Matt Pargoff's UW Film Breakdown: The U-M Offense

Entering the Wis. game,the U-M offense had scored 90 points in its previous two games. But the Badger defense played tough -- plus U-M turned the ball over. Matt Pargoff analyzes the major strengths and weaknesses of the Michigan offense in the game.

Despite an impressive running game behind the effort of Chris Perry, the Michigan offense struggled through much of the game against Wisconsin. Beside the turnovers, a major reason for these struggles was the lack of a long and intermediate passing game, which had been a great strength of the offense against Michigan State and Minnesota. In a surprising change from that pattern, Michigan attempted only four passes of over 15 yards against Wisconsin, and completed only one of those passes.

Downfield Passing:

1:18 (1st Quarter)
This may have been a play call for a downfield pass. Michigan ran a waggle on this play, but with no one open, Navarre tried to dump the ball off to Askew. The ball was slightly overthrown, and fell incomplete.

15:00 (2nd Quarter)
This again may have been called as a downfield pass, but with no one open, Navarre did a good job of dropping the ball off to Askew. Unfortunately, Askew fumbled the ball as he picked up the first down.

12:44 (2nd Quarter)
On 2nd and 2, Michigan attempted its first downfield pass of the game, and the ball was intercepted. With twins on the right, Ronald Bellamy ran a deep post, and Braylon Edwards ran a deep crossing pattern. This is a ball that Navarre probably wishes that he had back. Edwards was wide open, but the pass was badly under thrown. The ball may have slipped from his hands, or he may have been affected by not having his feet properly set.

8:29 (2nd Quarter)
On 1st and 10, Wisconsin lined up ten men in the box, in an Inverted Cover Two. That is, the safeties play the flats, and the cornerbacks have deep halves responsibility. The corner lined up with very soft coverage, and Michigan attempted a deep fade to Bellamy. The Wisconsin defender had perfect coverage, cutting Bellamy off and running with him. Michigan was lucky that the ball wasn't intercepted. Against this coverage, because the corners have deep halves but are lining up wide, a slant pass or skinny post would have likely gone for a touchdown.

3:16 (2nd Quarter)
On 1st and 10, Michigan completed its only pass of over 15 yards. Following the play action, Navarre threw an absolutely perfect pass to Bellamy on the deep out. Michigan picked up 16 yards on the play.

14:36 (4th Quarter)
On 1st and 10, Wisconsin was again in an Inverted Cover Two, with nine men in the box. This play had touchdown written all over it with Michigan throwing the deep post, but the ball was intercepted instead. There were two major problems that prevented this play from working. Navarre could have completed the pass early, if thrown with a lot of zip. However, in carrying out the play action, he had to turn his back to the receiver and reset his feet. This prevented him from throwing the ball earlier. Against the inverted cover two, Michigan may been better off without the play action fake, since the safeties are already up near the line. The second problem was that the pass protection broke down. Joppru blocked the Wisconsin defensive end, then passed him off to Petruziello. However, Petruziello missed his block. If Navarre had time to throw, he could have put more air under the ball. Because he had to rush the pass, he wasn't able to do that, and the Wisconsin corner from the far side was able to pick the ball off.

Despite completing an impressive 67.9% of his passes, Navarre did not have his best game, picking up only 136 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown. In the previous two games, Michigan had successfully mixed long passing with long sustained drives. While the Wisconsin game lacked the longer passes, Michigan put together two very good long drives at the start of the first and third quarters. Furthermore, the offense was supplemented by five runs of over 10 yards.

The Long Runs:

13:35 (1st Quarter)
Michigan lined up in an unbalanced right formation, and all blocking went to the right. This appeared to be a designed cutback play. Pape allowed his man to come up field and kicked him out on the left side. With Wisconsin following all of the blocking to Michigan's right side, and huge hole was open on the right side of the line. Perry quickly cut back, and picked up 28 yards. This was a very well designed and executed play.

12:26 (1st Quarter)
David Baas made a great block on the Wisconsin MIKE LB. Askew showed good patience and made a good up field cut. This play would have only picked up 7 yards if not for great downfield blocking by Joppru on the SAM LB, Avant on the safety, and Edwards on the corner. Because of this great downfield blocking, a 7 yard gain was turned into a 27 yard touchdown run by Askew.

10:57 (1st Quarter)
On 3rd and 2, Perry picked up 11 yards and a touchdown. David Baas made a very good block and Perry did an excellent job of cutting to the hole away from Askew's block. This was a great individual effort by Perry to get through the hole and maintain his balance all the way to the endzone.

7:21 (4th Quarter)
The Michigan offense was pinned on their own 7 yard line. Petruziello made a good block, and Perry made a great cut back into the hole. Perry then broke a tackle to turn a 5 yard run into a 17 yard gain. This was a huge play, as it took Michigan out of bad field position while trying to maintain its 7 point lead in the 4th quarter.

1:41 (4th Quarter)
Perry picked up 43 yards on the play to seal the victory for Michigan. Tone Pape and BJ Askew both made great blocks. The downfield blocking of Bellamy added 20 yards to this play.

On a note of interest, Chris Perry picked up 99 of his 175 yards on the four plays described above.

The Drive of the Season?

On Michigan's first possession of the second half, the offense put together one of the most impressive drives in recent memory. Michigan possessed the ball for 8 minutes and 43 seconds, on the drive that covered 79 yards. The offense ran a total of 16 plays, with 8 runs and 8 passes, culminating in a touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards. Navarre complete 7 of 7 passes on the drive, and the offense converted on 4 third downs. The Edwards touchdown held as the game winning score.

The Missed Opportunities:

The second quarter turned out to be the quarter of missed opportunities for the Michigan offense. Askew's fumble and Navarre's first interception, both discussed above, occurred in Wisconsin territory. In addition, with 1:58 left in the second quarter, Michigan was unable to convert on a 3rd and 1 from the Wisconsin 44 yard line. Not only was Michigan unable to complete their two-minute drill, but Wisconsin nearly scored a touchdown on their ensuing possession.

The other significant missed opportunity came in the forth quarter, on Navarre's second interception, described above. This turnover occurred deep in Wisconsin territory, while Michigan appeared to have great momentum.

To defeat a very good Buckeye team, it will be important that the Michigan offense turn their opportunities into points.

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