Michigan Scout Report

Once again Longtime Domer is back with another scouting report on the opposition. Enjoy!

Michigan Scouting Report

Michigan starts the 2006 season with consecutive wins over Vanderbilt and Central Michigan. I was able to tape and break down the Vandy game, but was unable to get the Central Michigan game. The first part of this report is from the film breakdown. The second part is from going over stat sheets of UM's game against Central Michigan. Jeff's preview gives names and numbers very well, so I see no reason to totally repeat them here. Print Jeff's preview, my article, memorize them, and amaze those you watch the game with on your command of Michigan's personnel and schemes.

Ann Arbor, Sept. 2, 2006
Conditions: Temperature: 70 degrees, Wind: Nominal, Field: dry and fast

Score by Quarters:

Michigan 10 3 7 7 27
Vanderbilt 0 7 0 0 7

Rushing: 246 yards

Left: 8 att. Middle: 27 att. Right: 12 att.

Hart: 31 att., 146 yd, 4.7 avg., longest 18 yd.
Grady: 5 att., 30 yd, 6.0 avg., longest 19 yd, 1 TD
Minor: 3 att., 30 yd, 10.0 avg., longest 24 yd
Breaston: 1 att., 13 yd, 13.0 avg., longest 13 yd, (reverse)
Manningham: 2 att., 3 yd, 1.5 avg., longest 2 yd, (reverses)
Henne: 8 att., 20 yd, 2.5 avg., longest 9 yd

Passing: 135 yards

Completion Chart: Left: 4 Middle: 1 Right: 5

Henne: 10-22, 135 yd, 2 TD, 0 INT, 127.0 rating

Left: 4-of- 11 for 6, 2, 19, and 27 (TD) yd

Middle: 1-of- 1 for 14 (TD) yd

Right: 5-of-10 for 1, 7, 11, 17, and 29 yd

Receiving:

Breaston: 4 for 68 yd, 17.9 avg., longest 29 yd
Manningham: 3 for 44 yd, 14.7 avg., longest 27 yd, TD
Ecker: 1 for 14 yd, TD
Arrington: 1 for 7 yd
Hart: 1 for 2 yd
Time of Possession: 33:29

First Downs: Michigan: 20. 13 rushing, 7 passing, 0 penalty

Third Down Efficiency: 56 percent, 10-of-18

Fourth Down Efficiency: 100 percent. 1-of-1

Punting: 4 for 162 yd, 40.5 avg.

Return Yardage: Punt: 3 for 7 yd, KO: 2 for 35 yd

Interceptions: 0

Fumbles-Lost: 2-1

Penalties: 6 for 54 yd

Michigan Offense vs Vanderbilt

It's pretty easy to see looking at the score by quarters that Michigan wasn't thoroughly dominating this game offensively, but they were in control, and had not the Michigan receivers dropped several balls the score would have been higher. When you rush for 246 yards it will usually signify control and that you're keeping the opposition at bay. One of the reasons for this control was that Michigan is a far leaner and faster football team than last year. The only out of shape looking guy for them is their field goal kicker.

Michigan's Offense: Michigan features a one-back set as their primary scheme. They vary this one back set with their use of one or two tight ends, three wide receivers, align WRs in a TE position, have more receiver alignments than I want to write down here, and use motion. They also employ the I formation with the FB in the traditional direct line, as well as offset, having him shuffle to an offset position, or used in a tight slot off the tackle. They also showed shotgun. Suffice to say that they move their three main receivers, WRs Manningham and Breaston, and TE Ecker all over the field, including bringing them out of the backfield. I counted over twenty-five different alignments of their receiving corps in the first half alone.

Michigan's first series, a crisp, methodical drive to a TD, was their high water mark of the game. Every play in the 10-play drive was well executed and gained positive yardage each play. The seven run, three pass series looked like the Wolverines were off and running, but things bogged down after that series.

Michigan's Running game: Michigan has gone to a zone blocking scheme, which allows the RB the decision of where to run between the tackles. Initially, Vandy had trouble handling Hart, Grady, and Minor as they made good reads, cut very well to daylight, often through gapping holes, and the Michigan offense piled up 153 yards rushing by halftime.
,br> In my humble opinion, ND's key to stopping or slowing Michigan's running game is threefold. What I'm presenting is a no-brainer, as my view contains nothing new, and contains the most basic goals of every DC, but the fact that Michigan has three good backs makes it imperative, especially if the game is close, or if Michigan enters the game with the same plan ND followed last year against USC, namely control the ball and the clock.

