MLive: Michigan has a new offensive identity, and it’s in the run game

MLive: Michigan has a new offensive identity, and it’s in the run game


November 4, 2017

Michigan has been running the ball very well lately (LINK). Hopefully that holds up in upcoming games against Wisconsin and Ohio State.

Hit the jump for some good looking women.

33 comments

  1. Comments: 154
    Joined: 12/24/2016
    INTJohn
    Nov 05, 2017 at 3:27 PM

    When it comes to Offense in Football, Running the ball in football is a good thing. So is passing the ball. So is both. Offensively that is your choices and I think every1 does this.

    To call it an ‘Identity’??…… You get 2 choices and ALL teams do all 2. Its football – 8 year olds play this game. We’re not talking the 5000 year old cultures or religions of India or China here for fuxake!
    REPEAT 8 year olds play this game – its not rocket science or cultural geography/national psychology. Its entertainment calling it Identity makes it BS!

    Leave ‘Identity’ out of it…………INTJohn

    • Comments: 1
      Joined: 10/21/2017
      howitzer
      Nov 06, 2017 at 6:24 PM

      When they say identity, I think they just mean one aspect of the game the team can lean on to manufacture reliable yards, e.g. the deep ball, the slot receivers, etc. It’s pretty fair to say we lean on the run game this year.

  2. Lanknows
    Comments: 3600
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Nov 05, 2017 at 7:59 PM

    Great to see. Haven’t had a real identity since 2010. 2011 – you can argue, but that was an odd transition from one thing to another that sort of created something interesting (the combo of denard running and throwing deep to Hemingway).

    This is what we thought we signed up for when Harbaugh/Drevno came to town. Let’s hope it sticks through Wisc and OSU and not just competition-level mirage. If it does, you’ll see Michigan among the national championship favorites in 2018.

    Would be great to see what Speight does with a consistent run game. I still don’t believe the reports that he could be back this year. Seems like disinformation to me, though I would love to be wrong.

    But next year… regardless of who the QB is McCaffrey, Peters, Speight or a freshman. Anybody is going to look a whole lot better with this kind of run game.

    It’s great to be excited and hopeful about the offense again. It’s been a minute. Identity is a big part of that.

    • Comments: 673
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      WindyCityBlue
      Nov 05, 2017 at 9:07 PM

      A whole lot better than what? Peters looked terrible last night with “this kind of run game”. And nobody wins championships any more running for 370 yards a game and passing for 56. Harbaugh and Drevno won’t be the exception.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Nov 05, 2017 at 11:59 PM

        Strawman stuff. But to answer your question: better than the QB play we saw in our most recent games against Iowa, Indiana, and MSU.

      • Comments: 502
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Nov 06, 2017 at 12:54 AM

        I love an offense focused on the run game. I understand getting the W but UM could have gotten the W even passing more in the 4th quarter. If the run is working keep at it. Got it. Support it.

        I am with you on this issue WCB. I am highly skeptical this mindset will work against Maryland. Maybe the staff is setting up Maryland for lots of passing but I’d rather have seen more balance and developing Peters for the tougher stuff unless, as LK inferred, that Speight may be back.

        Here is another way I look at this. I’d rather lose to Wisconsin and beat OSU and set UM for 2018 with Peters than run and avoid developing Peters to beat Wisconsin and lose to OSU and have Speight as our qb for 2018.

        UM isn’t going anywhere big time with Speight. Harbaugh must love him though but unless he becomes a better passer then it’s going to a better version of Speight which still isn’t going to be enough.

        I get the impression Harbaugh wants to win running the ball (fine) and is waiting for Speight.

        • GKblue
          Comments: 218
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          GKblue
          Nov 06, 2017 at 6:23 AM

          I got the impression that the coaching staff was trying to keep the O game simple for Peters and for a patched up OL. It was working well and they left well enough alone.

          Also, remember two things; our receiving corps is dinged up and JH tends to go conservative when he thinks he has the game in hand lately.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 3600
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Nov 06, 2017 at 11:04 AM

            Perhaps they should consider keeping things a little more simple for Speight too. Not the NFL playbook approach.

