You, Michigan fan, might hate former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, but you have to admit, even if begrudgingly: the man knows football.
Now an analyst for FOX Sports and BTN, Meyer has sung Michigan’s praises (though not mentioning them by name) quite often this season, even through some of the struggling periods — though he has acknowledged the offensive issues, while noting it takes time for a new system to jell.
In a segment with BTN host Gerry DiNardo, Meyer was absolutely enthusiastic about Michigan’s defense as it played against Iowa this past Saturday.
He broke down a few plays and shared what made the Wolverines defense so stout against the Hawkeyes.
First run play breakdown
“When the Wolverines are playing great defense, they’re very sound,” Meyer said. “Obviously, they have very good players. But they also play single gap defense.
“For the viewer here, the A-gaps are on each side of the center. So your A-gap is the interior. As you move out, the B-gap is outside the guard and C-gap is outside the tackle. The D-gap is outside the tight end. In a single gap defense, everybody has got a responsibility.
“Now Iowa is kinda playing into their hands right here. They’re playing in I-formation – you don’t see that very often. There’s a fullback, and whenever you enter or add a player into the gap, the linebacker has to spill it or box it.
“Let’s just talk about that for a second: so depending on the coverage — they actually had a terrible mistake against Wisconsin – they spilled it, there’s no defender there, and it was a 75-yard touchdown. It all has to be coordinated to the coverage.
“You can see 29 here (Jordan Glasgow) is gonna spill the ball to (Ambry) Thomas, No. 1, the (cornerback) – and does an excellent job. He’s taking him on with his right shoulder. This is not by accident – this is very well-coordinated. Thomas knows that he’s the free player.
“For the viewer, this is well done. It’s well-defended.”
Second run play breakdown
“Here’s another play by Iowa – they’re kind of playing right into the teeth of the Wolverine defense,” Meyer said. “They’re obviously in the redzone, get some plus yardage. You know there’s gonna be a free hat. But I’m always intrigued, and I think the viewer is, too. You see the linebacker, No. 29, take on the fullback, with a big-time collision – that’s a big hit. But he’s taking him on with his left shoulder, because he understands No. 14 (Josh Metellus) is the free player. He’s the free hat. He spills it to him.
“Well-coordinated defense, good coverage on the outside by No. 24 (Lavert Hill) and the defensive end. There’s nowhere to go, and No. 2 (Carlo Kemp) just has a great effort. Great effort. He actually beats a double-team block there.
“(Metellus) is staring at the tight end. When he sees the tight end go block, he knows he’s the free hat.”
Pass play breakdown
“Whenever you play one of the top defenses in the country — as they usually have, because they have very good personnel and are obviously well-coached – you want to keep them off-schedule. You talk about keeping an offense off-schedule, we would always try to do our best to keep a defense off-schedule. For example, it’s second and ten here. You know Iowa is gonna kinda be forced into a throwing situation. And you don’t want to this against a great defense. Look at the stances of the D-linemen. You can just tell the elongated stances – this is much different than anything you saw. Now they’re just teeing off because they know what it’s gonna be, plus it’s an empty set – you can see there’s no threat of run. So what does that mean? These guys just come screaming off the ball. Iowa really has no chance. As hard as they’re pouring off the ball, watch Nate Stanley – by the time he sets his feet, 1-2-3, he’s already getting pressure.
“People talk about keeping the offense off-balance, when you face a great defense, you’ve gotta break your tendencies. If you’re just gonna go run-run-pass, or run and then a long-yardage pass, you don’t want to do that against great personnel.”
There’s a few more plays that Meyer broke down, and you can see the actual plays he’s breaking down in real-time in the video.
Watch the whole video below: