Armchair Quarterback: Michigan (1st Half)

Film Breakdown of Each Pass Play Against the Wolverines in the 1st Half

It's time for your weekly Armchair Quarterback session. If you don't leave this article knowing exactly how the Utes passing game did against the Wolverines, then I didn't do a very good job.

9:32 1Q / 1st and 10 / Utah 31 / Wilson – 5 yard completion to Scott
Formation: Spread Base TE Tight / 1WR & TE offset of tackle to near side, 2WR’s to far side

Michigan lines up in traditional 4-3 and brings two linebackers on a crossing blitz, but have the strong side defensive end take man coverage on the tight end. Utah faces man coverage on the edges with a cover one safety over the top. Michigan’s corners are giving a 6 yard cushion to the receivers, and Wilson recognizes that right away. At the snap, Wilson immediately turns to Scott who is running a 5 yard hitch, and gets rid of the ball quickly. Because of the cushion being given by the Michigan corner, Scott is open and makes the catch, and then gets dropped quickly for a 5 yard gain.

Decision: Correct Throw: A

8:48 / 3rd and 5 / Utah 36 / Wilson – Completion to Scott
Formation: Spread Base / 2 WR to near side, 1 WR & TE to far side

Michigan drops their DE Frank Clark back as a LB, and only have three down lineman, but they bring Clark and another LB on a blitz at the snap. Michigan is again in Cover 1 man to man, and are giving 5-6 yard cushions to the WR’s. As the ole’ adage goes, “take what the defense is giving you,” and Utah does just that. They run another 5 yard hitch to Scott, but Scott breaks his route off short of the 1st down marker. The pass is a little far to the outside, but is otherwise on target, and the Michigan corner makes a great break on the pass to tackle Scott right when he catches it, dropping him short of the 1st down line.



Decision: Correct Throw: B

4:19 1Q / 1st and 10 / Utah 3 / Wilson – 5 yard Completion to Scott
Formation: Spread Base / 1 WR & TE to near side, 2 WR’s to far side

Michigan again comes out in a 4-3, but is playing cover two over the top with man to man on the edge and with the LB’s. Their corners are again giving a 6-7 yard cushion, so Utah goes back to what got them some yards on the previous two pass plays, a hitch to Kenneth Scott. The corner anticipates the quick pass, but Wilson does a good job of getting rid of the ball quickly and Scott makes the catch for a 5 yard gain.

Decision: Correct Throw: A

3:29 1Q / 3rd and 5 / Utah 8 / Wilson – 67 yard completion to Poole
Formation: Spread Trips Right / 3 WR’s to far side, 1 TE to near side

Facing a third down inside their own ten yard line, Michigan dials up the pressure and brings 6 defenders on a blitz, with Cover 1 man to man in the secondary. Utah has the perfect play call on for the blitz, as they set up a swing pass screen to Poole. There were two key blocks on the screen. The first was from CJ Poutasi on the boundary corner, and he absolutely pummels him. The next is by Westlee Tonga on the single high safety, as he completely takes him out of the picture.



Poole then looks like he has a completely open field and will walk in to the end zone, but not so fast my friend. The opposite field corner for Michigan makes a great effort and takes a great angle to run down Poole. This could have been completely avoided though. You’ll see in the picture below that Kenneth Scott and Kaelin Clay are attempting to run down and catch up to the corner. Had Poole simply just slowed down, or planted his foot in the ground and cut to his right, his blockers would have been able to catch up to the defender, and Poole would have had a TD. Instead, he never really sees the corner and the Utes have to settle for just a big play.



Decision: Correct Throw: A

2:38 1Q / 2nd and 7 / Michigan 22 / Wilson – 7 yard completion to Patrick
Formation: Spread Base / 1 WR & TE to near side, 2 WR’s to far side

“Take what the defense gives you…..even if they keep giving it to you.” So I added on to that quote I brought up earlier, but it’s true. Michigan lines up in their standard 4-3, and they are again giving 6-7 yard cushions on the edge in man coverage, with Cover 2 over the top. Wilson again recognizes the off man coverage and delivers a quick strike to Tim Patrick who runs a 6 yard hitch, and then is able to pick up 1 more yard and the first down by turning to the outside.

