Don Brown’s “Pressure of the Week” – Indiana

by Mark Edwards

When you heard that Indiana was going to start a redshirt QB against a Michigan defense that was coming off of a loss, this was all entirely too predictable.  Don Brown was going to throw the “kitchen sink” at that kid.  While Hoosier QB Peyton Ramsey played admirably, even IU coach Tom Allen acknowledged that his signal caller was going to face a “different beast.”  He probably should’ve made that plural and call them “beasts.”

THIS WEEK’S PRESSURE

SITUATION:  1st & 10, State ball on Indiana’s 25 yard line

TIME:  14:54 left in the second quarter

WHY THIS SERIES:  With Michigan holding a 6-0 lead, this series was another example of the Michigan defense’s belief that pressure is paramount.  They weren’t going to let Ramsey get comfortable in the pocket as the Michigan offense was settling for field goals.  You often hear commentators say that the defense “met each other at the quarterback.”  Well, here you go…

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FRAME #1

OFFENSIVE FORMATION: Trips Right (it is a 3×1 formation with three receivers to the field)

INDIANA PERSONNEL: 10 (1 running back, 4 wide receivers)

DEFENSIVE BASE:  3-3

MICHIGAN PERSONNEL NOTES:  Michigan chose to defend Indiana’s “four wide” package with this base alignment.  YOU can see that Chase Winovich (#15) is in a five-technique to the bottom of the screen while Maurice Hurst Jr. (#73) in head up on the center and Rashan Gary (#3) is aligned in a 4I technique (inside shoulder of the offensive tackle) to the top of the screen.  Michigan only has two linebackers, which are Devin Bush #10 and Devin Gil (#36).  Michigan is showing a “two shell”, which means that there are two safeties, which will not remain in a two shell after the snap.  Michigan linebacker Josh Uche (#35) is splitting the difference between the #2 and #3 receivers.  Notice Michigan cornerback David Long is in the “standard” press coverage technique.

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FRAME #2

What is Indiana doing here?  Thy are dropping back to pass as you can see their offensive line vertically pass set, which is a sign of a man-on-man protection.  The running back is viewing the boundary side defenders as pressure is imminent.

What has changed:  Long (#22), safety Tyree Kinnel (#23) and Gil (#36) all appear to be in the pressure called.  Bush (#10) is appearing to “wall off” the #3 receiver, which means that he does not want him to cross the middle of the field.

Michigan’s pressure:  First, notice how quick Hurst (#73) is off of the ball.  Gary and Winovich almost look delayed in their rush due to Hurst’s burst.  Long is blitzing off of the corner and the Indiana RB sees it coming.  Gil is going to blitz outside of Winovich, who has occupied the B Gap.  Kinnel has rolled down to take away the hot route slant by the boundary receiver.

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FRAME #3

What is Indiana doing here?  The boundary receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr. (#1) has run a sight-adjusted stop route.  The pocket protection has been aided by the RB stepping into the B gap as the left tackle has identified the blitzing David Long.

What has changed:  Indiana appears to be ready to handle this pressure.

Michigan’s pressure:  Maurice Hurst has defeated his blocker as he has ripped to the field B gap.  Gil and Long are presently accounted for.

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FRAME #4

What is Indiana doing here?  Quarterback Peyton Ramsey has realized that the pocket is collapsing from the middle, which is just the worst possible thing on a man protection passing scheme.

What has changed:  Gary and Long have both set the pocket so that the inevitable escape attempt will force Ramsey to bubble backwards.

Michigan’s pressure:  Long has beaten the left tackle, who just doesn’t know it yet.  Gil’s gap integrity isn’t great as he has been run into the A gap leaving a potential escape  route if Ramsey was more experienced.

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FRAME #5

What is Indiana doing here?  Ramsey’s escape attempt is about to end as Long and Gary are both one step from taking him down.

What has changed:  IMPENDING SACK ALERT.

Michigan’s pressure:  This five man pressure is now home.  David Long and Gary’s discipline has led them to a shared sack.

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FRAME #6

BOOM!

