Upon Further Review 2017: Offense vs Cincinnati

Submitted by Brian on September 13th, 2017 at 4:19 PM

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FORMATION NOTES: Michigan didn't do anything weird except for a fake-out Emory And Henry on the first snap they never returned to.

Cincinnati mostly played a 4-3 under, sometimes with a standup end.


Line slid away from the strength of the formation, WDE stands up, SAM type substance. They played a lot like a 3-4, with three big DL and the linebacker type guy, even if they didn't have a guy lining up head up on the C:


SUBSTITUTION NOTES: OL and QB remained the same. No Runyan run-out this week. Cesar Ruiz got one snap as a super jumbo TE. Isaac was the primary back with Evans and Higdon getting maybe a quarter of the snaps each.

Crawford and Perry were the top receivers in snaps garnered with Black and DPJ splitting the other outside WR snaps. McDoom had some limited time; Nate Schoenle got maybe ten snaps, none of which he was targeted on. TE remained a blender, with McKeon, Wheatley, and Gentry most prominent.

[After THE JUMP: absolutely no discussion of the QB situation, sorry]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 under 7 Run Inside zone Isaac 5
Better start from the right side here as Onwenu(+1) and Ulizio(+1) fire the 3T back and create a big gap. Onwenu gets stuck as he tries to release because he’s getting grabbed by the DT, refs -1. This allows the LB level to get there and hold this down. Kugler(+0.5) kicked his guy upfield but did lose him afterwards; he can also come off to tackle. Bredeson(+0.5) correctly released free and got a second level block.
M25 2 5 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-4 under 8 Run Zone counter Isaac 4
Blocking looks like split zone, with the fullback headed backside, but this is not a real zone play; Isaac takes a counter step and then is definitely headed to a backside gap. McKeon(-1) does not have enough beef to move the SDE and this allows a linebacker to flow from the backside; also nobody bites on the counter action. Poggi(+1) gets a thumping kickout and Isaac(+1) gets met at the LOS but still manages to grind out a solid chunk of YAC. RPS -1, this play wanted the backside LB to block himself but he read it and got there.
M29 3 1 Ace trips tight bunch 2 2 1 4-3 under 8.5 Run Counter trey Isaac 13
Very crack sweep look and a counter to it. Here a linebacker bites, and then can’t recover as Onwenu(+1) and Ulizio(+1) hammer the 3T three yards off the LOS, cutting off his path. Bredeson pulls and gets a kickout that’s weak—he gets rocked back but this is not a problem as Poggi(+1) gets another thumping lead block and Isaac(+0.5) hits the obvious lane, running through a weak diving arm tackle. Kugler(+1) did a good job to fend off the NT. RPS +1, LB bite,
M42 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under 7 Run Split zone Isaac 1
Extra guy in the box comes free as Kugler(-1) gets rocked back by the nose tackle slanting away from him. Bredeson sees the NT coming to him and stops to hit him. They drive him some but the overhang guy is in that gap and Isaac isn’t inclined to hit it. Kugler can’t get off this block and get to the MLB who’s now shooting up the field. Onwenu(+1) and Ulizio(+1) again combo through the three tech; there’s a lot of room here if Michigan can just get any sort of hat on this LB. RPS –1, got hit by the slant.
M43 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over 6.5 Pass Tunnel screen Black 0
Can’t tunnel a tunneler. DE playside is slanting outside for contain as UC blitzes and immediately recognizes that Cole is leaving for a screen and runs down the line. Throw is iffy, upfield and not far enough inside; Perry(-2) airballs on one DB, and Black has nowhere to go. (IN, 3, screen, RPS -1.)
M43 3 9 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 5-1 split 6 Pass Cross Crawford 14
Outstanding protection as UC sends five and M has just five protectors; they give Speight a full five seconds to throw. He pumps once and then finds Crawford on a crossing route. Throw is a tiny bit behind but not too bad; Crawford nearly drops it but does not. (CA, 3, protection 4/4)
O43 1 10 Ace 4-wide tight 1 1 3 4-3 over 7 Pass PA post Crawford 43
PA must sucker the safety in big time; we get zero wide angle replays so all I can tell you is S is offscreen and then ends up chasing Crawford to the endzone. Pocket excellent as front seven buys the play action; Speight makes no mistake. (DO, 3, protection 3/3, RPS +3)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 12 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Ace trips tight bunch 2 1 2 4-3 under 7 Run Counter trey Isaac 1
Same counter from above to the other side of the line. Cole blocks down on the 3T and gets a good hit but then the 3T pops off and flows down the line. Cole hits a linebacker instead, salvaging it mostly? This looks intentional from Cole based on his read of the play. . Onwenu(-1) pulls and hits… [looks up roster] Cinci’s 300 pound WDE? Yep. WDE hits Onwenu instead of vice versa, so even though Hill(-1) runs up and hits that 3T there’s no crease for Isaac. Hill, too, bounces off, UC has some big dudes. Kugler(-1) has his block of a blitzing LB spun off of and that guy flows down the line to prevent a cutback. Good gap there as Bredeson(+1) handled his dude with authority.
M41 2 9 Offset I Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 8 Run Counter trey Isaac 1
Bunting just runs a route, which takes one S out of the equation and then he heads for the second. This leaves 7 v 7 in the box; Michigan gets a lot of good blocks but the line slants and this ends up hanging up the right side of the line, where three guy block two. Bredeson(-1) fires out at the zero tech nose and hits him, and drives him, and this is not quite enough to get the backside LB hung up; he gets around that and is unblocked in a big hole. Cole(+1) blew the playside end out as he slanted away, Onwenu and Hill get kickouts, and Isaac(-1) runs directly into the LB, no juke. He could certainly have made some more here. RPS -1.
M42 3 8 Shotgun trips tight bunch 1 1 3 Nickel under 6 Pass Drag Black 1
Great protection, and Speight checks down to a doomed drag route that gets an immediate tackle. I have no idea if anyone’s open downfield since we get the DGAF director this week but this is more or less turfing the ball for all the good it does. (TA, 3, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 9 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M30 1 10 Offset I Big twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 over 7 Pass Cross DPJ Inc
PA, good protection, DPJ wide open for four yards plus what looks like a bunch of YAC. Speight sees it late and then airmails it; DPJ bats it down and live this was clearly the best option since he had zero shot at catch. (IN, 0, protection 2/2).
M30 2 10 N/A 1 1 3 4-3 over 7 Penalty Illegal sub N/A -5
I think this was Isaac running on the field and then realizing he should run back off before he ever reached the huddle, which is probably enforceable but shouldn’t be.
M25 2 15 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Nickel even 6.5 Pass Skinny post Perry 18