Decision: Correct Throw: A

1:49 1Q / 2nd & 13 / Michigan 18 / Wilson – Completion to Poole
Formation: Spread Trips Right / 2 WR’s & TE to far side, 1 WR to near side

Utah motions Poole out of the backfield parallel to the line of scrimmage, and again are trying to set up a screen pass to him, with the trip WR’s as the primary blockers. Michigan is running a 4-2-5, Cover 2 man to man defense, and the middle LB follows Poole out to the flats when he briefly motions out. The pass is perfectly placed, but Poole bobbles it for a second before reeling it in. Dres Anderson makes a great block on the field corner, but Kaelin Clay, the middle receiver in the formation, and fails to get his head on the outside shoulder of the defensive back. The defender then drives Clay back behind the LOS, and is able to wrap up Poole by the feet for a 1 yard loss.



Decision: Correct Throw: A

1:13 1Q / 3rd and 14 / Michigan 18 / Wilson – Incomplete to Dres
Formation: Spread Trips Left / 2 WR’s & TE to far side, 1 WR to near side

Michigan again lines up in a 4-2-5 and is running Cover 2 man to man. Dres is the lone receiver to the near side and the play call is 100% a fade route to his side, so there are no reads going on by Wilson. At the snap, the Michigan corner does a great job of maintaining outside leverage, and ultimately forces Dres to cut inside, which disrupts the timing of the whole play. Wilson takes one step and throws the ball, trusting that his receiver will be there, but because Dres is forced inside the ball is over his head. Had Dres won the battle at the LOS, the pass would have been good enough to make the catch. Really good play by the corner.

Decision: Correct Throw: B

11:56 2Q / 1st and 10 / Utah 10 / Wilson – Incomplete to Scott
Formation: Spread Base / 2 WR’s to near side, 1 WR & TE to far side

Michigan lines up in a 4-3, with their an outside linebacker lined up over the top of the slot receiver to the near side, and the safety lined up over the tight end in the far side slot, indication Cover 1 man to man coverage. At the snap, Michigan brings their far side OLB on a blitz, and CJ Poutasi initially recognizes the blitz, and takes the outside pass rusher, with Devontae Booker responsible for the defensive end line up over Poutasi. Utah looks to have the blitz picked up, but the defensive end hurdles Booker’s attempted cut block and so Poutasi abandons the OLB to block the defensive end, who is more of a threat to Wilson. Wilson looks left and is trying to throw a deep ball to Dres on a double move, but quickly changes his vision to the near side because of the blitz and throws one up to Kenneth Scott, but it’s over his head and out of bounds. Although the throw wasn’t great, the decision to get rid of the ball quickly was.

Decision: Correct Throw: C

11:50 2Q / 2nd and 10 / Utah 10 / Wilson – 6 yard Completion to Dres
Formation: Spread Trips Left / 2 WR & TE to far side, 1 WR to near side

Michigan comes out in a 4-3 again, and is running Cover 2 over the top with man to man underneath. Utes have a speed advantage as Michigan has two LB’s covering both Kaelin Clay and Westlee Tonga, but Wilson sees the field playing off coverage on Dres, and takes a one step drop and throws it out to the far sideline. Dres runs a 5 yard hitch and the ball is perfectly placed and on time, but Dres just barely gets pulled down by his foot after attempting to beat the corner inside after the catch. Was nearly a big play, but a good tackle by the corner.

Decision: Correct Throw: A

11:27 2Q / 3rd and 5 / Utah 16 / Wilson – Scramble for loss of 1 yard
Formation: Spread Trips Right / 2 WR’s & TE to far side, 1 WR to near side

This is the play that would sideline Wilson for the rest of the half. Utah lines up with trip receivers to the far side of the field and roll Wilson out that way. Tonga, the middle receiver, runs a short 2 yard out route and is open when he makes his initial break, but Wilson fails to throw it to him and Tonga is shortly covered. Kenneth Scott and Delshawn McClellon are also initially covered up, so Wilson continues to run towards the sideline. This is where Wilson makes the incorrect decision. Instead of keeping his eyes down field, Wilson stares down the first down marker and is content to run for it. Michigan LB Jake Ryan has coverage on Kenneth Scott, who ran a short hitch route, and peels off of Scott to run after Wilson. Had Wilson kept his eyes down field he would have seen Scott wide open for a first down and about a 10 yard gain. Instead, Wilson tries to jump over Ryan, and face plants in to the turf, cutting up his face.




