UA-59049186-1 Michigan 14, Wisconsin 7 - Recap - Good if it Goes

Michigan 14, Wisconsin 7 – Recap

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First thing’s first: a big thanks to @DGDestroys, who makes the every snap videos that make these a lot easier to do.

Box Score

Grading Primer

Michigan’s defense led the way to a 14-7 victory over Wisconsin Saturday, Michigan’s first win over a top ten team since 2008. The offense struggled at times and the field goal kicking was really bad. Wisconsin had some opportunities, but nearly every time, the Michigan defense stepped up. The clincher was an all-time great interception by Jourdan Lewis.

Player Grades

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How’d they do?

Ratings are out of 100 and should be read similar to Madden ratings. Overall ratings for the season are in parentheses.

QB: 75 (Season: 80, Change: -2)

Speight managed the game and was mostly fine in doing so. However, he had an interception, a few really bad ideas besides, and a handful of passes that were sent three feet over their intended target. He did what he needed to do to win this game and comparable performances will probably be good enough to win every game until Ohio State, but if Michigan is to get past them, Speight will have to do a good bit better.

RB: 95 (Season: 93, Change: +3)

Smith and Isaac were both very good. Chris Evans did well with the snaps he got. The vision problems that plagued the running backs last year are fading more every week; this week, Isaac in particular showed very impressive decision making with the ball in his hands. We didn’t see Karan Higdon and I have no idea why. He played very well against Penn State and Harbaugh said he wasn’t hurt. We did see Jabrill Peppers, mostly in a wildcat QB role, where he handed off every time. Come on, Wisconsin, be undisciplined just once. We’ve got a Heisman campaign to worry about here.

FB/H-B: 86 (Season: 88, Change: 0)

Poggi was just okay. Hill had a very nice outing.

WR: 89 (Season: 91, Change: -1)

Jehu Chesson played a major role in the offense this week. Darboh had a drop and a big biff in blocking, but was otherwise very good. Perry had a couple catches.

TE: 93 (Season: 94, Change: 0)

Jake Butt had a few catches and some nice blocks. Asiasi (Oi Oi Oi) was effective in the ground game.

OL: 85 (Season: 85, Change: 0)

I thought the line was better than PFF did. Kalis in particular was outstanding and Cole had a nice game. There were a few biffs in pass pro, but it’s not like Speight was constantly ending up on his back. I thought the line did a good job in opening space for the backs. They were running the ball very well up until the last few drives, at which point Michigan’s focus seemed to shift from “gain yards” to “don’t make mistakes and kill the clock” and the Wolverines repeatedly ran into stacked boxes. Given how the defense was playing, this was a good decision. Grant Newsome did go down with a knee injury. He’s out for the season. Bushell-Beatty was fine in his stead, though Michigan gave him some tight end help. JBB has eight weeks to mature as a player before Michigan takes on OSU, hopefully we see steady improvement. If he’s shaky, Cole can move back to LT and Kugler would take over at C.

DE: 97 (Season: 94, Change: +1)

Charlton and Wormley gave Wisconsin problems all day. Rashan Gary only saw a handful of snaps, but was good when he was on the field.

DT: 97 (Season: 96, Change: +1)

Ryan Glasgow has an excellent game. Maurice Hurst had a very good outing. Bryan Mone made his return and played well in a handful of snaps.

LB: 91 (Season: 92, Change: 0)

Gedeon’s coverage on Wisconsin’s only touchdown wasn’t great. Other than that, there were only a few mistakes. A lot of the time, plays just weren’t getting to the linebackers.

CB: 96 (Season: 94, Change: +2)

That pick. Holy cow, that pick. Watching the game live, this is how my reaction went:

  1. Alright, incomplete. Game over.
  2. Wait, did he catch that?
  3. Holy crap, he caught that!
  4. Wait a minute, why did he catch that?
  5. You know what? Screw it, that was awesome!

I mean, yeah, from a game theory perspective, technically he should’ve batted the ball down. However, Michigan didn’t even need to run a play on fourth down to kill the clock and Harbaugh said he was glad he made the play, so if you are upset that he caught the ball, you need to stop that now.

Also, Stribling had a couple biffs, but also two interceptions.

