Video this week is thanks to Chris of Dangerous Logic.
|Wisconsin's RG doubles Branch momentarily with the RT, then peels off to block a charging Burgess at the last moment, opening a hole up the middle. Very nice play.Hill pops through the LOS for a nice gain. If I can blame someone it's Mundy(-1), who's too far inside and is washed out. YAM: 3. But he's done pretty well this year.|
|Crable(-1) is not the right guy to be taking on fullback blocks and it shows here, as he is shoved to the ground by Rentmeester with ease. Dave Harris(-1) gives up – yes – outside contain, opening up much room for Hill.|
|M37||1||10||Standard 4-3||Pass||5 (Pen)||PA out|
|Taylor(-1) offsides at the snap. Wisconsin goes with play action; Branch(+1) pushes his blocker back over a fallen UW OL and hammers Stocco as he throws, forcing an incompletion. (PR)|
|Pulling guard is supposed to block Woodley(+2), but Lamarr plows him backwards. This takes away Hill's lane and removes two blockers. Hill tries to bounce it out; Trent(+1) has also defeated his man and wraps him up for a major loss.|
|Same play that killed us when Owen Daniels ran it last year. Effective because when Woodley reads screen he goes and finds the RB, not the TE. Will Johnson does make it back to the TE but can't make the tackle. No minus, but a missed opportunity for a plus. Would like to see a linebacker somewhere around here. Refs miss a facemask on Johnson. (CA, coverage -1)|
|M29||3||2||Standard 4-3||Pass||29||Busted dumpoff TD|
|Could be on Burgess but Harris was the player closest to Hill when he made his cut, so he gets the -2. (CA, Coverage -2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 9 min 1st Q. Creepy drive to start with... D is AWESOME! What? Er.|
|O18||1||10||Standard 4-3||Penalty||-5||False start|
|Point of attack is jammed up, so Hill is forced to cut back. Unfortunately, there are acres of space as Tim Jamsion(-2) has totally vacated the backside.|
|Jamison(+1) is run at again, this time intentionally. He holds his ground against a pulling guard nicely, allowing Burgess(+1) to close down the outside and track Hill down when he cuts up looking for what he can get.|
|O25||3||3||Standard 4-3||Pass||6||Short cross|
|Burgess's blitz chopped down and Woodley just loses his balance before getting to Stocco, allowing him to complete the cross for the first down. (CA, coverage -1)|
|Zone blitz where we drop off the weakside DE (Jamison) into coverage: they run right at the vacated weakside DE. Should be a big gain – our rock, their paper – but excellent work on the inside by the DTs (Johnson and Taylor, both +1) to the left forces a bounceout: Harris and Burgess(+1 each) kill it in the backfield.|
|Crable lined up over a slot receiver as UW goes three-wide. Surprisingly, Michigan is in man. Unsurprisingly, Crable's not much good against a WR, who gets a yard or two of separation and a good gain. (CA, Coverage -1)|
|Another zone blitz – Van Alstyne drops into coverage – that sends Burgess and Harrison to one side of the formation. RB picks up Harrison, leaving Burgess(+1) unblocked and forcing a ball from Stocco that's ruled intentional grounding. (PR)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 3 min 1st Q. Couple times on their last series of downs that drive we find ourselves out-schemed. Once we turn it into a three yard loss, but the other one sets up a 3rd and 3. English gets his stop with a well-executed blitz.|
|Branch(+2) crushes his man three yards in to the backfield, disengages, and tackles. Terrance Taylor(+1) also got good push.|
|Stocco bounces it. Harris(+1) was right there if the pass was accurate. (IN, Coverage +1)|
|Branch(+1) spins off his man and comes free, forcing Stocco to get rid of the ball way early. The pass ends up a two-yard dumpoff that's almost intercepted by Burgess(+1), who would have waltzed in if he makes the catch. (BR, coverage +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 15 min 2nd Q. Branch almost singlehandedly kills this drive.|