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FINAL THOUGHT:
As Don Brown has started to use the 3-3 base against spread teams, the evolution of the pressure package is really interesting.  Studying the Michigan defense on film makes one marvel at how disciplined they are.  Now everyone uses the term “discipline” but I’m talking about how they know their role in the pressure and the possible offensive reaction as seen here in Rashan Gary not trying to just “get his” but to play team defense.  This team is going to be tested next week in Happy Valley but to doubt them at this point is just goofy.

 

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Michigan Fan Expectations

The University of Michigan, the Wolverines, the Maize and Blue, the Winged Helmet, the Big House, the ‘MGoBlue” banner, the Victors, Desmond Howard’s “Hello Heisman”…it’s a national brand, a true college football treasure.

Michigan’s football program has a history to be quite proud of, one full of tradition, and such excellence that has allowed them to be well-known as one of the more successful programs from an all-time standpoint. These fans are very proud of their program which has 11 national titles, 42 Big Ten titles, 3 Heisman trophies, and not to mention the most wins of all time.

The most recent history of Michigan Football has been colorful, full of ups and downs, much like a roller-coaster. A lot has changed in Ann Arbor since 2008, but one thing that hasn’t changed would be the fan-base’s expectations for the program year in, year out.

Last Saturday, Michigan was upset by their in-state rival, MSU, in the Big House and fell to 4-1 on the season. Judging from the initial reaction to the loss on the Internet, on TV, on the radio, etc. you’d think that Michigan hasn’t won a game this season. Was it an ugly loss? Absolutely, this team, primarily the offense, evidently has work to do. I think the bizarre reactions would be ones that include fans calling for Harbaugh’s job.

As of late, Michigan hasn’t been the “leaders and best”. After seven seasons of mediocrity, three with Rich Rod, four with Brady Hoke, it’s no secret that Michigan fans are becoming inpatient with not beating their rivals, not winning Big Ten titles, not making the playoffs, and not winning a national title.

Michigan hasn’t won a conference title since ’04, and also hasn’t won a national title since ’97. The Wolverines have beaten their arch-rival, Ohio State, just three times this millennia (2000, 2003, 2011), current Buckeye head coach, Urban Meyer, is 5-0 in this rivalry game. MSU head coach, Mark Dantonio has beaten Michigan in eight out of eleven meetings, 2-1 against Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan program.

The thought of Harbaugh, the former Michigan quarterback, leaving the NFL to come back and coach his alma-mater was something for this fan base to dream about. Well, that dream is now a reality, and the reality is that whether you like what he’s done thus far or not, the man is a helluva football coach, and that’s not a question.

Through 31 games at Michigan, Jim Harbaugh is 24-7 with two ten win seasons, 1-1 in bowl games, 1-4 against rivals. Clearly the rivalry record isn’t ideal, and I’m sure that Harbaugh and his staff would agree.

Michigan has entered the 2017-18 season as the least experienced team in the nation based off losing over 40 seniors, and 11 NFL draft picks. Of course they’ve recruited well, Michigan is one of the easiest recruiting jobs in the country, but this is a young team, a talented young team, but still a young team. This is not an excuse by any means, it’s just a hard soil fact.

It’s fair to be critical over Harbaugh’s play-calling, the tenacity his teams bring to rivalry games, and the incompetence of the offense in year three. I’ll be the first one to tell you that if Jim Harbaugh doesn’t start winning these rivalry games, his seat is eventually going to get hot.

Right now, through 31 games, after he’s been the biggest reason for Michigan becoming nationally relevant once again, it’s not fair to say that his job is on the line. We’re allowed to have high expectations, but we need to have patience because building an NFL-machine, national title-winning, powerhouse of a program takes time.

The wins will come, and hopefully so will the conference/national titles. As a fan-base, let’s not run Jim Harbaugh out-of-town, criticize him when he may deserve it, but we can’t throw our coach under the bus. Any team in the country, college or pro, with an open slot at head coach would be thrilled to take Harbaugh off our hands, and that’s not what we want.

