inverted veer option
This series is a work-in-progress glossary of football concepts we tend to talk about in these pages. Previously:
Defensive concepts: Contain & lane integrity, force player, hybrid space player, no YOU’RE a 3-4!, scrape exchange, Tampa 2, Saban-style pattern-matching, match quarters, Dantonio’s quarters, Don Brown’s 4-DL packages and 3-DL packages, Bear
Special Teams: Spread punt vs NFL-style
So today we’re going to get into a play that we’ve discussed a ton on this site: The Inverted Veer, also called a Power Read. From 2011-2013 it was the Michigan offense’s best play (even if Borges might have run it incorrectly). Since 2012 it’s also been the staple play of Ohio State’s offense. If you close your eyes and think of a collegiate Tim Tebow or Cam Newton or Cardale Jones play where they fake handoff to the running back before a QB plunged straight ahead for an unstoppable 6-8 yards, that was probably an Inverted Veer.
WHAT IS IT?
The best way to think of it is the reverse of the zone-read option. Whereas Rich Rodriguez’s option play was all about reading the backside edge defender, Inverted Veer is about optioning a frontside guy.
Basically the QB and RB will option a frontside EMLOS (end man on the line of scrimmage) by having the RB jetting outside while the QB reads the unblocked end and decides to give it to his buddy as he passes, or if the DE leaves enough space, charging downfield.
That’s it. I showed power on the diagram because that’s probably the best way to block it, but you can run this successfully with a variety of blocking so long as the DL are all secured on the backside. Major variations on it are whether you go inside or outside of the last DT you blocked, and how you want your TEs and receivers and whatever other material to execute various stalk blocks, kickouts and cracks.
It’s also a sort of personnel reversal from a zone read. On ZR the running back ends up reading his blocks and finding an interior gap, while a QB keep puts the quarterback out in space. With Inverted Veer the RB is the one threatening to edge the defense while the quarterback is charging headlong into it. That last bit is why it’s such a great play for all of those truckstick quarterbacks I mentioned: Once the defense converges that big QB will have a lot of downhill momentum.
Course a jitterbug with ridiculous change of direction is cool too.
[Hit the JUMP for some good ol’fashioned bedreaded one fun]
Okay so I’ve talked about this before. Maybe more than once. But Ohio State loves this play, so much that its variations account for 3 of the first 4 plays on Curtis Samuel’s Oklahoma highlight reel (and 2 more are counters off it).
Inverted Veer (again)
This play is called “Inverted Veer” or “Power Read.” It was the staple of the Borges-Denard/Devin fusion cuisine era, because it is the mullet of offensive plays: manball business in the front, spread party in the backfield.
Here’s a basic setup:
The offensive line is blocking like power C: block down and pull from the backside, and cave the frontside.
A second after the snap reveals why it’s such a devastating play:
While a good ol’fashioned zone-read might option a backside defender, inverted veer options the playside end man on the line of scrimmage (EMLOS). That defender is allowed into the backfield and optioned: if he comes up too far, the ball is given to the running back, who accelerates away to the outside—You’ve been EDGED! If the end gets wide to prevent the running back from getting the edge, that opens up room for the quarterback to dive into the gap behind him—You’ve been GASHED!
[Hit THE JUMP for variations, and how Michigan defended this]
So this should never ever happen again:
You've been hearing all offseason that Don Brown will ask his cornerbacks to play more "trap" zone and be more involved in run fits, most recently in Adam's interview with Zordich:
MGoQuestion: How much more important, if at all, is run support from corners going to be this season compared to last season?
“Very important because of our trap system, the system that Don Brown brought in from Boston College. Our corners are going to be very much more involved in the run game.”
However they'll mostly be doing the same stuff they did last year. Brown indeed has a Cover 2 thing he'll bring out, but most plays his defenses are in a Cover 1 ("City") or Cover 3, just like D.J. Durkin's. How will that be different?
HOW DON BROWN DEFENDS THE PERIMETER IN GENERAL
Before getting into that specific coverage we ought to understand the terminology and general thinking behind Brown's run fits. So you know how there are gaps between offensive lineman, and that these gaps are named alphabetically starting from the center. So the A gaps are between the center and the guards, the B gaps are between guards and tackles, C gaps are between tackles and tight ends, if the latter exist. From there some coaches are content to keep adding letters all the way to the sideline.
That's not how Brown names them, on pg 63-64 of the 2013 Boston College playbook, where he shows the lane responsibilities for his two base coverages: Cover 2 and Cover 1 (or 3):
CREASE: Brown defines it as the "zone run area outside the tackle box and inside the #2 receiver." The second part is not totally accurate; eligible receivers are counted from outside-in, so often enough the #2 receiver is a tight end lined up tight to the line, in which case the crease is outside of him. The point is the crease is the first big lane outside the tackle box, where a lot of zone runs take place.
ALLEY: To Brown it's the "run lane inside the corner but outside the [outside linbackers'] support window. The safety must keep his inside pad on the ball for example." In other words this is an extra crease created when there's more than one wide receiver on that side of the formation. Since it's way out there where OLBs usually can't get to, the alley usually has to go to a safety. However it's not always the case, especially once he's got his coverage hybrids out there in place of the OLBs.
OUTSIDE: The run support lane outside the wide (#1) receivers. This is where cornerbacks take if the WR doesn't just go downfield, and bubble territory.
[After the jump: How Michigan did it, and will do it]
oh good this again
The great unresolved question we batted around Monday on the podcast was the perpetual great unresolved question of the last year and a half: "quien es mas falto, Denard o Borges?"
I'm not done with things yet but am I leaning Borges, except since Michigan went into a shell against a good defense and won the game instead of throwing five interceptions and losing it, by "blame" I might actually mean "credit." Michigan won, and outgained the other offense by about 50 yards, and was only about 50 yards short of the output spread genius Urban Meyer managed against the MSU D. In terms of the OH MY GOD TOTAL DEBACLES that have speckled the Borges/Denard partnership, this ranks much lower than having under 200 yards of offense before you're forced to chuck the ball all over the field. See: Iowa, ND 2011, etc.
