Was lack of pass rush the cause of this historic aberration?

Submitted by CLord on November 27th, 2018 at 12:03 PM

If you're not interested in a rehash post please feel free to stop reading now and my apologies for cluttering the board.

I realize posting at this time when everyone is angry/frustrated is ill advised, but many of us are trying to process and understand how our #1 defense served up the worst performance in the history of the rivalry.  We all want this categorized, understood and processed so we can move on mentally and emotionally. 

A simple take that might provide such understanding is that this game was defined by the lack of pass rush, period.  No pass rush exposed Michigan in 2 ways:

1. Brown's defense is unduly reliant on pass rush, without which it has glaring weaknesses.

2. Haskins is arguably the best passing QB in Big Ten history and the lack of pressure gave him time to follow Indiana's blue print and expose those weaknesses in a way only someone of his caliber could.

A talent or speed gap was not the cause. It was a defense over reliant on an element that was missing, coming face to face with the best QB arguably in generations to expose that missing element.  Can anyone point to another game where the pass rush was this non-existent in the Don Brown era?  Please elaborate on if I'm way off here but this is how I am processing this aberration of a game unless educated otherwise.

Thanks in advance for any input.



November 27th, 2018 at 1:13 PM ^

Space Coyote is a great resource. If he tells me I'm wrong, then I'm wrong...but I think he under sells some of the WTF in the offensive game plan.

Fine, I can accept McCurry (and especially Wilson) getting early snaps: there's a package that they're part of. Personally, I love Tru and hope he gets a fair shake to be RB1 next year.

I can accept (barely) 1st down runs when playing from behind because 2nd and 7 is better than 2nd and 10.

What I can't accept are lack of RPOs, zone read keepers, and the godawful clock management that you get from 1st down runs when playing from behind. Add that to Space Coyote's gripe about the backup QB management...not a great day for Harbaugh. 


November 27th, 2018 at 4:14 PM ^

Space Coyote is great at explaining assignments, alignments and intention of plays/schemes.  He sometimes defends things too much IMO because he understands the coaches intent.  I don't even intend that as a slight as civil disagreement is inevitable.  That said, the game plan last Saturday was complete and utter bullshit.  Our players defensively looked unprepared, and yes they were done in by great athletes, but that goes back to the scheme and plan.  OSU had the defense downloaded, and down to the adjustments Michigan was reacting all game long, and predictably.  I am not saying to get rid of anyone, but this should never happen again.  Have a game plan that is ongoing year round with unique calls and checks specifically for OSU.


November 27th, 2018 at 12:14 PM ^

That was an excellent read. The point about stacking the receiver so Watson couldn't get his hands on him at the line was something I didn't even think about, but makes perfect sense in hindsight. He relies on his physicality to disrupt timing because he doesn't have the pure speed. 



November 27th, 2018 at 12:17 PM ^

Sadly there will be no UFR to tell us the answers to life's great mysteries.

100% agree with the OP on the root cause of our demise and have been telling all my wonderful OSU friends and co-workers the same thing.  When you play press man coverage with a one high safety you simply HAVE to put pressure on the QB.  If you dont you're dead as somebody, somewhere is going to break open eventually and Haskins is an excellent QB who will find the open guy and deliver the ball to him.

It really is as simple as that.  The question that Goggles raises, which I too am mystified by, is why.  Why was an OSU OL that struggled all year to keep Haskins clean from far less talented DL able to do so with such success against us?  Seth tweeted "this OL is like nothing I've seen all year from OSU".   

What happened?

True Blue Grit

November 27th, 2018 at 1:14 PM ^

I don't know either, other than it seemed to me the refs were not calling OL holding for whatever reason - whereas they were calling everything else.  The longer this went on (I think), the more they did it.  It seemed like many plays where I watched the us trying to rush, there were either obvious or subtle holds going on.  But I'd like to see the film review verify that.  

The Mad Hatter

November 27th, 2018 at 12:23 PM ^

Same.  Before the game I figured that we'd get in the backfield and knock Haskins on his ass at least a few times.  Maybe rattle him or force OSU to run.  That we were unable to generate any pressure on him is why we lost.  Hell, most of the QB's we faced this year would have been dangerous with a clean pocket and Haskins is on another level.

Yinka Double Dare

November 27th, 2018 at 2:28 PM ^

(1) OSU's line played way better than it had in previous games

(2) Both of our defensive ends that have proven that they can rush the passer and also do things besides rush the passer were playing with injured shoulders (I'm assuming in Chase's case, given they never said what it was, but it seems a pretty safe assumption) of varying extent and your hands/arms are very important in being able to get around linemen, to set up moves, to get them off of you, etc. We really only had one defensive tackle who had any success rushing the passer this year, so without the ends getting home we were in deep doodoo. 


November 27th, 2018 at 12:07 PM ^

Haskins is arguably (or perhaps in-arguably) the best STATISTICAL passing QB in Big Ten history, but let's not confuse that with best passing QB in Big Ten history.  Drew Brees probably has that honor sewn up.  

The Baughz

November 27th, 2018 at 12:13 PM ^

Pass rush was certainly a huge problem, but how could you say that talent gap wasn’t an issue? Maybe the gap isn’t huge, but it was certainly evident that OSU has better players almost across the board. Watson got torched almost every play and nothing was done about it. 

The offense is also a problem. The lack of TDs in the red zone, the garbage play  calling, the lack of creativity, dropped passes, etc. So ya pass rush was issue #1, but was not the sole reason why Michigan got humiliated.


November 27th, 2018 at 12:26 PM ^

I mean, we're never gonna have a talent advantage against them, so they'll always be a talent gap. Even the one year you could say we had a talent advantage in 2016 because we were way more experienced, we couldn't win. But hell, the game plan that year made more sense because we had a QB that was hurt two weeks before. We didn't even try to throw until it was too late, and when we did it was to tight ends. I'm not saying abandon the run completely because I think Tru Wilson will do well next year, but we need way more of a short passing game on first and second down. 

Reggie Dunlop

November 27th, 2018 at 12:29 PM ^

MSU held that same offense to 17 points. It obviously wasn't a "talent gap" issue. Purdue held them to 20. Penn State held them to 27. I cannot understand how or why guys like you refuse to see this. They can be stopped (or at least slowed to where 39 points from the offense wins the game) with a better defensive plan than what we had. The end.

Reggie Dunlop

November 27th, 2018 at 1:24 PM ^

ijohnb, are you related to this guy? Is this an alt account of yours? This guy is showing the exact same kind of mental derailment you showed in our previous two exchanges, and you coincidentally pop up in the middle of this conversation. He's even misquoting me the same way you did last time.