Harbaugh's Lef…

November 14th, 2017 at 1:32 PM ^

"Wisconsin is far from unbeatable, but if Michigan is going to win, they’ll need to find some offense that I’m not too sure they have right now."

I don't know why am I may be crazy but I think we're going to see the offensive playbook open up this week and then if there is success, busted wide open for Ohio State

Harbaugh's Lef…

November 14th, 2017 at 2:24 PM ^

That's why I said "I may be crazy." Seriously though, you're right. Last year was easily the most open we've seen the playbook. You had an experienced receiving corps and a QB that absorbed a lot of what was thrown at him.

I hope that we see more, expect that we will see a little more and more every week but that depends on Peters and his receivers.


November 14th, 2017 at 3:44 PM ^

This response, and Wile_8's below, are spot on.  The term 'unleash the playbook', to most people, means trick plays and exotic bombs.  Harbaugh has never worked that way.  His idea of opening the playbook is a new motion that free's a RB for 9 yards.  And we've seen quite a bit of that in the last few weeks - as the OL comes together and the young guys gain experience.


November 14th, 2017 at 3:33 PM ^

The UFR has frequently (especially the previous two years) featured a section on the Stanfordization of the offense since Harbaugh arrived, which discusses new wrinkles to the offense that screw with the keys of what opponents had previously seen on tape. It's been less frequent this year due to the youth, but there are still things like the split flow counter/fullback counter trap/whatever we're calling it that got us quite a few long touchdowns. He's not saving up half his playbook for one specific game, but he's unleashing new hell on our next oppenent all the time


November 14th, 2017 at 5:11 PM ^

...and if it does, it will get closed pretty quickly.  The QB and WRs are on the steep part of the learning curve and can't get on the same page.  Plus, they keep failing the pop quizzes thrown at them by the coaching staff.  They might be able to squeeze in a few new, pass plays from the run formations that have been successful.  If they try to do more than that, it's turnover time.


November 14th, 2017 at 4:32 PM ^

of Peppers last year. We kept waiting for them to use him in a more productive and innovative way, but it never happened. I think this offense is, what it is. Our passing game will consist of TE routes with an occasional deep ball to a WR. The inability of the WR's to get off of jams and get separation, makes the coaches scared.


November 14th, 2017 at 7:31 PM ^

If that 'Opening the Playbook' didn't happen last year, or the year before, I see no reason to expect it to happen this year. The Pepcat, anyone?

Harbaugh clearly is taking a "walk before you can run" kind of approach to developing his QBs and the offense. They will add a couple of plays and wrinkles this week and next, but I doubt it will be dramatically dfferent.

Haven't seen much so far this season to tell me that Michigan has the kind of passing game that can trust it's wide receivers to get open or win contested balls. So we'll probably continue to see a few WR screens when they're playing off, and just a couple of deep fades when they are up, and the rest will be the run game, play action, screens, and the crossing routes.


November 14th, 2017 at 1:40 PM ^

Unfortunately the size of the playbook is directly connected to the QBs ability to understand and implement it.  Hence Peters, even though perhaps more talented than WS has less playbook to work with regardless of opponent.

So as much as we'd like the next two Saturday's playbook to be the size of "War and Peace" in their scope they're prolly far more likely to be sized more like "1000 years of German humor"


November 14th, 2017 at 1:47 PM ^

not quite sure I understand why this is.  Peters has been with the team for nearly two years.  Why would he not have a pretty good understanding of most of the playbook?  I could see it if he was a true freshman but he isn't and spent an entire year practicing with the team before this year.


November 14th, 2017 at 1:58 PM ^

passing game coordinators and Co-OC.  Plus his role has changed in the past year.  Could be technical issues with making reads (I don't know).  Lots of little reasons.  Another is safety of the QB.  If we open up the passing game with more complex route trees that take longer to develop, it increases the chances Peters will be hit.  If he goes out, we're totally fucked. 


November 14th, 2017 at 4:20 PM ^

Yeah, I think this idea that Harbaugh has a whole bunch of awesome plays up his sleeve and he's just been waiting until the big end-of-season games to use them is pure fantasy.  But I do think the offense has been limited in what it can run because they haven't been able to trust the pass protection and the WR play has been poor.  So in order to "open up the playbook," what really needs to happen is that our pass protection needs to clean up its errors and our WRs need to improve their routes and separation techniques. 

Unfortunately those types of improvements don't typically manifest on a week-to-week basis.  I did think our pass pro looked better against Maryland; it's usually hard to tell how much is M playing well and how much is the opponent playing poorly, but in this case the problem has mostly been mental errors.  M had a couple terrible pass pro breakdowns against Minnesota, but didn't have those against Maryland so that could be a good sign.  Unfortunately I think OSU and possibly Wisconsin will have pass rushers who can beat M's linemen physically but you at least give yourself a chance when you block the right guys.

I don't know what to say about wide receiver.  It seems like every time a player there looks like he's starting to show some improvement, he gets injured.  



November 14th, 2017 at 3:53 PM ^

His redshirt year was spent with the scout team running the opponents plays.  This year, he was third string - giving him virtually zero time with the guys that get on the field, and virtually zero reps in fall camp and through the season.  He didn't start working directly with Pep until Speight got injured.  Harbaugh has said that it took a couple of weeks to get him ready enough to play (with a limited play sheet).  It was around the IU game when he was capable of playing without being a total liabilty on the field.