ND's LBs will be one third of the key to stopping Michigan's running game in that they play their position, don't over pursue, and not get caught up with the guys in the trenches as I saw Vandy do the first half.

One other third of that key is ND's front four defeating Michigan's OL. The OL of Michigan does not represent Michigan OL's of the past, but they are competent. At least they were against Vandy, and they will be in their third game using the new blocking system. Not really earthshaking insight, but I feel that ND has to take away any ball control or balance that Michigan may be able to create offensively, putting the game on Henne's shoulders.

The other third key? Stopping Henne the runner. Yes, Henne the runner.

One thing to note is that out of Heene's eight rushing attempts, only one was a sack. The other seven attempts were Henne pulling the ball down and not forcing a pass into a bad situation. Henne is no Smith or Stanton, but his running kept some drives going for Michigan.

Add to the running of the three TBs and Henne the reverses run by Breaston and Manningham. Last year the duo ran the ball a combined 16 times, and so far they have each run the ball twice in two games, showing the reverse as an integral part of the UM offense.

Besides their reverses, I expect a pass off a reverse by one of the WRs, as well as Henne faking the reverse and trying to go deep. Vandy scored their lone TD on UM by such a pass by a WR, and we all know that some coaches are influenced by such things….. Ok, we all steal.

That being said, despite the ball-control offense, despite the emphasis on re-establishing the run at Michigan, despite Henne pulling the ball down and not forcing passes, and despite the reverses, they only led Vandy 13-7 with 5:54 left in the third period. First game rough edges? Maybe.

Michigan's Passing Game: Michigan's passing game appears to feature short patterns, and three-step drops, with the idea of going for the jugular down the road. Heene also employed the boot six times. The 27-yard TD to Manningham was a hook and go that they'd spent the whole game setting up. He was alone on the left with three receivers to the right, got single coverage, and the safety couldn't get there.

The 14-yard TD to Ecker was with single coverage by a LB, and he went up with his 6-foot-6 height to snare the ball on a seam route. One thing of note here is that Henne looked at him the whole play. After the first drive, where Henne was 3-for-3, he went 7-for-19, which included a number of drops.

Also look for screens to Breaston or Manningham coming from their aligning in the slot, and perhaps the backfield.

If I were the sympathetic type, I'd have felt sorry for Henne because their receivers, WRs and TEs alike, dropped several balls on Henne, including one that could have been a TD. Then again, sympathy isn't something I feel for Meecheegan. Hopefully, the trend continues Saturday.

Michigan's defense: Unlike their offense, Michigan's defense dominated Vandy. Michigan's defense only yielded 171 total yards to Commodores, holding them to 42 yards rushing on 26 attempts, 22 of those yards by the QB, and 129 yards passing on an 11-for-25 effort by the Vandy QB. They put a lot of heat on the QB, forcing some unwise decisions, and came away with two fumbles by Nickerson, the Vandy QB, who carried the ball like the proverbial loaf of bread.

Michigan featured a 4-3 front and a 3-4 look, much like PSU did last week. The strength of the Michigan defense is their front four. The best of their DL are No. 56, Woodley, and No.91 Biggs. Both showed good pressure in rushing the passer and both pursued well all over the field. That leaner aspect again?

Crable, No.2, at LB, stands at the line in the 3-4 look the same as PSU's LB did, playing much like an upright DE. If Michigan moves him down inside in a three-point stance, look for a looping stunt with the DE. The LBs, as a group pursue and fill well, evidenced by Vandy gaining only 42 yards rushing.

The Michigan secondary, while solid against the Commodores, really wasn't tested like it will be this week. The Michigan pressure was pretty good, and they didn't have to cover Vandy's receivers very long as the Vandy QB was often on the run as the Michigan DL collapsed the pocket.

Michigan Kicking Game

Here, I'll combine Michigan's stats from the Vanderbuilt film and the play by play sheets of the Central Michigan game.

Punting: One of Michigan's punters, senior holdover Ross Ryan, No. 3, is the son of former ND player K. C. Ryan, but shares duties with sophomore Zoltan Mesko, No. 41 . Ryan has an average of 38.5 ypp (yards per punt), slightly better than his 2005 average of 38.3 ypp, but he had no punts blocked last year. In his shared time Zesko averages 44.4 ypp. I have no video evidence, but play-by-play sheets of both Michigan's games indicate two things about how the Wolverines approach which punter to use and when. Look for Ryan to punt when Michigan wants to pin the Irish deep in their territory once their offense is stopped after passing the 50, and if Michigan is backed inside their ten and have to punt. Experience factors in those situations. Look for Mesko to do the punting when Michigan is in a non-threatening field position.

