The other side of the coin - AF Defense

Submitted by poseidon7902 on September 18th, 2017 at 11:34 AM

I didn't see this talked about widely or even to the point of it being an actual topic.  We know our offense is having struggles.  We moved the ball against the last 3 teams, but the defenses we faced weren't exactly trend setting except for (By the ratings) Air Force.  So those with the knowledge of football beyond mine (IE, someone who just watches and loves to watch it), how much of our struggles can be attributed to Air Force?  



September 18th, 2017 at 11:38 AM ^

If you ask Jim Harbaugh and Wilton Speight, quite a bit. There was high praise for the play selection for the AF Defense, which Harbaugh and Speight said caused some issues. Brian alluded to something similar in the podcast.

I think it was 50/50. I think our offense is very limited and not very good. AF called some really nice plays to defend the few things we do at this point in the season.


September 18th, 2017 at 12:32 PM ^

the offense did not play well. Air Force has a good defense, but they didn't show us anything we have not seen from other teams with better athletes. Our passing game is not very good and because of that, teams can load the box and stop the run and dare us to throw the ball.

Speight needs to do a much better job with reading the defenses and delivering the ball to open receivers. Our OL did a good job, most of the time, in pass protection and Speight had time to go through progressions and find the open man. Our WR's also need to do a better job getting some seperation, but eveyone in general needs to improve on the offensive side. We should be thankful our D and ST's have played so well up to now. Time for the offense to pick up some of the slack.


September 18th, 2017 at 11:39 AM ^

Given AF has only played one game so far and has basically all new players this year, it's hard to say. Given our size, speed, and resource advantage though, we should probably be expected to dominate these guys most of the time.


September 18th, 2017 at 11:40 AM ^

can be attributed to the Air Force D.

Speight is terrible.

Our wide receivers can't catch.

Our running backs can't run.

Our offensive line can't block.

Our tight ends cannot tight end.

Play-calling is awful.

Tarik Black may never play again.

We are doomed.



September 18th, 2017 at 11:46 AM ^

Air Force is not a team that gets dominated. The eat up the clock on Off and limit your possessions. They reload with grown men who are juniors and seniors. This is not a team that you just come in and dominate. On top of that the def play calling was very good.  They blitzed often but it came from many different spots. Nickels, corners LBs, safeties. And they did a wonderful job at timing it. I hated our playcalling in the red zone this game. We rarely attacked their blitz, they have forgotten about RB screens and honestly they should have called more WR screens. 


September 18th, 2017 at 11:46 AM ^

Until Michigan can show they can reliably hit deep passes, every team will play agressive defense as AF and Cinci did.  Speight's deep accuracy seems to have improved, but the WRs have regressed at getting open deep.   Will really suck if Black is out for a while, but hopefully DPJ is getting up to speed, and Perry reappears.  Plus some TE routes behind the LBs to take advantage of LB blitzes.


September 18th, 2017 at 12:15 PM ^

Aggressive defense is what Air Force does every game - read the defensive previews about them!  And what do you mean that the recievers have regressed?  Regressed from what?  Who regressed?  Did Crawford, McDOOM, DPJ, and Black regress from the, what, 10 total catches they had last year?  (Ten being a generous number...)  And so I guess you didn't notice, but Perry has been the best, most solid reciever on the team!  From where does he need to reappear?

My Gawd, man!  The best guesstimates for this team was 10-2 prior to the season.  Yes, we want more, but try to enjoy what we do have...

Maize and Blue…

September 18th, 2017 at 12:37 PM ^

that our QB has the best chemistry with a guy who was suspended all spring and summer.  That means he had plenty of time to build chemistry with every other WR and TE that is playing right now. 30 practices before the opener plus all summer to work on timing and routes and it's still not where it needs to be.  

Who said best guess was 10-2 before the season?  Apparently you bought into the Pedophile State hype.  I expected this team to be undefeated going into The Game.  Yes PSU on the road will be a challenge, but Michigan's D has held Barkley in check every year and I don't think McSorley can beat us.  I don't think Wisconsin can score enough to beat Michigan.  Of course I'm not sure on any of these anymore given the struggles on O.

rob f

September 19th, 2017 at 4:57 AM ^

of defense and their ability to adopt some of what AF did defensively against us, there's no doubt they're studying the tapes to see how AF kept us out of the end zone until the final couple minutes.

The Boilermakers are coming home a confident bunch on both sides of the ball. This isn't likely to be an easy win, but then again, it seldom is for us at Ross Ade Stadium.

But giving credit where credit is due, AF played about as well as they're capable of defensively, and had they avoided our punt return TD and not turned the ball over at all, it was a plan that might have succeeded for them.


September 18th, 2017 at 12:11 PM ^

all honesty (I was kidding above, of course), I think our problems may be a little bit more significant than we hope they are on offense.  The number of times that our run was just flat out stuffed against Cincinatti and Air Force was somewhat stunning to me.  I know that Air Force in particular is not a bad team, but a Top 10 team should not be flat out stymied offensively with that degree of regularity.  Honestly, with a couple of exceptions we looked more dominant against the soft non-conference teams in the Hoke era than we have this year.

