MWT* won convincingly 5-2 at home this past Sunday, earning their third consecutive Big Ten title. The victory was Michigan's eleventh consecutive victory over their rivals from Ohio.
|Team and Court||Score|
|#8 Bolender/Betkas 1||8—4|
|Name and Court||Set 1||Set 2||Set 3|
|#13 Emina Betkas 1||6—0||6—1|
|#73 Brooke Bolender 2||6—3||6—4|
|Sarah Lee 3||2—6||6—3||6—3|
|#108 Mimi Nguyen 4||1—6||6—3||3—2ret.|
|Michelle Sulahian 5||0—6||5—7|
|Kristen Dodge 6||6—3||7—5|
*Michigan Women's Tennis
Terrific stuff! 3 for 3 in doubles will put fear into any opponent. Brief highlights, and a DB statement. There is also a Gatorade bath. I won't pick on Ohio too hard, as they have a 9-15 record this year. #13 Emina Betkas is only a freshman and she will play another three years hopefully for us. The team only graduates senior and 5 court Michelle Sulahian. Junior 4 court Mimi Nguyen is the only other upperclassman on the roster. I can see this group of players competing for another Big Ten title next year. The immediate challenge is winning the Big Ten Tournament this weekend, and competing for a national title in the NCAAs.
Sadly, not all of our tennis matches fare as well as this one. Michigan men's tennis(MMT) played at Ohio's Varsity Tennis Courts last Sunday, and like many other teams before them, did not beat the Bobcats at home. Junior #8 Evan King defeated #6 Blas Rola convincingly on 1 court, but the rest of the match was all Bobcats.
|Team and Court||Score|
|#22 Bernstein/King 1||3—8|
|Name and Court||Set 1||Set 2||Set 3|
|#8 Evan King 1||6—3||6—3|
|Alex Petrone 2||3—6||2—6|
|Shaun Bernstein 3||1—6||0—6|
|Michael Zhu 4||3—6||1—6|
|Barrett Franks 5||4—6||1—6|
|Eli Brown 6||2—6||2—6|
My eyes. Also, my thermoregulator. Some silly person in Ohio decided that this match should be held outdoors in 45-degree weather with high winds. Per NCAA rules, April matches are only required to be played outdoors when the temperature is above 65 degrees. Some players wore undershirts to keep warm. Our young freshman were apple-cheeked in the cold. The wind was fast up in the bleachers and made it even colder.
The numbers do not tell the true story of how long some points were contested, especially in doubles. Petrone and Bernstein were two players in particular who, on serve, earned multiple deuces in a long back-and-forth with their opponents. Unfortunately only one team was earning consistent breaks in singles and in doubles, and they were not the Wolverines. Regardless, Ohio's 2 court #12 Chase Buchanan is a senior and will graduate. The Wolverines may be in a position to win the conference if everyone improves, King comes back, and Bernstein gets his serve back up to speed. Bernstein used his underhanded serve in doubles, but mostly would forehand the ball into play in singles. His serving was about as effective as other Michigan players' serves. Alex Buzzi lost his cool after dropping the first doubles match and seemed dejected afterwards. Brown substituted for Buzzi on 6 court.
Ohio's players were big, strong, and aggressive with their shots. Many times they hit the ball harder and closer to the top of the net than the Michigan players and obtained the advantage of force in that manner. There were also big servers playing for the Bobcats, especially on 3 and 4 court.
It cannot be overstated how many breaks the Wolverines allowed in this match. Many times Blue managed to break back but the numbers were heavily in Ohio's favor.
Michigan has earned a 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament, and earned its most conference wins(9) since 1999. Michigan's last Big Ten title was earned in 1996.
FF 210 - Screen Package
FF 400 - Drag and Follow
FF 410 - 2012 Spring Game Breakdown - Day 1 (DG Pass Plays Pt. 1)
FF410: 2012 Spring Game Breakdown - DG Pass Plays - Day 2
Last time we looked at the first five pass plays from Devin Gardner and analyzed the results. Today will be much of the same, but hopefully there will be some more ideas that can be shared.