That said, a quarter into the game, Spartan safeties have made tackles at the line of scrimmage twice, Chris Norman is regularly meeting lead blockers two yards in the backfield, and the only significant gains Michigan has acquired are on a Gallon throwback screen on which it looks like Norman busts hard and the ten-yard Kwiatkowski out. Here's an example of the first two phenomena:
This is a super-aggressive quarters defense that Indiana exploited against both MSU and Ohio State—which is attempting to run the same scheme—with various cover-4 beaters. Michigan elected for the shell, and won.
Even so, man. Michigan has spent weeks setting things up as they played Bye, Virtual Bye One, and Virtual Bye Two; Michigan State is coming off three consecutive hard-fought games. I'm not sure if Spartan Overpreparation is a real thing or not—I hope so. Otherwise we're putting all our chips on the idea that Borges really doesn't have the faintest clue how to run a spread offense and that things will get better once a Real Quarterback™ is in place*.
*[If you've ever made this assertion I hate you.]
Okay. So here's Michigan's end-around version of the veer that they've been putting on the field for a few weeks now. It looks different; it's really just the same thing as the veer, though.
[Please forgive the crappier than normal image quality—the BTN was taking wide shots, which is generally good for this sort of thing, but this week's torrent is bleah for whatever reason.]
Anyway: Gallon in the slot, Michigan in a Borges-standard three-wide pack. The alignment of Gallon hints at the end around motion, BTW. MSU is in their standard 4-3 even. The guys at the top of the screen are going to be the relevant ones. Gholston is the DE, Denicos Allen the LB.
As Gallon goes in motion, Allen—and only Allen—moves to the LOS outside of Gholston. Live this gave me a sense of disquiet. That's not sliding some linebackers over. That's an awfully specific thing to do.
A couple of moments later, the snap has been made and Denard is in a quasi-mesh point with Gallon. I say "quasi" because the action here is so fast that it's hard to believe there's any real read component.
Anyway. Four MSU players are relevant here.
- The boundary corner blitzes. He is the contain guy if Gallon gets the ball.
- Allen is now the End Man On The Line Of Scrimmage—EMLOS(!). His goal is to get the two-for-one that allows Bullough to be the free hitter, or at least foul the hole and thus rob whoever gets to Bullough of his burst of impetus.
- Gholston is the main cutback defender. Once Allen is the primary hole he's got to prevent anything from cutting behind it.
- Bullough is the guy MSU would like to be the free hitter a la Demens. Bullough's ridiculously good at football and sheds blocks like whoah; having him as a free hitter is a luxury few teams have.
On the Michigan side of things, Lewan is adapting to the play as it develops and pulls out some of the old zone playbook. When Gholston dives inside of him he goes with it, using his momentum to take him past the point where he wants to go. Toussaint also reads the funny business going on and heads straight for Allen. Omameh is pulling; his eventual destination should be Bullough.
This is hard to see in the next still, so watch for it in the video: the legs you see poking out here like the Wicked Witch of the West with a house on her…
…are in fact the remnants of a killer cut block on Allen by Toussaint. But Allen has still gotten his two for one:
Omameh is literally hopping outside that block. A moment past this and the two players will be even, which means Denard can't follow him, which means he's not blocking anyone, which means two for one, which means Max Freaking Bullough is a free hitter.
Michigan's one saving grace on this play is the Lewan-Gholston matchup. Denard gets a cutback lane because Lewan has blasted Gholston to a point on the field even with the playside and backside DTs. Bullough is surprised by Denard's attack angle, as is Norman, and both have a tough time cutting back as fast as Denard can.
They're unblocked, though, and there are many of them. Denard can only squeeze out four yards…
…as Gholston lies pancaked underneath Lewan yards from the play.
On separate run-throughs check out:
- Toussaint chopping Allen
- Lewan dominating Gholston
- Denard picking through traffic
- Michigan getting four yards off of two great blocks.
Things And Stuff
UNLEASH THE EPIC RABBLING COMMENT THREAD. Guys, I'm totally sorry, but sheeeeeeeeeeeeit. This is happening all the damn time. The play above is MSU knowing what's coming as soon as Gallon goes in motion and having a plan to combat it. The plan works—pretty much, anyway—despite the playside defensive end ending up on his stomach eight yards away from the play.
Michigan's not getting anything of the sort in kind, and the first play on which Joe Reynolds makes an appearance features this defensive formation:
filed under "lol 100% run" in the MSU playbook
That wasn't a fakeout, man, those jakeryans came at the snap, leaving one corner anywhere near a simple curl/flat or smash combo with the twinned receivers.
This was a run. A –3 yard run. Yeah, sure, opposing defensive coordinators don't know about Michigan's substitution patterns. Probably just a coincidence.
That cannot happen. You cannot allow the opposing defense to align like that. Michigan allows it all the time.
Okay, okay, is going away from all run all the time a danger that makes Denard chuck interceptions? Possibly. I watched Denard make those curl/flat throws as a clueless sophomore, though, and you just can't let the above happen. I'm finding lots of wins for MSU based on their prep for this game, and few for Michigan. The throwback screen that worked was more Norman busting hard than anything schematic working.
I know they got some stuff later, so I'll probably be less peeved about this when the UFRs come out. I am pretty disappointed that M spent the first quarter running absolutely nothing new against Michigan State of all teams.
Lewan vs Gholston is no contest. It was no contest a year ago, it's no contest this year. He made a couple plays that didn't show up on the scoresheet when he was well-schooled on Michigan's sweep play and used his athleticism to shoot a gap—and Funchess took out Schofield in the process—but once he gets locked up, game over man. He did himself a disservice by not playing for a 3-4 team. He'd be a terror in ND's scheme. As a 4-3-even DE, he's the third-best player on his own defensive line.