To do what Speight was doing early, adjusting the OL to whatever defense he read, while still commanding the plays, is something that no redshirt is capable of doing.  


November 14th, 2017 at 4:21 PM ^

and the same shit will be said next year.  Too complicated...blah...blah...blah.

These guys have one job to do and that is to play football.   Learn the playbook or start recruiting 7th graders who have time to learn Harbaugh's system.   


November 14th, 2017 at 7:15 PM ^

A big part of it is what you have to do at the LOS: checking out of bad plays, changing protections, etc. That takes a while.
And it's one thing to remember a play (QBs have to remember each player's assignments and the What Ifs), it's another to have repped all that several times in 7-on-7 or 9-on-7, Teams, etc.


November 14th, 2017 at 2:09 PM ^

"The goal was to win as quickly as possible and stay healthy for what is about to come. They did that."

Aside from three of our best players leaving the game due to injury, sure.


November 14th, 2017 at 2:40 PM ^

Man...Some of those passing stats are alarming. I am of the (hopeful) mind that JH has held some of the offense's potential wrinkles close to the vest (I really have no evidence to support this claim. He hasn't exactly opened the playbook in year's past. Blah.). Nevertheless, we are going to need to hit some passes to our WRs in order to keep Whisky and OSU's defenses honest. Otherwise, it could prove to be long days during those games...

Yinka Double Dare

November 14th, 2017 at 6:30 PM ^

On the upside, Wisconsin is kind of a mirror image. Real good running game, good run D, very highly rated pass defense, monster pass rush (both top 5 in FBS in sacks per game), rancid pass blocking. Their QB has thrown a pick in every single conference game so far, despite only one game where he threw more than 20 times. They aren't going to want to throw the ball any more than we are. Also, it's going to be like mid-30s, rather breezy, and possible rain/snow. 

This is a good week to break out the run plays that play off of what is on film, breaking off some longer ones will be huge in what really shouldn't be a high scoring game. Can't be missing the interceptable balls Hornibrook will almost inevitably be putting out there too.  


November 14th, 2017 at 2:50 PM ^

I usually like Gerdeman and Michigan Monday, but this was pretty meh. To be fair, Brian's main piece starts with saying the game was necessary but completely unremarkable and unmemorable. Not a lot to say.

  • You can't really tell from Maryland in the 2nd half whether or not Michigan will have a problem with Wisconsin's running game. The one solace I take is that I think Wisconsin will be a lot different than PSU. I think our defense has grown up since that game, and matches up better against Wisconsin.
  • Also, I don't think you go from having a pretty lame passing game to all-of-a-sudden completing tons of passes downfield. Between a freshman QB, the loss of Black, and all the inexperience at WR, it doesn't bode well.


November 15th, 2017 at 3:36 AM ^

What concerns me about Wisconsin is the way their schedule plays out before the game against Michigan. 

Penn State was hiding most of their playbook, only to unload the damn thing all over Michigan. (As a side note, probably to their detriment vs. Ohio State, and to a lesser extent, Michigan State.) They could do that because they played a parade of nobodies the whole season. 

The similarity is that Wisconsin, with the exception of an Iowa team (who blew their playbook against Ohio State), had a season of virtual bye weeks. They haven't needed to bring out their marquee plays, and they've had tons of time in practice to get them down perfectly. 

So while you won't get the style of Mad Scientist Moorhead (who, I think, employed all those crazy plays to cover for a really bad o-line), you'll get plays that are in the same efficacy ballpark in part because they're not on tape. 

For this reason, given the time constraints of college football, I think this is something that will generally guide my perception of matchups in the future. Depending on a given schedule, past performance can actually be a very bad indicator of future results. 


November 14th, 2017 at 3:05 PM ^

He's just mailing it in on this one.

Also, as it gets closer to the Michigan-Ohio State game, he tends to revert back to homer form and becomes dismissive and critical of Michigan.

I think we've seen his last insightful, quality analysis post for this season.


November 14th, 2017 at 3:37 PM ^

Looking up 2011 Oregon's offensive stats (to refute the crazy claim in another thread today that they were stopped completely when facing good DL), there is nothing I find refreshing about our offense this year.  (Yes, there are players who are having good seasons, and I am not criticizing the players, but this Pep Hamilton/Cleveland Brown offense is so far behind what the innovative/successful college programs are doing.)

Definitely not one of his funniest efforts (best line played off the previous trope: "After all, last week Wisconsin held Iowa — the nation’s very best offense — to just 66 yards of total offense."), but I'm not sure there was much comedy to mine from this week's outing.    

Baugh So Har

November 14th, 2017 at 4:38 PM ^

I'd love for our offense to break out and be as efficient as last year.

I made that comment in the OP with regard to our style of play. You watch highlights from across the country and only a handful of teams play like us (Stanford, Wisconsin, etc.). It gets old watching a scat QB hug the ball with his RB on every play. So it's refreshing to see us field a FB and at least 1 TE on most snaps. The Ozone author was knocking that offensive philosphy.


November 14th, 2017 at 5:38 PM ^

“The goal was to win as quickly as possible and stay healthy for what is about to come. They did that.”

They definitely didn’t do that. There were a lot of players who got banged up. Definitely need to get healthy.