Play 6 – Time 2:15
Pre-snap, DG can see single high coverage. The front is also an over concept, rather than Michigan’s typical under look. The QBs appear to be taught to take even step drops in some cases in shotgun formations (note his left foot drops first, rather than his right foot, meaning he has to take 4 steps rather than 3 or 5). I’ve seen this before, and while I prefer to keep the QBs footwork consistent, especially at lower levels, it’s probably something that should be expected for a college QB. I would prefer a shorter first step and elongated second step and then gather, only because it keeps the shoulder rotation better, but it DG appears to be doing what he is taught, so that’s fine. What this 4 step drop does is allow more depth in the QB drop but protects the OTs in pass pro (whereas a full five step drop would force the OT to cover more depth to form the pocket). DG is going to see a single high look right away, so he knows it isn’t cover 2. It turns out to be a man concept. He knows if he gets a heavy blitz he has his x receiver on a simple fade route (could also be run as a back shoulder fade). The goal of the TE is pretty much to clear out the zone for any zone coverage or pick the nickel in man coverage. He actually does a pretty good job releasing and getting up field, taking the strong safety out of the picture. The TE also picks the nickel back. Unfortunately, the LBs are spying and/or zone dropping. This covers DGs first read and he quickly takes off.
In order to see the full development of the play, he shouldn’t have taken off so quickly. He had one more read in the progression, as now the W receiver has cleared another zone where he vacated. This leaves an opening for the Z receiver, and he had him open. I’m guessing DG was told in situations like this that if he could pick up the first with his feet then do so (3rd and 3ish). The Z receiver doesn’t get great separation and it would have been a relatively difficult completion because of that.
DG does do a good job stepping up into the pocket to scramble. If he tries to reach the edge it gives the defenders time to flow. It makes the threat of the pass less likely, particularly with the routes they are running. If DG scrambles outside left, he needs to square his shoulders and hit receiver behind him with the defenders collapsing on the receivers. If he scrambles right, the receivers are running routs in the opposite direction and there is no real threat to pass. By stepping up, he forces the defenders to play him honest. The receivers take their defenders toward the center of the field, DG gets to the second level, and then escapes outside and has a huge running lane. The defenses single high man concept takes them out of position for a QB scramble which is why DG picked up so many yards.
Play 7 – 2:27
Almost the exact same concept, but now toward the outside. The defense is back to their normal ways, running a 4-3 under with a single high look. Tough to run against this look. On the snap the corners quickly fall off, and it is clear that it is cover 3 and Michigan has a great play call on. If blitz comes from the far side (the boundary side), then they have a quick slant built in for a hot route. The defense doesn’t blitz from that side, and instead a WILL drops into fill that hook, curl, hot area of the field. The SAM blitzes, but that’s ok, they have RB help on that side for protection. As far as DG’s reads, once he sees cover 3 he knows he’s going left. The outsize Z receiver is tasked with taking his man deep. He may also take the safety support, but most likely the safety will stay toward the single receiver side (as that’s typically the bigger threat). There are multiple ways to read the defensive coverage from here, but my feeling is that DG’s first read is the SS. If the SS breaks outside with the W receiver, he looks inside to the TE, where the W receiver has left a large vacant gap in the defense. If the SS doesn’t break outside, DG reads the corner, and there is a simple high/low concept.
The SS breaks. Even though the SS doesn’t break well and the W receiver looks open, I don’t think DG has the arm to make that out to the far sideline (most QBs outside Henne and Navarre don't), so that’s probably the reason he is playing so far inside. All is pretty much lost though, as the TE runs an awful route. The TE never threatens inside, he doesn’t get into the body of the MIKE, and he takes forever to get out of his break. The MIKE never actually even has to leave his shuffle to successfully blanket the TE (see the view from the endzone after). DG actually places the ball fairly well, and the TE does a decent job with his body, but in the end the MIKE is right on top of him and the TE can’t get any separation. Michigan is going to struggle at TE this year.
Play 8 – Time 2:49
Very simple play, but a good play with easy reads. Michigan goes to the I-form and the defense sticks with their 4-3 under. The FS creeps down to support the run. One thing that is lost in the shotgun/I-form debate is the reaction that the defenders have to the play action. While it is true due to Michigan’s very good running out of the shotgun, particularly at QB, that defenses tend to react more to the run threat out of shotgun, the flow of the defense tends to be different. In shotgun, the flow is more laterally. You are manipulating the defense from sideline to sideline (pretty much the basis of the spread run offense). Against I-form, you are threatening more downhill, essentially forcing the flow of the defense to change their depth. While it is obvious (QB OHNO!) that both depth and flow are effected using play action out of both sets, it is clear how much depth is affected on this play.
