a terrible blight on our fine country
power off tackle
NOTE: I am looking to purchase a pair of tickets to Northwestern. If you've got a couple extras email me to discharge built-up beveled guilt.
Power vs zone read. A couple weeks ago I wondered if running a bunch of power had opened up the zone read again or if it was just an effect of playing Bob Diaco and Ron English. Frequent correspondent Tyler Sellhorn provides some insight:
WLBs are the bugaboo defender for the power play (double team frontside = WLB difficult to block/unblocked). They are coached to hit the window created by the inside OL stepping to the double. Playside combos of inside zone are difficult to distinguish from straight doubles.
The best defense vs. ZR is to exchange gaps between the DE and WLB (you already know this). Therefore, these two plays in concert screw with the WLB assignment-wise from a gameplan standpoint. Gap-exchange weakside means that the free defender versus power is no longer paying any attention to the RB running said power. Leaving the DE to defend the ZR by his lonesome, though, against DR...hell to pay.
Hope that enlightens.
Since then we've seen San Diego State defend the zone read (and nothing else) ably and Minnesota defend nothing (and nothing else). A test of this theory will come against Northwestern, which may have given up 38 to Illinois but held the Illini rushing game to just 82 yards. Sacks factor in but even without those Scheelhaase and company managed just 3.1 YPC.
They also gave up 400 yards passing, so don't get too frightened.
Stretches versus outside zone. I've been using the two terms interchangeably, which Tyler suggests is mistaking rectangles for squares:
…the zone stretch, the various sweeps (including QB sweeps), pin/pull, and when the G tries to "log" the end/OLB on Down G, the Dash (frontside zone read) all try to accomplish the same thing: circle the defense and (usually) carry the ball between the numbers and the sideline.
What I am getting at is that you have made the statement that there have been zero stretches and it feels like you are implying that M is not trying to get outside when you make that statement. There are lots of ways to get the same thing as "stretch" conceptually, and Borges is trying to fit the concept into what he already has experience calling and know what to call when. For example, QB sweep was the first call against WMU.
So yeah, you keep harping on "zero stretches" when there have been plenty of attempts to get the ball outside, but M is using different blocking schemes to do the same thing. You just need to be clearer about what you are trying to say in regards to this: we should be running outside more or we should be using stretch to run outside. That is the distinction I am encouraging you to make.
Right, then: I'd like to see more outside zone blocking from Michigan because they're pretty good at it and don't seem particularly good at getting outside with pin and pull stuff or toss sweeps.
Saw your picture pages on Michigan DBs playing the fade and having success playing the man versus the ball. Thought you might find this of interest from Saban.
Basically if you are even with the WR, you play the ball. If the receiver looks over his inside shoulder you look back that way; if the WR turns his outside shoulder back you turn into the WR (toward the sideline) to play the back shoulder fade.
But if you're out of phase with the guy, ie trailing him, you don't turn back to find the ball because you never will and they'll catch it; you play the man and his hands and eyes. (I get the impression that this wasn't the case last year.)
From the photos I saw on your site the Michigan DBs are doing a good job playing the man, but that's because they aren't "in-phase" with the WRs. If the throw was better they'd probably be completing the fades. But you're closer to this stuff than I am; mostly wanted to pass along the Saban points.
So Michigan's trail technique seems born of necessity. Since they don't have Charles Woodson or Leon Hall back there the best they can do is go for the PBU. We've seen Blake Countess look for the ball because he's in better position a few times.
If Countess proves to be the real deal and Michigan can get a second corner at that level we may see more DBs look back for the ball. As it is the current technique is at least an excellent stopgap.
A little outdated. This came in before the Minnesota game:
Do you think Denard would be as effective a runner from the RB position as he is from the QB position? My gut says he would not be but can't explain why. I bring this up given his continued poor passing performance with some people clamoring for him to change positions.
Denard wouldn't be as effective a runner because he excels in the space allowed by a spread formation. In a pro-style offense he would probably be too slight to be a tailback, at least full-time. He'd end up in the slot.
The main tactical innovation allowed by having your QB as a runner is it allows you to spread the field horizontally by adding more WRs without giving up the extra blocker. With the defense locked in on those slots—something the threat of the bubble screen enforces—a guy like Denard can pick and choose from big gaps that open up because the defense is stretched.
