Film Review: Michigan Offense vs Michigan State Defense

 Michigan squared off against the Spartans as a clear favorite, led by their powerful run game that consistently maintained RPO and edge threats to stress defensive keys and numbers. But on Saturday, Michigan State mostly shut down that run game. In this post, we're going to look at what the Spartans did to stymie the run game, and where Michigan failed to capitalize. 

Michigan Photography

Read Your Keys, Trust the Process

Against Minnesota, Michigan was largely gap scheme driven. They dabbled only very rarely in zone schemes and maintained that philosophy against the Spartans. In the scouting report, MSU drove home two aspects: 1) Find the puller; follow him; 2) Trust the backend to limit the outside threats, we're going to stop the interior run. Nick Baumgardner of The Athletic highlighted that in this tweeted video.

There may or may not be a true read here. MSU half-ass flows to the Tare motion with the nickel though and it's enough to dissuade the throw, while the interior players rip playside by following the puller (both the NT is able to cross face of the Center and the LB is able to go under the down block. Missed blocks, assisted by how quickly the Spartan LBs are diagnosing and attacking, kill the front side. This lack of edge threat consistently from Michigan is proving to the Spartans that "trust the process" is correct.

Tweet Barage

I did film breakdowns in Twitter, and rather than re-write everything (apologies to those that like written blogs over video, I'm with you, but I'm also lazy here), I'm just going to embed the tweets.

Wrapping it up: After re-watch, I'm less disappointed in Michigan's plan to attack MSU. I think formationally, personnel, and play scheme given their base was mostly good. What I disliked was how they adjusted their plan in-game. Should have used more zone, should have attacked boundary more, especially in unbalanced. Should have attacked the edge more. Those things could have opened up the run game quite a bit and really took pressure off Milton. Eventually, Milton will have to prove he can hit downfield throws, but I think there are other elements of the attack that Michigan could have leaned on to get there in this game.