Michigan vs. Minnesota Awards

Michigan vs. Minnesota Awards


October 26, 2020
Michael Barrett (image via MLive)

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Zach Charbonnet. Charbonnet’s first carry of the game was a 70-yard touchdown up the gut on power. He ended up with 70 yards on 4 total carries, so his other three carries netted zero yards, but I would still like to see Charbonnet touch the ball more if/when the game is on the line. Michigan did a good job of spreading out carries to keep people happy and fresh, but we know Charbonnet is tough – and that touchdown run showed more speed than what he had last year. In the 2019 season opener, he broke away against Middle Tennessee and didn’t have the same explosion he showed against the Gophers.

Hit the jump for more.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . extra tight ends. Early in the game, Michigan was killing Minnesota with its spread looks. The Gophers simply couldn’t match up with Michigan’s “speed in space.” And yet for some reason, the coaching staff decided to start packing things in tight with extra tight ends. That bogged down the offense. I’m not saying Michigan shouldn’t use multiple tight end sets, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Anthony Solomon. Solomon made 2 tackles and looks to have bulked up since last year. He’s not fully developed yet physically, but I think he has the quickness and instincts to be an impact player this year.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Ben VanSumeren. Every time I saw VanSumeren on defense, he was getting blocked. Michigan played him at SAM in its odd stack look, and while coaches have said positive things, I didn’t see anything last night that makes me think he needs to be on the field. Michigan’s hands might be tied with all the departures from the position group (Drew Singleton, Jordan Anthony, Devin Gil, Osman Savage, Charles Thomas, etc.), but I’m not sure VanSumeren is the answer at SAM.

Play of the game #1 . . . Michael Barrett’s sack and forced fumble that turned into a 15-yard touchdown for Donovan Jeter was a thing of beauty. It seemed like it affected Minnesota’s play calling and Tanner Morgan’s effectiveness for a while.

Play of the game #2 . . . Taylor Upshaw chases down Mohamed Ibrahim. This play did not get enough attention from the announcers. Backside defensive end Taylor Upshaw (6’4″, 256 lbs.) runs down Minnesota starting running back Mohamed Ibrahim (5’10”, 210) from behind, saving what looked to be an easy touchdown. This play alone raises my expectations for Upshaw.

MVP of the game . . . Michael Barrett. Barrett had some huge, momentum-swinging plays in this game, affecting the game in numerous ways. Several players had good games, from Joe Milton to Hassan Haskins to Kwity Paye to Aidan Hutchinson. But even more than Haskins – who had some big runs and sniffed out a fake punt – Barrett rose to the occasion in different phases. Defensively, he made 7 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble (see above). On special teams, he picked up a squib kick and returned it 66 yards deep into Minnesota’s territory; and even more alertly, he recovered a Blake Corum fumble on a kickoff return, preventing Minnesota from capitalizing on a freshman mistake.

22 comments

  1. Avatar
    Comments: 134
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    AC1997
    Oct 26, 2020 at 8:33 AM

    All good choices here and liked that you found the Upshaw play. He was one of many guys that saw more time than I ever would have expected. The two who saw less time? Cornelius Johnson and Luiji Villain.

    A couple of other names to think about:
    – Less on offense = Joe Milton….because I thought they left the starters in one drive longer than I would have. In a season where we are very thin, get him out early and let your unproven back-up have more time.
    – Less on defense = BVS is a good choice as he looked like late-era Furbush when defenses had figured out he was going to blitz 100% of the time and had no moves. But, I’d also throw Paige in there. I’m excited for his future, but freshmen safeties tend to suck and he was no exception. He got toasted a few times.

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 1357
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Oct 26, 2020 at 9:47 AM

    Maybe it’s a thing and I haven’t noticed it before, but I don’t think I have ever seen running backs used in the kicking game quite like we are presently doing it. Probably keeps them in the game and forgetting to notice the carries they aren’t getting. Charbonnet is a hands guy, I guess. He made a play that I could never have made back in the day, by stepping over the kick to let it through to Barret. If the ball is coming my way, I’m picking that sucker up. Coaching 1 – Human Nature 0 on that play.

    Haskins on the punt return team? Then he executes the perfect “hit, lift and carry” technique I was taught sooooooo long ago. Put a little lump in my throat.

    I went back and watched everything I could on defense, and I maintain despite contrary opinions that the interior D Line had a good night. Admittedly the better follow up videos have not yet been forthcoming so far on this game so the sample size is imperfect, but I think those guys did well. Whether they hold up against Wisconsin and OSU is a legit question, but, so far, so good.

    Somebody, somewhere said we look small on the D line and I have to agree, particularly with Kemp out there, but he was getting through. Maybe, I’m unconcerned because in my day, they were Middle Guards and way small. We frequently had guys on our D Line giving up a no kidding 50 pounds. I’ve said this before, but I was at a game where Pete Johnson outweighed every guy on our defense. We did loset BTW, but I think it was 14-12 or something close to it. We hit them in the backfield all day.

    Kemp made me think of this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVrKNG7KXI8 Maybe my all time favorite Bo video.

