While concern may be merited, the tape revealed that panic is not. Starting out with the positive aspects of the game, it looks as if this will be the first year since 97 that Michigan will have a return for a touchdown. Steve Breaston came flashed the exciting ability that has been so bandied about. With 157 all-purpose yards in his first game, it won’t be long before teams are game-planning to nullify his effect.
On offense, the passing game was a touch out of sink, but there’s no cause for alarm. John Navarre was a few dropped passes away from having close to 300 yards, as well as a few more passing TDs. There were a few missed throws but the hiccups in the passing game looked like nothing more than rust. In the rushing attack, there was no absolutely sign of it being the first game. The offensive line was stellar and Chris Perry made cuts and showed more speed than anyone around these parts had seen before. If he stays healthy he’ll easily get over 1500 yards.
The true questions presented themselves on defense. No one foresaw Central having that type of success. The first thing I must do is give credit to the CMU because their center is a stud. Furthermore, the left guard and tackle could play on big ten teams. They are very good players. That said, they shouldn’t have been able to run for 200 yards against Michigan. There were a few key reasons that the Chips were so successful. The formation that caused the Wolverines the most trouble was the double tight/single back set. (Remember that because I’m sure UM will see it again in heavy doses). The inside combo blocks were causing problems and early in the game, UM often did not bring an 8th man up to the box area pre-snap. The Central linemen got clean shots on the linebackers on certain occasions. Holding up that double team is a must without an eighth defender up. In other instances, the backers failed to maintain their gaps. Missed tackles were also a problem child. Still, there is reason to think that things will get better and there were some encouraging plays turned in.
1st and 10 at CMU 20, 13:19
Pat Massey is left unblocked by the tackle, but is held outside by the reverse action. The tackle kicks out the SAM (Woods), while the guard and center double Bowman and move him off of the line. This leaves a huge B gap hole that isn’t filled by Diggs because he dropped into pass coverage. Reid comes from the weakside to grab the back’s ankles for a gain of 7 yards.
1st and 10 on CMU 27, 9:11
Both the Split end and flanker line up on the weakside of the formation. The split end blocks down on Kashama. Reid scrapes off of Kashama's backside with inside out technique and is picked off by the flanker. The tackle pulls to lead the play. Shaw hesitates when he sees the down blocks and doesn’t force until the tackle and fullback cross the line of scrimmage. At that point he does attack the fullback’s outside shoulder and turns the play in toward his help for a gain of 6 yards.
1st and 10 on CMU 38, 8:21
Double tight single back set. Bowman is put to the turf by the Chippewa center. Heuer is pushed 5 yards off of the ball by a weakside guard/tackle double team. The back comes up through the hole and Reid, who took more of a lateral pursuit angle to his gap, stopped the play for a 5-yard gain.
1st and 10 on UM 48, 7:52
Roy Manning recognizes the quick pass to the flanker and attacks the split end at the line. He fights through the block and makes the solo tackle for a pickup of 4 yards.
2nd and 6 on UM 43, 7:25
Same play and formation as the first of play this drive (which occurred at 9:11 as listed above). (Note: either the strength call has been flipped or Manning is playing Will and Kaufman is playing SAM on this play). Manning is lined up in the same position that Reid was and immediately attacks across the line of scrimmage when he sees the down blocks. He chips the pulling tackle’s outside shoulder AND takes on the fullback with Curry (who also attacked immediately this time). The blockers never cross the line and Bowman makes the stop for a pickup of two yards. The good play nullified by a personal foul penalty by Heuer.
1st and 10 on UM 26, 7:11
CMU attempts a screen to the strong side. The strongside guard attempts to get out and cut Manning, but Roy recognizes the play (and the block) and keeps his feet. He then gets across the line and hit the back for a loss of one.
2nd and 11 on UM 27, 6:38
Double tight single back set. Larry Harrison is taken 3 yards off of the ball by the center. Gabe Watson is cut by the weakside tackle and doesn’t disrupt the guards flow to the Will. Kaufman, who should fill inside out, attacks the wrong shoulder of the firing linemen and is taken out of the play leaving big hole backside. Pickup of 8 yards.
3rd and 2 on UM 19, 6:03
Double tight single back set. CMU goes hard playaction to the strongside, but Jeremy Van Alstyne isn’t sucked in far enough by the fake and is able to get upfield and pressure the QB into a bad throw. Interception by LeSueur.