Michigan fans will always have high expectations, but keep in mind how bad their recent history has been, and also keep in mind that this program is trending upwards in terms of national relevance, recruiting, and winning. Patience is everything.

 

Don’t Let One Game Beat You Twice – Indiana Game Prediction

by Mark Edwards

USP NCAA FOOTBALL: INDIANA AT MICHIGAN S FBC USA MI

I have a confession to make to our readers.  I was wrong.  Like seriously mistaken wrong.  Last week, I predicted a 31-10 victory and I felt good about that until the 1st quarter Ty Isaac fumble.  Everything that happened after that is a blur.  For the Michigan fan base, that loss stings and is still stinging.  However, the only question that matters goes to the team.   “Is is still stinging?”  If the answer is yes and has hurt this week’s preparation for Indiana, this Saturday 12 noon kickoff is going to be bad.

The old saying in sports is “Don’t let a team beat you twice.”  It didn’t in 2015 after the MSU debacle.  If it does not, we have bigger problems than quarterback play.  I have been pleased with the spoken language coming out of Schembechler Hall this week.

“We’re 1-4.” – Jim Harbaugh speaking about rivalry games.

“I mean, we were okay. Not our best performance, but, again, didn’t do things to win the game either.” – LB coach Chris Partridge on last week’s game.

This is the game wherein we need to see the Harbaugh Effect.  He came here to win.  It’s a process.  But the process needs to include beating Indiana or all of us should start to wonder.

OFFENSE

What should we expect?  The easy answer is “I don’t know.”  But you know if you’re reading this that my opinion is going to follow.  I think we get a performance closer to Purdue than to last Saturday.  I think the Indiana defense is not something to look down your nose at.  They are talented, well-coached and hungry.  However, I would expect to see O’Korn rely on tight ends while the run game will be the difference.

DEFENSE

It must suck to take the field and think you have to pitch a perfect game to win.  I don’t thin the Michigan defense has this mentality.  Did they play their best game?  No.  They have said as much.  So what do they do for a follow-up performance?  I would rest the answer with forcing turnovers and sacks.  That’s going to be the formula going forward.  I think the fan base is blind to the growth that the unit has made.  They really got schemed on one play last week (MSU screen pass) and that was the difference.  I would doubt that it happens again.  Indiana will present a formidable foe in the passing game but unless it rains heavily, separation will be hard to find for the Hoosiers.

FINAL SCORE:  Michigan 24, Indiana 3

PICKS TO CLICK:  Offense – Ty Isaac, Defense – Devin Bush Jr.

CONFIDENCE LEVEL:  5. 

ONE THING THAT MAY SURPRISE:  O’Korn will throw for 2 TDs.

ONE THING THAT MAY DISAPPOINT:
Indiana will record more than 2 sacks.

Honeymoon Over, Time to Win

In late December of 2014, Michigan fans had just suffered through, yet another, head coach’s tenure which consisted of mostly unwatchable, non bowl-eligible caliber football. The fan-base of the winningest program in college football history needed a change.

Bring in Jim Harbaugh: former Michigan quarterback, lengthy playing career in the NFL, the guy who resurrected the Stanford football program, the Super Bowl 47 runner-up, respected name in the coaching carousel.

Doesn’t get any better than Harbaugh, right? He’s been keeping Michigan in the headlines, he’s hysterically obnoxious on the sidelines, recruits in very unique ways, and he’s a Michigan man.

The head coach’s first two seasons with the program were simple: put UM back on the national relevance map, make waves on the recruiting trail, build a powerhouse program. 20-6 in the first two seasons, 1-1 bowl record, 1-4 in chief rivalry games (only win over a 3-9 MSU team), and back-to-back top ten recruiting classes.

You won’t find a head coaching job in America that expresses the importance of beating your rivals the way Michigan does.

Jim Harbaugh is 4-1 in early October for the 2017-18 season; after an ugly loss to in-state rival, MSU, some of the fan-base has officially began to give constructive criticism on their beloved head coach. Play-calling was a big issue in the eyes of many: the decision to throw the football as much as they did in a monsoon, failing to target Zach Gentry in the passing game, or giving Karan Higedon just 12 touches despite being the most productive back for Michigan (5.4 YPC).