    I also thought Welschof looked strong and hard to handle. And again, Jeter had complete control of his guy and had the pocket collapsed on his pick.

    Maybe I’m just giddy over having college football on TV.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1357
      Joined: 8/13/2015
      Roanman
      Oct 26, 2020 at 10:10 AM

      I forgot to mention. every time Don Brown gets interviewed, the phrase you hear is “running to the football”. This is without regards for position. Well, as we saw with Upshaw in particular, our D-Line in it’s entirety was doing that all night. I have to believe that “running to the football” is valued by this staff over standing in there and soaking up blockers.

      Still has to work against the Buckeyes.

      I also agree with whoever opined that the game plan was to force their RPO to hand off. And I think Ibrahim is a really good back

      One more thing and then I promise to leave. If you can find it, there is a Bo Jackson interview out there in which he talks about laughing at Michigan during warmups before their bowl matchup because we were so small. Then he mentions that Michigan pounded the crap out of him the whole game. And yeah, we lost that one close too, but only a loser thinks you should be winning them all at the highest level. I liked Michigan football better when nobody wanted to play us very much because we hit, and the stereotype on Michigan football was that they never lose, they just run out of time. it feels like we’re moving in the right direction on those issues.

      • DonAZ
        Comments: 523
        Joined: 8/12/2015
        DonAZ
        Oct 26, 2020 at 1:34 PM

        Regarding the defense “running to the ball” … is that a common thing for defenses, or is that a Don Brown thing? And if it’s somewhat unique to Brown, does that create potential problems where a clever offensive coordinator could exploit it?

        • Avatar
          Comments: 1357
          Joined: 8/13/2015
          Roanman
          Oct 26, 2020 at 2:14 PM

          I would defer to Thunder, were he to disagree, but it’s a universally employed cliche’. Don Brown seemingly has taken it to heart, internalized it and coaches it. Some other guys too most likely, but to Don Brown it is a for sure real thing.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6285
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Oct 26, 2020 at 4:25 PM

          Mattison made a big deal about it when he was DC here. I heard it in high school back in the day. I have the impression it’s pretty universal just about how much it’s emphasized and rewarded.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3849
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Oct 26, 2020 at 10:29 AM

      What Charbonnet did on Saturday night’s kickoff return, we teach in high school. We call it “passing it on to the next level.” If the ball is “coming in hot”, we tell kids to “pass it on” to someone who’s more adept at handling the ball. I actually run our kickoff return portion of special teams, and a couple years ago, I had to “fire” a kid from kickoff return who refused to understand the concept. He did it in a game – despite my teaching him otherwise – and we worked on it the next week in practice. Then he did it again in the next game, so I yanked him from the return team.

      I was not too concerned about the interior defensive line based on Saturday night, either. I don’t think it’s a great interior line, but it’s better than last year. Ibrahim was getting most of his yards bouncing it outside the ends. I do not think film will be kind to VanSumeren when he was in there, and Barrett also struggled to get off blocks once or twice that I noticed. The real issue with stopping the run was the OLBs and safeties.

      EDIT: For example, on both of Ibrahim’s touchdown runs, there were unblocked defenders there to make the play. Brad Hawkins was unblocked in the hole on one and just fell off Ibrahim, and there were two or three guys who missed tackles or took bad angles on the other touchdown.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 1357
        Joined: 8/13/2015
        Roanman
        Oct 26, 2020 at 12:01 PM

        You’d had to cut me probably. I’m a little like Tank McNamara in that regard.

        I’m agreeing with the safeties. You could almost see Paige thinking it though. Easy to see why coaches changed their mind about the cornerback thing for Hill. The absence of Hill was profound. I didn’t notice Hawkins much one way or the other. In this case, I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.

        I did see Barrett get cut off once.

        I was pretty much unbothered by any of it though, as I felt a strange serenity post the Charbonett TD run. Not real sure why.

        I was very concerned immediately before that between Mason’s PF which I thought was kind of funny and Milton leaving a perfectly good pocket to run himself into a sack. I thought to myself, pretty much exactly what everyone else was thinking, “Pick your expletive, I knew he wasn’t ready.”

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3849
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Oct 26, 2020 at 12:42 PM

          I think Hawkins just kind of is what he is. He’s just a guy. I hate to be that dismissive of seniors – especially when they’re the only returning starter – but he’s not a plus tackler and he’s not adept at coverage. I don’t think he’s a glaring hole, and I don’t think he’s an all-conference player. When the season is finished, he will probably be honorable mention all-conference, and that’s fine.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6285
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Oct 26, 2020 at 4:30 PM

          I think Hawkins is getting slept on a bit here. PFF had him 1st team all conference last year. I know I know, take PFF with a grain a salt, but they had him as a balanced player who plays the run and the pass both pretty well. That seems to match my eye test. No holes in his game. He might be boring in a good way.

          And just to head off any PFF complaints – they’ve had their share of misses but also seem to have caught an underrated player in Onwenu who is now looks like a steal in the NFL.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 1357
        Joined: 8/13/2015
        Roanman
        Oct 26, 2020 at 12:04 PM

        Missed the edit on Hawkins. In his defense, I think that barring injury guys will be falling off of Ibrahim for some time to come. I really liked him and would take him in a heartbeat.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6285
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Oct 26, 2020 at 12:35 PM

          Agree. He’s a big boy.

