Game Prediction: Michigan @ Notre Dame

Michigan and Notre Dame are two of the winningest programs in the history of college football. The first ever meeting between the two teams came all the way back in 1887 with Michigan prevailing. The latest game between the Wolverines and Fighting Irish came in 2014 with Notre Dame coming out victorious 31-0.

In that game, Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner threw for 189 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions. Notre Dame QB Everett Golson, on the other hand, passed for 226 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

But a lot has changed since then. That was Brady Hoke’s last season in Ann Arbor as Jim Harbaugh was hired in 2015. U of M also changed athletic directors in that time with Warde Manuel replacing Dave Brandon. Both coach and AD were instrumental in renewing this storied rivalry after a three-year hiatus.

As for the upcoming game Saturday, both teams have high expectations heading into the 2018 season. Notre Dame is ranked 12th in the Associated Press poll while Michigan is ranked 14th.

I think there are two keys that will decide the winner Saturday in South Bend. The first is the play of the quarterbacks. While most would say that QBs are almost always instrumental in the success of their team, both of these squads will ride or die with the play of their signal caller throughout the season.

I’ll first start off by looking at Shea Patterson, the Ole Miss transfer, who was named Michigan’s starting quarterback by Harbaugh recently. Patterson, a junior, had mild success last year in the Southeastern Conference. In seven games (he missed the rest of the season due to a knee injury), he threw for 2,259 yards with a 64% completion percentage. He also threw for 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Not the greatest stats, but respectable in his conference.

Next comes Brandon Wimbush, the senior for Notre Dame. In 12 games last year, Wimbush passed for 1,870 yards while completing 49.5% of his throws. But he is also a threat on the ground as well. Last season he rushed for 803 yards and ran for 14 touchdowns. But the thing many Notre Dame fans will remember about last season is Wimbush getting replaced by Ian Book, who led the Irish to a win over LSU, in last years Citrus Bowl.

Both of these quarterbacks come into this game with something to prove. Patterson wants to prove to himself to the university and fans that he can be “the guy” for Michigan as many believe the quarterback play has been what has been holding them back the last couple years. Wimbush wants to show that coach Brian Kelly made the right decision by naming him the starter and that the Citrus Bowl performance was a fluke. It’ll be interesting to see what QB out-duels the other come kickoff.

The next key to the game has got to be the defensive units for both teams. They are both projected to be some of the top defenses in the country this year, and with good reason.

Michigan returns nine starters on the defensive side of the ball that ranked 3rd overall in total defense. Players like defensive tackle Rashan Gary, linebacker Devin Bush, and cornerback Lavert Hill are expected to lead the charge for the maize and blue. All three are potential All-Americans and NFL players.

Notre Dame returns nine starters on defense after ranking 31st in the nation in scoring defense last season. Their leaders include junior cornerback Julian Love and senior lineman Jerry Tillery.

This game will answer a lot of questions for one fan base and leave the other asking even more. Is Shea Patterson the answer? Should Brandon Wimbush be the starter? Is this Michigan defense as good as advertised? Can Harbaugh win a rivalry game? A big game?

So now for the prediction. I think this game will be a close one, a lot closer than some think. I believe Shea Patterson struggles early on and is rattled by the fans in South Bend. But, ultimately he will find his groove late and lead a scoring drive or two in the second half. I think Gary, Bush and the rest of that tenacious defense for Michigan will come to play and force Wimbush into a turnover or two late in the game as U of M starts the season 1-0.

Michigan 24, Notre Dame 17.

 

 

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What does this recruiting class mean for Harbaugh, Michigan?

The 2018 Michigan Football recruiting class was ranked as low as it’s been since the Rich Rodriguez/Brady Hoke transitional period.

This class was ranked at the no. 21 spot nationally according to 247Sports. Third in the Big Ten conference, behind both Ohio State and Penn State.