(How was he not more hurt?!)

Decision: Incorrect Throw: N/A

8:36 2Q / 3rd and 4 / Utah 26 / Thompson – Thrown Away / Intentional Grounding
Formation: Spread Trips Right / 2 WR’s & TE to far side, 1 WR to near side

Michigan is lined up in a 4-2-5 and is running Cover 1 man to man in the secondary. On the snap, Michigan brings both its linebackers on a blitz, and Utah is running a roll out pass to the wide side of the field, right in to the Michigan defense. Because it’s a roll out pass, the offensive line is looking to seal off the backside of the formation, so linebacker Jake Ryan has a free run at Thompson. Westlee Tonga is in the slot of the trips formation and runs a 5 yard out. He’s open when makes his break, but by that time Jake Ryan is right in Thompson’s face and the passing lane is blocked. Trying not to take a sack, Thompson throws it away before being tackled but is still inside the tackle box, resulting in an intentional grounding call. Re-watching the play, I really don’t see anything that Thompson could have done differently. It was unfortunate timing for the offensive play call to run right in to the Michigan blitz, but we’ll give Thompson an incomplete grade due to the intentional grounding call.



Decision: Incorrect Throw: C

5:07 2Q / 3rd and 12 / Utah 13 / Thompson – Interception
Formation: Empty Trips Right / 3 WR’s to wide side, 1 RB & TE to near side

Michigan lines up in a 4-2-5 and only rushes the four down lineman at the snap. The rest of the defense is in straight Cover 2. Utah sets up a middle screen to Dres and it’s set up beautifully, but an athletic defensive tackle and a subpar throw lead to a pick six. Kenneth Scott, the inside receiver, seals off the defender covering Dres and Siaosi Aiono gets downfield to set up what would’ve been a block that sprung Dres for big yards. The defensive tackle lined up over Isaac Asiata does a good job of diagnosing the play and jumping as soon as Asiata releases him from his block to get downfield. The pass from Thompson was timed correctly, but he put a bit too much velocity on the throw which caused it to be more of line drive, rather than a floater right over the DT. Give credit to the DT as it was a great play, but the pass was not good.



Decision: Correct Throw: D

4:40 / 2nd and 7 / Utah 28 / Thompson – 8 yard Completion to Dres
Formation: Spread Base / 2 WR’s to far side, 1 WR & TE to near side

Another 4-2-5 defense from Michigan and Cover 2 man to man defense, with the corners giving up 7 yard cushions, which Thompson recognizes right away. At the snap, Thompson takes a one step drop and fires a pass out to Dres on the far edge on a 5 yard hitch route. The pass is right on the money to Dres’ outside shoulder, and Dres is able to pick up 3 more yards after the catch and cover the first down.

Decision: Correct Throw: A

4:28 2Q / 1st and 10 / Utah 36 / Thompson – 13 yard Completion to Clay
Formation: Spread Trips Left / 2 WR’s & TE to far side, 1 WR to near side

Michigan goes 4-2-5 Cover 2 again, but they don’t line up a defender over Clay who’s in the slot of the trips formation. Utah runs a bubble screen to Clay and it’s perfectly executed. Thompson puts the ball in front of Clay so he doesn’t break stride, and Scott Tonga make good blocks on the edge to spring Clay for a 13 yard gain and a first down.

Decision: Correct Throw: A

3:49 2Q / 2nd and 11 / Utah 48 / Thompson – 3 yard Completion to Booker
Formation: Spread Trips Right / 2 WR’s & TE to far side, 1 WR to near side

Michigan only rushes 4 and runs Cover 2 zone in the secondary and the Utes set up a RB screen to Booker. The offensive line does a good job of getting off the defensive linemen and do good job, along with Kenneth Scott, of sealing off 2 Michigan defenders. Thompson makes a good throw and Booker makes a better catch in traffic, but he’s tripped up by one of the blocked defenders for a short gain.