Because the FS is rolled down into the box, DG knows it is going to be a single high look most likely. This means cover 3 or cover 1. Once DG sees the FS in the box, he knows he has the X receiver open on the post, because the FS will have vacated any coverage help underneath due to the run threat. To the near side, you see the cover 2 beater. You see the TE running a delay and release. This is essentially another high/low concept. The TE is inviting the SAM to blitz in hopes that when he sees his cover man he attacks the QB. This also provides a little bit of extra time on DG’s back side so that if the SAM is straight up blitzing, he has time. The TE then releases into the flat. The corner, seeing that no one is immediately going under, is gaining depth on the Z receiver’s corner route. The Z receiver is hoping that, due to his initial inside release, that the corner will release him to the safety, where the Z receiver can then break back outside behind the corner and out of reach of the safety.
So now you basically have a high/low on the corner, as it is very difficult for the SAM to get back on the TE.
A few things of note though. DG is clearly excited to get the ball out because he knows he has an open man for big yards. He does a good job of getting his head around after the play action, but his excitement leads to bad footwork again. He throws a bit off his back foot and doesn’t follow through all the way. This leads to the ball going high and behind the receiver. DG needs to step into that throw and hit the receiver in stride for much more yards.
On the defensive side, whoa they committed to the run. A bit of an exaggerated reaction. The linebackers and FS need to read the O-line coming up high better. The O-line didn’t do terrible selling the run (they stayed fairly low and didn’t get a huge drop), but the defensive side needs to do better. Watch out for in the game though. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility for the defense to give this pre-snap look and have the FS drop into a cover 2 look, it isn’t that difficult of a roll. This is how interceptions happen; the QB relies too heavily on pre-snap reads. The defense played very vanilla all day.
Play 9 – 3:25
Screen play all the way. This was discussed during the game so I’m not going to go into great depth here. But the O-line cannot allow the defense to get a free run at the QB. You need to at least give him enough time to gain depth so that he has a gap in the defensive levels to drop the screen into. Defense did a good job reading the screen, as they had defenders there, but the Michigan running back did an awful job selling it.
More on screen plays here.
Play 10 – 3:34
*Ignore the red square here, it's meaningless.
The Michigan defense is going to be tough to beat on this play. They have 12 men on the field. Looks like they are supposed to be playing straight man with the SS helping on the X receiver, but with 12 people on the field it’s tough to tell exactly what’s going on. DG is confused by this 12 man look, which, ok, but is clearly staring down his X-receiver, who is trying to get into the SS’s body and then break outside toward the corner for a TD. The fact that DG stared him down this man isn’t that big of a deal. I think he initially saw all the bodies on the right side and assumed they were completely covered and that the nearside option would be his best bet.
Anyway, what this play is supposed to do. The X receiver really beats any tight press coverage. The goal is to get the corners back to the ball so that the receiver jump ball-esk play in the corner. On the far side, you see another high/low concept to defeat cover 2. The Y receiver is tasked with holding the safety in the middle of the field. Notice that the Y receiver is attempting to get beyond his man before making the post cut. This is because he doesn’t see over the top coverage, he is trying to get the man covering him to have to turn his back, essentially making it easier to get the ball to him. The big bust on the offense, regardless of the 12 men from the defense, is the Z receiver, who runs a very unconvincing route. He releases too quickly and doesn’t force the man covering him to break hard and to the inside, thus allowing for the free release toward the sideline where you hope the W receiver can block off his man and the Z can make his way into the end zone. The Z needs to really sell the hitch route to get that free opening.
As for DG, his footwork seems fine. He does a great job stepping into the pocket to escape outside again, avoiding the rush. The biggest worry here is his eyes. He appears to do only a passing glance to the right side of the field and seems pretty intent on throwing to the left. The 12 man defense probably had a lot to do with that, but it’s something else to keep an eye on.
So we see a lot of similarities in the pass plays. Fairly simple concepts, lots of high/low concepts, and fairly easy reads. It seems on a few plays the DG’s decision making was good, even on the scrabbles. His footwork remains the big issue, and continuing to grow through progressions. He appears to be able to, for the most part, determine the coverage type and pick one or two reads off of that. Michigan is spending a lot of bodies in protection and doing a lot of play action. Relying so heavy on play action could be construed as a little worrisome for the O-line and the receivers ability to get separation, or it could be interpreted that Michigan has a good run game and you should set up the pass with the run. I think it’s a bit of both, but I think Michigan wants to be a heavy play action team, so I’m not surprised by this.