I think our defense is very good and will keep us in all or most games we play, but the offensive preparation and performance we have seen the last two weeks will not get it done.  I'm not trying to be overly dramatic about it, but I am suprised that we have not taken at least a minor fall in the rankings.  "Sure things" like Purdue and MSU are starting to not look so "sure" anymore.


September 18th, 2017 at 11:51 AM ^

Remember last year when everyone freaked out about our performance against Colorado, and then they were close to contending for the Pac12?

I could see Air Force finshing 10-2 this year, and us looking back saying that this was a quality win, even if not a pretty looking performance. If Air Force beats San Diego State next week, giving us transitive wins over Stanford and Arizona St, people will start looking at Air Force differently.


September 18th, 2017 at 11:55 AM ^

redzone attempts.

Air Force came at us with some beautifully designed blitzes that would have made Don Brown proud. They had 7 in the box, and often brought an 8th in late to show blitz, but usually only brought 5-6 guys. They usually left 2 guys to cover any hijinks from our TE or RB out of the backfield. But we couldn't pull any hijinks with our TE or RB because they were stuck trying to help our OL, which was in way over its head. The Air Force rush pressure on about 75% of the pass plays, and that was without ever bringing more guys than we had blockers.

This left us with a difficult position to run the ball, as it takes solid execution of your blocking to run it into a loaded box. We had a perfect play call to counter the blitz once--the McDoom sweep. But unfortunately Bunting completely biffed his assignment and left his guy unblocked to ruin the would-be TD. We only tried running 2 other times, and the run blocking broke down both times.

On the one time that Michigan tried to counter the blitz with a short pass call, Air Force RPS +1'd us with a perfectly timed lack of a blitz (the only pass attempt in the redzone where they didn't blitz). That was a great call by Air Force, and resulted in a loss of 1 and a tough 2nd and long for Michigan.


September 18th, 2017 at 11:59 AM ^

I thought they brought a lot of guys on passing downs and did a good job of getting pressure on Speight in some of those situations. 

We couldn't carve them up though.


September 18th, 2017 at 12:04 PM ^

After listening to the podcast I do feel marginally better remebering that that AF was coming off a bye and had VMI to open the season, so they basically had all off-season to prep for this game.

That being said, until I see the offense actually perform well and Speight/the passing game get going, I expect mediocrity at best that will start to cost us games soon.


September 18th, 2017 at 12:15 PM ^

I do my own "UFR" type stuff and just finished. Here are my takes.

McCray and Winovich were superbeast out there. Gary played a good game.  Furbush is a solid player, but nothing more than solid. I would of loved to see some 4-2-5 pulling Furbush for Mone. All around another great day for the D.

The pass blocking was sufficient, but not dominant. The run blocking was actually worse. Our backs also missed more opportunities than they have all year. Bredeson was the weakest link this game and Owenu was playing a very good game up until a couple bad mistakes late, still a good outing for him. Hill and Poggi were awesome. It's crazy how many TEs get snaps for us. I did not see Wheatley. McKeon looks like our best TE, Gentry is improving blocking better than I expected. Bunting still struggles mightly blocking probably keeping his snap count low.

Drag routes were open all day, TE or WR. There is no reason we shouldn't have thrown and completed 20 of these. Their LBs were agressive and we had a speed advantage at every single skill position (probably all postitions minus QB). These were free yards and a pass Speight is usually good at.

Speight is what he is and this is what we should expect out of him. This was the highest I graded him all year, barely higher than Cincinnati however. But It still a negative grade. I'm not going into detail on this one here.

Our snap count appears very easy to guess. Their LBs timed bllitzing well this game and I didn't notice audibles when they showed blitz. We need more hard counts or some kind of adjustment here.

Air Force is a well coached team but inferior in talent, size, and speed across the board. We played poorly more so than them playing great.

Magnum P.I.

September 18th, 2017 at 12:28 PM ^

One returning starter.

Service academy.

Shouldn't matter what "schemes" they run.

Teams that put up more yards on Air Force last year than we did Saturday:

  1. Colorado State
  2. New Mexico
  3. Boise State
  4. San Jose State (Borges!)
  5. Hawaii
  6. Wyoming
  7. Utah State
  8. Abilene Christain (!!!)



September 18th, 2017 at 12:26 PM ^

Just seems like this team is limited with their ability to get the ball down field accuratley (whether due to lack of time, seperation, or qb's ability to get it there on time).  Honestly, we are a good enough team to beat everyone on the schedule including PSU.  However, we are not a better team at this point then PSU.  

OSU is very similar to us but worse at getting the ball downfield but more explosive on the ground.  Wisconsin is us basically but maybe a little slower on defense.  

I assume the worst we will be is 9-3 and the best if figuring out some redzone is undefeated Big Ten Champs.  I have to see a little more from PSU before I go a head and crown them as the best team in the Big Ten.  I still have the 49-10 beatdown in my head from last year.  Plus I will be out in happy valley for the game so I would hate for it us to catch a whooping.


September 18th, 2017 at 7:49 PM ^

Lets not forget AF had two weeks to prepare.  Two weeks of preparing for their Super Bowl. I know our guys are no slouch in the intellect department, but the service academy's have non compromising elite level academic standards. Some say more difficult than Ivy league schools. They are one well oiled machine year in and year out.

Not making excuses for our guys.  But the reality is AF will win their share of games this year and Michigan was at a distinct disadvantage in preparation time.