wsg Slanty, the football-playing, jean-vested gecko who is inexplicably the first hit in Google images for "line slant football", or at least was a year ago.
One of my main concerns going into the season was what would happen to the short-yardage defense that Michigan was so good in a year ago without Mike Martin and RVB. Turning a third and short into a punt is 50% of a turnover, and Michigan could paper over a lot of deficiencies last year by telling Mike Martin to destroy some guys on third and one, thus allowing other guys to tackle.
Illinois disclaimers are in full effect—they can't do anything against anyone—but the Illini could do even less of anything against Michigan Saturday, and getting bombed on short yardage was a major part of that.
Michigan blew up Illinois short yardage with slants. Multiple times we saw this pattern:
- Michigan slants away from a power run.
- The playside end gets inside and upfield of the tackle or end trying to block down on him.
- The pulling guard bangs into the playside end.
- Linebackers profit.
Actually, Michigan doesn't so much "slant away" as show one defense and run another. When Michigan isn't running their base 4-3 under call they are inverting it by blitzing Ryan and moving everyone else over a gap.
Let's see it in action. /fishduck'd
It's fourth and one on the second and final Illini drive to make it past midfield, just before the half. Michigan has just stoned a power run by Riley O'Toole for a half yard to set up this opportunity. Illinois comes out in one of their standard sets, a pistol with two tight ends to one side of the line and twinned WRs.
Michigan is in an over this time since the strength is to the boundary, but Illinois will move a tight end over and not have an unbalanced strength on the line on the snap anyway so whatever.
This is what Michigan does:
They're essentially moving everyone over a a gap and dropping Ojemudia into a short zone. On run plays he "folds" which consists of backing off, keep an eye out for cutbacks, and allowing the linebackers to run to the frontside. If you're watching a replay and are wondering if Michigan's doing this gap-shift thing, the WDE backing off the LOS is a sure tip. If you watch for it, you will find it—Michigan runs this on upwards of 20% of downs.
On the snap, Ojemudia backs off and the line shoots down. Gordon, who is right behind Ojemudia in the above frame, has followed the TE across the field and now takes contain responsibility to the playside.
You can see the slant better from this angle:
Campbell is now attacking outside the left tackle, like he's a WDE. Roh and Ryan both shoot gaps to the inside. They get penetration, giving up an outside crease to do so.
Ryan gets under fast. He's essentially through clean, so the pulling G has no choice but to pick him off. Demens is already a yard off the LOS and charging as the handoff is made.
Now it's all about tackling.
Demens went inside out here as the back tried to go north and south on fourth and inches. That allows him to use the pile as help, and look at Desmond Morgan popping up to say hi/clean up any messes.
If you take a second look at this frame:
Note how Morgan is also clean and has stepped playside as the slant develops. He's still trying to check for any potential cutbacks and find the gap he's going to fill; he is available if the back makes Demens miss or threatens to power to the line.
[After THE JUMP: play it sort of again, Sam.]
Welcome bloggers to the second installment of a new regular MGoFeature, and the only one that gives you free stuff. Usually it'll be something from the MGoStore; occasionally someone will donate or sponsor a different item. It works like thusly:
- Wednesday mornings I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
- You guess the final scores of this weekend's designated game (football or hoops, depending on the season), and put it in the comments. First person to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, we contact you. If not, go to (5)
- The desirable good arrives at the address you give us.
- Non-winners can acquire the same desirable good by trading currency for it.
This Week's Game:
The Michigan State Dorm Vikings, presented by Capital One vs. the Michigan Wolverines: 2012 football edition.
This Week's Prize:
Let's be honest, you're a ground man. The things in life you appreciate are the crunch of a pulling guard, a well-orchestrated veer, a perfectly executed ISO that gets five yards; let's get up and do it again. You have outgrown and abandoned such boyish pursuits as squirtguns, LEGOs, and long bombs to Devin Gardner, and prefer instead a leisurely Saturday of Denard breaking ankles, Lewan breaking donkeys, and Rawls breaking everything. Do not feel ashamed, for there are other men like you out there, identifiable only by their firm nods, their set jaws, and their MANBALL t-shirts. Join us, friend of the running game.
GUESS MICHIGAN'S TOTAL RUSHING YARDS ON SATURDAY
If you're going to be around Ann Arbor at, oh, 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 16, we also have two free tickets to the premier of PERSEVERANCE-The Story of Billy Taylor.