|Crable(+1) takes the fullback on and hold his ground, forcing Hill outside of him. Harris(+1) is unblocked, reads the play and closes quickly, making contact a yard behind the LOS. Hill manages to stumble forward for a small gain.|
|Wisconsin runs play action and runs Stocco out on a bootleg. Branch(+1) is through the line instantly and starts running Stocco down, forcing a throw-away due to good coverage(+1) downfield. (TA)|
|Sideline image of English PISSED for some reason.Woodley(+3) goes right around the tackle and kills the Wisconsin drive. (PR)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 12 min 2nd Q.|
|O12||1||10||Standard 4-3||Run||-1||Off tackle|
|They're in three-wide and decide to run against our base defense. This goes about as well as you might expect. Woodley(+1) drives his man back, disrupting the timing of the play. Harris and Crable clean up.|
|Taylor(+1) gets a good pass rush, forcing Stocco to check down to Hill. He's covered, but Burgess(-1) overruns the play a bit and is forced to try to arm-tackle Hill around the legs. That would probably work against most backs but Hill's a big dude – like Rob Stone's prom dates, apparently, except for the “dude” bit – and breaks the tackle. Sixteen yards later, first down. (CA, coverage +1)|
|Wide open(coverage -1) but thrown a bit behind Hubbard, who drops it. Still has to make that catch. Hall came up to make sure the bobble became an incompletion, but was way too far off of him to make a play if he secured it quickly. (CA)|
|O27||2||10||Standard 4-3||Pass||12 + 15||Stop|
|Simple seven-yard stop finds Trent(-1, coverage -1) way off the receiver. Easy catch and opportunity for YAC because we're playing soft. Jamison(-1) picks up a personal foul for an unnecessary blow to Hubbard's head. WTF is he thinking? (CA)|
|M46||1||10||Standard 4-3||Run||2||Off tackle|
|Good job by Jamison(+1) to fight off a block from the FB and prevent the play from going outside. There's a tiny bit of room inside but not much.|
|M44||2||8||Standard 4-3||Pass||16||Deep cross|
|Rare instance where Stocco's kept totally clean by his OL. Given time and plenty of space he fires a dart in between four Michigan defenders. (DO)|
|M28||1||10||Standard 4-3||Run||5||Off tackle|
|Hill manages to find a tiny crease and burst through the line even though this looks like it's going to go for very little. Jamar Adams with a rare safety tackle.|
|Harris(+1) avoids an attempted block from the tackle, then sticks and drives Hill backwards with a textbook tackle. Spielman starts going POW BOOM OOF.|
|Biggs(+1) leaps into the air, forcing a high, inaccurate throw from Stocco. 50-50 this works if it's complete. (IN)|
|Drive Notes: FG, 10-7, 6 min 2nd Q. Last thing approximating a drive Wisconsin gets until garbage time is a couple instances of soft coverage, a kind of ticky-tack personal foul, and one nice throw from Stocco.|
|O16||1||10||Standard 4-3||Run||1||Off tackle|
|Very nice job by Taylor(+1) and Will Johnson(+1) to kill this right at the LOS.|
|Johnson(+2) drives into the backfield and snuffs this draw out by himself by tossing the guard away like he's a toy.|
|Blitz + picket fence zone around the first down line, which is what I like to see. Blitz is picked up but Terrance Taylor(+1) pancakes the OL and charges in on Stocco, forcing him to take what he can get. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-10, 2 min 2nd Q. Consistently great play from both DTs on this drive and Alan Branch isn't even in the game! Johnson's been more than adequate in limited snaps this year – see third and one versus ND – and is an excellent option to keep the starters fresh. There's not much of a dropoff when he's in the game and that there is one at all speaks more to Branch's overwhelming awesomeness than anything else.|
|Beckum gets a couple steps on Englemon(-1), who's not in position to deal with this presnap (that isn't his fault) but gets way behind him on the crossing route. (CA)|
|Stocco throws it out of bounds, as Hall(+1, coverage +1) gets a jam and is in tight coverage. (TA)|