Handing it to a tailback without using the QB as a threat invites an unblocked guy through since there are fewer blockers in the area. Think of this like a power play: a 4-on-3 power play is more dangerous than a 5-on-4 because it's easier to find the open guy and there's more space. The shotgun provides the extra man by using the QB as a runner. That extra space means Denard can make yards by accelerating past tackles instead of breaking them.
Denard's still pretty good when things get tight, but the pounding would be worse if that was all he was doing.
Play action problems.
Brian, would like your view/analysis of Denard's play action fakes and the importance of these in the offense. It does not appear to me that Denard really sells the hand off as much as other QB's. I'll spare the comparison to Peyton Manning. A good play fake can open up zones in the secondary and give Denard more time to make his reads as the defense should be crashing on the running back. Or, is this less of an issue in a zone read offense since there is basically a play fake on the majority of plays.
It appears to me Borges likes to throw off play action and if the QB is not selling it, that might account for some of the pressured throws we have seen from Denard so far. (disclaimer about adjustment to learning a new offense a given)
There are two entirely different playfakes Denard is executing. There's one from under center and one from the shotgun. It is possible that Denard's fakes from under center are not convincing, but I think the bigger problem is that the run game is not threatening. When you're averaging three yards a carry, safeties don't have to worry about your run game because it's not getting to them. I'll keep an eye out if we get more play action from the I-form later in the year. It's possible he's a problem there since he hasn't really practiced that skill.
The shotgun is a different matter. When Michigan goes play action from the shot gun it's either Denard stepping to the line or a zone read fake. Both are inherently convincing. In the first Denard is moving towards the LOS as the offense run blocks. In the second they are executing the mesh point exactly as they would on a running play. Unless the line is doing things that tip off the opponent there's no difference. The sheer number of hand-wavingly wide open dudes on shotgun PA should be sufficient evidence that Denard's doing just fine with his fakes there.
I'm reading the SDSU preview and you say that Demens and Hawthorne have to get better at diagnosing plays quickly. This appears to be a consistent theme with M linebackers over the last few years. I would assume that this "skill" is probably the easiest to evaluate when recruiting high school players as HS offenses are pretty run heavy. Did our coaches completely drop the ball in recruiting these guys or did they believe diagnosing plays is something that can be taught and, thus, focused more on the recruit's physical traits/potential?
I'm not sure that skill is easy to evaluate because a lot of high school kids don't get much coaching and what they get is of debatable value. You might be able to detect a kid who just Gets It, but plenty of college-level athletes who look clueless early develop into excellent players with college coaching. Prescott Burgess and Shawn Crable are two examples in recent Michigan history.
In the case of Michigan's current starters, the Great Rodriguez Defensive Coaching Malpractice is probably more at fault than recruiting. The current LB crew has been coached by Jay Hopson, Greg Robinson, and Adam Braithwaite. Braithwaite has the best resume of all of those guys by virtue of not having one. They've also swung from one system to another and, in the case of Herron, Hawthorne, and Cam Gordon, from one position to another. If these guys weren't having trouble diagnosing plays that would warrant creating a golden idol resembling Mark Smith.
As it is I think they're doing as well as can be expected. Hopefully we'll see the improvement we never got under the GRDCM as the season progresses.
Gratuitous video of the week:
Substitution notes: The secondary was Woolfolk/Floyd/Kovacs/Gordon almost the whole game, with Avery coming in on the garbage time drive and one snap for Marvin Robinson towards the end of charted time. When Michigan brought in a nickelback, which wasn't often, it was Raymon Taylor; they left Gordon at safety.
Demens, Hawthorne, and Ryan were almost always out there at LB. Fitzgerald, Morgan, and Beyer got one or two drives each as backups.
On the line there was more rotation. Black and Roh just about split snaps at WDE. Martin and RVB were usually out there and then Heininger and Campbell split snaps at the other DT spot. Brink and Washington made cameos.
Formation notes: A lot more 4-3 this week going up against a team that uses fullbacks and TEs and stuff. This is your 4-3 under in the flesh:
Line shaded to the weakside, Ryan on the line over TEs, two MLB types in the backfield.