            A reliable run game enables these kind of choices. Without their core competency established, I think Harbaugh and company have been grasping at straws for a couple years. There was no choice BUT to ask too much from the QB.

            We all know it was Rutgers and Minnesota but the improved consistency on the ground is dramatic and highly encouraging. Doesn’t mean we’ll beat OSU, but it could well mean they are headed in the right direction.

            From all reports they have really focused on the run game in practice. A wise choice, even if dictated by circumstances that put a freshman in at QB.

            Sometimes having your hand forced is the best thing.

    • Comments: 502
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Nov 06, 2017 at 12:47 AM

      If UM is going to treat Peters like he is JOK then I want Speight to play. This is where we are at now. It like the offense is completely focused on running the ball the first one or two series about 80% of the time.

      This can work against the never were programs of the Big Ten. I am just concerned what happens when we play Wisconsin. Maybe Speight will be back by Wisconsin and this is why they are willing to run the ball 80% of the time.

      If you can pull off this run % against better teams then by all means. If you can make it work, great. I am skeptical. I understand the game plan for this program. Are they saying they had to keep running even when Minnesota decided to sell out to stop the run because Speight is coming back or that Peters isn’t ready although he made some good plays.

      This is what confuses me. Peters looks much better than JOK and seems to have more talent than Speight but the staff is afraid to make a mistake or biding their time until Speight comes back. Why couldn’t UM throw some higher risk passes up 20 pts in the 4th quarter rather than run into a stacked line repeatedly.

      I would love for the staff or LK to give me an explanation. What are we going to do if Peters is playing at Wisconsin. Geez, the run game isn’t that effective so I guess we will have to throw the ball more than we did against Minny. Hope it works. We practiced it a lot during the week so that should offset any game experience. Insert sarcasm.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Nov 06, 2017 at 11:23 AM

        Hot take alert! The #1 QB might be better than the #3 QB. You need a balanced attack to beat elite defenses. I’m surprised you didn’t throw in the importance of avoiding turnovers.

    • Comments: 502
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Nov 06, 2017 at 1:00 AM

      Speight would obviously do better with a solid running game. The OL pass pro would still be a problem.

      This is where you and I are an ocean apart on Speight. Is Speight going to learn how to throw the ball accurately? Is this big time running game (which has yet to be seen against someone good on the road) going to offset a mediocre throwing qb?

      I need to see this Speight that you see LK. Not the statistical guy you have referenced but the guy you claim him to be. If he is going to be senior last half of the season Rudock then UM can win a championship. I haven’t seen that guy. I may have seen him against Colorado. I think I see him on occasion albeit not very pretty but effective. I need to see him for a game on the road against a quality opponent. Not RU.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Nov 06, 2017 at 11:15 AM

        Watch the Maryland highlights. Or any of other games from the first half of the year where there was a consistent run game and consistent protection.

        The vision for Speight is a game-manager deluxe. Someone who makes the right choice. Runs the offense. Avoids turnovers. Steps up when under fire. Not a 4,000 yard passer, but a guy who can keep INTs closer to 5 than 15.

        You can do that if you are playing within yourself and the offense. A lot harder when you are trying to carry the offense and getting battered. This year made clear that Speight’s not that guy. But last year taught us he was very capable.

        This OL (with WR help) turned Purdue O’Korn into Indiana O’Korn. It turned Maryland Speight into Purdue Speight. This OL had Peters getting thunked even when running the ball 90% of the time.

        Speight is not a savior. But give him protection and a reliable run game and he’ll succeed. A lot of QBs will. It’s not anything special or outlandish to expect.

  3. Comments: 948
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Nov 06, 2017 at 7:13 AM

    Lol. Your offense on a bad weather night with a redshirt freshman Qb in his first start just hung 350 plus yards running the football on a defense that specifically came out to stop the run, and our pathetic little troll is yammering about a lack of passing attack.

    We did that thing, by the way, in part by sending a little message about stacking the box on the very first play of the game for an easy 8 or so yard pass play, and then cemented that message to finish the drive with an even easier throwback play for the score. In between, and for the rest of the game, basically we gashed and gashed and gashed running the football.