Four star LB Otis Reese jumped ship on his prior commitment to Jim Harbaugh and Michigan, signed with Georgia instead. The Wolverines were also unable to land primary target five-star OT Nicholas Petit-Frere, as he signed with Ohio State. Missing out on Petit-Frere wasn’t exactly a surprise given recent events leading up to this week.

Ultimately, Michigan wasn’t victorious on national signing day. Harbaugh and his staff were unable to land a third consecutive top ten recruiting class.

If the 8-5 season wasn’t enough of a reality check (which it should be), then look no further. How long can a program continuously fail to win important games, be nationally irrelevant, and still land major recruits?

For years, Michigan has been one of the nation’s easiest recruiting jobs. National exposure, biggest stadium in football, the hype, the tradition, the brand. Kids wanted to come be apart of this rebuild that fans have been waiting on for well over a decade.

Add first year head coach Jim Harbaugh to the equation, runner-up head coach in Super Bowl 47. He’s a celebrity, he dabs, he hangs out with the Migos, he climbs trees, and he’ll even come sleep over at your house.

Appealing for recruits, right? Absolutely, but do you know when that stops being cute? When he goes 1-5 against his chief rivals for his first three seasons, doesn’t finish better than third in his own division, and goes 1-2 in bowl games. Did I mention that Michigan pays Harbaugh $9 million per year?

Look, this post wasn’t intended for Harbaugh criticisms, we can cover that another day. The point I’m getting at: recruits aren’t buying into Harbaugh and Michigan anymore.

Why aren’t they buying into it? Quite simple. They’re realizing that Michigan has been all bark and no bite for quite some time now.

You can sell hope to these kids for so long, but when it becomes a trend to sell hope, obviously results are scarce. Recruits don’t want the preseason top ten ranking, they want a trip to Indy and to win something of national relevance.

I won’t act as if this class was a total failure because Michigan most definitely signed some kids who will contribute significantly. They just lack the heavy hitters, the five stars, the kids you expect to sign with a big name like Michigan. There was not one recruit ranked in the top 100 for this class.

This has been Harbaugh’s quietest offseason yet regarding headlines for Michigan, and I believe that speaks volumes. He’s been humbled by the 8-5 season and understands that he needs to attend to his program.

To regain an upper-edge on the recruiting trail yet again, the formula is easier than you think. It’s not about hiring better recruiters, it’s not about cool uniforms, it’s not about going to France for Spring Break, and it’s not about sleepovers. Sure, those things are fun and can help in certain scenarios. But it’s about winning.

Recruiting is fun to evaluate and analyze. It makes the college football offseason worthwhile, good way to compare programs off the field. However, at the end of the day, stars are stars and players make plays. The coaches put those players in the position to make said plays; here’s an unpopular example most Michigan fans will cringe at:

Mark Dantonio consistently recruits classes with a slightly similar talent caliber to Michigan’s 2018 class on a good year. The results are there, the program is in good hands.

Dantonio has beaten Harbaugh two out of three times, won a Big Ten Championship, appeared in the playoffs,  and beaten Ohio State. They’re doing okay for themselves outside of their recent 3-9 season.

Michigan State landed just 21 four/five-star recruits combined in the 2015, 16, 17, and 18 classes. Michigan, on the other hand, has landed 47 four/five-star recruits combined in the same time period.

The bottom line is that Harbaugh has a roster with raw talent and he’s not developing them, thus far at least. I used Dantonio as an example because he clearly gets the most out of what he gets.

It’s a luxury to have a top 25 ranked class in the nation and refer to it as a disappointment. While it currently is trending downward, Michigan is still an easy recruiting job. It will continuously plummet if results remain to be nonexistent.

Michigan should not expect kids to keep coming to their school when they evidently see that talent leaves un-accomplished. Jabrill Peppers? Rashan Gary? What do these two five-star recruits have under their belts? Good individual performances, of course. But zero wins against the Buckeyes (so far, Gary has 1-2 more seasons).