On the defensive side of the ball, there really isn’t much you can ask for. When your offense turns the ball over five times and your defense only allows 14 points, that’s a championship defense.

In Jim Harbaugh’s third season, wouldn’t you think that Michigan should have, at the very least, a quarterback and an offense who can give enough ‘run support’ to win a football game if your defense shuts out a team in the 2nd half?

Michigan was out-coached, outplayed, and flat-out did not deserve to win this football game. Jim Harbaugh, and his staff get paid far too much money to lose a game like this one, there is no excuse to justify what happened in the Big House on Saturday.

For me, it wasn’t just that they lost, the way they lost is what really stung. Repeatedly shot themselves in the foot offensively, and could not capitalize on the opportunities given to them time after time. Michigan is a team that is evidently more talented that Michigan State — it’s obvious, look at the recruiting classes. Michigan isn’t a poorly coached team, but they were simply out coached by Mark Dantonio and his staff.

Michigan has everything needed to be a national powerhouse: a top-tier coaching staff with years of NFL experience, multiple top ten recruiting classes, endless hype and publicity that most programs strive to have. What is the missing recipe? Why can’t Michigan win these big games?

The seat isn’t hot for Jim Harbaugh, but how long before it starts getting warm? Beating Ohio State in November would change the picture, but a loss would mean Harbaugh’s rivalry game record falls to 1-5. When you’re paying a coach nine million annually, you expect them to win more than one rivalry game per every three seasons.

Maybe I’m part of the fan-base that’s overreacting, and maybe I just need to give Harbaugh’s program more time and have patience. Michigan fans demand a lot, they have very high expectations and standards; we’re all growing at least a little impatient after watching Michigan football from 2008-2014.

Bottom line is that pressure to win is more real than it’s ever been for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. I won’t be able to stomach another off-season of Harbaugh making headlines for doing weird, quirky, recruiting tactics if he’s 0-3 against the Buckeyes. If you want to go to Rome, climb trees, sleep at recruit’s houses, jump off a diving board into a pool fully clothed, have a podcast, and to separate yourself from the other CFB coaches in the media…beat a rival, win a big game, win a Big Ten championship, make the playoffs.

 

Don Brown’s “Pressure of the Week” – Michigan State

by Mark Edwards

Ouch!  That one not only left you feeling like you were punched in the gut but it also left you soaked if you were in Michigan Stadium.  Michigan State beat Michigan and they did it by and large by taking what Don Brown threw at them because of the increasing anemic Michigan offense was not a threat.  Years ago, Mark Dantonio asked, “Where’s the threat?”  Well, it certainly wasn’t on the Michigan offense last night.

THIS WEEK’S PRESSURE

SITUATION:  2nd & 10, State ball on Michigan State’s 25 yard line

TIME:  7:59 left in the first quarter

WHY THIS SERIES: This was MSU’s first chance at Don Brown’s defense.  After a long incompletion, Michigan State tried to test their power run game against the Michigan defense.  This is what most of the game looked like when MSU want to run their base run game.

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FRAME #1

OFFENSIVE FORMATION: Pro Right Wing (the wing back is going to motion into the backfield as a displaced fullback)

MICHIGAN STATE  PERSONNEL: 12 (1 running back, 2 tight ends)

DEFENSIVE BASE:  4-3

MICHIGAN PERSONNEL NOTES:  In what we were led to believe was the base defensive front going into the season, you see Gary (#3), Mone (#90), Hurst (#73) and Winovich (#15).  Winovich is a ghost 9 technique while Mone is in his trademark 1 technique.  Hurst, at the top of the screen, is in a 3 technique while Gary is in a 5 technique.  Noah Furbush (#59) is the over linebacker at the top of the screen.  Michigan safety Tyree Kinnel (#23) is rolled down over the wing.  Michigan cornerbacks David Long (#22) and Lavert Hill (#24) are in bump coverage.  Michigan safety Josh Metellus (#14) is the sing-high safety and not on the screen.

