audible into something else.  maybe one of the coaches had a feeling. maybe dpj swallowed a goddamned bug.  who knows?  sometimes position groups come up funny in the flow of a game.  get over it.