Zone that converts to man for the safety on Perry once he goes vertical. We never see exactly how this happens because we got the D- director this week but Perry gets this safety shook and is wide open for a chunk play. DE rips up in the pocket clean and this looks like Isaac’s issue but IMO Isaac is checking for blitz and releasing if not and the issue is Onwenu(-1) and Ulizio(-1), who share blame because they are both hung up on the DT. If Onwenu leaves the DT gets a free run. Speight stands in and delivers. (CA+, 3, protection 0/2, Perry route ++)
M43 1 10 Ace twin TE 2 0 2 4-3 under 7 Run Power O Evans 0
Ruiz in as a TE type substance with Mason in a wing TE spot next to him. Mason(-2) sees the LB he’s lined up over dive inside. He fires straight upfield and flat misses, Onwenu picked off, Evans cuts away from the mess and meets unblocked backside guys. Michigan is just dying to this slant every time.
M43 2 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Jet sweep DPJ 44
UC doesn’t shift and their playside LB gets whooped by Gentry(+2) and that’s all she wrote. Once DPJ breaks contain the only guy in the building is the CB Crawford(+2) beats up on all play; McKeon targets a safety only to see him run away from the play, and Mason Cole runs 40 yards downfield without finding anyone to hit. RPS +3.
O13 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-4 under 8 Run Iso Evans 10
I might not like this bounce since Michigan did block this well enough for Evans to shoot forward for a healthy gain. Poggi(+1) blasts the playside LB and Ulizio(+1) kicks and moves the DE. Onwenu(+1) works through the NT to the LB level and Michigan has this blocked to the safety once Evans pops over into the correct gap. That S is setting up at five yards and won’t be exposed to the crackback block; Evans(+2) decides to bounce and has the quick feet to do so. The CB to that side is unable to redirect in time to prevent a nice gain this close to the goal line.
O3 1 G Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line 11 Run Yakety sax N/A -7
Speight(-3) turns a near certain TD into second and ten by mishandling the snap. Bunting(+1) and Wheatley(+1) had thundered the DE inside and Isaac was going to cut backside and probably fall forward into the endzone.
O10 2 G Offset I 2 2 1 4-3 over 7 Pass TE out McKeon Inc
McKeon(route minus) spends way too much time blocking the DE on this and gets shoved back. By the time he releases the LB has read it and is out on the route. Small window, good coverage. Speight doesn’t even give his guy a chance. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
O10 3 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even 7 Pass Corner Perry Inc
Max pro here so just three guys in the route and nobody’s particularly open. Perry on a weird stop-corner route does have a surprisingly big window (route+). Speight again airmails it badly. (IN, 0, protection 2/2). Gentry into block here is kind of WTF. Your best shot here is probably just throwing up a fade in single coverage to him or Black.
Drive Notes: FG(27), 17-7, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M42 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 under 7 Run Crack sweep Isaac 11
Very crack sweep, crack sweep. McKeon(+1) gets a good thump on a DE that allows the pullers to clear and makes DE irrelevant. Schoenle barely does enough on the playside LB, in a preview of his upcoming holding call. Hill(+2) blasts a CB trying to be force five yards downfield a Ulizio(+1) cuts a safety. Those guys are both in Isaac’s feet and manage to bring him down; this was very close to breaking big. Onwenu(+1) also got a hilarious clobber in. RPS +1, easy edge.
O47 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 over 7 Pass PA scramble Speight 0
PA and M trying to hit deep, probably with Eubanks. Speight doesn’t like his options; Hill comes out of backfield and is covered. Speight tries to break the pocket and pick up some yards; he does not. Isaac might have broken open if Speight hadn’t made up his mind. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
O47 2 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under 7 Run Split zone Evans 4
Evans looks backside, which is natural on this play. Again CU gap switching makes it tough. M blows out the backside DE as Onwenu(+0.5) and Ulzio(+0.5) get a bunch of movement. Gentry(+0.5) pulls to the backside to hit the first thing he sees and really has no choice but to shove a slanting DE inside of him; Evans bounces out, finding a LB who Ulizio had no shot at getting to. He cuts up for a few yards. RPS -1.
O43 3 6 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel over 6 Pass Cross Perry 13
Development here from the right side of the line as they do a barely adequate job of handling the twist. Onwenu comes off late and hits a blitzing LB; Ulizio does read it and get to the DT, but not well(-1) and he threatens. Speight steps up well and fires a rifle shot to Perry to convert. (DO+, 2, protection ½)
O30 1 10 Ace trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel over 6.5 Run Jet sweep N/A -3
Second exchange dorf. This is 90% Speight(-3), who again loses control of the ball and accidentally tosses it into Crawford’s chest instead of handing it to his belt.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 17-7, 9 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M30 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over 6.5 Pass Sack N/A -8
Onwenu(-2) beat straight up and Speight pumps once and is lost. WRs probably did not clear their zones and this is a good decision. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2)
M22 2 18 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel over 5.5 Run Pin and pull Isaac 5
Dang man almost a big play but just not quite. This pin and pull action sees two interior OL pull; Bredeson(+1) chops down the backside DT. Pullers, uh, pull a couple guys to the outside and Isaac(+1) sees a cutback lane he hits hard; He’s about to break big when a LB tackles him from the side; Cole(-2) whiffed on a free release. Et tu.
M27 3 13 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 5-1 split 6 Pass Comeback Black 12
Max pro a good idea here as UC sends six; M picks them all up and keeps Speight 100% clean. He fires it into Black near the sticks. Black got open, so that’s good. He also got tackled short of the sticks after catching at them, so that’s bad. On review this feels different than live though. (CA, 3, protection 3/3, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Inexplicable punt, 17-7, 7 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M36 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under 7 Run Iso Isaac 4
Blast up the middle gets slightly more than the median as Poggi(+1) once again hammers a guy. Bredeson gets a guy slanting outside of him and stands him up but doesn’t control him; he eventually fights back and makes a tackle, albeit some yards downfield.
M40 2 6 Ace 4-wide tight 1 1 3 Nickel over 6.5 Pass Out Gentry 5
Simple pitch and catch to near the first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M45 3 1 Ace 2TE tight 1 1 3 Nickel over 6.5 Run Dive Isaac 3
Speight waves his WR to the LOS to prevent a flag, my man. M just doubles everyone and lets Isaac pick against a light box and nickel personnel. RPS +1.
M48 1 10 I-Form Big Twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 over 7 Run Zone stretch Evans -2