There was also this, which I was at a loss to name:
Let's get a closeup of the line here:
You've got an undershifted line, linebackers shifted over… and JB Fitzgerald lined up shaded inside the TE. I called this 5-3 under. If anyone knows what an actual coach might call it let me know.
On with show:
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O10||1||10||I-form twins unbalanced||4-3 under||Pass||5||PA Fly||Woolfolk||Inc|
|PA with two guys in the route. One is a fly on Woolfolk(+1, cover +1), who is stride for stride for the guy and has a play on the ball if it's accurate. It's not.|
|O10||2||10||Shotgun 2TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Jet sweep||Ryan||13|
|Pretty much all Ryan(-2), who flies directly upfield and loses contain instantly. Gordon and Woolfolk are on the edge with Demens pursuing from inside but not much chance for anyone to do anything about it since there's a blocker for each player and just tons of space.|
|O23||1||10||I-form||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Heininger||6|
|Heininger(-2) clobbered off the ball by a double team. He gets shoved right out of the hole. Demens is immediately under pressure by a guy with a great angle on him and Hawthorne has to take on a tough lead block despite being 214 pounds. They both do credible jobs(+0.5 each). There is no crease for the back. Unfortunately there's another blocker coming and no one to tackle because of Heininger's play, so the pile lurches forward for a significant gain. Picture-paged.|
|O29||2||4||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Black||3|
|Taylor in; TGordon stays at S. RVB(-2) is blown up this time and Hawthorne(-1) is pancaked by the guy peeling off RVB. Large gap. Demens(-1) comes up to fill, this time keeping leverage when I'm not entirely sure he should. He's got Gordon as a free hitter outside of him. In any case, the blocker kicks his ass. This is about to be EMU RB versus Kovacs for TD when Black(+3) saves everyone's bacon. He shoved the TE into the backfield, forcing an awkward cut inside, then dove to tackle(+1) the guy as he passes. Major bailout.|
|O32||3||1||Goal line||4-4 even||Pass||N/A||Flea flicker (scramble)||Hawthorne||19|
|Black and Hawthorne both get in basically unblocked and are there to pressure(+1, RPS +1) Gillett. They miss because Hawthorne(-1) gets too fast and Gillett manages to move around them. Demens is then trying to scrape to wherever Gillett's going to pop up when Martin pops back out of his stance and trips him. Just one of those things.|
|M49||1||10||I-form||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Demens||12|
|Michigan is slanting away from the play(RPS -1), which makes it tough on the DL. Still, RVB(-1) should do better to hold his ground and Demens(-2) definitely needs to get outside the first blocker to funnel the RB back to his help. He does not. Ryan did okay on the edge, it's just everything else here. RB into the secondary Black(+2) read the OL pull (apparently we can do that!) and immediately peeled off to pursue from the backside; he is almost the only thing between EMU and a touchdown other than a blocked Kovacs. He gets there to tackle at the sticks. The +2 is just for the pursuit and the tackle; the forced fumble is a bonus.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O27||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||4-3 under||Pass||4||PA Deep cross||Ryan||18|
|This looks a lot like the shotgun counters that have burned Michigan the first two weeks: counter step from the RB, pulling backside G, another lead blocker, this time another RB. Instead of a handoff Gillett spins backwards and rolls out. Later this will hurt EMU. Ryan is sent on a blitz, reads the pull, and dives inside to blow up the counter he thinks is coming. Hard to fault him for that. This gets Gillett out on the edge; Ryan does come through the block to provide some token pressure. This isn't enough to throw the QB off; he finds a receiver open for a chunk. I guess you could blame Demens or Gordon here but that seems really harsh to me. (RPS -1, pressure -1, cover -1.) Kovacs(+0.5) comes up to tackle immediately. Picture paged.|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 2TE unbalanced||4-3 over||Run||N/A||Jet sweep||Ryan||18|
|Ryan(-2) again gives up the edge on the sweep action. He compounds matters by falling to the ground as he tries to get outside. Demens is held inside by a QB run fake momentarily; Woolfolk comes up to the outside and is cut inside of. I do think Demens(-1) could have reacted more quickly here—RVB was going to be in the QB's face if he kept—and held this down to eight or so. BWS picture pages.|