S: 91 (Season: 86, Change: +3)

Dymonte Thomas and Delano Hill both played very well and largely avoided mistakes.

After Clemson’s win over Louisville, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said “you can’t win 12 until you win 5.” He’s absolutely right, but at this point, it sure looks like Wisconsin will be the best team Michigan faces until they head to Columbus to take on OSU. So I think now’s as good of a time as any to look at what Michigan’s doing well and what they’ll need to improve before The Game.

First of all, that defense. Holy cow, that defense. Michigan is #1 in defensive S&P+ and second-place Florida trails by a lot. S&P+ is opponent-adjusted, so this is no fluke caused by beating up on Hawai’i. The line has lived up to the hopes of the fan base and the team is just now starting to get Bryan Mone back into the mix. The team looks like they’re grasping Don Brown’s system and the one spot that was a concern going into the season is not one. As far as this game is concerned, Wisconsin is not an overly-complicated offense. This looks like much the same offense the Badgers have rolled out in years past: a bunch of big corn-fed dudes clearing space for [insert back who will end up looking much better than he actually is because he’s running behind said corn-fed dudes here] and doing that enough to hide the fact that the QB is some jabroni. Granted, Hornibrook did look quite good against Michigan State, but their defense is not in Michigan’s league. MSU is 26th overall in defensive S&P+ and 49th in passing S&P+, whereas Michigan is #1 in both. So as far as how good Hornibrook is, the answer is probably somewhere in the middle of the last two weeks and he’s a redshirt freshman, so there’s time to grow yet, but for now, not great. Michigan’s defense is good enough to keep them in games with anyone in the country, but there’s a big difference between Wisconsin’s offense and OSU’s, and Michgan’s defense is going to need to be completely on their game that day. For reference, OSU is 10th in offensive S&P+. Wisconsin – add a zero to that. The style of play is going to be significantly tougher on the defense as well. J.T. Barrett is a big step up from Alex Hornibrook and OSU employs a lot of option play, whereas Wisconsin’s perfectly content running up the gut, which plays right into Michigan’s strengths.

On offense, Speight is going to have to improve – no two ways about it. The offensive line has done well the last couple weeks to open some space for the backs and the backs are doing a better job of taking advantage of it. Last week, Michigan looked like a four-headed rushing attack and that’s before sprinkling some Peppers on the offense and this week, even with Higdon sitting for some unknown reason, the unit again looked like they can do some damage. Against the #5 overall and #14 rushing defense according to S&P+, Michigan’s backs averaged 4.5 YPC and that includes the last three drives that went nowhere when Wisconsin was selling out to stop the run and Michigan was just fine with putting the game in the hands of the defense. That is not bad, ladies and gentlemen. Now it’s on Speight to give teams more of a reason to fear the pass. His game hasn’t looked all there since the Colorado game.

On special teams, Harbaugh has already said there’s going to be a kicking competition. My guess is that doing kickoffs, punts, and field goals just got to be too much for Kenny Allen. Harbaugh didn’t sound like Quinn Nordin’s injury would be a season-long thing, so while one would obviously like to redshirt him, don’t be surprised if he ends up playing once he’s healthy.

All that said, there’s still a long way to go until The Game and we can’t take anything for granted. To paraphrase Dabo Swinney, you can’t win 12 until you win 6, so from this point on, we focus on beating our fierce rival Rutgers.

Helmet Stickers

Up to 3 may be awarded per player. Not necessarily the highest-graded players since different grades mean different things to different players (refer to the primer).

Offense

3: Kyle Kalis, Ty Isaac, De’Veon Smith, Jehu  Chesson, Jake Butt, Khalid Hill

2: Amara Darboh, Mason Cole, Chris Evans

1: Devin Asiasi, Ben Braden

Defense

3: Ryan Glasgow, Jourdan Lewis, Taco Charlton, Chris Wormley, Maurice Hurst

2: Ben Gedeon, Channing Stribling, Jabrill Peppers, Delano Hill

1: Dymonte Thomas, Mike McCray, Matt Godin, Bryan Mone, Chase Winovich, Rashan Gary, Brandon Watson

(everybody on defense is getting at least one for this outing)

Helmet Sticker Count

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Go Blue!

Twitter: @KSchroeder_312

E-mail: schroeder.giig@gmail.com

 

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