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FRAME #2

What is Michigan State doing here?  They have motioned the wing to the bottom of the screen back into the back field in an offset fullback alignment.  This is necessary if you are going to run a power run scheme or if you are going to run an inside zone with the “fullback” kicking the backside end.

What has changed:  Because of the motion, Kinnel (#23) has rotated back to the middle while we see Metellus (#14) appear to roll down to the tight end side.  Mike McCray (#9) has stepped into a 4I (inside eye of the tackle) alignment on the line of scrimmage.

Michigan’s pressure: This pre-snap alignment change is attempting to dictate that Michigan State will be force to run to the tight end side of the formation.

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FRAME #3

What is Michigan State doing here?  They are attempting to false pull the right tackle in order to get Devin Bush Jr. (#10) to redirect his path to the weak side of the formation.  The fullback (motioned from wing) is going into the B gap to replace the right tackle.  It has the look of an isolation (commonly called an ISO play) schemed run with some window dressing.  However, it’s really a zone kick play.

What has changed:  McCray has stunted into the B gap while Winvich (#15) is squeezing the edge as his tackle has blocked down.

Michigan’s pressure:  Really, McCray is the pressure.  Everything else is a reaction to the play not a pre-determined pressure.  Bush has not yet reacted to the pulling tackle.  Metellus is not on the dead run down hill and would be the unaccounted for defender on the playside.

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FRAME #4

What is Michigan State doing here?  They are attempting to run a zone scheme wherein the running back should cut it all the way back to the C gap.

What has changed:  Winovich has squeeze the edge so effectively that the pulling tackle is going to miss him.  The RB sees that the designed path of the run is not going to work.  Notice that Devin Bush Jr. is in position to play over the top if the RB bounces it to the edge on the bottom of the screen.

Michigan’s pressure: McCray has done a nice job making a pile but Maurice Hurst has driven the right guard into the backfield, which makes the RB see nothing but a wall of humanity.

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FRAME #4

What is Michigan State doing here?  They have their first negative rushing play of the game.

What has changed:  Winovich has joined Hurst at the point of attack with  Gary and Metellus also converging to secure the tackle.

Michigan’s pressure: Michigan defeated every block except Bryan Mone, who did his job by forcing a pile.

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FINAL THOUGHT: This was a really big play of the game because I think the Michigan State offensive staff figured out that the base run game is ineffective.  They adjusted to more misdirection stuff that was window-dressed with motion.  State did just enough to win the game and I don’t think that Don Brown’s defense played poorly.  They were given a task of having to be perfect and almost pulled it off.

“If you didn’t have Harbaugh” from a Michigan State fan – Game Prediction

by Mark Edwards

Let’s start with some honesty.  Michigan State fans HATE Michigan.  Not only the school, but they also hate everything that goes with it (fan base, media coverage, uniforms, former players, former coaches, band uniforms).  You name it, they hate it.  Michigan fans have looked down their noses at State for decades…just not the last decade.

Mike Hart

It all started with Mike Hart in 2007.  State took notice, Dantonio took notice and for the better part of the last ten years has been heavily tilted in MSU’s direction.  What Sparty fails to acknowledge is this lined up with the worst decade in Michigan football since the Kennedy Administration.  State fans CAN’T STAND that MSU had nothing to do with it.  They’ll swear that it does but we know better…and so do they.

michigan-state-spartans-michigan-101715

So I had a State fan a few weeks ago tell me, “If you guys didn’t have Harbaugh.”  Well, we do.   Undoubtedly, you’ve seen a lot of replay clips of the 2015 game ending.  It happened.  State fans still revel in it.  Michigan fans should see it for what it was…the moment when Jim Harbaugh chartered the path of return for the program.  You have to “put steel in your spine” to admit it was okay…and it is.

So on Saturday night, Sparty returns to the scene of the fumbled snap hoping for that magic to return.  Can Brian Lewerke make it reappear?  Will Kirk Ferentz be coaching Michigan to a comatosed performance like the one that Iowa gave last week?  Methinks the answer is no but that’s why they play the game.

