|Photo: Rick Osentoski, USA TODAY Sports|
Primary D: 4-3 Under, typically to strength (sometimes to field). Or Nickel Over. Mostly single high.
|Photo: Julian H. Gonzalez, DFP|
Bad Morris: The issue is the consistency in technique, especially when pressured, and how he's making his reads. Let's start with the former. He was getting pressured right up the middle (more about this later), but there were times when he had enough room to still step into throws instead of fading. You have to take the hit, you can't fade from the hit. Because of his arm strength, the throws still got there, but they weren't accurate enough. He has the ability to get away with it and get incompletions (rather than ducks or INTs), but the goal is to get completions and keep the chains moving. He also needs some work on his drop. He's still not fluid getting to the end of his drop and quickly transitioning into his throwing motion. A few times his feet got a bit tied up and that hurt him. As far as the reads, he looked like he was extremely focused on reading the defense quickly. He did a great job with his pre-snap reads (the defense didn't do a lot to limit that) and he did a great job with his first movement key. But he needs to do better with his second moving key and at times being more patient with his first read. It gets down to either just being able to read a key or to be able to read a whole defense. Understand when you can let a guy clear and he'll be wide open. Understand how to pick on the CB with a high/low after coming off the first read. Things of that nature.
Good Malzone: Malzone actually looked a bit better than I expected him to. That isn't to say I expected him to do bad, but playing in front of a lot of eyes, against a college level defense, with a split OL, in an offense you've had 14 practices running isn't a recipe for success for a early enrolled FR. But I thought for the most part he had poise. He stepped into the pocket to alleviate pressure a few times well. He showed glimpses of his accuracy. And maybe best, he didn't feel like he had to take over the game. He has a ways to go to be a starter at this level, but he also is starting from a decent position and now has the summer to work out a lot of the flow of the offense.
Bad Malzone: He really doesn't have the arm strength to threaten the whole field. The wide side throw is something he shouldn't be asked to make. Throwing into the wind was not always pretty. He's a guy that will need to lean heavily on the run game if he's to play early. He also had moments where he really looked like a FR, particularly in third and long situations. His feet got too happy, he locked into a first read, and then basically threw the ball away. Throwing the ball away is better than taking a sack, but not as good as feeling comfortable moving onto a second read. I think he's still struggling reading the defenses cleanly, particularly with the speed of the game. That's stuff that will come, and really shouldn't be expected of him right now. He also needs to clean up the technical aspects of his game more. His release is a bit deliberate, and he still finishes his throws like a baseball player, which really hurts some of his throwing velocity. His ball handling on the run plays was inconsistent as well, particularly on the FB dive. Simply put, he looks like a freshman that has to clean up mechanical and technique issues.
Overall: I thought Morris was ahead of Malzone, but I don't think it's set in stone yet. Malzone has a long ways to go, but I like where he's starting from going into the summer. If he puts in the work, he should continue to push Morris, which is what Morris needs.
Morris still has room for improvement himself. He showed flashes as he always has, but he simply needs to be more consistent. My feeling is that neither QB (nor the WRs) are yet feeling entirely comfortable with the offense. The timing still feels off in many ways, as far as the reads, the routes, where they settle in routes, etc. That should get better as they work through these things on their own during the summer. I still personally like Morris to start over not only Malzone, but Rudock. But Rudock sets the floor. I still really like Morris's tools, and I think he has an opportunity to get comfortable with this offense and help him get the ball out of his hands faster than the past two offenses did. But he needs to place the ball better and needs to be consistent on every play, which he isn't. He needs to step into pressure, which he doesn't do well enough.
Rudock doesn't have a lot of time to learn the offense (which is quite different than the Iowa offense, it's not that both are check down city) and develop a rapport with his receivers. Morris can be great still because of his tools. I don't think he will be, because he has a long ways to go, but if he can be consistent and flash great, than Michigan's offense has a chance to be alright during the season.
|AP Photo/Tony Ding|
In the run game, they look like they are still trying to get more comfortable with a more diverse run playbook. They don't have the techniques they need to have down yet. They struggled on the stretch play, particularly LTT. The backside of the OL, especially Dawson (or the Center-Dawson combination), got picked on quite a bit. There were a handful of times where communication between two OL saw both of them release to the second level and leave the DL free. Just mistakes you absolutely can't have. This is a team that has about 3 or 4 guys I'm comfortable with on the OL, then 3 or 4 more that can get by on the OL. They need about 7 or 8 to roll into the season with and they will need to get there over the summer. I think they can get a solid first unit and maybe an extra guy, but it looks like there will be a drop off from a depth standpoint.
|Patrick Record | The Ann Arbor News|
|Patrick Record | The Ann Arbor News|
I'm giving this it's own paragraph because it's ticking me off: on Power O, if you're the RB and the play isn't developed, be patient, let the pulling OG cross your face, and grab onto his butt and ride it through the hole. He'll show you where to go. He'll show you which side to work off of and where to cut. Don't just do your own thing. Let your blocker lead you to where the play needs to go. It looked to me that the RBs still were not in sync with the OL and were trying to do too much on their own. When the OL play isn't good and you try to do things on your own, things get really ugly.