    Kicking ass in the run game? Hot running back? Two hot running backs? Bad weather? Rookie Qb?

    Hand that puppy off.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Nov 06, 2017 at 11:19 AM

      Good points but I have one quibble about ‘hot running backs’.

      All of Walker, Isaac, Evans, and Higdon look faster, more decisive, smarter, “better vision”, etc.

      What do you think is the explanation for ALL looking so good at the same time?

      Is it Jay Harbaugh that is bringing the ‘hot’?

      • Comments: 948
        Joined: 8/13/2015
        Roanman
        Nov 06, 2017 at 1:56 PM

        I think everybody’s improved. JBB is an upgrade over Ulizio, Onwenu has improved pretty much game by game, although not fast enough to suit pretty much everybody, I would imagine including Onwenu himself. Runyon is looking like a solid depth guy. Our true freshman center just showed up as a starter at guard in our ninth game and looked physically able. I have friends that think Kugler was missing calls early. I don’t have anything even approaching the sophistication on this part of football to even have an opinion. I will say that he hasn’t been pushed around much. The right side has also improved.

        I think our backs are getting much better run blocking, but I also think they are seeing it better, particularly Higdon. Evans broke some tackles against Minnesota that he has never broken before. On his first touchdown run, I’m thinking, “Terrible tackling.” And while it wasn’t great tackling, obviously, Evans got hit and pretty much mostly wrapped, but he breaks through it with some honest to goodness power. He always falls down on that play prior to Saturday night. I think people are way to quick to think that backs are and will remain what they are coming in. A big time college strength program helps them too, as does a gazillion reps and constant reminders about where the holes or the blocks are. Although that second thing seemingly never worked for either Smith or Kalis.

        So, I’m giving credit to everybody. Drevno’s guards are improving, Harbaugh’s backs are improving. Frey’s tackles and tight ends are improving. Harbaugh says the wide receiver’s blocking is improving as well, I’ve no opinion there as I haven’t really paid much attention on that one.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3600
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Nov 06, 2017 at 2:22 PM

          When there is consistent and reliable blocking I think you “see better”.

          This goes for QBs and RBs. When you are comfortable and see the same thing over and over you can trust that certain things will happen and you can focus your brain on the stuff that you are supposed to do to make plays.

          When you are wondering when an unblocked defender is going to show up in your face it’s hard to concentrate on setting up a LB for a cut or looking off a safety. You wonder if you should just dive forward to get what you can. You wonder if you should tuck and run instead of searching for your 2nd or 3rd option.

          It’s just too big of a coincidence that voila all 4 RBs simultaneously started playing better. If it was just 1 or 2 I could buy this but it’s all 4 – at the same time?

          With the OL it’s been a progression. From no consistency early in the year, to 4 guys being right but 1 guy screwing it up, to everyone on the same page over the last few games. They’ve been getting the run blocking with increasing frequency and consistency. Drevno has been talking about this.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3600
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Nov 06, 2017 at 2:30 PM

          I think Evans has been breaking tackles pretty well all year actually. It was noticeable even when he wasn’t real successful running between the tackles – he was still running tougher than last year. Moving forward while going down for example.

          The biggest issue was he was getting a lot of horribly blocked plays where he had no chance against multiple defenders. Also, frankly, it’s still not his strength to run inside – but he was already better at it in September than he was last year.

          A back like that needs holes to succeed. He’s finally getting them. It’s not clear that he’s any different of a player than he was in September (same for Higdon, Isaac, Walker).

          But yeah, the focus on practicing the run game could be helping these guys too. I don’t mean they don’t deserve some credit.

          But it’s mostly the OL finally putting it together. And part of that is JBB replacing Ulizio sure but Ruiz stepping in for Onwenu without missing a beat on the ground… it’s a sign that Drevno/Frey have finally gotten through to the unit.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3600
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Nov 06, 2017 at 2:54 PM

          Nearly 7 ypc BEFORE contact. Some of that is RB vision maybe..most of it isn’t. That’s our OL putting on a whoopin.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Nov 06, 2017 at 11:20 AM

      Weather in the stadium was really a non-issue by second half. It was warm with a light mist. They could have passed if they wanted to. But I agree that there was no need. Instead they suffocated the gophers like a python.

