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Week 12 - Northwestern Coaching Points

Quick look at some thoughts of Michigan at Northwestern from a coaching perspective. Find these tweets and more by following Space Coyote on Twitter.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

1st Half

  • FB in on Michigan's early half roll to bunch set. Get DG easy read and throw early
  • Bubble screen looked like a site adjustment by DG. Had down G blocking inside I think
  • OL doing a better job of turning Northwestern DL today, that's opening some creases. Green and Smith running hard
  • Failed 3rd down conv (3rd and Goal on first drive): DG had a good lane. Bosch needs to maintain better inside punch to keep DT from fighting back in. That's a true FR guard still learning through technique. Got good set, have to keep punch and leverage on correct side.
  • Northwestern running a few packaged plays early. Run and pass option.
  • Adjustment by Michigan on triple option bringing T. Gordon down in the alley.
  • C Gordon did a great job fighting to get outside block on the bubble screen. Held that play to 7 when would have been much bigger otherwise
  • Scrape exchange from Michigan on 3rd down stop from Michigan. Messed with Colter's read
  • 4th Down Conv: NW tips either inside zone or speed option. Michigan plays all but 2 players tight to LOS taking away quick pass and all gaps. Problem is it leaves one player in gap alone on outside and tough to scrape over to help. DE slow played QB, T. Gordon couldn't get down
  • Almost pick 6 was designed QB power. DG with a sight adjustment. Needs to make read post snap better. DB crashing quick
  • Lewan lined up at H-back on 3rd down play. Clear confusion on the blocking assignments all around (down G and Lewan took a poor first step)... blah
  • Safeties shooting down alley for Michigan. Really makes outside runs difficult. Leaves CBs in tough spot, prepare for fake speed option pass (this never happened, but OSU...). CB needs to maintain inside leverage if Safety is shooting alley. Makes safety/slot coverage important as CB struggle w/ bubble leverage. That's why C. Gordon's play earlier was so big. What this means though is that Michigan is playing a lot more 2-high coverage. Likely cover 4. Need to be sound between tackles (this is later confirmed)
  • Interesting look on 2nd down play. Both QB & RB stepping like inverted veer. Green cut up for inside zone and DG reads backside. Play designed to attack opposite side as inverted veer, A gap and backside by QB.
  • On 3rd down play, was a problem with footwork and passing off on twist
  • UM has struggled in cover 4 this year (mostly in coverage). Lots of it today. Looks cleaner so far.
  • UM tried taking a shot on 1st down roll out. Looked like smash concept, Dileo rolled corner route into wheel. Was covered. Checked down to Funchess for first down yardage.
  • Y-stick on failed 3rd down. Easy read on OLB for Gardner. Butt was wide open behind vacated OLB. Had eyes on wrong key probably (CB likely). My guess is DG likely saw a DB drop immediately at snap, but needs to work back inside to OLB. Key changes once DB drops.
  • 1st play of drive Michigan rotated into a cover 3 look from what looked like something different. Confused NW QB's read, forced scramble.
  • Michigan D: Colter = Cover 4. Siemian = Cover 3. Struggling to cover the in/out concepts in cover 3 with LB flaring to flat.
  • Perfect play call with cover 4 on 3rd down conversion. T. Gordon needs to maintain outside leverage though. Help is inside. (This is when Gordon played speed option perfect but took poor angle and NW picked up a 1st down).
  • Interestingly enough, looking at play-by-play, Michigan may be going away from 1st down run too often. Having success running on 1st today (after first half)
  • FB in pass pro hasn't looked much better if any better so far, at least on straight drops. A little stronger on roll outs. Still not getting good pop on blitzer. Catching the pass rusher