Decision: Correct Throw: B

3:26 / 3rd and 8 / Michigan 49 / Thompson – 9 yard Completion to Scott
Formation: Spread Base / 2 WR’s to near side, 1 WR & TE to near side

Michigan lines up in a 3-3-5 but brings a linebacker and nickel back at the snap on the blitz, and is running Cover 1 man to man with 7 yard cushions on the edge. Thompson recognizes the blitz pre snap and knows he has Scott on the near side running a 10 yard hitch. He takes a 3 step drop and delivers a pass high and outside to Scott where only he can get it. Great pass, protection and catch for the first down.



Decision: Correct Throw: A

2:49 2Q / 2nd and 9 / Michigan 39 / Thompson - Incomplete to Scott
Formation: Spread Base / 1 WR & TE to near side, 2 WR to far side

Michigan runs another 4-2-5 Cover 2 man to man defense, and Thompson takes a 3 yard drop at the snap and immediately looks Kenneth Scott’s way, who is running a streak route. The play is designed to have the ball thrown to Scott’s back shoulder, where only he can catch it. That’s where the ball is thrown and Scott makes the proper adjustment, but fails to catch the ball. The ball was thrown a bit far outside, but Scott got both hands on the ball. Would’ve been a touch catch, but it’s a catch that Scott has made numerous times before.

Decision: Correct Throw: B

2:43 2Q / 3rd and 9 / Michigan 39 / Thompson – Scramble for 12 yard gain
Formation: Spread Trips Right TE Tight / 2 WR’s & TE offset of tackle to far side, 1 WR to near side

This play breaks down from the second it starts, as Thompson makes an athletic play to catch a high snap from Aiono, and it disrupts the flow of the play. It appears that Utah is trying to run a play action pass, but the high snap throws off the timing and Booker is forced to make a block on a defensive end, rather than fake the handoff. It ultimately works out though as the block from Booker frees Thompson to scramble to his left and he’s able to out run a Michigan LB that had slipped and fell, to the first down marker for a 12 yard gain and a first down.

Decision: Correct Throw: N/A

2:14 2Q / 2nd and 1 / Michigan 18 / Thompson – Incomplete to Poole
Formation: Spread 2 Back Set / 1 WR & TE to near side, 1 WR to far side

Boy is this one that Bubba Poole wishes he could re do. Utah lines up with Poole and Booker in the backfield and fakes a sweep to Booker to the near side of the field. Poole looks like a lead blocker, but runs a wheel route up the sideline. Michigan is line up in a 4-2-5, but only rushes 3 and has defensive end Frank Clark drop back in man coverage on Poole, which is a big mismatch. Poole beats Clark to the edge and is a full yard in front of him when Thompson throws the ball. Thompson’s pass is a bit of a floater, but it’s okay as it’s perfectly placed in the end zone. Unfortunately, the pass goes right through Poole’s hands, and potential TD opportunity is wasted.



Decision: Correct Throw: A

0:59 2Q / 3rd and 6 / Michigan 13 / Thompson – Sacked for a loss of 8 yards
Formation: Spread Base / 1 WR & TE to near side, 2 WR’s to far side

Utah slides the protection to the right side of the line pre snap, so Devontae Booker is tasked with the blocking of defensive end Frank Clark. Booker unfortunately tries to cut Clark, but Clark reads that all the way and hurdles Booker, and has a free shot at Thompson when he lands. Utah looked to be setting up a fade route to Scott in the end zone, but that was well covered as Michigan was in Cover 2 man to man, but with Clark right in his face Thompson isn’t given the opportunity to make a decision on the play and is dropped for a sack before he can do anything.

Decision: N/A Throw: N/A

First Half Totals

Wilson
Decisions: 9 Correct, 1 Incorrect
Throws: 6 A's, 2 B's, 1 C

Thompson:
Decisions: 8 Correct, 1 Incorrect, 1 N/A
Throws: 4 A's, 2 B's, 1 C, 1 D


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