Four senior classes at Michigan have went all four seasons winless against Ohio State since the turn of the century. That is an unappealing stat for recruits to look at.

This class shows that Michigan is hurting, something we already knew, but no one should be surprised by the outcome. This is a direct product of the 2017-18 season. It’s going on year four now, and Harbaugh has quite the job ahead of him. Win big games, and you can win big recruits again.

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

by Mark Edwards

This week’s edition of Don Brown’s “Pressure of the Week” will show the evolution of offensive football and why getting pressure on a quarterback can prove to be so difficult.  Any defensive coordinator will tell you that if you get a backup quarterback into the game (or in this case a 4th string quarterback), you dial up so much pressure that the quarterback’s inexperience becomes the 12th defender.

If that quarterback is leading a spread offensive team, offensive coordinators can do things to make that pressure really difficult to achieve.  Maryland’s game plan from the get go was to attack the edge of the defense and to utilize quick throws (i.e. tunnel screens, bubble screens, etc.) to protect the quarterback.

‘Ay, there’s the rub’ that presented itself to Don Brown yesterday.  So, how did he choose to attack this philosophy?  Early pressure from a 3-3 alignment.   This week’s pressure highlights new contributors, eye discipline and athleticism.

THIS WEEK’S PRESSURE

SITUATION:  3rd & 7, Maryland ball on their own 30 yard line

TIME:  11:34 left in the second quarter

WHY THIS SERIES: Michigan, already up 14-0, was presented with yet another chance to get the ball back in decent field position and deliver a potential knockout blow.  Maryland had yet to really do anything except throw a double pass back to the quarterback who dropped it.  This was the moment that the Michigan defense could take a strangle hold on the Maryland attack.

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FRAME #1

OFFENSIVE FORMATION: Trips Right Packer (The #3 receiver on the trips side is on the line and is outflanked by two receivers who are off of the line)

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

DEFENSIVE BASE:  3-3

MICHIGAN PERSONNEL NOTES:  Defensive end Rashan Gary (#3) is in a ghost 9 technique to the trips side while Maurice Hurst Jr. (#73) is in a 3-technique to the tight end side.  Chase Winovich (#15) is aligned in a 9-technique outside of the tight end.  The defensive ends are assigned to keep any run play “in the box,” which funnels the ball to the linebackers.  Michigan has three linebackers standing on the line, which is normally a sign that at least one of them is a part of the pressure.  Mike McCray (#9) is standing over the right guard while Josh Uche (#35) is over the center and viper Khaleke Hudson (#7) is standing over the top of the tight end.

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Notice that Devin Bush Jr. (#10) is six yards from the line of scrimmage and heavily shaded to the running back side.  The reason for that is if Maryland runs a speed option to the tight end side, Bush Jr. has to take the pitch back.  On the edge, Michigan cornerback David Long (#22) is in press coverage over the Packer alignment while safety Josh Metellus (#14) is four yards off of the #2 receiver.  Why are they not all in press alignment?  Michigan is anticipating crossing of the receivers.  If the defensive back are at the same depth, they will get picked off.  Go back and watch the Seahawks-Patriots Super Bowl final play.

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FRAME #2

What is Maryland doing here?  Maryland is going to run a tunnel screen to the #2 receiver, which is D.J. Moore.  They are also going to “flare” the RB to the top of the screen.  This should get Bush Jr. to vacate the middle of the field.

What has changed:  You can see that Michigan is not going to “bring the house” here.

Michigan’s pressure: This is actually just a four-man pressure that includes the defensive line and Josh Uche (#35).  Gary and WInovich are working around the edge of the offensive line while Uche and Hurst (#73) are going to run a cross stunt.  Uche is going to the A-gap to the boundary side of the center while Hurst is going to cross around Uche to the A-gap to the field (trips side).  The irony is that this pressure is designed to get Hurst to the quarterback.  Maryland’s lack of execution actually presents Michigan with the opportunity to get home quicker, which helps defeat the tunnel screen.