I think the pulls are fine in isolation. I know some have said they looked slow, but I think that's coming from: A) not getting much movement on the playside DTs; and B) not being entirely comfortable with the reads yet. I think the former is the bigger problem. Michigan's DTs really won the day, and this forced Michigan's OL a bit deeper than they wanted to go and didn't make the lanes and reads clear enough for the puller.
FBs outside of Kerridge were inconsistent still. I thought they looked better BOSS blocking and blocking the edge, but really struggled working inside out in the Power O game.
The WRs didn't look very good. Drops were an issue, as there were probably a handful of them, one or two on Malzone throws and three or four on Morris throws. Drops happen, but it can't be that bad of an issue. They still need to get more explosive and better with their routes. There were glimpses, but it wasn't consistent. I think the struggling run game makes it a lot more difficult for the receivers in this offense as well. The run game, plain and simple, needs to get going.
Lastly, they need to understand the flow of the defense to know where to settle. There were a few times where guys settled right in guys drops, or settled against man coverage when they could have kept going. Part of this is on the QBs too. They need to throw guys open or be patient enough to let them clear, but it's obvious everyone wasn't on the same page yet.
Winovich still looked raw at TE but looked to be viable depth at least (despite the bad drop). Bunting ran a really good seam route that Morris could hit him on with a guy in his face, but still needs work in blocking and in some of his other routes. But still shows ability to be a top TE in the B1G, but needs to improve his blocking, especially maintaining blocks, and had a drop here and there. Williams looks viable as a Power O in-line TE, but struggled to reach block.
The DL is Very Good
|Gregory Shamus/Getty Images|
I was very impressed with Hurst, Henry, and Glasgow in this game. They continue to use their hands very, very well. Their ability to stand up guys and then get off blocks is evident outside of the OL busts. Mone and the rest of the DL looked very stout as well. They looked good in their run lanes and they looked very explosive coming off the snap. I think this will be a very disruptive unit this year, and there were things that I saw that will translate to great DL play against any OL. And while the rest of the guys aren't explosive edge rushers, I think the violent hands they display will allow them to really push the pocket and get QB's uncomfortable. We'll see how blitzes get home against better OLs, but if they can combine those things, then Michigan should be very good to great up front.
Bolden is starting to turn the corner. He's always been a guy that has flashed. When he reads a play, he has a nose for the ball as well as anyone. He's a missile. But he doesn't always break down and he is inconsistent with how he takes on blocks. I still saw a few miscues from him, and he got pancaked bad once, but he is meeting guys behind the LOS and is understanding offenses better and better. Still, some of it is hard to tell what with the OL issues and knowing the offense.
I thought Morgan looked consistent out there and made some very nice plays behind the LOS. I was impressed with his angles and he seems to have not missed a beat from where he was in 2014 before he got hurt.
The rest of the positions are a bit unknown. Ross didn't play. Gedeon flashed but got caught up some times. Then there were walk-ons that generally looked like walk-ons. A lot of this was difficult to discern with the offense. They certainly flashed as a group, but the DL cleaned up so much that there really isn't a good picture to paint here.
|AP Photo/Tony Ding|
I was most impressed with the improved safety play though. In my mind, they simply look more comfortable. I think their position has been simplified a bit, their reads are a little cleaner, and they are playing like athletes now instead of doing so much thinking. Both Thomas and Hill looked faster out there and more comfortable. Wilson and Clark both made some nice plays in the run game. Guys came down from the deep spot to get in the mix as well. They still need to get a bit cleaner in some areas where I think they can be taken advantage off (mainly covering TEs over the middle), but that looks like the most improved group.
|Melanie Maxwell | The Ann Arbor News|
I think there isn't great speed at the skill positions, but I think the level of athlete is enough to get by out there. I don't think it's as good as Michigan fans want the "recruiting rankings" to prove to be, but I don't think it's as bad as many rivals claim it is. I think it's a discomfort with the scheme right now, as much as anything, particularly at the WR position (I do think, overall, the RB position lacks some speed).