For those who don't know their MANBALL history, "Touchdown" Billy Taylor was an All-American running back who broke Michigan's career rushing record (and ended second to Harmon in TDs) while playing for the early Bo teams. Personal tragedies sparked a downward spiral that ruined his pro career and sent him through 25 years of hell. Then he got back up. If you go to the event you'll get to meet Taylor and several other Michigan luminaries. Note: whether you've got our tickets or just wanna go, make sure you get to the Michigan Theater at least a half-hour early or risk losing the seat.
Closest to the pin wins (tie goes to the over).
Notes: If you win the shirt and prefer another shirt, that's cool; pick an MGoShirt.
Rules: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (for my ease I prefer if you don't post it as a reply to another person's score--if you do it won't help or hurt you). If nobody gets the score, this week's prize carries over to the following week's. Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game (since I won't have time to pull them on gamedays). MGoEmployees and Moderators--anyone else with moderator priveleges--are exempt from winning (because you could change your timestamp). If you choose the score that Brian published in the official preview and it actually ends up the final score, well, that would be pretty amazing because Brian picks scores like 29-11 all the time.
MGo: Not much.
MGoActually: I have a technical question.
MGoAwComeOn: Would you rather me ask it now or later.
“You’re going to ask it one way or another, so ... shoot the moon.”
MGoQuestion: That play where the tight end blocks down and the two linemen pull and go outside of him. What’s that play called?
“… Oh. It’s just a horn scheme. Down and around type deal.”
MGoFollowup: Is there an advantage to doing that vs. running a zone stretch?
“Um, yeah, it’s just two different looks to give the defense based on how they’re playing, you know. They could be playing one style, and that’s a better way to block it. A lot of it is personnel, too. How well does your tight end handle the down blocks? If they’re playing another scheme you’re better off zoning. You really -- I’ve learned over the years you kind of have to have both. We have both. We have the ability ability to do both. In certain games one’s more prominent than the other.”
MGoThankYouThatWasAGreatAnswerBrianWillBePleasedButHereIsOneMore: Who would you say is your best blocker at tight end?
“I think they’re all pretty good at this point. I think Devin Funchess has improved the most. I don’t have any reservations about doing it with any of them. Now to be honest with you, that was a concern at the beginning, but I don’t know if I’d favor one over the other at this point.”
Wyatt Shallman was the only in-state commit I hadn't had a chance to see so far this season, so last Friday I ventured back to Orchard Lake St. Mary's for a Catholic League tilt against his Detroit Catholic Central squad. Needing a victory to stay alive for a playoff berth, CC came away with a decisive 35-13 upset victory on the strength of their defense and a big rushing day from senior back Anthony Darkangelo.
Shallman, who's been nursing a hamstring injury that's kept him from playing on offense, spent the entire game at strongside defensive end. While St. Mary's ran almost entirely away from Shallman, he still managed to make an impact, recording two solo tackles, a pair of assists, and the pass breakup pictured above. 2014 defensive end Dylan Roney saw a lot more action from his weakside spot and acquitted himself well, recording eight tackles, including a couple impressive stops near the line of scrimmage. Here are some highlights of Shallman and Roney from Friday's game (apologies for the sometimes shaky camera-work; in order to get a good shot, I had to stand and go sans tripod):
Soundtrack: (Don't Be Comin' With No) Weak Sauce — Stanton Moore
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting reports on the defensive end duo plus an interview with Shallman.]
“This is the week you look for. This is a big week for us, and you know, I know our guys are going to prepare that way. I think as a football program, we’re very very excited about this challenge.”
Can you talk about the emphasis on physicality this week?
“There’s no question about it. I think last year if you look back, that’s something that kind of sticks with us the entire year. They took it to us. You can cut it any way you want. They lined up, ran the football, and knocked us off the football and we don’t like that. We don’t believe in that at Michigan. It’s going to be that kind of game. It’s going to be a very physical football game.”
Do you feel like that game motivated your defense the rest of the way?
“Oh no. I don’t think -- any time you don’t play well, I hope you don’t use that for motivation. I think if anything, it emphasized that each and every week you must play physical. You can’t go out there anytime and think we’re Michigan, we’re going to play. In this league, against the people we play each and every week, you have to bring your a game.”