|M37||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 over||Run||N/A||QB down G||Hawthorne||8|
|EMU motions a tight end over late and snaps quickly; Demens shifts a couple yards strongside but Hawthorne does not match him; on the snap they're right next to each other. As a result Hawthorne(-2) gives up the corner, getting blocked by the RB. Black(-1) had gotten blown off the ball by a double and there might have been room inside as well, but there's no question to the outside.|
|M29||2||2||I-form||5-3 under||Run||N/A||Down G||Van Bergen||-3|
|Michigan crushes this. Van Bergen(+2) shoots straight upfield, blowing up the lineman trying to pull around and getting through into the backfield. Heininger(+1) slants past his blocker on the backside to show up in the running lane; Fitzgerald(+0.5) is three yards into the backfield taking on the puller RVB blew up, and Martin(+1) has shed a blocker. Nowhere for the RB to go. RPS +2.|
|M32||3||5||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||N/A||QB power||Hawthorne||4|
|S brought down for an extra guy. FWIW, Gordon is coming down instead of Kovacs. He's your SS. Ryan(+1) is left alone for a pulling guard to take. He takes the guy on a yard into the backfield over where the tackle was and stands his ground. Gillett doesn't really know where to go; the back also impacts Ryan to provide a corner. This gives Hawthorne(-1) a free run. All he has to do is form up and he's got a TFL; instead he misses the tackle(-1), allowing Gillett to spin inside and start picking up yards. RVB tackles from behind; Kovacs(+0.5) stands Gillett up as he nears the sticks, forcing a fourth down.|
|M28||4||1||Ace||Firedrill||Run||N/A||Tricky pitch||Kovacs||14 + 7 pen|
|EMU to the line quickly and snaps before Michigan is prepared; line dive blocks as if they're going for the QB sneak. Everyone bites on it; they pitch outside, where there isn't anyone. Kovacs(-1) was the playside guy who did not stay responsible on the RB, but this is mostly an RPS play as EMU caught Michigan unprepared. Growing pains. RPS -2. Taylor gets a legit but pretty weak late hit after.|
|M7||1||G||I-Form trip TE||5-4 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Ryan||4|
|Either Ryan or Black screws up here. Black dives inside the last TE on the line, then heads upfield a bit to pick off the fullback. Ryan hangs outside as well, allowing the pulling G to not even block him. Need to have one of those guys cram that hole down. I vote Black(+1) for taking out two blockers and against Ryan(-1) for not even hitting a guy on this play. Kovacs(-0.5) is also slow to react, waiting for the RB to get to him instead of IDing the hole opening in front of him and hitting it.|
|M3||2||G||I-Form trip TE||Goal line||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Van Bergen||1|
|EMU flipping TEs everywhere and Michigan not reacting quickly enough—Heininger is trying to get Martin to slide over at the snap. He does just make it. RVB(+3) blows this up himself, though, sliding through a downblock and into the pulling G. The RB has to cut behind this mess and ends up falling over the G RVB had put on the ground moments earlier. Martin(+0.5) had gotten through a block to show up in the hole just in case.|
|M2||3||G||Power I||Goal line||Run||N/A||Iso||Martin||1|
|Michigan again having a hard time lining up. This time Black trips over himself trying to get to the wrong side of the line. He gets up and just gets into place on the snap. Martin(+2) takes a guard's block and chucks the dude past him, then comes under the tackle trying to deal with RVB to meet the second FB—actually an OL—a yard in the backfield. The pile of meat gets a yard.|
|M1||4||G||Power I||Goal line||Run||N/A||Iso||Kovacs||-|
|Everyone does the low-man-wins goal line blocking as EMU tries it again. Roh(+1) is in the path of the pulling dudes and wins his block, penetrating into the backfield. The second FB is tripped up/leaps from about the three. The RB tries the same thing only for Kovacs(+2) to roar around from behind him and stall his momentum, spinning him to a halt short of the goal line with an assist from Demens(+0.5). Picture-paged by MGoFootball.|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 0-0, 4 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M24||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Down G||Campbell||4|