Surprise and good first level ID makes this look very promising until Bredeson(-3) abruptly stops to try to block a guy that Hill is already targeting. Evans is not expecting this and plows into him, falling over. This was probably ten yards otherwise as Kugler(+1) got most of a reach on the NT and Cole(+1) got a big kickout block.
M46 2 12 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Dime over 5 Pass TE out McKeon 7
Quick WCO throw to set up third and short is barely contested as O and D reach a temporary detente. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O47 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel under 6.5 Pass Dig Perry Inc
This is only dig-ish as UC does a great job disrupting the route that Perry is supposed to be running. Speight gets some pressure off the edge as Ulizio(-1) has some trouble but can step up otherwise; his eventual throw is both a terrible duck and also more or less the only ball Perry can catch, and he catches it! Except nobody believes he does even after review. I’m giving him this because, unlike Big Ten review officials, I can see. (MA, 1, protection ½)
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-7, 2 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 Base 3-4 7 Run Zone counter Isaac 8
Pretty sure this is meant to cut back as the OL are superficially running IZ but are really just content to lock out their guys to one side. Isaac(+1) hits the cutback lane that Ulizio(+1) and McKeon(+1) provide. Onwenu(+0.5) and Perry(+0.5) also chip in.
M28 2 2 Ace trips tight bunch 1 2 2 4-3 under 7 Run Crack sweep Isaac 8
This is almost a touchdown. Perry(+2) erases playside LB and never lets him off. Twist blitz eliminates the LB level. McKeon(+1) cuts a cornerback as Cole(+1) does the same to a safety. Isaac leaps over the prone McKeon… except he stands up as he does this. This is the only thing preventing a TD. RPS +3. Three easy blocks all that was needed.
M36 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 7 Pass Waggle TE flat Wheatley 7
PA fake, rollout, TE open for a little catch and run, the usual. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, good block from McKeon on the edge.)
M43 2 3 Offset I Big 2 2 1 4-4 under 8 Pass Corner DPJ Inc
PA fake, excellent pocket as three guys go in a flood pattern. Intermediate route is open. Speight IDs it and wings it so high DPJ can’t even bat it down this time. (INX, 0, protection 2/2)
O43 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Pass Corner McKeon Inc
Twist gets right side of line again. Ulizio does get around the DT. Onwenu(-2) does not get the looper. Speight gets nailed on the throw, which is to an open McKeon for a chunk. (PR, 0, protection 0/2) Speight did pump here and might have gotten this out in time but about 80% PR. Ulizio(-2) then gets an unsportsmanlike conduct call, mandating a punt.
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-14, 9 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M26 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under 7 Run Crack sweep Isaac 32 (Pen -8)
Big run wiped out because Schoenle(-2) got an obvious holding call. If he lets his guy go this is still successful. Bredeson(+1) IDs a LB gap shooting on the interior and slows to cut off the pass. Cole(+1) gets a good kick, and Hill(+2) clobbers a safety. Isaac just has to run to pick up a ton; without the hold Hill either gets an edge 2 for 1 or spends himself on the LB and this still goes to the S.
M18 1 18 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel even 6.5 Run Inside zone Evans 2
UC overplays the RB here and ignores Speight keeper possibility. No cutback lanes. Frontside gets confused as UC is moving late, by accident, and Onwenu(-2) incorrectly reads the DL. DT slants outside hard; Kugler and Onwenu should double, with Kugler passing off and releasing. Instead Onwenu releases immediately, DT outside, Onwenu tries to block a LB he has no angle to, Evans must hit that gap because of backside pursuit, splat. RPS -1.
M20 2 16 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Pass In Crawford 6
Crawford breaks inside of soft zone coverage and has to stop to catch the ball; Speight should be leading him further inside so he can catch in stride and turn it up. (MA, 3, protection 2/2)
M26 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Pass PA waggle flat screen Black 0
This is a screen with the WR behind the LOS and the WRs blocking. Michigan does not block a cover two safety at ten yards who reads and plasters. I don’t see how Michigan can make this work. If Perry goes for the S his guy just comes off and replaces, maybe not immediately but sufficiently. RPS -2; running PA here on 3rd and 10 that nobody bought is a major factor. (CA, 3, screen)
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-14, 5 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under 7 Pass Hitch Black Inc
This is going to be a slick nine yard pitch and catch on time until the DB yanks Black off his route without a call (refs -2). (CA, 0, protection 1/1)
M20 2 10 Shotgun empty 2 1 2 Nickel under 5.5 Pass Dig Gentry 36
Gentry(route++) torches a linebacker, ripping inside of him as soon as he commits outside; Speight hits him with a ball just over his facemask. This is overthrown for some. Not Gentry! He’s hit right in stride past the sticks and can eat up a healthy chunk of YAC. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
O44 1 10 I-Form Big Twin TE 2 2 1 4-4 under 8.5 Run Zone counter Higdon 0
Higdon(-3) misses a huge cutback lane carved out as Wheatley(+2) dominates and caves his guy in. The rest of the blocking on the front is iffy as Cinci slants hard but the blocks are all decent enough to keep Cinci from penetrating much and nobody falls off. Higdon has to see the wall of white shirts to one side of linemen and cut to the other side of this. Ulizio(+1) ends up pancaking his guy, albeit awkwardly. I think this is a designed cutback, making this all the worse. Higdon does change direction... into the DL.
O44 2 10 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 3-2 dime 5 Pass Circle McKeon 6
One of them TE option routes where TE goes where defender isn’t. Outside in this case. Speight sees and hits for a solid gain. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O38 3 4 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel even 6.5 Run Inside zone Higdon 5
This time Higdon(+1) sees and hits an even more obvious cutback lane. UC twists here. Ulizio(+1) does a good job to redirect and cut one guy off. Kugler(+0.5) and Onwenu(+0.5) have easy jobs to down block or free release on guys to create the lane. RPS +1, caught a pass rush call.
O33 1 10 Offset I twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 under 7.5 Pass Post Black Inc
PA, two man route where both guys are bracketed. Speight says screw it and seems to make a genuine attempt at hitting Black despite the bracket. He’s not far off, but maybe it’s better he missed. Uh… (MA, 0, protection 2/2, RPS -2)
O33 2 10 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Nickel under 5.5 Pass Drag Perry 33
UC LB way overplays Bunting’s route, trying to get a chuck, and Perry pops open on a four yard route that he turns into 33, because another UC player is overplaying Bunting. A guy with zero catches. Okay! (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-14, 3 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel under 6.5 Run Split zone Isaac 9