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FRAME #3

What is Maryland doing here?  The quarterback is looking to the RB flare to move the defense, which he does effectively  The right guard is already moving downfield to level 2, although there is nobody there to block.  The center is the problem.  He passes off Uche to the left guard.  That’s an issue when the left guard is still caught up with Hurst.  The #3 Packer alignment receiver has done a nice job of blocking David Long.

What has changed:  Uche is three yards from the quarterback and is unabated to his goal.

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Michigan’s pressure: This is a basic pressure.  Uche and Hurst are it.  Metellus (#14) is late to see the tunnel screen while McCray is spying the QB.  Hudson (#7) is in man-to-man with the tight end.

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FRAME #4

What is Maryland doing here?  They actually have a tunnel screen set up to be successful.  The right guard just has to block Metellus and the ball needs to be caught by Moore and Michigan has a problem on their hands.

What has changed:  Winovich has defeated the left tackle although this pressure is all about Josh Uche.

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Michigan’s pressure: Notice that Hurst has read the screen and is starting to retrace the line of scrimmage.  McCray (#9) is reading the QB’s eyes and moving into the potential passing lane.

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FRAME #5

What is Maryland doing here?  The quarterback has thrown the tunnel screen while being hit by Uche and Winovich.   Maryland’s center and left guard have also moved to level 2 to block downfield.

What has changed:  Besides for Uche and Winovich, Mike McCray is in position to intercept the pass.  Due to the pressure, the ball is thrown into the ground and not into McCray’s hands.

Michigan’s pressure: Michigan showed a six-man pressure and only brought a four-man pressure.  The spread offense makes six-man pressures really difficult to execute.  If you had seen the free safety (Tyree Kinnel #23) in the screen before the snap, that would’ve been a clue that Michigan was bring more that four people.

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FRAME #6

Incomplete pass.  Quarterback on the ground.  Punt it!

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FINAL THOUGHT:  It’s been refreshing to see a rotation of young players early in games.  This tells me that the young guys are earning it in practice and that’s so positive heading forward.  The usage of the 3-3 alignment also lets Don Brown get more speed on the field/  I expect to see a heavy dose of the 4-2 package this week at Wisconsin.

 

 

 

Don Brown “Pressure of the Week” – Rutgers

by Mark Edwards

The “pressure” felt by the Michigan Football team this week had everything to do with the other side of the ball.  But in this week’s installment of the “Pressure of the Week,” we are going to look at a great individual effort that was mirrored by the discipline of his teammates.

THIS WEEK’S PRESSURE

SITUATION:  3rd & 8, Rutgers ball on Rutger’s 27 yard line

TIME:  14:11 left in the third quarter

WHY THIS SERIES:  There certainly wasn’t the influx of sacks and pressures that we saw in 2016 but this series, which was Rutgers first of the third quarter, saw a chance to cut the lead to 7 points if they could put it into the end zone.

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FRAME #1

OFFENSIVE FORMATION: Empty Left (it is a 3×2 formation with three receivers to the field and the Janarion Grant into the boundary.)

RUTGERS PERSONNEL: 00 (0 running backs, 0 tight ends, 5 wide receivers)

DEFENSIVE BASE:  3-3

MICHIGAN PERSONNEL NOTES:  Michigan’s defensive line is occupying the left side of Rutgers’s offensive line.  Chase Winovich (#15) is lined up over the nose while Maurice Hurst (#73) is in a 3-technique (outside shoulder of the guard).  Defensive end Rashan Gary (#3) is in a 5-technique (outside shoulder of the tackle).  Backup viper Noah Furbush (#59) is in a 5-technique to the bottom of the screen.  Cornerbacks David Long (#22) and Lavert Hill (#24) are in their normal press alignments.  Linebackers Devin Bush Jr. (#10) and Mike McCray (#9) are aligned in stacked positions on Gary and Winovich (they are already moving in the screen shot above).  Viper Khaleke Hudson (#7) is splitting the difference  between the #2 and #3 receivers to the top of th screen.  Safeties Josh Metellus (#14) and Tyree Kinnel (#23) are getting to a cover 2 depth (meaning they are responsible for the deep halves of the field).