|Campbell's been in a bit and this is his first noticeable play. This appears to be a slant to the playside here, which is good for M as it gets Campbell(+1) past his assigned down-blocker and into the guy lined up right over him who pulled. Roh(+1) swam through his blocker to set up outside of the Campbell mess; cutback. RVB(-1) is flowing down the line; he's too far upfield after shoving a DL and allows the guy to dive through an arm tackle for positive yards.|
|M20||2||6||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Demens||2|
|Miss part of this play; looks like counter action from a tight shot of the RB. M gets lucky as the guy blocking RVB thinks the blitzing Ryan is a major issue and peels off; pulling G now has to take RVB. This leaves Demens(+0.5) unblocked in the hole. His tackle is spun through but that takes a long time to happen; Ryan(+0.5) comes from behind to finish the job but there's some YAC here.|
|M18||3||4||Shotgun trip TE||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Pin and pull zone||Hawthorne||7|
|Guh. Triple TEs to one side and Michigan slants away from it. Guys right over the LBs are pulling and both are so late. What can they be keying on? Hawthorne(-2) is especially late; Demens tries to shoot a gap without effect but it was a good idea given that setup. M blitzed from the weakside, had no support over the top, and even if Hawthorne plays this perfectly this doesn't look like a stop (RPS -2)|
|M11||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Pin and pull zone||Van Bergen||3|
|Van Bergen(+2) shocks his blocker with a quick punch and gets playside of a downblock. He ends up driving to the outside, sucking up both lead blockers and forcing a cutback. Demens(+0.5) pops up in a hole; more cutback. Roh has hesitated a bit in case Gillett keeps, which is fine, but Heininger(-1) got blown up and ends up pancaked so when Roh comes down the line he's only able to tackle from behind; forward momentum is slowed by Hawthorne but not stopped.|
|M8||2||7||Shotgun 2TE||4-4 over||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Hawthorne||2|
|EMU seems to have a bad playcall on because there is no blocker for Hawthorne(RPS +1). Block down, pull backside T and G around. Ryan is kicked out by G. Demens kicked out by the T. Hawthorne(+1) is free to meet in the hole; Demens peels to help tackle.|
|M6||3||5||Shotgun 2TE||4-4 over||Run||N/A||Jet sweep||Demens||2|
|Finally some contain. Gordon(+1) is creeping up looking for this on the jet motion and forces a cut up, picking off a blocker. Ryan does better but still gets too far upfield, IME. No delay in the guy's path because of him. Thanks to the contain Demens and Kovacs have shots at this; Kovacs(+0.5) takes a hit from a block and stays upright; Demens(+1) has flowed to the sideline and tackles(+1) near the sticks. Picture-paged.|
|Drive Notes: FG, 0-3, EO1Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|Morgan in. Waggle action from EMU is poorly executed so RVB is out on Gillett; he falls down (-1, pressure -1). Gillett can only come underneath to a WR drag rout a couple yards downfield. Ryan(+1, tackling +1) helped take away one of the deeper routes then rallies to tackle almost on the catch, holding this to a minimal gain (Cover +2).|
|M41||2||4||Ace diamond||Firedrill||Pass||N/A||Double pass||Gordon||Int|
|Michigan is horribly misaligned at the snap, with only three guys against the four out to the right. If this is just a screen it could get some yards, but it's trickery. Okay. Defense freaks out, TGordon(+4(!), cover +2) goes with the WR and makes an incredible one-handed INT. Should have tried the transcontinental here. RPS -1 for misalignment, or RPS +1 for covering the trick play? Aw, hell, the latter.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 0-3, 13 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O40||1||10||I-Form||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Counter Iso||Martin||10|
|Campbell in, Morgan still out there, Brink at SDE. EMU basically runs an iso but the RB takes a counter step like he's headed outside. This works like crazy, sucking every playside defender to the outside. Martin(-1) is the biggest offender; Brink(-1) is pancaked. Morgan(-1) is cut to the ground and Demens(-0.5) has a really tough job but pulls the Ezeh by just sitting there. Gordon fills to tackle. I am actually a fan of the EMU running game. They are a confusing bunch to work against.|
|50||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Counter Iso||Ryan||-2|
|Basically the same play from a different formation with the same counter step. This time Ryan(+1, RPS +2) is blitzing from the counter side and crushes the guy in the backfield. Martin(+1) had blown back blocking so even the cutback wouldn't have been there.|
|O48||2||12||Shotgun twins unbalanced||4-3 under||Run||N/A||QB power||Black||3|