Big bubble between Kugler and Cole and Isaac seemingly decides to hit this presnap. Kugler(-1) gets shoved back a couple yards and Cole’s kick isn’t big enough to make this a big hole; meanwhile a slot corner comes down to fill this hole. The backside is carnage and would be a big run. Onwenu(+1) and Ulizio(+1) hammer the 3T and Wheatley(+1) does the same to the overhang OLB. On split zone you’d think the cutback would be a natural inclination. Instead Isaac(+1) presses the front side gap and then bounces outside, where he is a five star and Cinci is not. Wonder if this works against a big time opponent.
M26 2 1 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 7 Run Power O Isaac 3
Slant inside from UC is handled by Cole(+1) but Onwenu(-1) freaks out at the guy flashing by him and tries to hit him. Instead he hits Cole. Cole gets flung out of the way; Onwenu continues through to hit a linebacker and rescues a -2. Isaac now has an unblocked edge guy he has to run away from and he just plows up the back of Onwenu for a few. Bredeson(+1) dominated a blitzing LB to help out here.
M29 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel over 6.5 Run Dart zone Higdon 5
Cole blocks down and Bredeson pops around him as the rest of the line zones. This does pop a hole in the line. McKeon(+1) hits a force player who’s coming in hot upfield; Bredeson(+1) sees and peels back to hit another LB coming in at an unexpected angle. Cole(+1) gets the DT, who spins off four yards downfield. Higdon(-0.5) gets through the line and has blockers to the interior; he tries the sideline and gets cut off; this probably loses 3-4 yards.
M34 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over 6 Pass Dumpoff Higdon Inc
Speight can’t find anyone; he checks down to Higdon. It’s batted down. Higdon was going to get tackled for no gain anyway. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)
M34 3 5 Shotgun trips tight bunch 1 1 3 Nickel even 6 Pass TE in Gentry Inc
This time it’s the left side of the line that gets hit by the twist. Cole does get to the DT and Bredeson(-1) comes off on the DE. Too late, but he is harassing the guy and pushing him past Speight, who could decide to run or move up in the pocket. Instead he tries to hit Gentry, who is open(route +) after pushing through an attempted jam and flashing to the inside. Speight’s throw is upfield and can’t be brought in. Tough catch and tough situation to be in. (MA, 1, protection ½)
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-14, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M13 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 4-3 under 7 Run Crack sweep Isaac 53
Big chunk run depends mostly on Cole(+2) checking the force player, deeming him harmless, and continuing downfield. This is a results based charting item, no doubt, and the force guy gets a weak ankle tackle attempt in. But Isaac(+1) blows through that and Cole can then cut a safety seven yards downfield and here we go. Black(+2) puts a corner in the sideline and Isaac runs until the last guy pushes him out. Good hit by McKeon(+1) to open up the edge; Schoenle(+1) found and eliminated a LB.
O34 1 10 Offset I twins 2 1 2 4-3 under 7 Pass PA FB wheel Hill Inc
M goes for the killshot after the big run and it doesn’t quite work out. Fake handoff, fake end around, FB wheel to the endzone. This isn’t a perfect throw but it is good enough. Hill is guilty of not high-pointing the ball by slowing up and extending, a la Manningham. This allows the LB, who made a great read and play here, to get a PBU. (CA, 1, protection 2/2, Hill route -)
O34 2 10 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Dime under 5.5 Pass Throwaway N/A Inc
Twist, picked up, Speight a little uncomfortable but definitely has DPJ for at least a few yards on a dumb nothing route in front of his face and maybe some YAC. Instead he bugs out and just gets rid of it. This is a bad TA. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
O34 3 10 Ace trips tight bunch 1 2 2 4-3 over 6.5 Run Counter trey Isaac 2
M eats a blitz directly into this. Not good on a counter. Isaac manages to break the tackle as the guy comes in too hot. This did eat up Onwenu(-1) who breaks the never turn upfield rule. McKeon(+0.5) finds and kicks a DB; Cole(+1) and Bredeson(+1) clear out a DT and hit a LB; Isaac does not hit this crease, instead bouncing into the unblocked. I mean, he prevented a TFL, and he also failed to take advantage. Push I guess. RPS -1.
O32 4 8 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Dime even 5 Pass Skinny post Crawford 20
This is an excellent conversion downfield with perfect timing as Speight is already in his throwing motion before Crawford breaks inside. (DO, 2, protection 2/2). Also McKeon is wide open for a TD and not found. Can’t argue with the result or the confidence. If your first read is 20 yards and you hit it, ok.
O12 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel over 6.5 Run Zone read keeper Speight 5
Keep em honest, I guess. Speight(+1) does dodge a safety to turn 3 into 5, and he did correctly read pull.
O7 2 5 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel over 6.5 Run Dart zone Higdon 3
Bredeson(+0.5) hits and moves the NT, who gives ground to get around the block. LB comes up and gets a glancing block from Kugler(+0.5) and Onwenu(+0.5) comes over to start hogwalloping folks. Higdon(+0.5) finds the convoy and grinds it forward.
O4 3 2 I-Form Big Twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 under 7 Run Power O Isaac -2
Onwenu(-3) busts. M runs power. Bredeson pulls. Rest of the line blocks like that’s the idea. He pulls. The guy he’s supposed to block TFLs.
Drive Notes: FG(23), 27-14, 9 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M36 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 7 Run Lead zone Isaac 4
Isaac cuts all the way back here and it’s probably six of one half dozen of the other. Bunting(+0.5) is pushing the backside end, who is a big boy, and he manages to squeeze upfield a bit. This prevents Isaac from getting a good attack angle but is mostly a win. On the frontside M gets good movement but UC guys are filling hard. Probably 4 yards there as well.
M40 2 6 Offset I twins 2 1 2 Base 3-4 7 Run Crack sweep Isaac -2
Black(+1) motions in and pounds the playside DE. This looks very good until Poggi(-3) takes an angle way too deep and the force guy just runs inside of him to tackle. Poggi is five yards behind the LOS for the duration of this play, and suddenly redirects as he recognizes the issue. Far too late. This was otherwise money as Bredeson(+1) cut a guy to the ground, Perry(+1) cut off a linebacker, and Cole(+0.5) found a CB.
M38 3 8 Shotgun trips bunch 1 1 3 Nickel over 6 Pass Tunnel screen Perry 3
I think this is tunnel and not the outside screen because the blocking WRs don’t swap. But then Perry heads outside immediately, seemingly before he can ever see what’s downfield? I don’t know. Either way Crawford(-2) runs by a LB and airballs and that guy tackles. (CA, 3, screen). Don’t min the call given the situation. Maybe you pick it up. Definitely you move the clock.
Drive Notes: Punt, 29-14, 4 min 4th Q. Two very garbage snaps not charted.


Did you see the jump? Sorry my man, that's right out.


do you promise to stop if i talk about the QB situation


are you lying


you're definitely lying



Dammit. Fine! Fine. So, this wasn't good but it's mostly because of the two fumbled exchanges. Despite the sometimes-gory overthrows Speight had an acceptable-ish game by my charting:

[Hennechart orientation: mouse over column headers for explanations of the categories. + is handed out for a good throw under duress. * is handed out for a very bad version of a bad thing. Numbers in parens are screens. DSR is an attempt to compress the numbers into one overall number. PFF is PFF's grade.]


  Good   Neutral   Bad   Ovr
2016 avg 2.4 13.3 0.5   2.4 2.5   0.5 0.8   3.8 1.8   70% -
Florida 4+ 11 1   2 3   4 5**   64% -
Cincinnati 4+ 11(1) -   2 4   1 3 5(1)*   64% -

The big downgrade in opposition makes that 64% less fun, but this was not a horrendous outing when Speight dropped back to throw. Zero bad reads in two games is a thing. (Though "TAs" are often mildly bad reads.)

The big fat –5 in his run charting is not acceptable-ish; after Zaprudering the second fumble that's about 90% Speight as he again loses control and basically throws the ball into Crawford's chest plate at least a foot away from where he expects it. This game feels entirely different if Speight doesn't fumble twice. Isaac had a near certain TD on dorf #1 and Michigan was at the Cincinnati 30 on dorf #2—those fumbles directly cost Michigan 7-11 points. That's the third time in the last four games that Speight has handed the opposition a touchdown or robbed his team of one.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln?

I mean, he was okay? He hit his one open deep shot, and a couple of his incompletions were kind of like whatever. He took a deep shot to a double-covered Black on a two man route and missed and this was probably for the best. Okay. The fullback wheel was a bit short but it gave Hill a shot. A more technical receiver makes this work by slowing up and either forcing a PI or successfully high-pointing the ball:

That too is okay. Not great. Not terrible.

Speight also found open guys almost without fail.  On occasion he flashed that ability to move around and find someone even when the pocket is disrupted:

And there was the occasional NFL-level throw that gets out of Speight's hand before the WR makes his break:

Problems other than "don't throw the ball to an eleven-foot-tall imaginary man" were minimal. Some apparent bad reads on third down turned out to be screens run at the wrong time. There were some tough throws he got out against pressure that gave his WRs a chance to make a circus catch that got filed MA. The sheer size of Speight's mistakes drowns out their frequency: too frequent, but not unsalvageably so.

Nonetheless, the stadium started grumbling in earnest after Speight followed up the first yakety sax incident with consecutive Tacopants throws. Perry got open here despite double coverage and nope:

That is a ten yard throw that's about six feet over Perry's head, and that window isn't even that small. The LB trailing Perry is two yards back. DPJ was twice overthrown by preposterous amounts on short or intermediate throws:

These weren't balls outside the frame of the body on a slant that get filed (IN, 1) because the WR has a tough opportunity, they were balls hurled to seemingly nobody.

But after going over the tape I feel better about things. Speight has two obvious issues that need to get corrected. One almost certainly will: we saw one fumbled snap or exchange all of last year. It came at the wrong time and was devastating; it would be weirder if the exchange issues kept happening than if they stopped. A lot weirder.

The second issue is likely to be with us for the duration. Speight is not a consistently accurate quarterback. He has his streaks, and sometimes he falls off a cliff. Maybe Michigan can get him back into that groove he had mid-year, but even then he started off airballing a bunch of throws against Rutgers. This will keep happening. Michigan's charge is to reduce the frequency insofar as they can.

Speight has total command of the offense and is making great decisions. He's scattershot, but the extent to which he is has been greatly exaggerated by the garment-rending faction of the fanbase because of the size of the errors and recency bias. Is he great? No. He's good enough, as long as the fumbles stop happening.

It won't matter. Speight can lead the Big Ten in passer efficiency and from here on out every error will be met with howls on twitter. This is the curse of Navarre.




All right, here's that chart. You'll notice something maybe?

Offensive Line
Player Snaps + - Total PFF   Snaps Pass- Error% PFF
Cole     9.5 2 7.5       -  
Bredeson     8 4 4     
Kugler     3.5 3 0.5       
Onwenu     8 8 0      5  
Ulizio     9.5 2 7.5       3  
Wheatley     4   4          
McKeon     5.5 1 4.5               
Bunting     1.5   1.5           
Gentry     2.5 2.5                
Hill     4 1   3      
Poggi     4 3 1            
TOTAL - 60 26 70%

No run adjustments. Ben Mason came in for –2 on his one snap, which is listed above.

Player + - T Notes
Protection 40 8 83% as above
RPS 16 11 +5 Crack sweep versus stunts and twists

Michigan hit the Mendoza line and in fact blew through it. Competition level? Eh, ask again later. Michigan dominated these guys when they were not screwing up a slant or stunt, or going full space cadet. There were some hiccups in this game, to say the least. Bredeson had his first big minus of the year when he tackled Evans for loss:

That inexplicable stall is early season, young player stuff. That's a ten yard play otherwise. This is a big gap between Cole and Kugler and Michigan has hats for both guys in it.


Another Evans run met a dismal fate when a DT slanted outside. Onwenu leaves for the second level; DT shoots behind him into that gap, leaving Onwenu no angle to get a linebacker farther inside:

57 C and 50 LG

Onwenu needs to read that and double through that DT, but he's thrown off by Cincinnati lining up late and the DT failing to fire off the ball. That's an accidental feint and I get why it happened; less so the goal line play where both guards pulled.

These big mental errors were collectively –10, or approximately half of Michigan's minuses on the day. Will they continue? At some level certainly. They are likely to drop off as these two second year players move along. Bredeson has already slashed his error rate dramatically. Onwenu should as well.

One thing about Cincinnati: they played some big boys. I called them an under defense because they'd cover up the weakside guard most of the time and didn't play their NT in a zero tech, and then I was like WTF when Mike Onwenu pulled, met the weakside end, and got shoved back. A trip to the roster was in order, and yep:


For a large chunk of the game Cinci's nominal "weakside end" was a 300 pound DT. (One who did not play against Austin Peay, it seems.) This is both encouraging and discouraging for the OL.

The bad bit is that this guy was obviously not going to be much of an edge rusher, so 1) the twists UC kept running should have been obvious, and 2) the 100% clean performance from the tackles on non-twist pass protection is less exciting. I gave out a rare 4/4 protection when Michigan went empty and five guys held off five rushers long enough for Kekoa Crawford to run across damn near the whole field...

...but a lot of that goes back to a Cincinnati pass rush that projects to be nonexistent.

The good bit is that Michigan moved this guy a lot, and his teammates.

So... the right side of the line isn't going to kill us?