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FRAME #2

What is Rutgers doing here?  Rutgers is running a five-man route which means that the offensive line should be able to handle the four-man pressure.  The Rutgers line has slid their protection to the defensive front.

What has changed:  Two things of note here.  First, Furbush (#59) has dropped to race back to the #3 receiver to the field who is running a vertical stem.  Secondly but most importantly, Gary has already defeated the left tackle.

Michigan’s pressure: With the bail into coverage by Furbush, it has been accompanied by Devin Bush Jr.’s blitzing through the B gap.  Hurst (#73) has ripped into the A-gap.  Winovich (#15) has worked from the center and is responsible for the contain of the pocket to the bottom of the screen.

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FRAME #3

What is Rutgers doing here?  Forget the pass route.  It’s not going to work.  The Rutgers left tackle has been “run by.”  The rest of the Rutgers line is in good shape here.  Rutgers quarterback Giovanni Rescigno is in the grasp of Rashan Gary.

What has changed:  A sack seemingly is imminent.

Michigan’s pressure:  Rutgers quarterback Giovanni Rescigno is in the grasp of Rashan Gary.  Notice the eye discipline of Winovich and Bush Jr.  They know what they are responsible for doing in this pressure.

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FRAME #4

What is Rutgers doing here? Surviving…barely.

What has changed:  Rescigno has escaped the Gary “sack” attempt.   He is going to attempt to escape to his left.

Michigan’s pressure:  Gary has missed the sack attempt.  Notice that Devin Bush Jr. (top of the screen rusher) has the escape attempt contained.  Hurst and Winovich are starting to mirror the quarterback’s movement.  Gary, while stunned he didn’t get the sack, is already up and in pursuit.  That’s a sign of fanatical effort.

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FRAME #5

What is Rutgers doing here? The scramble attempt continues.

What has changed:  Rescigno now has a bigger problem that Gary.  He is being forced back into the middle of the pocket because Devin Bush Jr. has defeated the left guard is now on a dead run into the quarterback..  Hurst and Winovich are waiting for him.

Michigan’s pressure:   I can’t think of a worse place to be than between Gary and Bush Jr. with both of them sprinting at me.  Winovich is slightly out of position because he’s right on top of Hurst.

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FRAME #6

What is Rutgers doing here? This is a sack.  There is no escape.

What has changed:  Rescigno has entered Don Brown’s “Bermuda Triangle” where quarterbacks rarely survive.

Michigan’s pressure:  Winovich, who was out of position, has now accelerated into the middle of the pocket while Bush and Gary are within a step.

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FRAME #7

Sack!!!

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FINAL THOUGHT: While some teams look like they think they have nothing to play for, it’s the opposite of the effort shown here by the Michigan defense.  It’s the second week in a row that a four-man pressure has been featured.  Once again, it’s a great sign to get home with four rushers…even if it’s just against the Big Ten’s JV team-Rutgers.

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

by Mark Edwards

This column has been highlighting blitz pressures from the Michigan Defense all season.  However, I think most of the fan base would’ve hoped that with the front four, pressure could be applied at times without having to involve the back seven.  Well, after the initial “blitz” by Penn State, Don Brown had to adjust and mix in far more of the 4-3 base and four-man pressure than we’ve seen this season,

THIS WEEK’S PRESSURE

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

TIME:  12:53 left in the second quarter

WHY THIS SERIES: This series is the first shot the defense had after Michigan scored their first touchdown to bring the score to 14-6 (Yes, Quinn Nordin is human).  You got the sense watching the game that this was a crucial series for the defense.