|Woodley(+1) spins back inside his blocker, getting pressure that forces a Stocco dumpoff. (CA)|
|Stocco is crushed by Branch(+1) as he throws. Ball was heading OOB anyway. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-10, EOH.|
|O19||1||10||Standard 4-3||Pass||Inc||RB flat|
|Good coverage(+1) forces an inaccurate dumpoff to Hill that was going to get crushed anyway. Terrance Taylor is trying to run Hill down, BTW. (IN)|
|O19||2||10||Standard 4-3||Run||3||Counter trap|
|Taylor slants inside, getting pushed out of the designated hole on this play. Burgess(+1) takes on a blocker and comes off for the tackle.|
|Great coverage(+2) as Stocco has a ton of time but can find no one. Stocco is eventually flushed and throws it away. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-10, 13 min 3rd Q.|
|One of their better runs comes one of the few times we bring an eighth guy into the box. There's a big hole between their RT and RG as Crable blitzes upfield. Adams and Burgess get blocked off, leaving Hall to come up and make the tackle.|
|No room here. Great play by Branch(+2) to drive all the way to the other side of the line and tackle. Jamison(+1) also holds up well.|
|O39||3||4||Standard 4-3||Run||3||Pitch sweep|
|Looks like it should get the first down but comes up just short... possibly a questionable spot. Credit to Hall(+1) for coming up, absorbing the blow, and getting Hill to the ground just short of the marker.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-10, 10 min 3rd Q. On replay the spot is correct. Excellent job by Hall.|
|O20||1||10||Standard 4-3||Run||2||Counter trap|
|Branch(+1) cuts off the outside with penetration; Crable(+1) runs Hill down from behind. Dude is fast.|
|Pass is deflected at the line by Branch(+1) another zone-blitz, with Woodley dropping into coverage. (BA)|
|Blitz. Pass deflected at the line by Biggs(+1). (BA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-10, 5 min 3rd Q.|
|Morgan Trent(+1) comes up hard on the outside to prevent Hill from reaching the corner; Harris cleans up. There's nowhere to run inside. Ever.|
|Taylor(+1) comes free after a couple moments of being blocked, forcing Stocco to throw off his back foot. The resulting pass is shockingly good considering the situation but Hubbard can't make a tough, diving catch. (CA)|
|Michigan's in Stocco's head now. Branch(+1) spins inside on the snap, drawing the attention of a guard and the center, as Taylor(+1) stunts around him, coming clean. Stocco rolls a bit and throws it away. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-10, 2 min 3rd Q. The Terrance Taylor/Will Johnson combination this year is better than Gabe Watson was a year ago. There. I said it.|
|This is an outstanding play from Jamar Adams(+2). TE Beckum comes across the formation on this play action fake to the left. Adams, in man, watches Beckun release and sprints across the field to prevent any gain whatsoever.|
|Alan Branch(+3) is a damn beast. Good coverage(+1)|
|Biggs(+1) discards his man and closes on Stocco. Harris(+1) delivers another thumping blow to Hill to finish this drive.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-10, 13 min 4th Q.|
|I'm shocked when our DTs are actually blocked. Hill squeezes up between them but Burgess(+1) makes a nice play to contain the run for only a few yards.|
|O23||2||7||Standard 4-3||Pass||Inc||Deep cross|
|Has just enough time to find a small hole in the zone, but Anderson drops it. (Coverage -1, DO)|
|Jamison(+1) totally unblocked. Uh, okay. Obviously the OL thought Hill was supposed to pick him up.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 24-10, 10 min 4th Q. Wisconsin gets no second half first downs until the game is over.|
And there relevant football ends. Michigan puts together a field goal drive, then gives the ball back leading by 17 with 5 minutes left. The second string proceeds to give up a big chunk of yards. Michigan brings in the first string and holds UW to a field goal.
So that performance certainly didn't suck.