Cinci's bonafide DTs are probably the best part of their defense. Michigan kicked off the game by having the right side of the line get their clobber on against the only guy Seth gave a star to in FFFF:

RG 50 and RT 70

Two plays later they buried the same guy on a counter:

RG 50 and RT 70

I had a lot of positives for both Ulizio and Onwenu as they collapsed their DT on a double and either cut off a linebacker or popped off on one. A few times they blew their dudes out so badly that I went back and gave them a plus even though the run did not test those blocks. Isaac bounces this for nine yards but my god the carnage on the backside of this run:

RG 50 and RT 70

This was a straight up whoopin' physically, and that's a great thing to see. Onwenu gave much of his wins back with a couple of big mental errors, most notably a –3 on the "both guards pull" play at the goal line. Even with that caveat it was great to see the right side of the kick someone's ass. Ulizio's issues with leaving a tight end didn't come up for whatever reason—defensive alignment, Michigan playcalls, a week of practice—and now that we got to see a game of him putting his hands on people he looks far more plausible. This is why I was trying to downplay that big negative number from last week. 

Pass protection was another matter. Onwenu was the only Michigan player to straight up lose a one on one pass pro matchup on the day, resulting in a sack. And both guys were culpable on a bunch of obvious twists. Onwenu didn't peel off to get the looper; frequently even if he had Ulizio was out of position and the DE would have gotten a free run up the gut. They did deal with it a couple times, once early and shakily, once late and confidently on a play I forgot to clip.

Onwenu was clearly Michigan's worst OL in this game but that was all mental. When he was on the right page he dominated. I'll take that from a second year player in his second start.

So how did they stop Michigan's ground game?

uh did they

Sort of?

Extract six carries that were Speight sack/scrambles and the last two snaps of the game and Michigan picked up 6.6 YPC. Deflate Michigan's two long carries to ten yards and Michigan still averaged 4.4 YPC. This was a very solid performance.

When Cincinnati did stuff Michigan it was almost always some sort of stunt or slant that Michigan couldn't quite handle. Here Kugler gets hit back by the NT, causing Bredeson to stop and help out; Isaac cuts behind this into an unblocked linebacker charging into the gap that UC's defensive call wants the back to go into:

C 57, LG 74

That will happen. Cincinnati did this a ton. They got some stops. They also put themselves in a bunch of situations where the edge guy was super easy to crack block on Michigan's consistently successful sweeps. Like last week, you can't dismiss the edge runs and chop things down to line yards so you can get your fret on. The way Cincinnati was playing was hugely vulnerable to getting edged.

As a result almost every crack sweep was not only successful but on the verge of breaking big. Michigan got 8, 11, 34, and 53 yards on their sweeps before the last one got TFLed because nobody blocked the only guy in the area. The only thing preventing a 72-yard touchdown on this one is McKeon standing up as Isaac tries to leap over him:

Note the Bearcat linebackers running a twist blitz to the interior, taking them out of the play entirely.

Later the pulling linemen would run by a couple guys, and it worked. I'd probably say this was flat out luck if anyone but Mason Cole ran by the force player, but... maybe this is OL genius? Either way it's results based charting and Cole got a hammer blow downfield to spring a huge run:

This is a great example of Never Turn Upfield. Once Cole passes that guy up he's not even a memory. Maybe he makes a tackle; if he doesn't you just got an edge two for one. He doesn't, and edge two for one is usually a huge play.

This was the closest thing to a Harbaugh Effect in this game, BTW. Michigan went very vanilla on the ground. No double fullbacks, no T formation, no hijinks, just grinding forward. That bodes well.

Is Grant Perry our best receiver?

Probably. Perry was terrific again. His touchdown was more about the Cincinnati defense comically overplaying Bunting than anything he did, but his upfield burst and ability to get to the endzone was a pleasant surprise. And when Cinci tried to cover him with a safety that guy got dusted. We got a very sucky director this week so useful replays were at a minimum. But you can still see that Perry leaves the screen here with a safety preparing to check him, and returns with that S nowhere near him:

He got another three route positives this week. That shot in the endzone was open despite double coverage. ALSO YOU ARE DAMN RIGHT I GAVE HIM THAT CATCH:

[0 = uncatchable, 1 = circus catch, 2 = moderate difficulty, 3 = routine]

Player 0 1 2 3   0 1 2 3
Crawford         3/3     1/4       4/5 
Black 2       4/4   2       6/7 
Perry 1 1/1  1/1 2/2   1/1 3/3   4/4
DPJ 2         3          
Wheatley       1/1             1/1  
McKeon 1       2/2           5/5   
Gentry       2/2           2/2  
Eubanks                 1/1 1/1 
Hill   0/1           0/1      
Higdon 1           1           

ROUTES: Perry +++, Gentry +++, McKeon –, Hill –



sorry sorry

That tall guy seems like a good person to throw to since he's the closest thing to an imaginary eleven-foot tall person we have.

Yeah, Zach Gentry started going from potential to production in this game. His big catch and run was a great route that suckered a linebacker outside and opened up that YAC:

83, TE to top of line

That is exactly what Michigan was hoping for when the moved him there. That throw's a bit high, except Gentry is 6'7". Also he dusted a guy and ate up 20 yards after the catch. Later Gentry couldn't bring in a tough, low throw that pressure affected, but check the route:

83, TE in motion

That's just the right amount of shove to get open without drawing a flag. (Not that OPI was on the table this game.) Then he's a huge open target for a first down until the DL intervenes. Gentry's potential as a Butt or Leggett is clear.

Gentry was also the key—almost only—block on the DPJ jet sweep. His ability to stay coiled and thunk that LB back was impressive:

83, TE to bottom of line

That guy is blitzing and gets shocked back on contact. Not bad.

I'm guessing that guy sucks and we shouldn't get too hype about Gentry's blocking without some additional evidence. But! He's probably already in the Jake Butt "is generally in the way" tier, far above the Devin Funchess "I'm a wide receiver and I hate this" tier.

Black needs to run it to the sticks!

Black didn't feature much except on the near first down and a comeback route that he got held on without a call. I'm not sure the failure to convert on his catch was as bad as it looked live.  This is a slick route and drifting back to the QB is generally good policy to prevent DBs from getting involved:

Run it at the sticks, yes, but if you're getting jammed like that sometimes you have to turn around for the ball before you're able to cover the requisite distance.

I notice less Poggi complaining this year.

Poggi has had a couple of big errors but has otherwise been pretty good. He is lowering the boom on linebackers:

FB #19

That has been consistent this year. He is hitting people with force, consistently, and that's new.

I do think he was way off on the late crack sweep that got TFLed because nobody blocked the edge guy. This pull feels far too deep, and the late ohshit points towards him as the gent who is supposed to be blocking the guy making a tackle:

Hill has been himself. Poggi is getting the majority of the straight-ahead action, with Hill doing a lot of pulling across the formation or into space on the crack sweeps. "Hill destroys DBs" is unedifying at this point, but still fun!

FB 80

There's been at least one of those in each game.

