Michigan Daily Sports Editor Kyle O’Neill is not a collegiate athlete, nor is he a collegiate coach. But he was a starting wide receiver for his winless team at Garber High School, was third in Bay County in receptions his senior year and claims to know something about the game of football. So each game, we’ll let him and his 5-foot-10, 158-pound frame break down why Michigan either succeeded or failed.
1. I know many are wondering why Michigan just doesn’t go into a shotgun offense more often. Well, here’s why Michigan can’t: Man-to-man defense. The Wolverines can pick apart a zone defense with the best of them. Those who saw Jason Avant get so many third-down catches in the first half saw Michigan find holes in Iowa’s defense. The same can be said for Michigan’s final drive. But when Michigan went to the air against Iowa’s man defense, many passes were broken up as it was tough for Navarre to properly lead or hit his receivers in stride.
2. Well, you wanted more from Steve Breaston, and you got it. Kick returner, punt returner, wide receiver and rusher on an end-around. All it proved was that the phenom is human. He pressed a few punt returns that he should have fair caught and his second end-around was something that Iowa was more than expecting. Fans need to realize that what makes someone like Breaston special is that the less he touches the ball, the less a defense will be expecting him. The hype around him is deserved, but defenses are going to be focusing on him a lot – something not easily handled by any redshirt freshman.
3. Sorry, long drive back from Iowa. I was a fan of the Iowa-80 truck stop – the largest in the world. But the defense played solid throughout and deserved better.
Explanation (of diagram): Well, it’s safe to say no one thought they’d ever see this formation used. And it’s safe to say that before the game, Michigan coach Lloyd Carr wasn’t planning on using a punt with two-yard splits on the line. But, it happened, and, in theory, it was a good idea. Iowa’s Ramon Ochoa was fresh off a 43-yard punt return and Michigan’s punt team was without injured Larry Stevens and Jeremy Van Alstyne, so Michigan went into a formation that emphasized the coverage and allowed Garrett Rivas – who was a better choice than Adam Finley in this situation – to roll out right and direct the punt away from Ochoa. And despite its crazy appearance, it did work, as Ochoa was taken out of the play and Iowa was given bad field possession inside its own 30 twice. The third time, however, Iowa’s Chris Smith got through the three protectors of Rivas nearly untouched and stuffed Rivas’ kick. Smith got hit by Michigan wide receiver Tyrece Butler – playing right tackle – at the line and shook off his shoulder shrug. Butler and the rest of the line went right downfield for the coverage on Ochoa. Smith and the other defenders on his side of the line began to rush. Right protector David Baas took Iowa’s defensive end out of the play leaving Smith and three other defenders wide open to rush on Michigan’s middle and left protectors: Leo Henige and Mark Bihl, respectively. Henige was barely able to get a hand on the rushing Smith, who had a wide-open block on Rivas.