|EMU flips their RT to the left side after they align and Michigan flips their entire front five in response. They run the jet motion but have the QB take it upfield with help from a puller. Martin(+1) beats a downblock and cuts off a cutback lane. Campbell is on the playside and doesn't do great. Black(+1) gets into the TE trying to double Campbell instead of shooting down the line, then takes on a block to the outside, defeating it. Campbell is just kind of there, being large(+0.5) so Gillett has nowhere to go except up the backs of some of his dudes; Black tackles.|
|M49||3||9||Shotgun trip TE||4-3 under||Pass||N/A||PA TE flat||Gordon||5|
|This orbit boot motion again; Black(-1) flies upfield at it but is chopped down by a cut block. Demens and Taylor are blitzing, though, and get through untouched to provide pressure(+1) and force a dumpoff short of the sticks. TGordon(+1, cover +1) belts him OOB.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 6 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O44||1||10||Ace 4-wide||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Trap||Heininger||0|
|Fitz in. Heininger(+1.5) is passed off by the G over him as he runs downfield to hammer Michigan's spread-out LBs. He keeps his feet and gets popped by a pulling G, fighting playside of him. Martin(+1.5) beat a downblock; the two DTs converge to tackle.|
|O44||2||10||I-Form||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Counter Iso||Hawthorne||0|
|M moves Kovacs down late for another guy in the box. Campbell(+1) slants under his blocking, which is pretty good on this play since they're trying to dupe you to head outside; this time he comes under and heads backside for the RB. Hawthorne(+2) read the play on the counter step and attacked the backside hole that opens up; FB can only make a diving stab at him. This does get him to the ground but he's falling forward into the path of the runner, whereupon he grabs ankles; Campbell comes in from behind.|
|O44||3||10||Shotgun empty 2TE||Nickel||Run||N/A||Jet sweep||Kovacs||4|
|This is a formation with a covered up slot WR on third and ten and run a jet sweep towards it. I take back what I said about the EMU running game. Kovacs(+2) is sent on a blitz up the middle, reads the play, adjusts his flight path, and meets the WR after a couple yards to make a nice open field tackle(+1).|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 3 min 2nd Q. M scores, then squibs to terrible effect right before the half. Next drive starts w/ 33 seconds left.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|Clark in for the first time, I think. Four man rush gets nowhere(pressure -2) but the coverage is good(+2) and Gillett has to scramble out. He picks up eight, which seems more due to the situation than a breakdown.|
|M44||2||2||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||4||Rollout scramble||Black||4|
|Sprint draw fake as the pocket rolls. Coverage is good(+2) but Black(-1) loses the edge and ends up falling to the ground, giving Gillett the corner.|
|That God Damned Counter Draw... is defended. Wow. Martin(+1) reads the play and chucks his defender past him, peeling back to close down the hole as Hawthorne steps up to take on the lead blocker. Black(+2) collapses down to close off the hole outside Hawthorne, then extends back outside when the RB bounces, bringing him to a complete stop and eventually tripping him up when he breaks outside again.|
|Roh(+0.5) gets around the T enough to force Gillett to step up, where Martin(+1.5) has beaten a couple blocks to rush up the middle; Gillett has to bug out lest he gets crushed (pressure +1). Gillett has room to run after he breaks the pocket but, like, fine.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(50), EOH.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O33||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||4||PA sack||Roh||-7|
|This doesn't end up under because of motion, but whatever. EMU goes play action and Roh(+2) reads the PA seemingly before the mesh point with the RB. This is not hell-bent QB obsession, as he takes a step inside, sees the puller, and then heads upfield. He gets outside Gillett; Gillett slows up, Roh still grabs him; Martin(+1) beat a block and comes into finish the job. (Pressure +2)|
|O26||2||17||I-Form||4-3 over||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Ryan?||5|
|Ryan(-1) is not used to playing off the line and it shows, as he sits in the hole way too long. RVB(-1) is the playside DE and fights inside his block, which seems like a good idea only if there's a LB containing—if you're in an under. They aren't. Here Ryan is off the line and once RVB fights inside there is a bounce. RB takes it. Gordon(+0.5) fills quickly; Floyd(+0.5) comes up on the edge to tackle.|