Uh... no, it didn't. Wisconsin went three-and-out on nine of the thirteen relevant drives they had and scored on but two, one of which was a semi-short field after the first interception of the day. By the time Michigan had effectively ended the game, Wisconsin had around 150 yards in total offense. Some garbage-time passing from Stocco on the second-string defense in prevent mode propped up their final numbers but make no mistake: if inclined to continue, Wisconsin probably could have gone another four quarters without another touchdown.
Here is chart:
|Taylor||7||1||6||Came through with flying colors in first serious test versus running team.|
|Branch||12||12||Jumpin' jehosephat. Officially the best player on the team.|
|Johnson||4||4||A fine player in his own right.|
|B. Graham||-||-||-||Made a brief appearance in the second quarter at DT.|
|Crable||2||1||1||Not much for him to do with the front four getting pressure on their own.|
|Harris||5||3||2||Blamed for the bust on the UW touchdown; otherwise the steadiest and best linebacker Michigan has.|
|C. Graham||-||-||DNP, I think.|
|Burgess||6||1||5||Did well in the run game.|
|Mundy||1||-1||Was fine. Possible run/pass platoon with Englemon?|
|Trent||2||1||1||Seemed fine in run support. Started again despite the stadium announcement. Has essentially won the job, IMO.|
|"Coverage"||9||8||1||Far less busy than against ND.|
Obviously, we are very happy with chart. Chart is a fine representation of the Michigan defense.
For a second straight week I desire to say "everybody." That's just the way it is when you give up 150 meaningful yards. More specifically: the entire defensive line. Aside from a couple plays early Hill had nowhere to run and poor John Stocco spent his day screaming "run away, run away, run away" when the nasty big pointy teeth of Branch or Taylor or Woodley or Jamison or Biggs or Johnson came bearing down on him. This defensive line is ridiculous, especially because it has six players who are all contributing at a high level.
Well, David Harris had a tough first drive, giving up outside contain on a Hill run that netted a first down and (probably) blowing the coverage on the Hill touchdown. But he ended up positive on the day -- like everyone who was involved in more than a couple plays -- after thumping the UW ground game and so is declared redeemed.
Anyone emerging further?
Jamison continues to get more and more playing time as his ankle heals. There was one messed up play on the backside but that was more mental error than anything. When he knew what to do in the run game he held up well enough. He's also fast.
Taylor and Johnson were both great. They're active, driving players who would be an excellent starting tandem even in the absence of Alan Branch (BTW: Alan, you are getting verrrry sleepy. You love Michigan and would never consider early entry into the NFL draft). Morgan Trent showed well in run support one week after playing an excellent game versus ND's passing game.
The aforementioned players are all playing in spots Michigan fans were fretting over at season's start. Add in the emergence of Biggs as an above-average player and the remarkable transformations of Crable and Burgess and there isn't a spot on this defense that can be considered a major hole anymore.
Shall we invoke that particular year again and tempt the gods of hubris further?
Uh, no. This defense is terrible, I miss Todd Howard, Zach Kaufman, and Pat Massey and will be surprised if we make a bowl game this year.
What does it mean for Minnesota?
The Gophers may prove more troublesome than Wisconsin did, but they're down to a converted linebacker and Amir Pinnix at RB and have lost that Setterstrom-Eslinger combination that powered their run game for so long. They did rack up 421 yard against Purdue, but that D has been giving up nearly 30 points to I-AA teams. They were largely shut down against Cal -- one of their scores was a kick return -- and if I had to pick between Michigan and Cal's defenses, I would definitely pick Michigan's.
The trouble comes in the form of Ernie Wheelwright, Logan Payne, and Brian Cupito. We haven't faced a receiver with the size and speed of Wheelwright, who is the frequent target of Cupito bombs. We lived on the edge against ND, occasionally letting Rhema McKnight get open downfield. Fortunately for us, Quinn was either getting hit or panicking about getting hit to hit him, except once when McKnight dropped it. I have the Minnesota-Purdue game on DVR and will relay further impressions later in the week.