Toussaint got a win here. This went a lot worse for him when he was trying to lead Denard into iso runs and Chris Norman was tearing ass at him. The lack of Rawls was pretty weird given the context.
Players don't really matter here except at the margins. Gholston got annihilated and Michigan got four yards. That was MSU's worst case scenario on this play.
Michigan's counterpunches to this sort of thing are not even really the Dileo completions. Dileo catches his first two balls on second and eleven and third and six; the last one was clearly not a play action situation, so all you've got to show for this is the single catch and run from the second quarter.
You should be able to punish the level of aggression shown by the MSU defense in some way. Michigan could not last year and could not this year—at least not in the structure of the offense. Last year, Roy Roundtree broke a tackle to turn a slant into a touchdown. This year, Denard juked and juked and juked to get his 44-yard run towards the end on a QB draw that had absolutely nothing to do with the base rushing offense.
The most alarming thing so far: Michigan's first pass on first down is three drives in. It has a play action mesh point of the sort MSU has been tearing after all game, and no MSU linebacker takes a step to the line of scrimmage. Why? The line sets up to pass block immediately, without anyone pulling. Michigan has not had a run play yet without a pulling lineman.
Denard doesn't have anyone open and ends up throwing his worst pass of the day, a near-INT that was so bad two MSU players had a better shot at it than any Michigan guys. Clearly he has not gotten through all his bad decision mojo, but I'm mystified that Michigan would not even try to draw those linebackers up by running plays that look like the ones they've already put on the field.
Formation notes: Nothing particularly new from Michigan except the Norfleet-end-around thing, which I just called 2-back. The plays run from it are being called "triple veer" since there's a third option there, not that I think any of these things are reads.
This was early; Dileo did not come in motion. Same formation plus Norfleet coming in == triple veer series against UMass.
Funchess means a lot more 2 TE formations. Reminder: TV never shows substitutions so I'm usually just describing the formation for the defense here, not the personnel. IIRC UMass was in 4-3 personnel the whole time; sometimes they would commit a LB to the slot, which I called nickel.
Substitution notes: Also nothing too unusual. Kwiatkowski was the starting TE and did pretty well; Funchess saw a lot of time; the usual WR rotation occurred. When Michigan pulled Lewan late they made the same flip they did at the end of the Alabama game, moving Schofield to LT, Omameh to RT, and inserting Burzynski at RG.
As promised, Hoke did not put any of the freshman linemen on the field. At this point we know who the staff is trying to redshirt. On offense those folk are: Braden, Kalis, Magnuson, Bars, Chesson, and Johnson. Norfleet, Funchess, Williams, and Darboh are playing.
|M35||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||3|
|Funchess off line, both TEs in two-point stance. Implies pass. M runs, shooting Funchess backside and sending Kwiatkowski to the frontside. Blocking bust as Barnum(-2) does not ever pop off the DT he is doubling with Mealer; unblocked LB in the hole. Kwiatkowski(-1) gets stuck between cracking down on this guy and trying to get a DB, eventually doing neither; Lewan(+1) gets big movement on his kickout when Toussaint(+1) bounces it outside. Schofield(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5) had gotten nice movement on the backside.|
|M38||2||7||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||13|
|Omameh(+1) seals the UMass DT inside quickly, allowing Schofield(+1) to move out on a linebacker without delay. Either the hand or the keep works here; Denard(+1) keeps and manages to run through an ankle tackle attempt. Funchess(+1) is inline here and releases downfield, getting a block on a safety at about ten yards after running a fake dig. Barnum pulled through the hole but took a line way outside and did not block the last dude, the FS, who tackles. Denard is riding this mesh point longer [BWS].|
|O49||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Sprint counter||Toussaint||7|
|MLB reads the Schofield pull and immediately starts heading for wherever he's going. SLB also reads the play and gets into the intended hole before Dileo can crack down on him. Mealer(+0.5) got a free release and pushes the MLB past where he wants to go, but Toussaint doesn't have anywhere to go on the playside. Omameh(+1) has blasted the backside DT back, though, and Funchess(+0.5) escorts a DE way downfield—mostly the DE being bad, not Funchess devastating him. Toussaint(+1) cuts back ably, juking a filling safety to his butt and picking up a nice gain. RPS -1? Nah, but I thought about it.|
|O42||2||3||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||TE Out||Kwiatkowski||16|
|Safety rolls down for eight man front, slot CB tight on the line. Both linebackers run right at the LOS on a straight dropback, Kwiatkowski comes wide open, Denard hits him, easy conversion. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1) Kwiatkowski gets some YAC by running through a tackle.|
|O26||1||10||Shotgun twins||1||2||2||4-3 even||Pass||PA TE Seam||Funchess||26|
|This is my candy now, baby. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1). BWS picture pages.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 12 min 1st Q. I say, these chaps don't appear to be very good.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Bubble screen||Gallon||14|
|Or LAZER, whatever. LB two yards inside of Gallon who takes off at the run on the snap, M throws the bubble, which is wide open. Gardner(+1) dominates the CB out of Gallon's way and it's an easy first down. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)|
|O40||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||-1|
|Mostly on Toussaint(-2). Kerridge takes on the playside DE a couple yards in the backfield, and Omameh goes upfield of that. Toussaint goes outside when a quick cut upfield is definitely positive yardage, possibly lots. Mealer(+0.5) had locked out a DT, Lewan(+0.5) and Barnum(+0.5) blew up the other guy. Instead Toussaint runs into an unblocked LB. Well... maybe. This does seem to be asking a lot of him to make a cut when he's going outside so clearly. But with Kerridge where he is Omameh has no shot of getting outside effectively and it's never a good idea to bounce when you have to go around stuff.|
|O41||2||11||Ace twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||PA Fly||Gardner||Inc|