MICHIGAN OFFENSE

The whole game from an offensive point of view comes down to two main questions:

  1.  Can Michigan run the ball with effectiveness?
  2. Can Michigan’s o-line protect new starter John O’Korn?

You can expect a ton of blitz and personnel groupings from Sparty as they try to resurrect the formula from the last decade.  MSU will blitz the A gaps and this is where Ty Isaac, Chris Evans and Karan Higdon will factor into the pass protection.  You can expect the “ax” cross blitz early and often.  Most pundits expect this game to look like 2015 where rushing yardage was hard to come by.  I expect Michigan’s offensive line to play very well and I think a repeat of the 2016 look will be more likely to appear “under the lights.”

Okorn

O’Korn, who played a lot at Houston before transferring, steps into the role he came here for.  What can we expect to be different?  You’ll see more play-action passes and some designed QB runs that Wilton Speight wouldn’t bring to the table.  Michigan State, when actively blitzing, has to get to O’Korn quickly or the middle of the field will be ridiculously wide open.  I anticipate Gentry, McKeon, Wheatley and the slot receivers to have some long receptions.

Michigan will run for 150 yards as they march toward the second rivalry win that the fan base so badly dismisses but secretly needs.

MICHIGAN DEFENSE

How does State move the ball on this defense?  The answer is in the last decade…they’ll attempt to beat Michigan with a uber-effective power run game, cleverly- conceived pass plays and the ordinary Dantonio trick plays.  I have smiled this week thinking about that approach because if the Purdue game taught us anything, we learned that Don Brown’s defense will adjust quickly.

State will bring in the power run game and feature Holmes, London and Scott.  MSU has struggled to run the ball in their traditional attack and if that doesn’t continue, Michigan fans should hit the panic button.  But it will continue and force Lewerke to do it all.

Hiton

Let’s be frank…Don Brown is going to come after Lewerke and get the ball out of his hand quickly.  The final quarter in East Lansing last year was the last time you’ll ever see Don Brown just go “vanilla” and not pressure the quarterback.  It was tough to watch and it almost led to a collapse.  Never again.

The question that lingers is how many have to rush to get pressure?  Iowa, in all of their mediocrity, forced Lewerke into bad throws by getting to him quickly.  I think Hurst, Gary, Winovich & Co. will be able to do the same.  Similar to the 2015 game, you will see Spartan WR Felton Davis take the role of Aaron Burbridge and the Michigan CBs trying to win the 1-on-1.  I anticipate they will be just fine.

FINAL SCORE:  Michigan 31, MSU 10

PICKS TO CLICK:  Offense – Offensive Line, Defense – Khaleke Hudson

CONFIDENCE LEVEL:  It’s a rivalry game…you should never rest in the confident range.

ONE THING THAT MAY SURPRISE:  Michigan will pin the Spartans deep in their own red zone with a superior kicking game.

ONE THING THAT MAY DISAPPOINT:
Sparty will hit one trick play.  Dantontio will smirk, Don Brown will adjust.  (Somewhere Greg Robinson’s stuffed animal is dying)

Don Brown’s “Pressure of the Week” – Purdue

 

by Mark Edwards

I wasn’t around much last week but can anybody tell me if Purdue HC Jeff Brohm was discussed much?  Oh, he was.  Did they mention that he uses RPOs, misdirection movements and tempo to move the football?  No way…they did?  Okay, this column is dedicated weekly to Dr. Blitz, Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown.  Purdue got off to a quick start using skullduggery to move the ball on their first drive.  So, it’s only natural that our “pressure of the week” would come from the first drive (NOTE:  Although, I’m sure the carnage of the fourth quarter would have been a good choice.).

THIS WEEK’S PRESSURE

SITUATION:  3rd & 9, Purdue ball on Michigan’s 39 yard line

TIME:  13:29 left in the first quarter

WHY THIS SERIES:  Purdue had opened quickly and was on the verge of scoring range as they faced a 3rd and nine.  This was Michigan’s first third-down snap of the game and you knew that Dr. Blitz wasn’t going to play coverage.  Also, this was Purdue’s first chance to show their hand on a 3rd & long in the face of an almost certain pressure call by Michigan.