      • Comments: 26
        Joined: 8/21/2015
        AA7596
        Nov 06, 2017 at 11:34 AM

        Yeah, there was no need. And on top of that, you can’t forget that one of the few times they passed, there was a busted assignment and Peters got planted.

        But even Harbaugh acknowledged toward the end of the postgame that he would’ve liked to let Peters throw more. It’s a tough balancing act. Dantonio was criticized after the ND-MSU game for almost letting Lewerke get hurt in a blowout, but he made the point that the guy needed reps.

        Still, let’s just enjoy that we finally have the makings of the running game that we’ve all been pining for since who knows when. And that the turnovers have been brought under control. One step at a time.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3600
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Nov 06, 2017 at 12:34 PM

          Yes indeed. This is what we all wanted to see when Harbaugh signed. It probably, very likely, isn’t fully developed yet. So what. It’s progress. They’re out there moving forward every play, even with barely any threat of a pass game at all. That’s something.

          Minnesota isn’t great but nobody has done what Michigan did to them.

          This is major progress for a team that has struggled so badly to consistently run the ball for years.

          It’s easy to shrug off anyone quibbling at the moment about whatever on offense. Down our starting QB and two best WRs and they did THAT. You can can continue to be disappointment that we aren’t Alabama if you want but this is how we get there – by getting better each week and hopefully soon being really good at one thing.

        • Comments: 502
          Joined: 9/13/2015
          michymich
          Nov 06, 2017 at 2:30 PM

          That is a good observation which is probably why in the 4th quarter maybe you throw a play action pass.

          As I have said, feel free to run the ball. I like the run identity. I really do but when Wisconsin comes around and UM can’t run quite as effectively and then the passing game is somewhat inept then don’t be complaining why the passing game is not effective.

          Don’t expect to have a redshirt frosh qb be game ready from just practice throws. Maybe he will. I will come on the board and apologize to everyone. Did you hear me complain about running the ball when it was working and UM was building up a lead? Nope.

          Let’s just have an agreement that when the tougher road comes and the running game isn’t effective and UM loses you won’t be complaining. Right?

          All those practice throws is all that Peters needs. We have a deal?

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 3600
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Nov 06, 2017 at 2:32 PM

            You did notice Peters getting crushed a few times in the second half right? People near the field thought he was getting sent through concussion protocal. Ruiz got pulled because he screwed up in pass pro.

            Throwing a bunch of passes when your OL is doing that is asking for O’Korn to replace an injured Peters.

            • Comments: 502
              Joined: 9/13/2015
              michymich
              Nov 06, 2017 at 5:36 PM

              In fact, I mentioned that multiple times on another board. This is probably why you don’t put him in bad passing downs. I kept making the point that after the run game was stopped that they should have had some play action passes on 1st down and allowed him to throw down the field. I am not the only person who believes this. The play calling got ultra conservative once the run game was stopped like they were running out the clock and could care less if Peters develops

              I am starting to believe you LK (rumored) that Speight is going to be back and that Harbaugh is going to go with him and start next year. Harbaugh loves himself some Speight and is going ride him till he can’t anymore. Peters is just going to have to wait until Speight is either injured or no longer at UM.

              I have an offer for the board below. Hopefully someone will take me up on the offer.

  4. DonAZ
    Comments: 337
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    DonAZ
    Nov 06, 2017 at 4:06 PM

    Now to an important question — is that first picture photo-shopped? I’ve never seen a legs that long relative to the rest of the body.

    • Comments: 2223
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Nov 06, 2017 at 10:04 PM

      I don’t think it’s photoshopped, but ignorance is bliss even if it is.

  5. Comments: 502
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Nov 06, 2017 at 5:48 PM

    Here is an offer to LK or Roanman? or any other regular poster.

    I will leave the board for 60 days so you won’t have to deal with my ‘trolling’. My unreasonable comments. My bad opinions that don’t match your point of view.

    So here is the offer.

    IF UM wins at Maryland but throws for less than 100 yards but runs for over 225 yards then I will go away for 60 days.

    or

    IF UM wins at Wisconsin but throws for less than 100 yards but runs for over 200 yards then I will go away for 60 days.