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FRAME #1

OFFENSIVE FORMATION: Empty Left (it is a 3×2 formation with three receivers to the field and the RB split wide into the boundary)

PENN STATE PERSONNEL: 11 (1 running back, 1 tight end)

DEFENSIVE BASE:  4-3

MICHIGAN PERSONNEL NOTES:  Freshman DE Kwity Paye (#19) is in a speed rush alignment to the bottom of the screen.  DT Bryan Mone (#90) is in a 1 technique with Maurice Hurst (#73) is in his customary 3 technique to the strength of the formation while Rashan Gary (#3) is in a 5 technique (outside shoulder of tackle).  Viper Khaleke Hudson (#7) is lined up over the #2 receiver while LBs Mike McCray (#9) and Devin Bush Jr. (#10) are inside the box.  McCray is shaded to the #2 boundary receiver.  Cornerbacks David Long (#22) and Lavert Hill (#24) are in their normal press alignment.

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FRAME #2

What is Penn State doing here?  Penn State is setting up for a five man route with the H-back releasing vertically as well.  They are in a man protection, which is going to help Michigan (keep reading).

What has changed:  Hudson (#7) has moved into the split the difference between the #2 and #3 receivers.  Bush (#10) has dropped into coverage as well as McCray (#9) has down to the bottom of the screen.

Michigan’s pressure:  The pressure is a simple “TAT” stunt between Mone (#90) and Hurst (#73).  Hurst’s job is to drive into the A-gap (remember he is lined up in the B-gap) while Mone loops around and becomes the B-Gap rusher to the field.  Paye (#19) and Gary (#3) are rushing through the outside shoulder of the offensive tackles.

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FRAME #3

What is Penn State doing here?  They are running both outside receivers on vertical routes while both the #2 and #3 receivers are running outs and the #2 receiver to the bottom of the screen is running a shallow cross.  The big problem for Penn State here is the pass protection.  They have recognized the TAT stunt but have poorly traded off their protection responsibilities (#66 is the center and he should take Hurst while the left guard #74 should take Mone).

What has changed:  Hurst is unabated to the QB right here while Paye and Gary have kept McSorely in the pocket.

Michigan’s pressure:  This is as well of an executed TAT pressure as you can see.

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FRAME #4

What is Penn State doing here?  They are getting sacked.

What has changed:  The QB has pressed the pocket forward which is right into the rush of Hurst.  Why would he do that?  Look at Paye (#19) and Gary (#3).  There’s no escape outside.

Michigan’s pressure:  Hurst has gotten home while Mone is not squeezing his side of the pocket inside.

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FRAME #5

SACK!

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FINAL THOUGHT:  It is a good sign anytime a defense can get home with four rushers.  Do I think it will continue to be the “pressure of the week?”  No.  Penn State had something to do with the fact that we needed the back seven to do something that is outside of our norm.  With Hurst and Mone leaving, the development of the next set of interior linemen is paramount as the season continues.

 

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.

 

Bo’s Warning About Purdue – Game Prediction

by Mark Edwards

Finally…the Big Ten opener is upon us!  The beginning of conference play always seems to bring a heightened anxiety level to fans and considering that some are in the stratosphere already, I’m worried.  When I say worried, don’t confuse that with a lack of confidence.  I’m confident that Michigan gets the job done and looks good doing it.

In 1989, a VHS tape was released called “Vintage Bo.”

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The 30-minute video is the precursor to any “Hard Knocks” or “Training Days” production that football fans clamor for like it is a right of passage.  In the video, the camera crew follows a 42-year old head coach named Glenn E. “Bo” Schembechler in 1971 as he prepares his Michigan squad to take on Iowa on November 6, 1971 in Michigan Stadium.  They have footage of Bo at home with his family, on the practice field, in the locker room and on the field during the game.   Michigan won 63-7 that day and left Michigan with only two games left in the regular season.  Obviously, “The Game” was last on the 1971 schedule but there was a trip to West Lafayette, Indiana to take on Purdue sandwiched in there.