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FRAME #1

OFFENSIVE FORMATION: Packers Right (Green Bay does this a lot with a stand up, number #3 receiver flexed off of the right tackle).

PURDUE  PERSONNEL: 11 (1 running back, 1 tight end)

DEFENSIVE BASE:  3-3

MICHIGAN PERSONNEL NOTES: In what is becoming Michigan’s base alignment vs. Spread formations, you have Rashan Gary #3, Maurice Hurst #73 and Chase Winovich #15 with their hands on the ground.  Gary is in a 5 technique (to the bottom of the screen) while Winovich is in a 4I technique which is inside shade of the left tackle (top of the screen).  The linebackers are shifted to the field with Noah Furbush (#59) showing a bump alignment over the #3 receiver (which is a TE).  Viper Khaleke Hudson (#7) has split the difference between #2 and #3 with his eyes in the backfield.  Inside linebackers Mike McCray (#9) and Devin Bush (#10) are aligned over the guards.  In the secondary, Michigan is showing a cover 2 shell (2 high safeties) and their corner bump alignment.

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FRAME #2

What is Purdue doing here?  A couple classic offensive movements are taking place here.  The three wide receivers are releasing vertically down the field.  The #3 receiver for Purdue is setting the edge while making it look like a shallow cross (his job is to block the first inside linebacker that shows)  Purdue QB David Blough is taking a deep drop to entice the already aggressive pass rush.  The running back is fitting into the pass protection in the A gap.

What has changed:  Michigan is in man coverage underneath and what Blough thought he was going to get in his pre-snap read is no longer what his eyes tell him is happening.

Michigan’s pressure: Now that he ball has snapped, the Michigan defensive line has ripped to the boundary (their right) while Furbush (#59) is blitzing off of the edge.  Also, Bush is on a B gap blitz to the field.  It is a classic five-man pressure, which we are seeing  frequently with the 3-3 base alignment.  McCray is in the middle of the field looking for #3 to come back to him, which he will.

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FRAME #3

What is Purdue doing here?  SCREEN!  They are releasing their guards and center in front of the running back to run a screen pass to the right.  Actually, it’s not a bad call by Purdue if you are expecting pressure.  Purdue has McCray blocked (or he soon will be) while the receivers are running off the corners.

What has changed:  The only change from Frame #2 is that Devin Bush has diagnosed that it’s a screen.  He has aborted his pressure to defend the screen.

Michigan’s pressure:  Hurst (#73), Gary (#3) and Furbush (#59) are all unblocked on their path to the QB.  Bush, as stated previously, he is the screen stopper.

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FRAME #4

What is Purdue doing here?  It’s time to throw the screen.

What has changed:  Bush has been engaged by a blocker and the running back, led by the three Purdue offensive linemen, is not moving to the field.

Michigan’s pressure:  Michigan actually is not in great shape here.  If Bush doesn’t make a play, the only defender left is Hudson (#7), who is on the 31 yard line AND severly outnumbered.  It’s time for an athlete to make a play.

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FRAME #5

What is Purdue doing here?  They have thrown the screen and all looks good.

What has changed:  Michigan’s pressure on Blough forces a “less than ideal” throw.  Bush saw the football and has jumped to attempt to pick off a woefully short throw.

Michigan’s pressure:  The defensive front got to Blough.  If they hadn’t, Purdue most certainly would’ve completed this pass and picked up a first down.

 

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FRAME #6

What is Purdue doing here?  They have shown that pressure can bother their quarterback.

What has changed:  Michigan’s pressure took a good offensive call and made it a rushed throw.

Michigan’s pressure:  The difference.

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FINAL THOUGHT:  Some will see this play and say that Michigan got lucky.  Others will say that Michigan made the play by executing the defensive call.  For me, this is always the line that Michigan is going to live on because of the heavy pressure approach.  If quarterbacks are less than 100% accurate under pressure like this, that bodes well for Michigan and is a part of Don Brown’s core philosophy.