This is a team that needs to own what it is going into the summer and be extremely hungry. They have a ways to go but the ingredients to get there in many ways. But it won't be easy. The thing with Harbaugh's offense is that it requires consistency, and that's been Michigan's primary problem for the past two seasons. They block well on half the line and fall apart on the other half. The QB makes a great throw and then throws with just his arm. Things need to be consistent because the offense is about staying ahead of the chains and maintaining run/pass balance. It can't do that right now.
But they have the base of what they need to know and should be repping it a ton over the summer. The OL should get better in their run schemes. The receivers and QBs should get more comfortable. But I get the feeling that this will be a team that flashes for a while. Some spurts of it clicking, followed by spurts of it not clicking at all. I don't think that's a recipe for great success in year one, but I also don't expect Michigan to miss a bowl game this year.
Lot's of question marks heading into fall, and I don't think a lot got answered this spring. Hopefully that breads competition to get better.
Raw Notes from first Watch (from first 3Q)
- First play: Power O. Great TAG double to the WILL (Liesman). WILL slow to come down and react to the play. Williams crashes DE a bit as well. Green uses feet well to threaten C gap and get MIKE (Morgan) to commit over. MIKE and SDE (RJS) in the same gap.
- 11 Personnel, Gun Far. Nickel Over. NB crashes at snap, WDE shuffles inside to B gap. False start
- Twins I. Under to field, SAM aligned in apex position. Lead IZ to the weakside, miscommunication between C and BSG as both go to second level immediately.
- 11 Personnel, Gun Far. Nickel Over Cover 1. Malzone late with the throw and doesn't get great velocity on the ball to the far sideline. That's not a throw that he will be asked with making often, that's a tough throw for him given his skill set. Lewis needs to take a better angle to the ball (should have been an INT) and WR needs to work back to the ball to prevent that.
- I Twins. 4-3 Under to strength (boundary). Thomas moved up into apex position vs slot. FB dive (IZ) needs to be more smooth and need to sell RB more. Ball handling wasn't crisp and hurt the play development.
- Strong I (depth of RB is shallow). Under to strength (boundary). Malzone I think had trouble diagnosing the defense. Really stared down his movement key when he had an opportunity to get the ball out immediately off of PA. Ball has to come out on time in this offense. Think Defense was in Cover 4 MOD. Thomas did a good job stepping up and covering the slot and defense handle the rub routes well, windows were small. Like how the DL both had good outside rip moves to force Malzone up in the pocket. Good job by Malzone to step up and then out but need to get rid of ball or take off.
- Weak Gun vs Nickel Over. Good quick hot read by Malzone. Could get ball out a fraction earlier but that's nitpicking. Michigan went Cover 1 or 0 but brought five/six.
- Weak Gun Trips. Michigan brings 6. Thomas needs to get better contact of the LOS on the TE. Winovich should have had catch, great throw by Malzone.
- Zone blitz, Wormley dropped into a spy position. 5 man pressure.
- Under to strength (boundary).
- Double slant one side, slant/bench to the other. Morris does a good job reading single high pre-snap and gets the ball out quick. Placement needs to be better though. Throwing to inside hip, stopping TE's route and allowing a quick tackle. Clark did a good job fighting through the wash and making a play though. Would like to see Morris freeze the D a little more with his eyes to prevent the quick flow from the D.
- Looks like Cover 4 from Michigan's D from a nickel set. I think Morris is rushing his progression a bit here and then is a little late making the 2nd read. He needs to give the TE time to work, because he's coming open (need to read the LB) and then find second movement key. I think he struggled a bit with that second movement key and that allowed D to collapse on the bench route high/low. Hell of a throw to the far sideline into a small window, but a little late.
- Under to strength (boundary) w/ SS in apex over slot to field. FS 12 yards deep directly over slot. Pull (they are straight pulling) forced too deep because LT/LG (Cole/Bars) don't handle the 3T well enough to get displacement. 3T penetrates. Morgan does a great job filling and meets LB in backfield. Williams did a good job on RJS again. Green has to be more patient. If pulling OG gets held up, you have to let him clear you and ride his butt into the hole. That would take him into the B gap wehre the run lane was.
- Tunnel screen uses single back Power O blocking to hold box, which I like. But as of now, no run/pass option here. Lewis breaks down on it quick. Cole has to do a better job blocking someone, instead was hesitant and blocked neither Lewis or Countess.