As far as defense, very vanilla, but no big busts in coverage, which is always good to see in spring.
If you have any questions or comments for me, please let me know. If you think formatting should be different I’d be glad to hear. I would like to embed the video at the exact point for each play but I can’t seem to figure out how to do that, so I’ll stick with this method for now. Anyway, at least one more of these coming to finish off the DG pass plays. I will probably do another one after that sometime on select run plays that I’ve seen, and maybe one that focuses on Bellomy some and how he is progressing.
Before I get to the new commits, there's been a slight tweak in the formula. Yes, after hearing your complaints about the way I count unranked players, I've decided to count them as two-star recruits instead of one-stars. I'm still not sure how I'll deal with NRs when the final rankings are released—at that point, I think the old method works better for differentiating them from actual two-stars—but at this juncture it makes more sense to give them some benefit of the doubt. I appreciate all the feedback I get with these posts, even if I do enjoy jumping into the comments for a little debate now and then. Without further ado, here are the changes since the last rankings:
4-17-12: Purdue picks up Danny Etling.
4-18-12: Ohio State picks up J.T. Barrett.
4-21-12: Ohio State picks up Alex Anzalone. Notre Dame picks up John Montelus. Iowa picks up Colin Goebel.
4-22-12: Nebraska picks up Courtney Love.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||24/7 Avg||ESPN Avg||Avg Avg^|
^The average of the average rankings of the four recruiting services (the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
NOTE: Unranked recruits are counted as two-star players.
On to the full data after the jump.
The MMT* continued its hunt for a Big Ten title today, when it beat Penn State 6-1 at home. On Sunday Michigan plays Ohio for championship of the universe. Chart? Chart.
|Team and Court||Score|
|#22 King/Bernstein 1||7—9|
|Name and Court||Set 1||Set 2||Set 3|
|#8 Evan King 1||6—4||6—2|
|Alex Petrone 2||4—6||6—1||6—0|
|Shaun Bernstein 3||0—6||3—6|
|Michael Zhu 4||6—3||6—2|
|Barrett Franks 5||7—6(5)||6—4|
|Alex Buzzi 6||6—3||6—1|
*Michigan Men's Tennis
Bernstein is back in the singles lineup, this time at 3 court. First out with an 0-6 is a nasty way to go but having Bernstein back in action is more important than dropping a point to Penn State. The million dollar question is how efficient his serve is. I was not present at the April 20th match and highlights of the match available here do not feature any Bernstein serves. Presumably he will be ready for Sunday, which at least lets Buzzi play on 6 again. It was a banner day for the rest of the singles courts. The players showed fine placement and fine footwork, at least in the highlights.
Petrone had a fine day of RAGE on 2 after dropping the first set 4-6, only yielding one point in the next two sets. That's just nasty.
I am still worried about 1 court in doubles(duh, 3 straight losses) but 7-9 isn't half bad. Ohio features the nation's #1 doubles team of #12 Chase Buchanan and #6 Blaz Rola, who play 2 and 1 courts in singles, respectively. Michigan has the #22 ranked doubles team on 1 court, but it has fallen on hard times lately, and Ohio also features the nation's #34 doubles team.
So...we need 4 singles victories. If I had to guess...King. Buzzi. Franks. Zhu. And to make it extra personal, MWT* also plays Ohio on Sunday with the Big Ten on the line at noon at VTC.
Win the Big Ten. Beat Ohio.
*Michigan Women's Tennis
While Michigan fans paid at least some attention to the football spring game, B10 second-place Michigan men's tennis was in a dogfight with eighth-place Nebraska on April 14. Michigan won in a close 4-3 decision. Chart? Chart.
|Team and Court||Score|
|Name and Court||Set 1||Set 2||Set 3|
|Evan King 1||6—3||6—1|
|Alex Petrone 2||5—7||3—6|
|Michael Zhu 3||3—6||2—6|
|Barrett Franks 4||6—1||6—1|
|Alex Buzzi 5||7—6(4)||6—3|
|Eli Brown 6||5—7||6—2||0—1(5)|
Our newly promoted freshmen took some lumps on 2 and 3 court. Zhu on 3 was the first to fall, but Franks made up the difference with a commanding 6-1, 6-1 victory on 4 court. I love seeing Franks play these days, with his confidence and fine placement. King won on 1 and Buzzi won on 5, securing the dual-match victory. Unfortunately fabulous freshman Petrone lost on 2, and Brown dropped the super-tiebreaker set on 6 court. Brown has been dealing with the same issue throughout the season: his first serves do not get in! It cannot be overstated how important it is to get first serves in tennis; the psychological pressure is tenfold greater. Bernstein cannot return to the singles courts fast enough.
In doubles Nebraska pursued a fairly aggressive strategy, with hard serves down the middle of the court and lots of double net-rushes. King/Bernstein fell on 1 court but Franks/Buzzi and Petrone/Zhu held firm on 2 and 3 to secure the doubles point, which eventually clinched the match for Michigan. Nebraska stayed aggressive in singles play but did not have quite enough good shots to win against Michigan.
The match was a quick one, finished in only three hours. All singles matches were decided in straight sets except Brown's super-tiebreaker on 6 court.
On April 15 #22 Michigan welcomed last-place Iowa to the VTC and duly crushed the Hawkeyes. Chart? Chart.
|Team and Court||Score|
|Name and Court||Set 1||Set 2||Set 3|
|Evan King 1||6—2||6—2|
|Alex Petrone 2||6—1||6—4|
|Michael Zhu 3||6—3||6—7(7)||1—0(6)|
|Barrett Franks 4||6—4||4—6||0—1(5)|
|Alex Buzzi 5||6—2||6—2|
|Eli Brown 6||6—4||6—3|
Probably the most interesting takeaway from this match was the second straight defeat for King/Bernstein in doubles. This was an interesting matchup. Michigan had already clinched the doubles point by winning handily on 2 and 3 courts. At that time the 1 court matchup was tied 7-7 with no breaks(!) to speak of in the match so far. The players agreed to go straight to the tiebreaker, which is usually played when the game is tied 8-8. Unfortunately Bernstein's goofy underhanded doubles serve was predictable, and Iowa's players figured out the pattern and pulled out the tiebreaker. The man at the net would poach and smash Bernstein's shots, or the return man would get a great return on his serve.
Only Franks lost in singles, in the third set super-tiebreaker. Even Brown managed to win his game in straight sets! This game tells us little about what we can expect for the rest of the regular season but I will attempt to predict what the next two matches hold for Michigan. The last time we saw them in action (April 15), Penn State lost 6-1 at home to the Fighting Illini. Thus, Michigan can comfortably expect to win when they play Penn State at home on the 20th. I predict a 6-1 victory with Brown or Zhu losing in singles.
Ohio...hoo boy. By shutting out Purdue 7-0 in West Lafayette on the 18th, #3 Ohio has clinched a share of the B10 title for the eighth consecutive season. All singles matches were won in straight sets, and Ohio won all of the doubles matches. The Bobcats currently sit at 10-0 in the B10, and Michigan is at 8-1. Only by winning their last two matches, including on the road in Columbus, could Michigan share the B10 regular season title. This is a tremendous opportunity for Michigan men's tennis; they have not been in a position to win the conference since at least the 1990s. I predict Michigan will put up a fight but fall 5-2. King will win, and possibly Buzzi.
FF 210 - Screen Package
FF 400 - Drag and Follow
FF410: 2012 Spring Game Breakdown - DG Pass Plays - Day 1
There are several goals to this diary. First, it will analyze Devin Gardner, but I hope it will do more than that. I will also hope to dissect the intentions of the offensive play pass plays, including the reads, the reasoning behind the routes, and how the other players are performing. There will also be some discussion about the defense, as is necessary to understand what the offense is supposed to do.
This is by no means meant to replace a UFR. I will not look at individual players so much as assignments based on positions. There will be no +1/-1 or anything of that nature. It is purely to analyze what I’m seeing on film. While I do believe what I am “coaching” here, it is important to have a small grain of salt. I am by no means a coach at Michigan. I do not breakdown film for Michigan or have any connection with their football program, so I don’t know exactly what the coaches are coaching. What I do know is what I’m seeing on film, and what I believe that means. Other coaches on here may have other opinions, and that happens often in football. I may not be seeing something properly (though I hope not), it does happen, especially when only one person is looking at the film alone.
Anyway, today we will look at the first 5 pass plays from DG. I will definitely get to all the DG pass plays, and I won’t promise more beyond that (though I would like to dissect at least all the pass plays, but we’ll see).
Here is the film that I am basing this on, with the time stamps the time when the play begins.
Pass Play 1 – Time 0:00
Can’t really tell much from this play based on the quick pressure. The play action should probably be better, but that comes with a lot of practice. This play should look fairly familiar to Michigan fans during the Carr era, it is very similar to what Michigan used to attempt to get big chunks with.
The read is going to be the free safety. It is clear even from the pre-snap motion and alignment of the defense that it will be cover 1 or cover 3. The goal is to get him flowing towards the action. The post needs to get behind, which will essentially be behind the coverage as the SS will be expecting deep help. If this isn’t open, the second option is the sideline go route, if he beats his man then DG would go there. The third route, or the hot route, is the TE coming across. He’s pretty blanketed though as the PA wasn’t very convincing.
Pass Play 2 – Time 0:08
Defense is in fairly basic cover 2 and this should be an easy read for DG. The goal on the left side (near side) is to do a High/Low on the field corner, because it is believed that the SAM won’t be able to cover the entire flat. On the right side (far side) you have a hot route in case of a quick blitz. Blitz would typically mean the corner doesn’t have deep help and is forced to play more off and tentative. This is why the dig route is set there.
DG’s footwork is pretty good here. It’s a 3 step drop and he gains depth with his first step. His next two steps are shorter and more compact to gather his body. His shoulder look good and his eyes are down field. He steps into the pocket, but seems to relax and doesn’t use his legs in his throw (even though he steps into it a little). This is why it looks like he is just playing catch in the back yard. The ball goes where his shoulders are pointing, and thus the result. Let’s break it down a bit further.
DG’s first read will be the safeties to read the coverage type. First, Gallon is wide open above. DG doesn’t even give the X receiver a chance, but this is probably the correct read as he isn’t getting pressured. Second, he has the Y receiver. The problem is the placement of the ball with the position of the corner due to the coverage 2. The corner is going to undercut routes, he isn’t worried about the receiver beating him deep and to the middle because he has help there, so he is breaking heavily on everything and won’t let anything short and to the inside. One or two things went wrong on this play. DG needs to put the ball towards the outside and up. It needs to take the receiver deep and to the corner. The second problem may have been the Z receivers fault, though I don’t think so. I don’t think he has an option route here, one in which to read the defense and take the corner route. Either way, DG needs to put the ball toward the outside and deep due to the cover 2 and the corners position. The offensive line and TE need to work on selling run a little more (they come up high a little too quickly in my opinion) and the TE needs to work on his route, as he is fairly unconvincing in his fake pass block, doesn’t threaten the inside at all, doesn’t press into the SAM, and so the SAM covers him relatively well.
Pass Play 3 – 1:12
The premise appears to be a similar premise as the last play (high/low the corner). This time the defense is in cover 4 (you can tell by the quick bale by the corners and the SS attacking the PA). This time you have a drag route coming across with the idea that the slot will be able to beat the LB covering him, especially with the assistance of the PA flow. The problem is that the PA is extremely unconvincing from the O-line, meaning the drag route is essentially bracketed. This is the primary option and it’s now gone. The biggest problem comes from the TE though. He needs to hook the end. He needs to let DG threaten the edge so that the drag route can’t be double covered. Due to the defense, the route from the other receivers are going to be fairly easily covered. DG does a nice job side stepping the pressure and stepping up, but then his footwork goes to hell. He doesn’t step into his throw, his shoulders aren’t faced the correct direction, and he throws with only his arm. Otherwise they still may have been able to pull something out from this play.
In the end though, once the PA doesn’t work and once the TE doesn’t hook his man, this is a tough play for DG to make, even with correct footwork.
Pass Play 4 – 1:21
Michigan is in a 3-4 here. That’s right, a 3-4. The blitz just completely overloads the right side of the O-line and the O-line does not adjust well at all. I understand a new center and all, but this is getting ridiculous with these types of blitzes. Michigan has been getting killed on inside stunts going back to the MSU game. Once a team gets penetration up the middle they are a decent contain man away from a huge loss with very little chance of the play ending in anything other than a sack (the QB can’t step up and can’t get out of the pocket to throw it away, it’s almost a sure blitz). If this blitz is actually communicated and picked up it’s relatively easy pickings. This needs to get figured out please! (/rant).
Anyway, behind the blitz appears to be a man cover 1. This was intended to be some sort of slant and go combination. We will disregard the complete confusion by the O-line and the heavy pressure so we can actually look at the play, though it’s hard to see what’s really going on.
The goal of this play is to match up the quicker and faster slot on a slower LB or safety and beat him deep. The slot runs a pour route and convinces no one he is running the slant. Because of this the first read is that FS. If he bites, the next thing to look at is the right side corner, who will now be showing either man or cover 3. If man, he will be up on the X receiver, and the SLUGO (slant and go) will be open behind the FS. If the corner is dropping off, it is cover 3, and the X receiver running the hitch will be open. Essentially another high/low concept.
Pass Play 5 – 1:34
One of the most common plays in the game today, and one of the most successful and difficult to defend. This play has picks (or as offensive coaches like to say “rubs”) all over the place. The goal is actually to get Gallon open. The defense again appears to be in a 3-3-5, and this time drops into a cover 3 look. Everyone save the FS is up towards the line, meaning there is a good chance you are getting a zone blitz. The offensive line actually picks it up pretty well, though the tackle needs to take the DE deeper.
Again, let’s look at DG’s footwork, because it’s pretty bad again. His drop is sloppy. It looks like it is supposed to be a 5 step drop, and he does a decent job gaining depth, but the outside pressure doesn’t allow him to finish his drop properly. When he steps up his shoulders are fine, but then he again only throws with his arm and almost shot puts it out there. He actually looks like he puts the ball where he wants it, and that’s another problem we will discuss in a bit.
DG is locked in on his primary receiver (the W here) and misses a wide open Y TE. The reason the Y is open is because the Free is probably bracketing the X receiver. The near-side corner is making sure nothing gets outside of him.
The Z receiver is attempting to take bodies with him while the W receiver delays and reads the defense. Finally, the W receiver goes and rubs off of the Z receiver. If this is man, the linebacker, nickel, or safety attempting to cover the W receiver will be picked and the W receiver will get big, big yards as he drags across the field. It’s not man coverage though, but this play is still set up to work. The W receiver drags across the field and has two options based on what he sees. He can see that the near-side corner hasn’t gone with the TE, and thus is still playing outside and shallow or he can see that the near-side corner has gone with the TE and the flat is wide open. The W receiver reads correctly that the corner has maintained the outside coverage, and settles in the zone. DG doesn’t make this read and tries to lead him into a big hit.
The progression is to read the FS to see the coverage type (cover 3), then the Nickel. Regardless the coverage, reading the Nickel will tell DG where to put the football, as the Nickel is essentially being forced to play inside or outside and gives away who the open man will be. In fact, even if it’s man, if DG reads the Nickel following, he will know his W receiver is going to be open on the drag.
This was probably DGs worst play that I’ve broken down so far. He had good protection, two open targets, and relatively easy reads and failed to make them.
By the way, checking to a veer play could potentially go for big yards here.
So the coverages from the defense have been fairly straight forward so far. The 3-4 front was a nice touch, but we aren’t really seeing much from the defense that we haven’t before. You can already see common themes in Borges offense. He is going to put a defender in a lose/lose situation, and if the defense plays it correctly the QB is usually going to be hitting short and intermediate routes.
The key is, and the reason defenses allow this sort of thing, is because the QB still needs to make the play. He still needs to make the right read and right throw all while being pressures on the fifth play dissected here. That is no easy task. And then even when they make the play it’s probably a 5 yard gain and as a defense you’ve forced them into a third down and have a chance to get off the field. I didn’t go into many defensive concepts (Mattison has left them fairly basic at this point), but hopefully you can read into what the goals are for them by this breakdown. If not, then understand that Mattison has a few basic ideas: be gap sound, don’t allow big plays, and put pressure on the QB. This often leads to relatively open short and intermediate routes, but again, forces the QB to make the reads under distress.
DG had a rough start to the day, he struggled to make reads, he struggled with footwork, and he struggled with PA, but it isn’t all on him. The O-line didn’t sell PA well. The TEs have a lot of work to do (this will probably become a common theme). I have actually rarely been disappointed in the receivers at this point. While the separation hasn’t been great (particularly on the interception), but they did a sufficient job for what they were tasked to do.
I will continue to break down the next group of plays when I have time, for now, read, dissect, and enjoy.