LINKS: Michigan State vs Michigan, 2015

A roundup of the BDS links for the Michigan/MSU game.

Michigan State
How MSU Defends Power O - MSU's 4-3 Over against UM's Base Run

Cover 4 Front 7 Leverage - How MSU Adjusts Front 7 to give easy keys and play fast

Cover 4 Coverage - MSU has been mixing up their coverage away from MEG more this season

Cover 4 Safety Play - The rules of playing Cover 4 Safety

MSU Jet Sweep Package - A big part of the MSU offense

MSU Mesh Play - A base scheme to expect against Michigan's Cover 1

MSU Switch Vertical Concept - MSU's Primary Deep Route Concept; go to it often

Three links on MSU's Blitz Package:

And there is always more at the MSU tag

Jim Harbaugh Primer - Going over the basics of a Jim Harbaugh coached team

Michigan Rushing Attack - Going over in detail a number of the Michigan run schemes

Threatening Width with Tight Formations - How Michigan spreads the field despite heavy sets

Tunnel Screen Fundamentals - How Michigan utilizes the smoke screen in their offense

Weakside Flood - A look at the triangle reads often given to Rudock on one side of the field

Cover 1 Fundamentals - Michigan's Base D, though they also run Cover 3 and Man Under

Cover 1 Adjustments - How Michigan adjusts within Cover 1 to certain looks

And there's always more at the Michigan tag

Many iterations of Power O - A look at how Power O is used out of a variety of looks

Wham! and Return of the Trap - How both teams use trap and wham blocks to their advantage

Utilizing Pulling OL and FBs to create extra gaps - More UM than MSU, but both do this quite a bit


  1. Posted my overall thoughts on the game elsewhere:

    If I'm being honest, I think Michigan has looked better than MSU so far this year, especially in the last few weeks, and understand why they are favored going into Saturday. What worries me for them, is that I think MSU matches up really well with Michigan.

    1. MSU is an aggressive defense that looks to force turnovers, while Michigan is more of an offense that wants to work it's way down field. They big play aspect of Michigan is lessened, and MSU can attack and try to force turnovers.
    2. MSU's DL is still very good, Michigan has to establish the ability to run outside the tackles to open up the rest of their offense, and they've had issues targeting outside the tackles so far.
    3. Michigan's rushing attack can still attack some of the weaknesses in MSU's defensive backfield, but it won't be to the degree some other schemes do. And unless Michigan can accomplish #2, #3 becomes much more difficult for them to come by.
    4. MSU "wrong arms" kick blocks, something that has given Michigan trouble this year when trying to run Power. (Writing an article on this this week)
    5. Cook can hit all the passes, and MSU WRs can turn it on. That can loosen what Michigan does up front.
    6. If MSU has it's starters back, they can identify targets enough to keep the defense honest with the run game, this gives them the ability to hit some intermediate throws that are available against Michigan's D.

    One huge thing in Michigan's favor right now: special teams. In a game that could be difficult to move the ball and finish drives, special teams should be essential. I think the special teams of Michigan offsets the turnover concerns a bit. But special teams guys are weird, guys can turn it on and have great games out of no where, so who knows.

    I think schematically, with what both teams strengths and weaknesses are, MSU matches up really well. That's what concerns me the most for UM. Michigan I think is playing better, and I agree with what Rocky has been saying on RCMB that MSU isn't simply holding everything back just for Michigan (if they were, they would have started sprinkling it in to give Michigan more things to have to scout and account for). This is going to be a hell of an interesting match up on Saturday.