|O31||3||12||Shotgun empty 2TE||Okie||Run||N/A||QB power||--||5|
|A give up and punt. Jet sweep action, Michigan is pass blitzing. Combo is a bit odd and gets Gillett to the second level, where Floyd(+0.5) comes up to whack; Hawthorne(+0.5) finishes him off.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-3, 7 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O35||1||10||Ace 4-wide||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Power||Campbell||5|
|DTs are Campbell (nose) and Washington (3tech). EMU runs a-gap power, pulling a G around into the hole between Campbell and RVB. Campbell(-1) gets pushed out of the hole easily and RB is into the second level without delay. Demens(+0.5) forms up, takes on a blocker, and disconnects to tackle with help from Hawthorne(+0.5). RVB(-1) was easily passed off, allowing that block on Demens to be executed.|
|O40||2||5||I-Form||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Campbell||4|
|Campbell(-1) stands straight up and gets Heininger'd. This provides a small crease for decent yardage; RVB(+0.5) held on the edge and Demens was there to close it down.|
|O44||3||1||I-Form trip TE||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||--||3|
|Line shifting in response to the formation flip and Michigan has this defensed for a loss except for a pretty good cutback by the EMU back. He just manages to squeeze through a gap between RVB and Martin's blockers, tripping as he goes; Demens is there to bump but the cutback was too quick—guy just went straight upfield, really—to do anything about it.|
|O47||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||4||Flare screen||--||Inc|
|Dropped. May or may not have worked if completed.|
|O47||2||10||I-Form||4-3 over||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Roh||1|
|Running at the strong bit of the line. Roh(+2) slants under the TE, gets held, takes on a lead blocker, and fights through all that to tackle for no gain. RVB(+0.5) held up well on his block and helps constrict the hole; this was a blitz that worked against power (RPS +1).|
|Kovacs(-1), blitzing off the edge, does not execute the look-for-puller-flatten key like Ryan did earlier and gets upfield/outside of the guy. Hawthorne(-2) reads the play and has no one blocking him but takes a shallow angle and misses a tackle(-1) that would boot EMU off the field.|
|M42||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Down G||Hawthorne||10 (Pen -10)|
|Okay, Michigan is slanting to the weak side after aligning to the weakside, which means you're going to have a lot of players back there and not up there, if you know what I mean. In the past when I've seen something like this both linebackers bug out for the playside because they are needed. Here Demens does, getting outside and forcing a cutback; Hawthorne(-2) does not, getting blocked by the backside tackle. Ryan(+1), the SLB, had slanted inside the pulling T and was tackled, drawing a flag that erases the gain. Kovacs again cleaned up (+0.5, tackling +1).|
|O48||1||20||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Pin and pull zone||Ryan||12|
|SDE Brink(-1) handled by single blocking from an EMU TE as two OL pull around. Ryan(-2) gives up the edge; three tech Heininger(-1) was blown up, erasing Hawthorne. Demens gets blocked by a puller. Black(+1) was tearing hard on pursuit from the backside and tackles from behind(!) after about ten yards. His pursuit has been outstanding; on this play all he needed was a little delay on the edge to tackle from behind at the LOS.|
|M40||2||8||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 over||Run||N/A||Down G||Black||-2|
|Michigan slanting playside since they're lined up away from the strength of the formation. Black(+2)slides past the TE's block and gets into the puller in the backfield. Campbell(+0.5) threatens to get into the backfield and draws the C's attention; Hawthorne(+1) shoots the gap in front of him for a TFL.|
|M42||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||4||Rollout scramble||Roh||2|
|Gordon to nickel as MRobinson comes in. Sprint draw fake to Gillett rollout. Roh(+1) is on the edge and starts chasing (pressure +1), causing Gillett to abandon things after his first read is covered(+1). His scramble goes for little.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 28-3, 11 min 4th Q. Last drive is garbage time; not charted.|
THEY ALL BE RUNNIN' YO
Yeah… they do all be runnin'.