|They're on to us: this is our passing formation. UMass brings both safeties up and the MLB reads the pull, shooting outside. Barnum's pulled and has two guys to block in space. He doesn't really block either. Denard has two options with his short stuff covered: bomb it against cover zero or start running around. He chooses the latter, missing Gardner by a few yards. (IN, 0, protection ½, team -1)|
|O41||3||11||Shotgun trips TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||Rollout Fly||J. Robinson||Inc|
|A three-part flood on which the deep corner opens up. JRobinson is open as the CB to that side comes up on Roundtree's route, so Denard fires into the endzone. JRobinson is looking over both shoulders and may be able to do better than this, but Denard did leave it too far inside. It's still decent for a 40-yard pass. JRobinson has a shot at at a one-handed spear, but the S rakes it out. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 9 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||2|
|Barnum(-2) falls, allowing the DT right up the A gap. Toussaint manages to squeeze for a yard or two.|
|O43||2||8||I-Form 3-wide tight||2||0||3||4-3 even||Pass||Waggle drag||Gallon||Inc|
|UMass suckered and this will get turned up for a first down; Denard just misses. (IN, 0, protection N/A, RPS +1)|
|O43||3||8||Shotgun trips bunch tight||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Hitch||Funchess||8|
|Lots of time as UMass sends three. Denard finds Funchess at the sticks and zips it in there, hard and low. This is between two defenders so I'll give Denard the benefit of the doubt. We don't get a replay, unfortunately, so I can't tell how good of a catch this is. I will go with my initial thought that is was really good. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||20 (Pen -0)|
|Backside DE does not contain, so Denard pulls. Neither LB to that side is scraping over the top, and then the playside guy is staring right at Denard with the ball and still runs away. Denard again ditches a shoe and still gets outside for a big gain. Uh... I guess Denard +1 for the read, but this was free yards from a bad, bad D. Roundtree(-1) gets a dubious holding call, but just let go, man.|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||4-3 even||Penalty||False start||Lewan||-5|
|O40||1||15||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||4-3 even||Pass||Screen||Toussaint||17|
|Both of the UMass LBs to the playside move towards the LOS as they see the OL release, but they move inside, which is not a good idea. Toussaint ends up in a ton of space; Barnum(+1) gets a block in space but I'm not sure he even needs to. Toussaint(+1) jukes a safety and picks up the first down; a second juke attempt at the sideline gets him tackled awkwardly. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1).|
|O23||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||QB iso||Robinson||5|
|Barnum's guy fights inside of him, which is not a real good idea when you don't have any LBs behind you. Robinson cuts behind that as Lewan(+0.5) as eliminated the end; Toussaint(+1) gets through the other hole and redirects into a filling safety. Denard's cutting behind that when Barnum's guy tackles. I'm a little leery about Barnum's role in all this but I'll forgo the minus. Mealer(+0.5) got a nice release into the MLB and Omameh got some push on the other DT.|
|O18||2||5||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer give||Toussaint||7|
|I think they've worked on the veer the past couple weeks. Denard's riding it longer and the FB, here Kerridge, is flaring out immediately so that that DE cannot take him out. Kerridge(+1) books for the playside LB and blasts him; Denard(+1) reads that the end is not containing Toussaint and gives. That's about it. A safety fills; Toussaint(+1) moves the pile another three yards.|
|O11||1||10||Shotgun twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||11|
|This seems like a blown read by Denard(-1) as they block the backside OLB and let the 3-4 DE free. He hugs Schofield's back and shoots down the line, so Denard is one on one with the safety for six. He gives anyway. The line has caved in the Minutemen but Toussaint(+2) has to run away from the DE and finds a hole outside. Safety fill is going to take him down after two yards but he busts a tackle and tiptoes down the sideline for six. Lewan(+1) got the movement that created the gap; Mealer(+1) and Omameh(+1) blew up the backside DT and erased any potential LB pursuit.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 3 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M29||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||PA quick seam||Dileo||66|
|The usual. Linebackers suck up, Smith wide open behind them, etc. Denard's throw is a bit in front of Dileo but not too bad; Dileo makes a nice catch and keeps his feet, stiffarming a safety down but getting caught from behind by one of their linebackers. (CA, 2, protection 1/1, RPS +2)|
|O5||1||G||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Smith||5|
|Mealer(+1) and Omameh(+1) blow up the playside DT, and that's about it. Barnum had some issues with his guy but managed to fend him off; Smith(+1) was decisive.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-3, 13 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M12||1||10||Shotgun twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||4|
|This is probably a called play and not a read as there is no unblocked player. The run fake takes out the linebackers but UMass is run blitzing their FS right into the hole. Denard(+1) jukes him and is about to hit the jets when an OLB who stunted through clean makes a shoestring tackle. Oooooh. Too bad. Schofield(+1) blew up the playside DT; Kwiatkowski(+0.5) kicked the other guy well. RPS -1, but I like the creativity. Without this call on this is a nice gain.|
|M16||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Out||Jackson||INT|
|The fugly INT. If accurate this is a fine idea. It's not accurate. Also insert complaints about Jackson separation, or lack thereof. (INX, 0, protection N/A) Wow... on replay this route sucks. Jackson's post fake is basically vertical.|
|Drive Notes: Defensive Touchdown, 21-10, 9 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Bubble screen||Gallon||6|
|Giving it by alignment, M takes it. Aggressive DB gets upfield of Gardner and manages a shoulder tackle that gets Gallon off his feet. (CA, 3, screen)|
|M31||2||4||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel even||Run||QB draw||Robinson||24|
|UMass puts one of their LBs over the second slot guy and goes six in the box, thus opening this up. The power of a stupid little play. UMass gets out of a lane and this opens up big. Toussaint(+1) gets a good LB block; Dileo(+1) does work on another LB, and Mealer(+1) gets a safety in space. Robinson(+2) sets his blocks up well and sets sail before that #9 again prevents a Michigan TD.|
|O45||1||10||Ace twins||1||2||2||4-3 even||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||25 (Pen -15)|
|LB blitz sent and picked up by Toussaint, who goes low. Mealer is backing out of a block and makes contact at the same time, which draws a chop block flag because they're throwing that on anything that even vaguely resembles a cut block with two guys. Unfortunate. That pickup gives Denard a ton of space, which he decides to use. Please be a trend. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)|
|M40||1||25||Ace trips bunch||1||1||3||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Throwback screen||Gallon||12|
|Always works; works. Lewan(+1) donkeys the corner, Gallon goes outside, safety fills. (CA, 3, screen) RPS +1? Sure.|
|O48||2||13||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Power off tackle||Smith||6|
|Lewan(+1) blows one DT off the ball; Barnum(+0.5) finishes sealing him. Williams(+0.5) takes on a DE, then moves to the second level, passing the DE off to Kerridge. Williams can't quite lock that LB out, though, and he falls to tackle Smith just as he's breaking through to the secondary with Omameh(+0.5) as a safety-destroyer in front of him. Potential TD otherwise.|
|O42||3||7||Shotgun 3-wide tight||1||1||3||Okie||Pass||Drag||Gardner||42|
|UMass sends the house. Unblocked guy right up the gut who Smith blows up, allowing Denard time to step around and up into the pocket. Everyone else is taken care of. Gardner's drag has taken him past a LB; Denard hits him. Gardner then just barely outruns #9 (who can play) and tiptoes the sideline for a spectacular TD. (CA+, 3, protection 3/3, special Smith commendation issued)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-10, 6 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M45||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||8|
|DL overplays to the playside here and the WLB is sucked out to the corner because Denard must be contained. Toussaint(+1) finds the cutback after Omameh(+1) shoots an aggressive DT past his hole. Schofield(+0.5) walls off the backside DE. Barnum and Mealer(+0.5) each combo to the second level.|
|O47||2||2||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||10|
|Barnum(+1) has a one on one matchup with playside DT and gets motion on the guy, driving him back a couple yards. SLB runs himself outside aimlessly. Williams and Lewan double playside DE and kick him out; would like to see Lewan climb to second level but this may be short yardage approach. Toussaint(+1) beats a filling safety to the edge and turns a first down into a small chunk. Mealer(+1) got a free release and beat up the MLB.|
|Nice play by the MLB to find the hole immediately, shooting past Mealer's block and arriving to tackle just as Kerridge is kicking out the SLB. Mealer(-1) could have taken a better angle to the second level, but this is mostly an RPS -1. Barnum(+1) and Lewan(+1) had provided a nice big hole with one on one blocks.|
|O36||2||9||I-Form||2||1||2||4-3 even||Pass||Waggle throwaway||Roundtree||Inc|
|Everyone covered; LB specifically containing this play. Denard pumps and escapes outside, then just dumps it as he nears the LOS and it becomes clear he doesn't really have a running lane. Assumption is this was just putting the ball in the turf. (TA, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1)|
|O36||3||9||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 3-4||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||36|
|Has forever as UMass rushes three, then sends a spy late. Denard eventually decides to use those feet things, at which point laughter happens. Kerridge +1 for getting the downfield block that ends any chance of pursuit. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2, Denard +3 on ground)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-10, 4 min 2nd Q. They get it back with 2:02 to go and run a two minute drill.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M17||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Pass||Wheel||Smith||19|
|Play action with the three WRs running vertical. LB has to sink into the boundary route, opening up a wheel for Smith; Denard floats it in nicely. Smith(+2) then stops on a dime and spins inside the tackle attempt, turning eight yards into 20. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M36||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide tight||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Cross||Gardner||Inc|
|Same route Gardner had for a TD. No pressure this time and Denard just misses this one. This was going for 20+ too. (IN, 0, protection 2/'2)|
|M36||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||4-3 even||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||-3|
|Denard appears to be looking for a Jackson hitch. There's a LB under it and he decides against the throw. LB then turns his back to chase downfield; Denard decides to run. Good decision, but he bumps into Mealer before he can get his motor running and falls. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2) Scramble awarded because this was a good idea that went bad; if Denard escapes the pocket he's got at least ten.|
|M33||3||13||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Cross||Dileo||16|
|This one is in between Dileo's numbers; route is a yard or two short of the sticks but the throw allows him to turn it up for the first down easily. No pressure. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M49||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||In||J. Robinson||9|
|Has just forever and eventually zings it to JRobinson just in front of a defender. Probably should have looked for Smith, who is abandoned, but he hit the guy so okay. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)|
|O42||2||1||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Hitch||Dileo||9 + 15 pen|
|Another pump, this one at Funchess on a little out; he decides against that and nails Dileo on a hitch. Against better opposition these delays may be a problem. Here Schofield(-1) did get beat; Robinson gets a faceful of DE. (CA, 3, protection ½, Schofield -1) This turns into a dodgy flag.|
|O18||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB draw||Robinson||16|
|LBs way back, expecting pass and backing out at the snap. As soon as Omameh(+1) shoves the playside DT way down the line this is easy money. Mealer(+1) got a good downfield block; Robinson(+1) is fast and stuff and knows to burrow behind Mealer. RPS +2.|
|O2||1||G||Goal line||2||3||0||Goal line||Run||Iso||Toussaint||0|
|Kwiatkowski(-1) does not get any push as a lead blocker and ends up stalemated; Kerridge runs up his back but can't actually contact an opponent, and Toussaint has no crease.|
|O1||2||G||Goal line||2||2||1||Goal line||Penalty||Illegal sub||N/A||1|
|O1||2||G||Goal line||2||2||1||Goal line||Run||Speed option||Robinson||1|
|If this is a real option, Denard should pitch(-1), but doesn't. He gets tackled by a blitzer in too quickly on Lewan(-1), the fumbles(-2) as he reaches out to the goal line. Lewan, or someone anyway, recovers. Ah, hell. RPS -1.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 42-13, EOH|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O41||1||10||Shotgun trips Te||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer give||Toussaint||13|
|DE is not containing Toussaint; give. That's about it. Rest of the D is in the box in case Denard keeps. Gardner, Jackson, and Roundtree(+0.5 each) all get okay to good blocks on DBs downfield. RPS +1.|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer give||Toussaint||11|
|Identical thing to other side. DE does not show hard upfield, give. MLB gets outside of Dileo but for naught as there's a ton of space. Lewan(+1) pancaked the other guy, that's why. Jackson(+1) gets a good extended block downfield and Toussaint(+1) takes what's he's given, accelerating past fallen bodies until the sticks. RPS +1.|
|O17||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||-1|
|UMass slants; this catches Mealer(+1) but surprise but he adjusts to starts shoving the slanter by the play. Lewan(+0.5) and Barnum(+0.5) had comboed the backside DT and climbed to the second level; Toussaint gets past the Lewan block, downshifts to hit this gaping hole... and gets roped down by a hand. Bad luck, that.|
|O18||2||11||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||Slant||Gallon||Inc|
|Batted at the line. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|O18||3||11||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even||Pass||Post||Roundtree||18|
|Excellent time; Denard finds and nails Roundtree on a post the safety probably should have covered but does not. Must have overplayed the route further inside. Not sure if this is too far outside or if Denard is playing it safe but he does hold Roundtree up some. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 49-13, 10 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M28||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||11|
|Playside DT ends up coming through the line but not sure if that's a big problem since by doing so he gets shoved way past where he wants to be by Mealer(+1). Toussaint cuts behind. Barnum(+1) is doing to the same to the next guy. He cuts behind. Kwiatkowski(+1) has blown the last guy two yards downfield; Toussaint(+2) bursts outside. He anticipates and leaps past the safety's attempt to fill, then jukes a corner, and he's in the clear. Pursuit takes him down at the sticks.|
|M39||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Triple veer around||Norfleet||14|
|Norfleet on the outside, he motions in and takes a quick handoff. Unblocked DE to that side is playing an inverted veer and lets Norfleet by. JRobinson(+1) cracks down and blows up the playside LB; the press corner goes with him. Gyarmati is leading now and has only the S to block. He does so; Norfleet tries to shoot past him, ankle tackle. Nice play by that S; if he only maintains leverage this might be six points. RPS +2.|
|O47||1||10||I-Form||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||3|
|Schofield(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5) bury the playside DT. Williams(+1) shoves the DE outside and then comes down on a linebacker; Gyarmati finishes kicking the DE. Barnum(-1) freaks out when Wiliams's guy starts moving upfield and hits him instead of continuing outside. He bounces back off this; Toussaint runs into him. That delay gets safeties involved; Toussaint gets what he can surrounded by white shirts.|
|O44||2||7||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||0|
|DE splits the two runners very well, getting Denard(-1) to keep and still tackling. Barnum(-1) flat lost his guy one on one, straight up, no slant, and he penetrates to prevent any Denard funny stuff.|
|O44||3||7||Shotgun empty TE||1||1||3||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Cross||Gardner||6|
|Back out from heavy pressure look to three man line. Gardner sets up on a hitch and then starts drifting across the field; Denard doesn't like the deeper look and zings it underneath. A tiny bit short of the first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O38||4||1||I-Form||2||1||2||Base 3-4||Run||Power off tackle||Rawls||18|
|They've replaced Lewan. Schofield(-0.5) now at LT, he does not get his DL moving and allows some penetration that ends up delaying a pulling Burzynski. Gyarmati(+1) plus a guy on the edge, who does not keep the edge; Rawls(+1) sees that and heads out there. He breaks contain, picks up a bunch of yards, and then lowers the boom on a pretty hefty dude to finish it off.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Triple veer give||Rawls||4|
|Playside DE goes straight at the pulling G and submarines him; Kerridge is trying to seal him inside so that the G can get out but he's got no shot. That's a two for one for the D. Corner is now the contain guy. He sees Rawls has it and is agile enough to crash down to tackle. Rawls takes a hit from the guy Burzynski couldn't block, too. RPS -1, but I like the concept.|
|O16||2||6||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Pass||Triple veer PA||JRobinson||Inc|
|Backside DE is going straight for Denard and gets instant pressure. Denard throws off his back foot at an open-ish Robinson and misses. Torn between IN and PR here. He had few alternatives and didn't put up a punt, so PR. (PR, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1)|
|O16||3||6||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||Out||Roundtree||7|
|WCO precision route with Williams taking a corner out and opening up a small window for the conversion. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O9||1||G||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Smith||9|
|UMass blitzes from the edge; Kerridge(+1) does a good job to come down on him and clock him, clearing the edge. The edge should be win UMass but the LB just biffs it, taking a crappy angle. Smith(+1) outruns him to the corner and gets in. An RPS -1, probably, but results.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 56-13, 3 min 3rd Q. Backups the rest of the way, including the walk-on OL. Charting ceases.|
Indubitably, I say.
You said these chaps weren't very good after the first drive.
Oh, right. They're not. Let's do the numbers. So I've got these—
[Hennechart legend is updated.]
|2011 through MSU||13||66(12)||11(1)||34(1)||17||2||3||10||4||55%|
|2011 after MSU||9||77(9)||7||17||9||6(1)||5(2)||9||5||69%|
An easy day with a lot of open guys and a few worrying misses. Those were the INT, the cross to Gardner flung over his head, and the little Gallon drag similarly flung to Tacopants. The fourth one was a bomb on which he was long, which happens. But hey no BRs (UMass covered no one so there could not be any) and some scrambles (UMass managed to both not cover anyone and give up huge running lanes).
As I was saying, indubitably.
BOOM 1987 CEREAL COMMERCIAL
This is burned into my head.
Let's talk about actual things. Denard accuracy monitoring?
Still feeling pretty good about it. Though UMass was actually a slight step back in the Downfield Success Rate metric, its impact on our hypothesis ("Borges + Denard == Tate Forcier passing") is positive since we need more data here.
He's still good for the one or two ARGH NO throws a game nothing will ever get him to stop. Look at those Throwaway numbers: three games, one ball I thought was not an attempt to complete a pass. Four more got filed as scrambles, but that's still a vanishingly low percentage of balls tossed away. Everett Golson doubled that in one game against MSU.
We got some more screens.
Yes, as Heiko's on-going, not-serious-but-actually-deadly-serious bubble/lazer-off with Borges highlights, Denard is throwing more stuff at or behind the LOS. The four throws marked as screens in the last game are almost half of Denard's output from the entire second half of last year.
Bubble bubble yes but there was also an honest to God screen-screen that Toussaint turned up for a bunch. Michigan hasn't been throwing those under Borges because when Denard has tried it he has gotten pressure in his face and launced balls well over the intended receiver's head. Maybe that's technique, maybe it's the fact that he's maybe six foot tall and there is no angle that he can throw the thing that won't get stuffed back in his face and not overshoot the mark dangerously.
On the linked screen above, Michigan actually gets it done by blocking the end and shoving the DT, giving Denard a window. The horizontal aspect also helps prevent disaster—previously a lot of these RB screens were going straighter up the field. I'm still not sure how much that's ever going to be a staple since teams tend not to blitz Denard hard, but having that option is a nice.
Also: throwback. Believe it.
What happened on the next play after that bubble you linked above?
UMass put about five and a half players in the box and got a QB draw in their face for 24 yards. Panacea, no, but an effective play that opens up the rest of your offense when people on the edge are accounted for man-to-man.
Denard doing stuff with legs?
Michigan's been working on the veer. Michigan has moved from a stationary quick pull to the more common hop-hop-hop-decide process where the QB rides that fake as long as possible and only makes a decision when he feels the DE has committed. Even when he doesn't commit that movement and delay gets results on the second play of the game:
You'll notice that the pulling G actually runs by that DE (and then widens out so far that he ends up blocking a guy already being blocked many yards from Denard, so they're not exactly a machine yet).
Michigan's also screwing around with some additions/alterations, like the Norfleet end-around series Michigan broke out in the third quarter.
There the DE is like "veer veer veer" and Norfleet just zooms by him. Once he's outside of that, a big gain is guaranteed. Michigan came back with a handoff and a play action pass off that, neither of which were as successful.
This was kind of like the Minnesota game last year when Michigan test-drove their sprint counter against the twitching corpse of a long-dead opponent. I like seeing new stuff enter the offense, but I'd rather bring it out against Notre Dame. What's the deal with all the secrecy around the program if they're just going to bring out the toys against the UMasses of the world?
Offensive line. 43 runs in this one, so numbers should approach normal… and would if I hadn't chalked up many of the yards gained as UMass being UMass. Remember that it's the ratio that is important for the OL. On a lot of plays they do okay and get a push.
|Lewan||7.5||1||6.5||Dominating in this game.|
|Barnum||7||6||1||Pretty concerning. Fell down some, got straight up beat a couple times.|
|Mealer||9||1||8||Mobility in space a pleasant surprise.|
|Omameh||7.5||-||7.5||Beating up on little guys, but Nix will be a load.|
|Schofield||3.5||0.5||3||Got beat once in pass pro, but fine. Think people got a little panicked because of Alabama.|
|Funchess||1.5||-||-||HE DOES EVERYTHING (against UMass sometimes)|
|TOTAL||39||10.5||79%||Meaningfulness: not meaningful.|
|Robinson||10||5||5||Hit him for the fumble.|
|Toussaint||13||2||11||Did a lot of bouncing, hit a lot of holes, juked some guys.|
|Rawls||1||-||1||Lowered the boom on a pretty big dude.|
|Smith||4||-||4||Spin move was sweet.|
|Kerridge||3||-||3||Insert complaints about scholarship FBs.|
|TOTAL||31||7||24||Gyarmati was also +1.|
|Protection||32||2||94%||Team –1, Schofield -1|
That's what happens when you average almost 7 YPC without a run longer than 36 yards. Note also the near-flawless day in pass protection. Denard had forever, and on that 36 yard run he had two forevers before finally deciding to take off.
So, yeah. Complete obliteration of a foe that can only be obliterated and causes panic if you do not obliterate them. File under necessary and not meaningful.
POWER OL POWER RANKINGSSSSS
Barnum had problems?
Yeah. He fell down a couple times; once he just never popped off a double and exposed Toussaint to an unblocked LB, and late on a veer-type run he got beat straight up. By ND transfer Hafis Williams, so not a total scrub, but from a confidence perspective guys who transferred away from the team you're about to play are not the best guys to beat your OL.
Last game I thought Omameh struggled and Barnum did pretty well, so jury is out on both guards.
Toussaint's pretty good again?
Yeah, man. Independent of the opponent he tiptoed the line for a TD and I love a particular aspect of this zone that cuts all the way across the field. Try to figure out what it is:
If you guessed "the little hop he takes when he perceives that an ankle tackle is coming from behind," you win an MGoPoint.
[Passes are rated by how tough they are to catch. 0 == impossible. 1 == wow he caught that, 2 == moderate difficulty, 3 == routine. The 0/X in all passes marked zero is implied.]
A bit of a fuss was made about Gardner only bringing in 8 of 20 targets this far. I'm missing one, but of my 19 he's got seven with no shot and three really tough ones. It's somewhat about his routes, but I chalk most of that up to "is deep threat".
I've mentioned this already this week, but Dileo is increasingly a guy who I'm comfortable with getting lots of playing time. He's not big, he's not super fast, but he catches everything in his area…
…and has a knack for keeping his feet as he does so. Usual slot-dot drawbacks apply; Dileo adds a fourth or fifth guy who I think is a pretty good receiving option.
QB Oh Noes returns?
A point of order is in… order after I saw a bunch of @replies in the twitter and BWS pointed out the vast open Funchess TD. QB Oh Noes was coined here to specifically refer to plays on which Denard himself takes a step towards the line as part of a run fake and then backs out. The PA fake made here:
Is something RR did a bit but not a ton. Borges, on the other hand, does run it a ton, and did last year as well. Now that he's got Funchess running down that seam expect even more of it.
[Also, BWS points out that Omameh is not quite Air Force-level illegally downfield. Illegal downfield: go for it, OL!]
Special commendation Vincent Smith needs out-of-table love.
"Why isn't Norfleet playing more?" the message boards ask. That is why. Fingerguns Smith.
BONUS: that's the play of which Borges said this:
I’m knocking on wood. I never assume anything, but his footwork is like night and day. He’s pulling balls down now and working up underneath the pocket and taking off and buying beats. He had a play during the game and it was a zero blitz where he got underneath the rush, gave Vince a chance to chip off a blitzing linebacker and threw the ball to Devin for a touchdown. A year ago he would have run backwards, and they’d have chased him for about an hour, and he’d probably end up throwing it out of bounds.
I'm ready to upgrade the Denard Can Throw hypothesis to a theory if he can just do it on Saturday.
BONUS BONUS: Smith spin move swag featuring Denard touch pass.
If you're really mean and stuff, Barnum could have done better.
What does it mean for ND and the future?
Sadly, not much. The worries about the OL will go one way or the other on Saturday and I'm not sure which one it will be. Schofield's going to come in for scrutiny—I'm guessing he handles it fine. More concerned about the guards.
Meanwhile, inching towards the idea that Denard can throw… sidling up to it, not looking at it directly, maybe giving it an eyebrow. Saturday is maybe not an acid test against a young secondary featuring three position switch starters, but after last year yeah it's an acid test. Let's do some stuff not on Gary Gray's back.
The option has always been about making a defender wrong about who has the ball, thus effectively blocking him. Since you don't have to actually block him this means you can take out a slavering rage-beast with even the daintiest of skill position players.
Rich Rodriguez's innovation was taking the hazard-laden option and turning it into a simple yes-or-no handoff. The read option makes a guy wrong without requiring a pitch, and without getting your quarterback lit up time and again. Pairing that with plays that stretch the defense across the field horizontally opens up the box, forces safeties down, and creates the kind of environments that see his teams run for nearly six yards a clip.
Borges and Hoke have a different outlook on football. Last year when the inverted veer was running riot over Ohio State, they were consistently blocking the guy a Rodriguez-style offense would consider optioned off.
This worked, but I wondered if it was working because Ryan Shazier was an injured freshman who was pretty horrible in that game. It's hard not to look at what's going on with Michael Schofield in this clip and not pine for the guy to move past the OSU DE and take on Ohrian Johnson, thus likely springing Denard for another huge gain.
Last year both myself and fellow guy who does the picture paging Chris Gaerig thought that this was an execution issue that would be hammered out given enough time, but Tyler Sellhorn, a high school OL coach who frequently emails me tips and corrections, thought this was a philosophical thing:
I think Schofield and Omameh were coached to block the DE. Hoke/Borges do not like leaving unblocked defensive linemen out there. A famous unattributed coaching axiom that I am sure that Hoke/Borges believe in is: "First level defenders cause fumbles, second level defenders make tackles." To me, this is the "MANBALL" component of M's "option" game. True power running game people think like that. I think that is the reason there have been fewer really long runs (the second level has been blocked less consistently this season).
This is one philosophical difference: RR's first thought always was, "How can we mess with the safeties to get big yards when we break through the line", Hoke/Borges first thought is "How can we mess with the DL so they are less aggro (in run and pass situations) and we don't ever have a negative play." Both work well as we have seen.
The consistency with which Michigan guys were blocking the supposedly option DL was a point in his favor. At first I thought the Alabama game was the point at which this was undeniable, but now I think Alabama was blocking Michigan, not the other way around.
Optioning Nobody #1
It's Michigan's first drive. They've picked up a first down with a (horribly spotted) flare to Smith and a third down conversion from same. They come out in a two-back, three-wide set. Alabama responds with its base 3-4 set, half-rolling a safety into the box.
Michigan will run the veer. They pull Barnum (1), use Hopkins(2) as a lead blocker, and block down on the front side. This leaves the Alabama defender (3) there unblocked… for now, anyway.
Hopkins. You are not flaring out, my man. You are doing something that isn't that.
At the mesh point, Hopkins (1) has contacted the "unblocked" Alabama defensive end. This means he is now blocked. (Science!) Hopkins is also blocked. They are mutually blocking each other. Neither can go forward very easily.
This happens really fast. The DE is doing this on purpose. His goal here is two-fold: one, to force the handoff, and two to pick off one of the lead blockers.
Barnum(2) is still pulling for the front side; since the guys blocking down have actually done a pretty good job of getting push he's got a lane. Denard(3) sees the DE underneath Hopkins and gives.
And now it's over. Hopkins has indeed eliminated the Alabama DE, and Barnum reaches the hole as Smith sprints outside. Also sprinting outside: the totally unblocked Alabama LB.
Michigan's got some other problems, too, as the playside DE came through the double on the playside when Kwiatkowski released—you can see Schofield hunched over in an "oops" way right at the LOS behind Barnum. Given Smith's angle and Barnum's this is only a further indicator that Schofield got hammered on Saturday, not an actual reason the play doesn't work.
And that's all she wrote.
Who did Michigan block with Denard's legs on this play? Nobody.
[After THE JUMP: oops they did it again :( ]