1st and 10 on CMU 26, 2:19
Gabe Watson penetrates backside, but misses the tackle in the backfield. The split end and flanker are lined up outside the hash marks on the wide side of the field, drawing the outside backer off of the line. The wide side end Massey is playing 5 technique (offensive tackle’s outside shoulder). The guard blocks down on the tackle (Bowman), and double-team him with the center. Bowman does a good job of holding his position. Diggs comes up and fills the B gap by meeting the fullback in the hole. However, he attacks the inside half of the fullback, giving away his own outside shoulder and creating a huge alley for the tailback (recall the end is playing 5, so he’s attacking outside the tackle). The play picks up 7 yards.
1st and 10 on CMU 37, 1:45
(Note: run blitz may have been called here.) Massey shifts over and attacks the outside shoulder of the strongside guard. Diggs blows through the strong side C gap (between the tackle and the tight end) at the snap of the ball. He blows up the tackle’s outside shoulder and gets into the backfield. The fullback is forced to shorten his lead and helps the tackle with the double team. The back has to cut inside and runs right into the flowing linemen. Pickup of only two yards.
3rd and 5 on CMU 47, 0:20
Roy Manning lined up in a stand up rush position over the guard. The Center reached on Roy while the guard and tackle fired out to get the linebackers. Roy road the block down the line of scrimmage and blew up the play for no gain!
1st and 10 on CMU 21, 10:59
Double tight single back set. Heuer pushed five yards off of the ball. Weakside backer doesn’t get downhill and pursue the play lateral to the line of scrimmage. The guard is able to come off of Heuer and prevent the weakside backer (not sure who it was) from getting back to his gap. As a result, there’s a HUGE cutback lane and the play goes for 19 yards.
2nd and 9 on CMU 41, 10:19
Double tight single back set. McClintok fills the weakside B gap beautifully. Heuer moved off of the line by the double team again. Larry Harrison sheds the center’s block. The two players turn the play in. Heuer moved off of the ball by the double team again which created a cutback lane. Pickup of five yards.
2nd and 7 on UM 40, 9:04
Double tight single back set. Pat Massey moved is moved out of his gap by the tackle. The back turns it up through the vacated area for 6 yards.
3rd and 1 on UM 38, 8:20
Gabe Watson blows through the combo block, disrupting the play in the backfield. Kashama stunts through playside B gap and nailed the lead blocker. Both players disrupt the play and the ball carrier is tackled for a loss of 1.
2nd half / 1st drive
2nd and 12 on UM 9, 14:30
Double tight/fake toss/trap. Woods takes on the pulling tackle and turns the play in. However, Diggs fails to make it over because the playside guard was able to come off double of Bowman and disrupt Carl’s pursuit. Pickup of 17
1st and 10 on UM 26, 14:15
Double tight single back set. Massey gets through B gap but makes little contact with tackle and is taken down by the guard. The tackle gets a free shot at Diggs 5 yards down field where Carl takes him on. Reid doesn’t flow over quick enough and the back picked up 12 yards.
After the touchdown in the second half, the Chippewa offense was pretty much shut down by the Wolverines. From that point on UM, more times than not, brought another man into the box and put 7 along the line when CMU went to double tight/single back set. That left a free man to clean up the back closer to, or behind, the line of scrimmage. Along the line, the play of Gabe Watson and Alain Kashama stood out. As for improvements, the tackles in particular will have to have better games tomorrow. They simply have to do a better job of holding up at the line of scrimmage. At linebacker, Manning and McClintok stuck out.
Houston’s scheme doesn’t seem to consist of much (if any) double tight, but it’s likely that they will also try to exploit the middle of UM’s defense with the rush game. Walking a safety up may be more costly this week, as the Cougar receivers are more dangerous than the ones the Chips fielded. Still, stopping the run is the name of the game and Ernest Shazor will be a huge lift in that department. He will play a big roll against the rushing attack and I look for marked improvement versus the run this week.
While Houston will move the ball, I think that Michigan will be able to hold them to less than 4 yards per rush. The Cougars don’t have the size along the front to use a straight power game versus UM. The passing game wasn’t really tested last week, but should still do well with one game under their belts and the return of Shazor and Jackson. The major concern IMO is the TE versus the Cover 2. The seam in the middle of that defense can be exploited by a good TE (which Houston seems to have). The Wolverines will need a good coverage day from the SAM and will have to do a good job of jamming the TE off of the line. As usual, Michigan will play a great deal of zone coverage, so the Cougars will get some passing yardage (I’m predicting 225-230ish). However, I think Michigan’s keeps them off the scoreboard for the most part. The Wolverines win, but they don’t cover the 27 point spread, 38-17.