- Michigan does a poor job handling the T-T twist and the C losses inside leverage to the first DT coming through (looping DT picked up well). Malzone does nice to step into pocket step and throws a bullseye on the far side fade. Ways does a good job high pointing the ball, but needs to be stronger to pull ball in. Watson makes a great play in punching window through ball and receiver and makes a play on the ball and steals it away.
- Transcontinental that Bolden reads great. But someone has to leak to take him away. The rest of the play is set up well. Play tipped by "far" formation but under center.
- Darboh does not read tunnel screen well. Have to go inside when the block is sealing the CB outside.
- You want this slant coming out hot. This is supposed to be a run and catch throw on third and 12. The ball needs to get to the WR before the CB can break on it. Morris does a great job reading single high and seeing the LB clear out to the TE. This is an absolutely perfect throw on the upfield shoulder of the of the WR vs Cover 3. Needs to be a catch and that's a 1st down. Great, great throw and by no means "too hot". Perfect throw, Dukes just short armed it coming over the middle.
- Michigan goes Dot set with balanced look. D responds with Under to boundary. Michigan runs stretch to field. No one up front does enough. Not enough seal from Bars (who looked like he initially could have washed) and Williams doesn't wash RJS out at all. This takes away the edge but constricts the hole the play is to be cut into.
- Great job diagnosing the play by Thomas off the Power O boot play. WR comes from far side of the field under the LOS to the flat. Thomas reads it and stays on back hip. Malzone could have put it a bit more in front of WR but it was a quick decisive throw. Just good play by Thomas.
- Not sure if it was WR or QB, but Malzone's feet looked uncomfortable on third and long play again. Can't tell about read though, and given down and distance, corner route not a bad choice (intermediate was more open though).
- LTT does nothing on the DE (leaves him to TE, which is wrong move) and both release to 2nd level. He crashes inside zone and makes play. Otherwise really well blocked.
- Morris has wrong pre-snap read and then just looks uncomfortable when down by his own goalline. Has a lane to step into, but Hurst just does what he wants with LTT from his DE position and can crash on Morris. LTT needs to be stronger in his set and prevent that inside move, as it was clear that Morris should have had an escape lane there (at least the feel for escape lanes seems to be happening).
- Michigan goes G Lead and cracks DE with motioning WR. Really like how Henderson lead from the FB position. Better job by Wilson coming up from his FS position and funneling the play OOB. Thomas was a bit late and gave up outside leverage from the SS spot.
- They go right back to G Lead but Gant gets upfield immediately and doesn't let Henderson seal him inside. Lewis maintains leverage. Like the angles I see from Morgan and Liesman on the play to hold it down.
- Two problems on this PA Z spot. With the PA going the direction of the spot, the WR needs to understand how the defense is going to flow. He sits in what is initially the window, but the natural flow of the defense closes that window and puts the WR right into the LBs drop. 2nd, Malzone needs to see this. I think he saw Morgan dropping but tried to throw the ball with some velocity away from his flow to get it through him. Don't throw through a window. Throw to the open window and move the WR. Take a little off of it, let the WR adjust, and throw into the opening. Great reaction by Morgan to make that play though.
- T lead needs to be checked into G lead probably. DT shifts into the 5T and the guard can't seal him. Hurst reads the play very well and chases from that DT position. Love what Stribbling does on the edge to win to the outside. Gedeon and Bolden both flow extremely well and take great angles to the ball and Bolden meets the RB in the backfield and lays a really nice hit on him. OL did no favors though as DL was there too.
- If Butt can maintain block on Poggi inside on Power O, this is a huge gap. Poor job by Henderson working inside-out from the FB position as Benda wins that battle from his SAM spot. Backside of OL didn't maintain blocks either, so backside DL could chase from behind. Isaac was too hesitant too, Harbaugh asking him to cut it vertical, could have made a few yards out of the play.
- I love what Hurst is doing with his hands today. Grabs OL by the chest plate and rips him forward for a quick outside move and gets right into Morris. Morris needs to get a little cleaner on the last step of his drop so he can get a bit better weight transfer, but his arm strength allows him to throw a fade even without it. Would like to see the ball a bit more out in front, as the CB is trailing, but Morris puts it back shoulder and to the sideline and it's a ball the WR should catch. Darboh drops it.
- Slow middle screen, OL doesn't do enough to sell it. Glasgow reads it immediately and hugs the RB. Malzone smart to ground it.
- Pin and pull to the field into a NB blitz. TE fails to seal and Wormley gets upfield too. This kills the play dead, Green should probably cut it up.
- Malzone not comfortable at all with what he's reading so just continues fading in the pocket and then just dumps it. Not bad if you're not comfortable with what you see, but needs to get a better beat on the D.
