Great Heisman Campaign: Mathews v. Ezeh

Greg Mathews is the lone holdover at wide receiver from Michigan’s glory days on offense in 2006. He was one of Michigan’s top receivers last year, and the only wideout with more than one touchdown grab (a far cry from the days of 15 for Edwards or 12 for Manningham). He looks to continue making the tough catches with his spectacular hands, though he’s unlikely to beat many players deep.

Obi Ezeh will be a third-year starter at middle linebacker, and he’s had an up-and-down career thus far, including a one-handed interception against Northwestern in 2007:

If the Michigan defense is to be successful, Ezeh will have to be on his game the whole year.

Greg Mathews v. Obi Ezeh

  • 1 Greg Mathews (53%, 293 Votes)
  • 4 Obi Ezeh (47%, 265 Votes)

Total Voters: 558

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For the second round each poll will only be open for 3 days, so make sure you vote early in order to be counted. For the updated bracket, click here.

Open Polls:
Graham v. Robinson.
Odoms v. Martin.

Completed 2nd Round Polls:
Minor v. Van Bergen.
Warren v. Schilling.
Mesko v. Cissoko.
Forcier v. Stonum.

Posted under Football, Personnel

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The Great Heisman Campaign: Ezeh v. Campbell

Obi Ezeh will enter his redshirt junior year as a two-year returning starter at middle linebacker. He led Michigan in tackles last year, and looks to continue that trend in 2009. Ezeh is a big, big guy who sometimes looks more like a defensive end than a linebacker, but he still has the necessary agility to defend passes in space. The MLB position is key to many defenses, and Michigan’s is no different. If they want to stop opposing offenses, Ezeh will be a key player.

William Campbell will just be a true freshman this fall, but it seems like he’s been a Wolverine almost as long as Ezeh. The 5-star defensive tackle from Detroit’s Cass Tech high school committed to Michigan before his junior year, and though there was a bit of a bumpy ride along the way, he stayed with the Wolverines and enrolled in January. He’s raw, but physically talented, and should contribute along the defensive line as a true freshman.

Obi Ezeh v. William Campbell

  • 4 Obi Ezeh (75%, 422 Votes)
  • 5 William Campbell (25%, 137 Votes)

Total Voters: 559

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The poll will remain open for 7 days, closing at 5PM next Thursday. Have your heart set on a particular candidate? Try to sway others in the comments. The full bracket is visible here.

Other Open Polls:
Graham v. Banks.
Robinson v. Woolfolk.
Odoms v. Shaw.
Martin v. Koger.
Mathews v. Molk.

Completed 1st Round Poll:
Minor defeats Sheridan, 952-53.
Van Bergen defeats Gibbons, 516-201.
Warren defeats Stokes, 646-113.
Schilling v. Emilien, 487-248.
Mesko defeats Ortmann, 634-85.
Cissoko defeats Toussaint, 460-270.
Forcier defeats Patterson, 773-35.
Stonum defeats Roundtree. appx. 357-268.

Posted under Football, Personnel

Inside the Play: Minnesota Defense

The Situation
Just under 12 minutes remain in the first half. Minnesota has reached Michigan’s territory for the first time on the day, facing a 3rd & 7 from Michigan’s 47. The Wolverine defense has dominated the game thus far, preventing Minnesota from gaining a single first down. Getting another stop here could solidify Michigan’s momentum, and springboard the team to just their third victory of the year.

The Personnel and Formation
Minnesota is in a trips left spread formation. There is one receiver to the right of the line, and one far left with two slot players inside of him. Adam Weber is in the shotgun with DeLeon Eskridge flanking him to the right. Michigan responds with its Okie nickel package. The Wolverines are showing man-free coverage, with Donovan Warren lined up over the solo receiver, Morgan Trent over the trips split end, and Brandon Harrison and Charles Stewart (as a linebacker) over the slot receivers.

The Play
Weber drops back to pass. Michigan indeed comes after him, with man-free coverage, blitzing 6 (Eskridge does not go out on a passing route, so Michael Williams, as a linebacker, ignores him and goes after Weber). Weber has about a microsecond to react, and no time to throw. Obi Ezeh finds a big crease in the middle of the line and sacks Weber, along with Williams and Jonas Mouton.

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Why it Worked
Michigan managed to send 6 pass rushers against 6 blockers, but still get to Weber with relative ease. The Gophers’ blocking assignments were confused by the use of the Okie Chaos, in addition to a twist pass-rush move by Brandon Graham. Even if the Maroon Sea had not parted for Ezeh, Williams and Mouton still would have had plenty of opportunity to sack Weber before he could get a pass off. The outside rush by Williams ran into the futile blocking attempt of Eskridge, and Mouton used his speed to get around the left tackle on the other flank. Had Eskridge gone out on a safety valve route, Williams would have had the responsibility of staying with him.

By the way, Michigan has been doing similar things all season – the players just haven’t been executing, particularly in the “tackling” department. Not to harp on one point to much, but Scott Shafer knows what he is doing. If players are in position to make plays (it’s what they do, after all), the blame goes on the kids for not finishing them, rather than on the guy cooking up the schemes.

Now you know what it was like Inside the Play.

Posted under Football