Uh, running backs?


RB chart (WR grades are run only):

Player Rushes + - T   PFF   Notes
Speight 1 1 6 -5     Two fumbles.
Evans 5 2 2         One good bounce, eaten up otherwise.
Isaac 20 5.5 1 4.5         Good but not as outstanding as UF
Higdon 4 1.5 3.5 -2         Another –3 cut.
Hill     0          
McDoom     0          
Walker               DNP
TOTAL 30 10 10.5 -0.5     +5.5, non-Speight division
Player Blocks + - T   PFF G   Notes
Crawford 2 2 0     One big downfield block, one screen whiff
Black   3 3         Hammered a guy on the jet
Perry 3.5 2 1.5      
Schoenle     1 2 -1       Hold wiped out chunk play.
TOTAL - 9.5 6 3.5

Isaac's suddenly the starter and playing like he'll keep that. This is in part because the other two guys are missing opportunities. Evans didn't have anything bad in this game but missed two or three bounce reads in the UF game. Here he made a bounce read out of not much:

Michigan blocks that to the safety; the safety is at five yards as Evans presses the hole, and he manages to get ten on the bounce. So that's good, and most of his unsuccessful runs were OL goofs he had no shot on.

Higdon missed one huge cutback lane that he's got to see once Cinci shows up en masse on one side of Michigan's blocks:


He's even headed that way and cuts left here. That made those blocks look like crap but they looked just fine earlier in the game when Isaac read 'em and cut all the way back:

It's hard to tell with these things but I think both of these were subtle zone counters that are designed to cut back, which make Higdon's error above all the more frustrating. He did hit a cutback lane a couple plays later for a first down.

Should we be panicky about the red zone offense?

No, I don't think so. I don't want to Space Coyote poor Drew Hallett here but I'm not seeing a redzone issue separate from Michigan's other problems on offense. Drives to date:

  • TD vs Florida (minus ref incompetence)
  • TD vs Florida
  • Four yard run, TE runs wrong route on waggle, zero blitz from UF w/ iffy Speight decision on where to go with the ball, FG.
  • Speight runs OOB for sack instead of dumping to Hill for modest gain, false start, UF's awesome three tech beats Onwenu, corner route barely misses, FG.
  • Yakety snap, consecutive Speight overthrows, FG.
  • Third and two from the four sees Onwenu pull instead of block down on power, FG.

Is any of that an inherent redzone issue? I don't think so. It's a number of bad or iffy plays from Speight and two instances where Michigan's new starting guard, a true sophomore, screws up. Also a penalty on a redshirt freshman TE.

None of that is a problem the offense has when the field constricts and it's time to manball up. They're a continuation of Michigan's other problems: youth and a wonky Speight. Michigan was driving DTs off the ball in this game, and that's more indicative of future redzone proficiency than some early-season dorfs. Michigan has been very good in short yardage so far. I think that's a better tell.


Grant Perry made a couple huge plays when needed most. Gentry too. Cole and, yes, Ulizio led the way on the OL.

Maybe not so heroic?

Speight tossed away 7-11 points. Onwenu had a couple big mental errors and had the most difficulty with that twist.

What does it mean for Air Force and beyond?

Breathe deep. Relax. Speight should cut out the turnovers. He's not freshman Ryan Mallett. He's never going to be an A+ QB but he'll be somewhere between a B and an A-.

Panic. Explode. Seriously, though, for everyone's sake let's hope Speight gets through Air Force without one giant meltdown play. We are on the verge of a trend.

The right side of the offensive line can mash. They're still finding their feet; aside from a couple mental errors from Onwenu and persistent trouble with twists in pass protection this was a very encouraging outing. They blew Cortez Broughton up on the ground—he had two tackles and no disruption.

Zach Gentry is a threat. Not only did he make some catches he dusted guys on two different routes. Linebackers cannot check him.

Grant Perry is going to lead the team in catches. He is always where you want him to be and is 3/3 so far on tough catches. Shut up, it was a catch.

The offensive line feels better than last year. Gotta smooth out some rough edges but they've got a couple of probable stars on the left side and some big upside on the right.



September 14th, 2017 at 12:54 AM ^

Was there a J***** H*** thread that I missed? Because she opened her big mouth again and I was fully expecting to see a locked thread as a result. Odd, because I'm on here every 15 minutes or so and honestly don't recall seeing anything. The only other reason ESPN has popped up on my radar this week is Sergio Dipp.

EDIT: It may appear that I was being politically sarcastic, but I was genuinely asking a simple question as I was surprised at not seeing a thread on this. Knowing how much folks despise Jemele around here, I thought someone would take the opportunity to bash her. I went to the sticky and saw Ace deleted a Jemele thread. Part of the problem with living on the west coast (and occasionally working during the day) is that I sometimes miss out on blog events.


September 14th, 2017 at 8:16 AM ^

Don't worry, we're paying attention.  If it's even remotely a relevant story, someone on here has picked up on it.  Nothing just passes us by.

It's like when Harbaugh said they were working on the Air Force triple option in April.  Nothing just passes him by. 



September 13th, 2017 at 4:31 PM ^

Makes me feel much, much better. I think Speights problem is mechanical (which is probably mostly mental), but RT was looking like a black hole of sadness. If he can edge toward "average" by the end of the season, I feel much better about our chances against OSU-- and for next year.


September 13th, 2017 at 7:46 PM ^

Very, very rare for a second-semester senior in HS to surprise everyone and suddenly take a major leap in academic performance. Senioritis is much more common, with previously excellent students slacking off when grades, and even AP tests depending on the student's future college, don't really count.

Sorry, teacher mode.


September 13th, 2017 at 4:32 PM ^

I can only assume that we will have a civilized and logical discussion about the relative merits of Speight's grading out from this game in the comments section.

I sort of agree that the RBs other than Isaac are just missing a couple of breaks.  Higdon does seem to have a small issue with reading certain cutback lanes (since that was a complaint against Florida to), but again, super-small sample size so it might just be bad luck.

I remain somewhat concerned that none of the WRs save Perry have really emerged as another consistent option.  While I know you don't want a lot of 0 and 1 catches/attempted catches, they do point to players the QB trusts will catch the ball/are making themselves somewhat open.  When you don't see anyone throwing their way unless they are obviously open, that may just be a sample issue or it may be that the QB doesn't think they'll bring it down/they aren't getting anything resembling separation.  I am very lightly tapping the breaks on any hype I had about the WRs coming into the year.

Otherwise, for all the complaining, it was a fine performance on offense in a game where Michigan stayed very vanilla.


September 13th, 2017 at 5:39 PM ^

Generally speaking sure, but as Brian noted in the regular-season preview top-50/75 type WRs (which Michigan has a couple of) tend to have a larger impact as first-year players than normal.  Again, not sounding the alarm or anything, but people expecting a DPJ breakout, for example, might need to temper expectations. 

Also, I'm not super-sold the TEs are fully integrated into the passing game.  Everyone expected Bunting to slide into the Butt role seamlessly; he doesn't have a catch yet and barely seems to be a part of the offense.  McKeon leads the TEs in catches and basically everyone else has 1 monster catch each and nothing else.  It's early, but it seems like Perry is the safety blanket AND the go-to guy.


September 13th, 2017 at 6:53 PM ^

underplay the fact that Speight and the younger guys are still trying to gel as a unit. I've been impressed with Tarik Black's ability to get open, so far. Kekoa Crawford brings plenty to the table, but seems to be inconsistent on finishing plays. I think it's too early to say, either way. But, in a few games we might be witnessing the emergence of these young receivers we'd all hoped for. Also, it looks possible that Oliver Martin and Nico Collins are both redshirting. 

Swayze Howell Sheen

September 13th, 2017 at 5:02 PM ^

" remain somewhat concerned that none of the WRs save Perry have really emerged as another consistent option"

I'm of the same opinion. My hope is that the TEs will fill in for a while, and then by season's end, we'll see a breakout by one of the young guys. You know, a "Touchdown Manningham!" kind of moment, maybe against OSU this time?



September 13th, 2017 at 4:58 PM ^

I don't think he was ever terrible, but I still do think he's going to have more up-and-down days than the other people on the line (or maybe the same as Onwenu).  He still had some minuses in pass protection, and he's not going to suddenly to heavier and more athletic as the season progresses.

For the record, I think the offensive line is fine considering it has a bunch of young guys and/or guys with limited starting experience.  But Michigan was submarined last year by an offensive line that struggled to be B+ at times, and this feels like the same ceiling.  They were still, what, 5 points away from an undefeated season, so it wasn't all doom-and-gloom.  But it's still there, and I'm interested to see who people assume is to "blame" when the offense struggles against more talented defensive fronts (spoiler:  It'll be Speight).

Mr Miggle

September 13th, 2017 at 9:14 PM ^

It's obviously speculative at this point, but I'll rank them 1-5

  1. Cole LT > Cole C  (I think he's a better fit at LT in college)
  2. Bredeson LG > Magnuson RT
  3. Kugler C > Braden LT  
  4. Onwenu RG =/< Kalis RG  (maddenly similar, hope for Onwenu to finish better)
  5. Ulizio RT = Bredeson LG (Ulizio vs UF worse, vs UC better, hopefully a sign of things to come)

I do have confidence that we're better at the most critical spots, LT and C.





September 15th, 2017 at 12:34 PM ^

a darn strange way to evaluate. How about this:

Right now, I think:

Cole LT > All the guys at LT last year

Bredesen LG < Braden LG after the switch, but Bredesen probably as good by the end of the year

Kugler C < Cole C, but not a lot worse

Onwenu RG =  Kalis RG Both did good things, but both had busts - End of the year, Onwenu probably better.

Magnuson RT >> Ulizio RT - He's way better, and it's not close. The florida game may be the worst game by an OL in the Harbaugh era. Yes, he was better against Cinci, but that doesn't mean he's good enough to go up against good DL. I don't think Ulizio will be as good as Magnuson by the end of the year, which is not a knock on him. Mags was a senior last year. 

Overall, I think the OL is still not as good as last year right now. By the end of the year, it will probably be better.    LT+ LG= C- RG+ RT-  which works out to equal or slightly better, since the C- is very small. 



Big Boutros

September 13th, 2017 at 4:41 PM ^

The Air Force threat seems to be much more on the other side of the ball. Speight's only obstacle this week will be himself. We've got huge monsters on the OL going against a DL that averages 240 pounds. Our starting RB is 6'3", 240. Our receivers are giant five-stars going against diminutive service academy guys.

So I'm worried about Hurst going against cut blocks and Arion Worthman carving out 12-minute drives, but I'm not worried about anything Air Force can do on defense. The only way Michigan stays out of the endzone on Saturday is if it keeps itself out.


September 13th, 2017 at 5:13 PM ^

I largely agree, though it does look like AF has some decent-sized defensive linemen, at least relative to expectations.  Michigan should still be able to put them on skates, but they've been playing football long enough that their coaches have figured out some ways to compensate.  Not knowing a lot about them but looking at their ability to keep a fair number of teams under 100 yards rushing last year, they probably deploy their LBs and defensive linemen with sufficient aggressiveness that they can get you behind the sticks a couple of times and, because their offense is so efficient at keeping the ball, you can't dedicate a bulk of your playcalls to the run.  That's what Bill C noted, and I was looking back and AF have been pretty good defensively against the run for about 4 years now.  


September 13th, 2017 at 11:45 PM ^

If they blitz a lot they will get screened, drawed, and edged on outside runs. If they don't they will get mashed. They have no one to cover Grant Perry, Black or any TE (and prob Crawford) when/if we need to pick up on 3rd down. We will control the clock and limit the time our defense is on the field. This is the game the offense puts it all together and looks the way it should against an outmatched opponent.

Space Coyote

September 13th, 2017 at 5:25 PM ^

And really only one cut in my opinion. The play here I think is much more on the OL not giving him any proper read. The one missed cut on the draw against UF was really bad, other than that he's mostly been fine, which is basically why he's getting a quarter of the carries and not more or less.


September 13th, 2017 at 4:55 PM ^

A couple of thoughts:

My guess is Ulizio is serviceable when not facing really good edge rushers. That issue will probably come up in the last two games of the season (no one else really has a DE or OLB that I'd classify as terrifying). It's clear the right side of the line is talented, but just not all there yet. Still, maybe better than we thought they'd be?

A lot of talk has been made about Speight not faring well under pressure, but on most of those overthrows, there isn't someone about to blast him up good. Like Brian said, it's probably his ceiling. Knows the reads to make. Can make some good throws. Solid pocket presence. It's about cutting out the debilitating mistakes that'll move him up. How much better do we feel if the score is 27-14 for most of the 2nd half and a 46-14 final because Speight doesn't fumble twice deep in Cincy territory?

Brian, any word on what's up with Ian Bunting? Are the other guys just better? I mean I've got nothing to complain about for Gentry or McKeon at this point, but just seems odd. Maybe he's dinged up. 


September 14th, 2017 at 6:11 AM ^

I should have scrolled down first since Brian actually did respond and I had to look up sealion as a verb, but no, I don't think it's a joke. In the past they've had some barbs for each other, and I probably haven't even seen most of their interactions. But yes, I know my comment was really over the top. Shouldn't have been ranting and raving like that. I'll tone it down ;)