In the victorious locker room, Bo gave his team this warning:

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“DON’T THINK PURDUE WON’T BE TOUGH DOWN IN WEST LAFAYETTE.  YOU KNOW THEY WILL.”

If Bo was still with us today, that would be his message for Coach Harbaugh, the team and the fan base.  I expect his words to be correct again.

OFFENSIVE PREVIEW

Is this the week that it happens?  Can Michigan put it all together and emerge from the shadows of one of the top defenses in the country?  Can Wilton Speight march the offense up and down the field?  Will the WRs show up?  Basically, can the fan base have last year’s offense back?

Purdue’s defense comes into Saturday’s matchup (4 p.m. FOX TV) with the same type of look as Michigan’s offense.  They’ve been good enough to beat Ohio (not that Ohio) and Missouri (not old school Missouri) but gave up 524 yards to Louisville in the opener at Lucas Oil Stadium.  Purdue will play inspired and their effort will be really good.

How does Michigan move the ball on the Boilermakers?

The answer has to be “however Michigan wants to move the ball on them.”  I’m not being disrespectful but it’s time for Michigan to impose their will on a defense (and I’m sure Bo is smiling down on that mantra).  Whether it be Michigan’s toss sweep game or their shotgun inside zone running attack, I think Michigan will be very efficient is that part of it.  Ironically, Michigan needs the three-headed attack to be lethal.  The three heads are:

  1.  Base run game
  2.  Special schemed runs (jet sweeps with McDoom & Peoples-Jones)
  3.  Intermediate passing game

If Michigan can accomplish those three, I think the offense not only moves the chains (which they have been doing more than fans want to acknowledge) but we finally see a red zone offense that reminds us of the first 10 games last season.  Did you ever think we’d miss Peppers as our wildcat QB?  Well, we have missed him (See #2 above).  I think Jim Harbaugh, Tim Drevno and Pep Hamilton have focused on getting the ball to playmakers in the red zone this week.  Look for Peoples-Jones, Gentry and Grant Perry to be called upon in the red zone.

NOTE:  Losing Tariq Black will be compensated for by the infusion of Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins.

DEFENSIVE PREVIEW

When you hear Don Brown say “Oh, we’ve got a lot left”, you have to smile.  Dr. Blitz will return to his comfort zone as I expect a heavy amount of blitz on Purdue QB David Blough in first-year coach Jeff Brohm’s offense.  The mission…make Purdue one-dimensional.  Do you want Purdue to be the team who ran for 51 yards vs. Louisville or 223 vs. Ohio?  Survey says…Louisville in the #1 answer.  If this happens, the focus then gets shifted to the coverage of the secondary.  Michigan has far exceeded a “solid” label in the back half of the defense.  Can Hill, Long, Watson, Kinnel and Metellus lock down the Purdue passing attack?

How does pressuring the QB help this defense?

Count to 4…1, 2, 3, 4!  Boom!  That’s how long the UM secondary needs to cover if the Gary, Hurst, Winovich, Bush wrecking crew can get home vs. a Purdue offensive line that gave up four sacks to a mediocre Louisville defense.  Get home…get home…get home.  I don anticipate Michigan to roll safeties down in to the pressure, which is only made possible because of the Khaleke Hudson skill set.

If Michigan can get Purdue to be one-dimensional by execution and score of the game, I would expect the big Michigan contingent that travels to West Lafayette to be happy come 7:30.  If Michigan cannot get the job done, this game turns into a 50/50 “free for all” that puts more pressure on the offense than any game this schedule.

FINAL SCORE:  Michigan 34, Purdue 14

PICKS TO CLICK:  Offense – Wilton Speight, Defense – Maurice Hurst

CONFIDENCE LEVEL:  Confident but uneasy

ONE THING THAT MAY SURPRISE:  Michigan will win the turnover battle by at least 3 turnovers (+3).

ONE THING THAT MAY DISAPPOINT:  Purdue will hit one trick play that drives the fans nuts.  So if you find yourself thinking “How could they fall for that?”, I’m talking to you.