Breaston, Michigan's all-time punt return leader, is always a dangerous punt returner, but this year his average is at 5.3 yards per return on four returns, despite his longest two returns being 14 and 7 yards. However, he averaged 12.3 ypr (yards per return) last year.

Place Kicking: The Michigan kicker, No. 38, Garret Rivas, had one field goal attempt blocked by Vandy at the LOS sans defensive penetration. That's kicking it low, a constant knock on Rivas' career. He did have his career longest, a 48-yarder, and it cleared by quite a lot, so plus 48 yard attempts are not out of the question. On the year he's four of five from 33, 48, 38, and 40yards. He's also mad all PATs.

Kickoffs: Michigan's kickoff team has had three touchbacks in the two games, runbacks of 44 and 42 yards by Central Michigan last week, and the return average against them is 25.3 yards.

On returns Michigan averages 20.2 yards per return with Breaston's 29-yard return their longest.

Michigan vs Central Michigan



Score by Quarters: Michigan 14 10 10 7 41

C. Michigan 0 10 0 7 17

Rushing: 253 yards

Left: 8 att. Middle: 27 att. Right : 12 att.

Hart: 19 att., 116 yd, 6.1 avg., longest 18 yd (3 TDs)
Grady: 12 att., 46 yd, 3.8 avg., longest 9 yd, (1 TD)
Minor: 7 att., 30 yd, 4.3 avg., longest 15 yd
Breaston: 1 att., 26 yd ( reverse?)
Jackson: 2 att., 19 yd, 6.3 avg., longest 18 yd
Henne: 2 att., -2 yd, -1.0 avg., longest 2 yd
Others carried, but only when running out the clock.

Passing: 134 yards

Completion Chart: Left: 5 Middle: 3 Right: 5

Henne: 11 for 19, 113, yd, No TDs
Forcier: 2 for 2, 21 yd, No TDs

Receiving:

Butler: 3 for 26 yd, 8.7 avg., longest 12 yd
Manningham: 2 for 27 yd, 13.5 avg., longest 14 yd
Breaston: 2 for 25 yd, 12.5 avg., longest 16 yd
Hart: 2 for 11 yd, 5.5 avg., longest 6 yd
Massey: 1 for 20 yd
Ecker: 1 for 8 yd

Time of Possession: 36:45

First Downs: 23, 14 rushing, 8 passing, 1 penalty

Third Down Efficiency: 23 percent, 3 of 13

Fourth Down Efficiency: 100 percent, 1 of 1

Interceptions: 0

Fumbles-Lost: 2 – 0

Penalties: 9 for 73 yd

Michigan vs Central Michigan

Newspaper accounts indicate Michigan, even though winning by a lopsided score, was not impressive. Perhaps it's the result of the proverbial ‘looking ahead" by one team, facing an opponent that doesn't test them, even on a bad day.

The AP account differs with the stat sheet on Michigan and fourth downs during the game. The state sheet says that Michigan was 1-for-1 on fourth down, with Henne hitting a 9-yard pass to keep the drive going which led to a TD. The AP article says that Michigan had a fourth down that they made on the Henne pass and one in which Hart was stuffed, but they made the first down via a penalty on CMU. Again, a TD resulted.

Note again the rushing stats of Breaston and Manningham, as I would assume reverses were called as opposed to taking a handoff aligned in the backfield.

On defense Michigan held CMU to 16 yards rushing and 180 yards passing. The Chippewas also fumbled twice, losing both, and had one INT.

Also, and quite unlike Michigan, they had seven penalties for 93 yards against CMU.

Several questions may be answered this week besides which is the better team. One question will be what effects their respective schedules have had on both teams, Notre Dame and Michigan. Is one more rested, possibly holding back due to an easy schedule, or is one more game-hardened due to a tougher schedule?

Will Michigan run the ball as effectively as they have the first two contests? Will Notre Dame run the ball effectively against Michigan's defense? Will the Irish OL give Brady Quinn the time against Michigan's pressure? Will the Irish defense pressure Henne? Can Notre Dame make it three in a row over Michigan? Rivalry games…gotta love ‘em.

My prediction, as usual, will be found on the member's prediction board sometime this week.


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