    1. On injuries: injuries are legit, they are reasons, though not excuses. No one cares about your injuries but your team, but to act like they don't matter is illogical. Of course they matter, and MSU has been hit really hard by them this year. Conklin I expect to be back, but how much rust does he have and how many snaps can he play? Kieler I think they needed to knock off rust last week, but he in no way looked ready to be back; I wonder if last week actually set him back and he isn't as far along for Michigan. Missing Allen would really hurt for communication up front; Michigan stunts a ton, and while I like B. Allen, Jack is the one that does by far the most communication. I don't think any of those starters will be 100%, but getting them back is essential for getting the communication down and at least giving your schemes a chance; otherwise MSU is forced to simplify their schemes or else face potential protection busts (similar to Michigan in 2013, though likely not to that degree). Price I think will be back pretty much the whole way, but they need time up front to find him; I expect one of the UM safeties to be on him much of the game, not a LB.

      As far as Michigan injuries, this is the game where Mario O. being hurt scares me. I thought RJS looked good last week, but Mario was much better setting the edge because he's much stronger and better fundamentally as an edge player (something RJS hasn't had to do much in his career). Smith isn't 100%, he could give 25 carries on Saturday or 5 carries, you just got to put him out there and get what you can out of him. Same supposedly with Johnson. I don't think Green is 100% either (no player is, but Green has been dealing with a little thigh injury of some sort the last two weeks). This is probably the first week since Utah that Ross was really needed, will be interesting to see if MSU goes with heavier formations to try to force Michigan out of the nickel.

    2. Things to watch: Watch to see how Michigan adjusts in the run game. I expect some small changes with how they run Power to account for the wrong arming. The pitch counter will either be huge loss or huge gain play, risky play call against MSU and they haven't been running it well. Michigan needs a counter for this game, and I expect Counter F to be utilized fairly heavily as Michigan starts trapping guys up front. Similarly, the quick hitting Inside Zone we saw against Northwestern would be a good way to attack MSU with speed before MSU can fill down, really putting a lot of pressure on the safeties in their run/pass fits. Think that's how Michigan hits between the tackles, need to find something to get outside the tackles in the run game. Run game takes away turnover chances, really plays into Michigan's hands.

      On the other side, watch for double slants, and watch for a lot of switch vertical. Switch vertical has been MSU's go to deep pass for the past three years, and I don't see that changing this week. How will Michigan defend the slot, will they switch (they have been doing that more this year, but MSU tends to threaten vertical on the snap, so may not be able to communicate that as easily) or will they lock on? If they lock on, look for MSU to try to get some match ups, either AB on Peppers or Kings on Peppers if Lewis is following AB around. How MSU schemes to play the match ups with the DBs is what I think is essential for keeping Michigan honest on defense, and therefore will be essential for their ability to move the ball.

      Should be a good game. As I've said previously, five or six plays swinging from one team to the other can essentially change any game or at least make any game competitive. Which team wins those five or six key plays will likely come away with the victory between two teams that match up quite interestingly. I really have no feel for this game. Michigan has been playing better, but MSU has the talent, it's there, we've seen that. Injuries could be key on both sides, and if someone jumps out to a decent lead it could be too much for the other team to overcome. Really interesting matchup.

  2. Incredibly prescient comments regarding the match up. Will you be doing a match up comparison for MSU vs OSU and UM vs OSU?

    Great blog!

    1. That's the plan. Hopefully I can have a bit more content out before then on these teams as well.

  3. One more question, if you were in Harbaugh's position, would you start Rudock or give another QB a shot (Speight or Morris)? Rudock has experience but very limited ceiling, whereas the other QB would surely have a higher ceiling.

    1. I'd keep starting Rudock. I do believe Harbaugh when he says Rudock is the QB that gives Michigan the best chance right now; he hasn't played very well, but it's likely the best Michigan has. 7 games in, I don't think it's worth burning Morris's redshirt, and I really haven't seen much from Speight to say otherwise.

      I'm not as convinced when Harbaugh says Rudock is by far the best of the group; I think he's the best, but I think the addition of "by far" is to keep fans/pressure off his back. I thought Morris looked solid in the spring, and believe there was a competition in the Fall, but Rudock won out and he's most certainly the best option going forward right now.


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