2nd Half

  • Skinny post of Iso PA is set up by the hook routes earlier in the game. Give fake jab outside get inside CB. Gotta hit the pass though (Michigan missed this wide open or had a dropped pass probably 3 more times in this game, blah)
  • UM mostly in cover 4 today. On 2nd down PA play, NW tried to attack flat and run off coverage. UM was in cover 2 though and flat covered because CB didn't get run off by WR. This same exact thing happened to Michigan last week vs Nebraska. Nebraska was almost always in cover 1. Michigan ran a PA from gun and tried to hit FB in flat. Nebraska just happened to be in cover 2 and flat was covered. Would have been big play for both (NW this week, Michigan last week) otherwise.
  • Back shoulder fade was actually correct throw from DG. Maybe a little closer to sideline, but Gallon has to do better w/ his body.
  • UM needs to roll to avoid pressure. Problem is it constricts windows & takes away route possibilities. DB didn't respect Dileo inside route
  • Schofield didn't extend his arms and control DE well enough there. Allowed DE to get into his shoulder and swim him easily.
  • 2nd down knock down is on Glasgow. Know quick pass play. Need to control DTs hands and arms.
  • 3rd down was tough assignment for Kerridge. Had MIKE and OLB in blitz pick up. Both stepped forward. MIKE only one that came so hot not on
  • (After shanked punt)
  • You run to boundary so alley defender can't leverage play. OZ run is most successful play today, that was purpose for 1st down call. (Incidentally, this is why the fourth down play that wasn't converted was run to the boundary, more on that later).
  • 3rd down PA is irreverent. It's 3 step drop. Just part of play as practiced. It's a weak PA designed to put Gallon in single cov. It did. There is evidence this year and last that Gallon is better at attacking ball at high point than Funchess. Better fade/back shoulder fade WR. I know Funchess is taller, but he has struggled attacking the ball near the sideline on fade routes this year as well as feeliong the sideline, as well as probably not having enough reps to throw back shoulder fade, making it easier to cover for the CB (just stay over top). Gallon is much more difficult to cover on fade then. Funchess, meanwhile, ran a seam route, which is where he has proven to succeed on over the top catches (because you can afford to fade to the back of the end zone). The read on that play is the safety. Whoever he rolls over, throw to the other. He stayed over top of Funchess. So I understand people wanting to go to Funchess on a fade, but there is valid reasons for running what was run.
  • Northwestern playing soft on the outside has opened up those hitches, those are less available in red zone as coverage gets tighter (because the end line makes it so you can't win over the top as easily). This is why Michigan stalled out in the red zone so often. Lack of pass pro and lots of "and goal" situations from 8-10 yard line made life a little more difficult. Probably should have tried to take some shots from the 15 yard line to try to avoid some of that.
  • Understand power when it's worked today, with Smith a stronger runner. I'd like 1 or 2 WRs out there if you do run it. I'd prefer a different call, but I understand power when other plays have been less consistent as well.
  • (Missed 4th down play)
  • Yeah, don't like that 4th down call...
  • I know hindsight, but offense has been inconsistent at running everything this year and today. I'd kick FG on that 4th down play. But my feeling is going for it was about more than the past. #feelingsball. Going for it on 4th, from Hoke's POV: "I'm not giving up on you guys. I believe in your guys." Feelings ball, yes, not smartest, but reason
  • DG needs to know situation on roll out. You are rolling out of pocket. Throw it away immediately upon pressure. You're in FG range.
  • Also, not sure Michigan was set for the full second on that FG. Shhhhh...

Overtime/ Post game

  • Michigan needs a match up man adjustment in their coverage. Soon as NW motioned on that 3rd down it was a 1st down. They really struggle to cover bunch routes on 3rd and short because they go man so often in it to play tighter. So either go to zone or have some bunch adjustment calls. With how they've played zone this year I think adjustments in man is way to go.
  • Karma doesn't exist for Northwestern. Like, not for last year, not for last week, not for anything today, not for this season... tough
  • Lucky Siemian didn't throw to outside guy. CB fell. Would have required Gordon to get all the way to the sideline. (On last play)
  • Last D was same call Michigan ran on 4th and long vs UConn FWIW. Both LBs fake blitz to steal OL off initial rush. Spy blitz when QB moves
  • NW's inability to match up in press coverage on the outside was why Michigan could get 3-step game working today, and why run got going
  • Green looked really decisive today. Looks quicker. Still has work to do though. Run through thighs, pick up feet, get hips lower
  • Smith is pretty much the opposite, has running style down, needs to work on vision and first cut ability
  • Defense did a good job adjusting this week to NU's game plan. Lots of cover 4 with Colter in. Puts box players in tougher position though. But allows alley defenders to squeeze everything back into support. Think that's a better D considering Michigan's strengths.
  • Need to continue to grow in CB play though. Good slot players will take advantage of that (OSU)
  • Need to clean up flat defense in cover 3. The transition from CB bail to LB into flat needs to get more in sync