- Mix up in the blocking scheme with the FB in a BB position playside. FB tries to kick 5 tech and TE works to SAM. Shallman doesn't get a good read on the play, trying to work A gap out, but the DL is crashing inside hard. Think this is a play designed to open up the A or B gap but FB failed to seal 5 tech outside. Again, got to get on the pulling OG's but and ride him through the hole. OG pulled outside further because inside was filled.
- One gap power but again the RB and pulling OG on different page. Poggi is in 5T and TE seals him inside as that's the EMOL for the D. This sees Bolden work over the top to be the force player. But Dawson still goes inside Poggi instead of outside of him. RB goes outside TE and Bolden is never touched. If you're going through the LOS you have to be able to get to the LB.
- 6 man rush picked up decent by Michigan, but Morris continues to fade in pocket and then just launches a fade to Butt that is almost picked by the FS coming over the top. Not a smart throw though on 3rd and long not awful decision.
- I like what Countess is doing from the NB position. Physical at the point of attack, seems comfortable there.
- Henry just owns inside. OL is not getting consistent push on Michigan DTs at all. Great seeing Morgan shooting gap into backfield and meeting pulling OG in backfield. Green forced to cut it inside to a ton of bodies.
- Between Kalis and Kugler there was no communication, forced Malzone to run for his life vs 6 man pressure.
- Like what I see from a first step standpoint from Marshall. Really covered a lot of ground quickly. Shallman has to abandon the PA quicker to cut that (the harder they come the lower you cut) and Morris has to understand where the RB's block is coming from to gain depth and work outside. Touch play when it happens that quick. Don't think the OL handled it correctly off the snap with the DE working into the 5T.
- Morris does good to hold the safeties with his eyes but then as he turns to find Bunting running the seam he gets a face-full of Hurst who destroyed Dawson (?). Right read, but Morris can't step into it and sidearm throws it high and behind (worst spot) his target. Right choice and right choice in throw (that has to be a hard throw into the seam to beat the center field safety) but not accurate enough.
- Norfleet isn't a CB, that is obvious. But this is a dime from Morris and why people talk about his arm talent. This is a fade with excellent touch on the ball but it has a beautiful tight spiral to it. The ball just cuts through the air, and despite the touch, gets the the WR in a hurry. It just drops out of the air and beats the 2-deep safety to the sideline. Would like it a little more to the sideline (about a yard or two), but Darboh can adjust and make a play. Great throw.
- Pre-snap read, got single high look, defense jumped it though.
- Right side of OL collapses. Morris locked onto hot to his left, but Darboh did not sell the deep route before the comeback and therefore gets zero separation. Morris escapes, does a great job squaring the shoulders. A little more sidearm then I'd like but throws a pinpoint throw where only his receiver (Darboh, boxing out) can make a catch and hits him right in the hands. Dropped.
- Counter F. Bolden doesn't do great in the hole and gets pancaked. Gedeon forced to track the play down from the backside.
- Morris trying really hard to get rid of the ball quick. On the slant concept, I think he needs to be a bit more patient sometimes. Leads me to believe he is still only on the first read of the play. Make the read, move to the second movement key, and determine if you need to let your slant clear him or not.
- Perfect fade throw. Perfect fade throw.
- More multiple run game, think the OL is struggling a bit with all the concepts right now.
- Morris, nice job taking something off throw. This time was patient with Butt's route and let him get clear of the MIKE.
- Dawson had eyes in wrong spot. Hurst slanted from playside to backside, so C passed him to Dawson. Dawson never even saw him. Hurst crashes down and mkaes a play.
- Morris gets the ball out to hot as he should against pressure. Butt settled instead of continuing. Morris threw between settled and man coverage throw. So it allowed Hill to come down and make a nice play and tackle the ball short of the 1st. Would like to see everyone on the same page there, could have been a 1st.
- Same as Marshall sack. Marshall comes free, Shallman picks it up nice. Great first step by Marshall, but something needs to be cleaner from a 5T. Nice touch by Morris to flat to pick up 1st.
- Morris getting a little cocky with his arm. Again has pressure in his face, but he doesn't step into it. I know a man is in your face, but you have to step into the throw and it's an easy first down. OL not helping.
- Right read by Morris, but not the right throw to make. Great break by Peppers on the ball on what should have been a deflection and INT. Morris needs to hold onto this ball and not make the throw though.
- Malzone bugging out under pressure, which is pretty heavy. Has Smith leaking, needs to find him there. That's a throw that gets over the top of the pressure and gives a RB a lot of room to run.