    So all UM has to do is run for basically for half of what they ran for at home against Minny and whoever takes the bet wins and I will leave so the whole board will benefit. 🙂

    If UM loses one of these games and they don’t run for the yardage listed above in each of those games then I win and you will stay off the board for only 30 days.

    Any takers? You have a solid defense to rely on. Wisconsin isn’t that good right? Neither is Maryland. You might win. UM has a solid and developing running attack. No passing game. Good defense.

    Come on. Step up and get rid of this troll.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Nov 06, 2017 at 6:22 PM

      Did somebody say they expect UM to win games passing for <100 yards?

      I think you should post as much as you want.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Nov 06, 2017 at 6:28 PM

      I think you are missing the point.

      The passing game problems have been there all year. Nothing new there. The only wrinkle was adding RG and WR2 backups to QB and WR1.

      The fact that UM can win a game being so overtly one-dimensional is a testament to the strength of that one-dimension.

      That’s what people are happy about.

      Nobody wants UM to have an offense that can’t pass for 100 yards. Nobody thinks the Wisc run D is the Minn run D.

      • Comments: 502
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Nov 06, 2017 at 8:24 PM

        Sort of. I am in the camp that is happy with the production in the running game.

        My main point was that the staff wasn’t too interested in getting Peters additional work after the game was in hand and the offense had stuttered early in the 4th. Instead of showing balance and taking some more risk…they ran and put Peters in some precarious positions with a poor pass blocking OL. See hits.

        What happened the initial drive play calling. Not only did they get Peters almost destroyed but they didn’t put him in a position to succeed. They basically were trying to run out the clock in the 4th qtr.

        My point is again is that this staff is either waiting for Speight to pull a Willis Reed and just want to hand off the ball and not develop Peters or that somehow, miraculously, Peters is going to start slinging the ball all over the field if necessary at Wisconsin. I find that to be slightly incredulous.

        This staff had more than a few opportunities on Saturday to get Peters some long throws and not get him killed but for whatever reason they are being cautious with no threat to lose the game.

        IF UM can win games being one dimensional then be my guest and I’ll come on the board and say I was wrong. I am skeptical. I have seen this movie before. UM does well against the the bottom dwellers and then loses games because better teams can provider greater resistance to their offense.

        I am happy about the run game. Run the majority of the time but sooner or later you need to win against better road competition. You don’t develop a balanced offense then going to have a more difficult time and everybody will clamor where was the passing game? The run offense wasn’t very good. Well yes, it was against RU and Minny.

        My only point. That’s it. It’s no different than Don Brown thinking he can just play one style of defense against better offensive teams and coaches. I can’t speak for you LK. I know you are a loyal and dedicated fan but for me, I am tired of losing against better teams in conference. I would love to come back on this board and apologize after UM runs for 250 yards against Maryland and Wisconsin and throws the ball 12-15 times in the game. If those things happen then I will support that strategy against OSU.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3600
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Nov 06, 2017 at 9:58 PM

          You are saying they put him in position to get killed but you are also saying you want him to pass more. This seems contradictory.

          The OL pass blocking is bad. If you try to pass you will get your QB hit.

          There is only marginal value to development by passing more. Given what happened to WS/JOK I think you could make a case that it’s counterproductive.

          Less could be more to keep QB confidence and comfort going.

          Everyone agrees we will need to pass to beat Wisc and OSU. The part people agree about is how you get there. 4th Q throws won’t make Peters anymore than 4th Q run make Omary Samuels.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3600
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Nov 06, 2017 at 9:59 PM

          The staff was choosing to NOT get Peters hit. You talk like it’s the opposite.

    • Comments: 948
      Joined: 8/13/2015
      Roanman
      Nov 06, 2017 at 8:40 PM

      I really wasn’t speaking directly to you. I don’t view you as a troll, just wrong on this particular issue. Your presence or absence is neither here nor there as far as I’m concerned. It is however important to Thunder, so I would encourage you to post to your heart’s content.

      The pathetic little troll knows exactly who I’m addressing.

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