The defensive performance against the Ducks was much better than it initially seemed. As was the case with the offense, there were some breakdowns in the first half, but the unit greatly improved as the game went along. The fact that the offense could not sustain a drive early on only helped to contribute to the defensive struggles. When all was said and done, they spent 19 minutes and 47 seconds defending Belotti's attack in the first half. After regrouping at halftime they came out and gave the team a number of opportunities to take control of the game. The Wolverines even played over a few blatant, but missed, holding calls (so blatant that even the announcer mentioned them).
3rd and 10 on Oregon 30, 13:41
After two big stops for no gain, Michigan attempts a dog blitz to the strong side. The SAM and the end execute the dog (end crashes in while the SAM loops to the outside). The MIKE comes in behind the dog action and they get good pressure but Michigan plays a soft zone behind the blitz and allows the easy pitch and catch for the first down on the out pattern to the strong side.
2nd and 4 on Oregon 47, 12:49
As the Ducks did much of the day, they switched the strength of the formation directly prior to the snap if the ball in an attempt to get Michigan out of position. Oregon attempts a run up the middle but the line holds and stops Vincent for a gain of 3.
3rd and 1on Oregon 50, 12:09
Michigan lines up in a goal line defense. Strong left. Kashama is playing right end in 5 technique with outside contain. On the snap he comes off shaprly toward the QB and is further sucked in by the play fake. That left the corner wide open for the pitch man who gets upfield for a one yard gain and a first down.
1st and 10 on Michigan 34, 9:41
Weakside guard kicks out the weakside tackle. Reid doesn't get up into the line of scrimmage to take on the lead block at the point of attack. He waits on the blcok and is kicked out 3 yards down the field, allowing the back to get up through the hole before help defenders can get over to close him off. Pick up of 9 yards.
1st and 10 on Oregon 19, 5:36
Both Watson and Harrison engage their men on the screen play. Watson gets good push into the backfield but stumbles as his man comes off of him. Harrison comes in behind Gabe and shows outstanding footspeed getting after the QB. Watson regains his feet, recognizes the screen, and gets out into the flat to cover the back and force Clemens to throw the ball away.
3rd and 10 on Michigan 45, 2:25
Michigan manned up the receivers with greater frequency on this drive. They bring the house on a blitz and man up behind it. Clemens is pressured and flushed, but can't find an open receiver. Incomplete.
2nd and 10 on Michigan 19, 13:50
Whitehead runs up the middle. The defensive line angles to the right. The play is designed to go through the short side B gap. The fullback moves toward line but can't make it through because of a crashing Harrison. The backside guard gets out on Diggs who attacks the lineman's outside shoulder. VanAlstyne gets outstanding penetration into the backfield through the hole left by the guard. He hits Whitehead in the backfield but can't bring him down. Whitehead sees the playside hole closed off by Harrison and Reid and cuts it back through the backside B gap. Reid, who was keying on the fullback, can't get backside quick enough to close off the hole after JVA's missed tackle. Ernest Shazor keeps the play inside but stays blocked and Marlin Jackson comes up and whiffs on the tackle. Touchdown. The defense looked tired at this point
2nd and 7 on Oregon 46, 10:16
Great release move by the Oregon tight end to evade Reid's jam and get wide open for the reception and a big gain of 31 yards. Credit the offensive player with a great individual move.
1st and 10 on Oregon 15, 10:04
Option play with Fife. The tackle and tight end double team Massey to keep him off of the edge. The TE comes off of that block to block down on a pursuing Diggs. Reid does his job by running right past the QB and taking the pitch man. The safety (Shazor) then has to come up for the force, but he attacks the inside shoulder of his blocker, sacrificing his outside arm and thus contain on the play. That gave Fife a clear path to the endzone to the outside.
Oregon dictated the tempo early in the contest, but the Michigan defense composed itself and started to play better. As the game progressed, the defensive calls became more aggressive (i.e. more man coverage) and the Ducks offensive production slowed. After giving up 233 yards and 2 touchdowns on 84 yards rushing and 149 yards passing in the first half, they held the Ducks to 147 yards and 3 points on 43 yards rushing and 104 yards passing in the second half. Even more impressive was their ability to come up with big stops in the second half when they were desperately needed. After Navarre's first interception, Markus Curry came up with a huge pass breakup to end a Duck drive before it really got going. When the Ducks went for the fake field goal, the Wolverine defenders stood the runner up two yards short of the endzone. Also, when UM closed the gap to 24-21 and needed a stop to get the ball back so they would have an opportunity seize the game, Larry Stevens and Grant Bowman converged for a huge sack on third down…forcing the Ducks to punt. Speaking of Stevens, both he and Jeremy LeSueur made their presence felt all day.
Michigan's success in man coverage on Saturday will hopefully signal a greater
willingness to utilize it during the Big Ten campaign. It definitely caused
the Ducks a few problems and it should be equally effective for the Wolverines
throughout the season.