I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
In this edition of why Michigan couldn't run against Penn State, here's a second-quarter zone stretch that goes for one yard. Michigan comes out in what looks like a traditional I-Form but has the tackle over thing where Lewan and Williams swap spaces.
Unlike virtually all of Michigan's runs from their tackle over formation, Penn State backs off this one. They've got two deep safeties and a gray area defender, but it's seven-ish in the box. Michigan will get one yard.
I'm trying to figure things out here and eventually it occurs to me that Penn State's line looks awfully damn big. Didn't Ace say Penn State's defensive ends were 250 pounds and liable to blow away in a stiff breeze?
/googles "penn state roster"
/sorts by number
From top to bottom, these gentlemen are:
- A 258 pound DE
- A 281 pound DT
- A 280 pound DT
- A 302 pound DT
- A 318 pound DT
Schofield gets rocked back by Johnson, Lewan can't put Jones in the bench, Glasgow and Kalis can't scoop Gaia, and Michigan does not "execute up front," because Penn State figures that if Michigan is going to tell 'em where they're running they're going to put four DTs on the field and line their best up over Michigan's tackles.
Coordinators have to execute, too. Penn State's DC did his prep work.
Items of Interest
Well, poop. Yep.
What are you stressing in practice this week?
“Well, getting ready for Indiana and getting ready for the rest of our season. It’s playing fast. Teams we play send a lot of tempo at you, and sometimes the next play is in 7 seven. It’s guys getting back to the huddle, it’s guys getting the signal on the fly, all those things. The good thing is we’ve been working on the rotation all along. If a guy has to play five plays rather than three plays, fine, we’ll get them in and out that way.”
Some teams prepare for a high tempo offense by having two entire scout offenses rotate in and out. Do you do that at all?
“Well Brady does a great job with that. We’ve played against this kind of offense before. Brady does a great job getting the tempo as fast as it can be.”
In the “What is the Source of Our Run Blocking Issues” thread, I offered my list of things we are doing poorly (hint: everything). This Diary delves deeper into each of those items by examining an example of each in a brief picture page format. Let’s jump right in.
1. Bad individual technique. A lot of plays start from a fresh line of scrimmage 2 yards behind where the ball was snapped because of just plain getting beat 1 vs 1.
Example: First play of Michigan’s second possession.
Pic1: Butt motions next to AJ Williams, who is the defacto LT since Lewan is lined up outside of Schofield on the right in "Tackle Over."
Pic2: Michigan runs outside zone away from Lewan/Schofield. This goes about how you'd expect. Bryant and Williams both take a step laterally and allow their guys to get in on them with leverage. Before the ball is even handed off, they’ve each ceded 2 yards. Bonus: Schofield releases without chipping the DT, leaving Lewan an impossible angle.
Pic3: By the time Fitz gets the ball he has a wall of bodies in front of him 5 yards behind the line. The DT Lewan had no chance at is also there to prevent any hope of a cutback. Michigan would go on to throw for short gain on 2nd down, then Gardner throws his first pick on 3rd.
Roy Manning facepalm at left. [Bryan Fuller]
TWITTER SELF IMMOLATION AND DECISIONS
We read our @ mentions! We talk about the late game decision-making, bleed into talking about the offense, and then sigh at each other about overtime.
Heroic despite the 43 points. Basically five turnovers you guys.
TALKING BIG TEN WITH JAMIEMAC
We deeply regret all things said about Michigan State earlier this year and would like the football gods to absolve us.
"Across 110th Street."
"Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now," The Smiths
"William, It Was Really Nothing," The Smiths
"This Night Has Opened My Eyes," The Smiths
The usual links:
The above is a near-comprehensive look at Michigan's run plays on first down. I'm so sorry.
[Hit THE JUMP for more sad, because obviously.]
I don't think I'm exaggerating. It's second and eight after one of Michigan's most successful RB runs of the night. Michigan trails 21-10 with six minutes left in the second quarter. They put some dudes on the field and move them around. When we come back from Matt Millen saying something about something, this process has already started.
Houma and Chesson are switching spots. What this is supposed to do to the defense remains unknown, because it did not happen. Now… there's something odd about this play. Since we don't ever see the outside WR, I don't remember if that's Funchess or Williams or whoever, but Michigan puts him off the screen to the field. Also…
They have no left tackle. They have put their left tackle at super right tackle.
I think this is a run.
Penn State thinks this is a run. They have eight guys in the box against six blockers.
ESPN's camera man thinks this is a run, zooming almost to the box before they even snap the ball.
It's a run. Specifically, it is a zone stretch to the boundary. Because this is the only run it could possibly be, Penn State is prepared for this. Kalis gets driven back. Bryant and Glasgow don't scoop the backside tackle (not that it really matters since there is an unblocked guy in the cutback lane and another unblocked guy checking Gardner).
This looks familiar.
Kalis finally finishes losing his guy, who pushes Toussaint to the edge of the field, where a ninth Penn State defender—a safety lined up over a formation that cannot have a tight end emerge from it to threaten downfield—comes up to tackle for loss…
…if Kalis's guy doesn't do it first.
Third and ten.
Items of Interest
This is the stupidest play in the history of plays. You can't pass because you don't have a right tackle and refuse to throw perimeter screens no matter how blitheringly open they are…
all of these occurred in the first 20 minutes of the game
…and Penn State knows this, so they put eight in the box against six blockers and have a safety overhanging who knows 100% that he has no immediate pass threat to deal with.
I mean, you can see the entire PSU D on the field here:
There is a wide receiver outside of Gallon. Only the dumbest playcall in history could allow a D to align like this and be successful.
You really confused them, though. Having Chesson and Houma switch places is the cherry on top here. Yeah, you fooled 'em up real good right there. Now Penn State's eight in the box against 5 OL and a WR is eight in the box against 5 OL and a FB. Green fields ahead, boys.
They're setting them up for something! If you don't have an automatic check to whatever your clever business is when you see two DBs on 3 WRs, you fail.
Line didn't do well, but whatever. Kalis gets blown up here, but since Michigan just told Penn State the play they were running it's not really the focus.
The bigger picture. This was insane and far from isolated. Michigan kept running tackle over stuff against a defense that was stuffing it even after Taylor Lewan went out. They asked AJ Williams to play left tackle, and because of Borges's increasingly legendary stubbornness they allowed Penn State to align in formations that doomed their crammed-together paleolithic run game without either testing PSU's young and not very quick corners or taking the buckets of free yards these alignments provided.
The bubble screen stuff took on a life of its own over the course of the last year, and it's come up again—a screenshot of Michigan's first snap of the first overtime screaming for a bubble has made the rounds of every message board. To reiterate, the bubble is a constraint: it prevents the defense from lining up in certain ways and thus simplifies your life as an offense since defenses can't pack the box as much without getting free yards on their face. Borges's allergy to getting the ball to guys in a ton of space went from annoying to crippling in this game.
How can anyone have faith in a guy who looks at this when he needs a field goal to win…
…and doesn't throw a bubble because it's not what Vince Lombardi would do? It boggles the mind. A lot of things lost this game for Michigan. Al Borges is high up on that list.