          • Avatar
            Comments: 1357
            Joined: 8/13/2015
            Roanman
            Oct 26, 2020 at 2:15 PM

            But not jumbo.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 6285
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Oct 26, 2020 at 4:45 PM

              I like my RBs big and small as long as they aren’t too tall. ZC is pushing the limits but I like his game.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 6285
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Oct 26, 2020 at 4:47 PM

              If Jamal Anderson (Falcons) has a son I hope we recruit him.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 26, 2020 at 12:40 PM

      Good thoughts here Roanman. FWIW I don’t think the DTs were a problem this game, more that I didn’t notice them getting a strong push or making plays. And the rotation between Jeter/Hinton/Welshof/BVS didn’t give me much indication they found a guy they really like yet.

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Oct 26, 2020 at 12:34 PM

    Also came away unimpressed with BVS. At the same time, I have to think he’s out there for a reason. We saw SAM/Rush End a lot more last year in part because Uche was a brilliant pass rusher but also in part because they wanted to minimize DT snaps beyond Kemp. I don’t see any reason to think BVS is the former. So his prominent role on Saturday seems to me likely to be either an effort to show a variety of packages or a lack of faith in DT. The comparison has been made to Furbush, a guy who contributed mostly by bashing into potential blockers as hard as possible, but if BVS is taking that role he’s got to get more aggressive.

    I’m curious on the two TE thing because I failed to notice this. I saw way more 21 personnel than 12. With Eubanks out All got a bigger role but I didn’t see a ton of other TEs. I’m wondering if you’re counting Mason as a 2nd TE depending on his alignment?

  4. Lanknows
    Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Oct 26, 2020 at 12:59 PM

    My thoughts on RB playing time.

    I think ZC is the top guy and this may be a season low in carries for him. He’s proven himself before and I do believe he and Corum were both starters with Michigan coming out in a 2 back set to start IIRC.

    With that said, he was the least impressive back on the day IMO. The 70 yarder was expertly blocked (Mason, Wilson, Filiaga, etc) and ZC ran untouched in a straight line. He executed it perfectly, one half step and go, but the degree of difficulty was low. I won’t say I could have scored a TD there but I do think all our other RBs would have.

    He also might have been liable on the punt block that could have cost us the game in a closer one. Maybe that factored into the PT?

    Speaking of the other backs, Corum showed excellent feat and a nice burst on the early catch. That looked like speed in space to me. Evans had a very impressive cut on this TD. Haskins broke through tackles on his big run. Milton isn’t a RB but really impressed me with his patience waiting for the hole to develop.

    I’m ready for more 2RB sets with Mason being a forceful blocker and Corum and Evans looking like quality pass threats.

    Similar to the 70 yarder was the Barrett blitz resulting in a TD. Credit coaches for dialing up the right play at the right time. Barrett’s job was pretty easy. While he did break down well and showed savvy in doing so, flying past the QB in that spot would have been a disappointment for any unblocked blitzer. Reminded me a bit of Hudson’s career day against Minnesota a couple years back.

    IMO both plays are more a case of execution than excellence for the guy ‘making the play’. In contrast Upshaw won’t get anything in the stat book but that kind of pursuit is not typical from what I’ve seen, even though coaches will say it everyday.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3849
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Oct 26, 2020 at 2:24 PM

      It was hard for me to tell on that blocked punt. With the way we teach it, it depends on the calls being made. We actually have the upback (Charbonnet in that case) make the call, and in our case, he would probably have everyone block out and take the inside “blitzer.” So in that case, it would be Charbonnet’s fault.

      BUT if Charbonnet made the call, then why was he so unsure of whom to block? On top of that, we usually put a bigger guy in Charbonnet’s spot to take on that direct hit from the blitzer. That makes me think it was someone else’s call, and Charbonnet was trying to react to what someone else said.

      Special teams guys will argue about how to block things up until the cows come home. So I have no idea, other than that I think we can narrow it down to either Charbonnet or Ross.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6285
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Oct 26, 2020 at 4:48 PM

        Good insight. Thanks

  5. JC
    Comments: 313
    Joined: 8/17/2015
    JC
    Oct 26, 2020 at 3:17 PM

    The Paye 3 sacks in a row – first down Paye had pressure and got a hand on the QB, which ultimately caused the QB to get sacked by someone else. Can’t remember if it was Kemp or not.

    Interior DL looks fine. Jeter looks like he could be fine.

    I thought G. Green looked great out there, and probably better than V. Gray. When I watch it a second time I’ll keep an eye out for those two.

    Let’s see less of this guy: Jake Moody. What the heck happened? Before this game I felt comfortable with Moody or Nordin. Now I feel comfortable with Nordin.

    A play of the game for me is an incomplete pass. Milton scrambling, running to the left, and throwing a catchable 45 yard pass to Giles Jackson if Giles made the right adjustment. I liked seeing Joe extend the play, and rather than getting happy feet he had his eyes downfield looking for the big play.

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