Ok, some Thanksgiving morning thoughts on Michigan-OSU. Would have loved to break down more film for everyone this year, but this will probably be the best I can do…
Let’s start with OSU O and Stroud. Obviously, it starts with him and he shoulders a ton of the load. One of best QBs in CFB. Smart. Understands presnap reads with leverage and reaction to motion. Can make all the throws even if he doesn’t have the traditional Dan Marino cannon
I always read “pressure him and he breaks” and it seems to come from both rivals and his own fans, but I think it’s very over stated. Stroud is good vs pressure, good escaping it. While pressure helps (does vs any QB) it’s not *especially* vs Stroud. The real key is…
Not only getting pressure, but making him uncertain on what’s happening on the backend. While he’s very smart and reads coverage well, he can tend to over trust his read to some degree, and then start to question it once post snap isn’t jiving with presnap expectations
So it becomes strategic pressure with well timed calls on the backend. While he’s a great college QB, he is still a college QB at the end of the day.
Outside, Harrison is clearly the favorite target, rightfully so. He’s possibly the best all around WR to come through OSU in the last decade… let that sink in
That said, the supporting cast isn’t what it was last year. Still very talented, very athletic, but the level of success feels very attributable to the attention Harrison gets. I doubt JSN plays, but even if he does it’s not with much practice reps with CJ. Hard to trust that
Egbuka and Fleming are both capable, but fit more within roles of the offense, not all around WR threats.
TE is a step up from previous years but I don’t view him as a Bowers type. He’s a very good compliment, and may play a key role Saturday
OL has been solid this year, have improved overall. The guard spots are the relative weakness. They’ve struggled to consistently time getting off combos and when pass pro does break down - albeit rarely - it’s often attributable to them
Wypler is great getting to the second level and starting the combos, you want to keep him at the first level of you can. RT has improved this year, though still is not the fleetest of foot and can be attacked by converting speed to power if he gets off balance
LT is good, though I think a bit overhyped based on recruiting profile. I think he’s been good, but not 1st round draft pick good. Question is, does Michigan have ability to attack either edge
RB has been mixed this year. Injuries play a role, tons to this unit and missed time and practice reps. I expect the top 2 guys back, but still to split reps because of their issues getting too bounce happy. The FR is the most willing to put a foot in the ground and get it
For Michigan, I think their relative strength has been IDL. I think if they had a Ni odd front it would be a great time to use it. Morris, when healthy, allows them to maintain personnel and run even or odd.
Mazi Smith is a known, and while I would still like to *feel* him more, when he turns it on he’s dominant. Jenkins has played well off that attention, and the young guys have really come into form, being flat out good DTs, not just “good for FR”
Maryland had a lot of success vs OSU run in odd front, and did well stemming in and out of Over/ Under, which I think caused OSU some trouble.
UM has the capability to do that, but… have not shown a ton of it this year outside of post-snap slanting
Additionally, the downside of the odd front showed for Maryland: lack of pressure. Don’t know that UM has the edge guys to play odd much more than a change up, unfortunately for them, unless they show something they haven’t showed much of this year
Speaking of edge, it’s been pretty inconsistent. Pretty good against run, and think they have guys that should do well against OZ. But they desperately wanted to find more organic rush this year and just haven’t been able to, and none are good enough at LB aspect to compensate
They’ll rotate a lot at the spot because each guy brings a bit different flavor, but overall it’s forcing the defense to be much more schemed this year
ILB, Barrett has been good. Colson solid. They tend to struggle more vs gap schemes than zone (bodes well in general), struggle in spot drop but good at blitzing (and Barrett relatively good in man). But could be an area, with safeties directed to Harrison, where TE play is key
CB has been solid, but maybe a little less than was hoped preseason. Turner is small and takes risks, risks you probably don’t want to take vs OSU athletes. Green has been more consistent. Johnson has turned up the snaps, may see more time with Harrison’s size
I don’t think Johnson is all the way there yet though, still appears to be some breakdowns, and athletically/technique I don’t think is the best compared to Green/Turner. But they may feel compelled to roll with his size if OSU is attacking it
Safety has been interesting. Paige hasn’t been great but has been solid and is really needed vs OSU. That’s because Moton has struggled a bit this year tackling and in coverage. Moore has started flashing play making ability, and is really a danger man for how he can flip the D
So schematically, where are we? OSU has sprinkled in gap schemes this year, and that’s best bet for attacking UM on ground, but OSU hasn’t been great at them. UM has had the defense cut a bit on stretch, so it’s not necessarily dead, but probably where OSU will focus efforts
I expect it to be a bit inefficient, but probably break a few out in which tackling will be key to keep from major explosives
I think UM would like to play more odd front, but don’t think they can get away with it consistently. So will be mostly even fronts. If they could move it around, could help. Have to find ways to scheme pressure, which OSU has been very good in protection this year
I expect a lot of Cover 2 to Harrison, mixing in some Fire Zone to try to get pressure, and some unique other coverages to confuse Stroud. What happens away from that to maintain coverage will go a long ways to determining the game
For UM O vs OSU D.
It really starts with the OL for UM. 4/5 guys are likely draft picks, they maul, and they do a lot. The efficiency of their blocking with how much they do is extremely rare in CFB, and how much they do allows for some misses to still work