It's a combination of things. Abitrary pie graph? Arbitrary pie chart:
For confirmation of this, let's check the
ARBITRARY PIE CHART
We already checked that.
BORING ASS NON COLORED CHART
Chart. A disclaimer: since Eastern hardly threw there were scant opportunities for DL to pick up bonuses on plays where they get collective minuses for lack of pressure, so even-ish is okay.
|Van Bergen||8||6||2||Had some trouble holding up; also made some big plays.|
|Martin||10.5||1||9.5||Consistently fought playside of blocker appropriately but got bupkis for it.|
|Roh||7.5||-||7.5||Did some things.|
|Brink||-||2||-2||Handled one on one.|
|Heininger||2.5||4||-1.5||Got blown up more often than he made plays.|
|Black||12||3||9||A monster in pursuit and played well at the POA.|
|Campbell||3||2||1||Doesn't seem that real.|
|TOTAL||44.5||18||26.5||Goal line stand is a major reason this is so positive, but, hey, goal line stand.|
|Demens||3.5||4.5||-1||Slow to diagnose some things.|
|Ryan||3.5||7||-3.5||Eaten up on the edge.|
|Fitzgerald||0.5||-||0.5||A few plays.|
|Beyer||-||-||-||Did not register.|
|Hawthorne||5||11||-6||Slow reads really got him.|
|TOTAL||12.5||22.5||-10||Edge edge edge edge edge.|
|Avery||-||-||-||DNP in charted time.|
|Kovacs||6||2.5||3.5||I don't even know what to do.|
|T. Gordon||6.5||-||6.5||Two solid safeties? Is this legal?|
|Robinson||-||-||-||One play before charting ceased.|
|TOTAL||12.5||4.5||8||Half of that the INT.|
|Tackling||3||2||1||Need Hawthorne to get guys down.|
|RPS||8||6||2||Hugely reduced numbers as M goes vanilla|
So the defensive line numbers came out more positive and the linebackers more negative than I expected, but a quick glance at the chart above shows a lot of EMU success on the flanks, where linemen are doing well just to remain in the picture. Even on the power stuff the theme is obvious:
Demens(-2) definitely needs to get outside the first blocker to funnel the RB back to his help. He does not. ... Hawthorne(-2) gives up the corner ... they pitch outside, where there isn't anyone ... Guys right over the LBs are pulling and both are so late. What can they be keying on? Hawthorne(-2) is especially late ... Hawthorne(-2) reads the play and has no one blocking him but takes a shallow angle and misses a tackle(-1) ... In the past when I've seen something like this both linebackers bug out for the playside because they are needed. Here Demens does, getting outside and forcing a cutback; Hawthorne(-2) does not, getting blocked by the backside tackle.
Linebackers not getting to the hole, Hawthorne especially. This is a great example of the day's theme:
1: The three tech is not helping matters. Here it's RVB.
2: Hawthorne + block = done
3: Y U NO DEMENS
4: Jibreel Black bailing our asses out.
Here's another one. Watch RVB get blown out and Demens not funnel back to Hawthorne, and Jibreel Black bail our asses out:
Why would Hawthorne be so disappointing a week after a good game against Notre Dame?
Hawthorne didn't blitz or cover against EMU, two things he flashed great skill at in the ND game. Instead of sending him places where he has a job and is suppose to do it, they asked him to play linebacker straight up and he got blocked tons. The rest of it is just not reading the plays quickly enough, something I noted last week.
I'm curious as to what he was doing when Michigan slanted its line, though. When I've seen this in the past—and I have plenty—what happens is the line slants one way and the LBs roar over the top the opposite direction. This eats up cutback lanes and gets that offensive lineman who releases downfield immediately blocking no one, leaving the weakside LB a free hitter. Michigan didn't do that when they slanted:
Look at this:
There's nothing but a TFL on the back side of this play because the line slanted to the weakside of the formation. Hawthorne has to get playside of that guy releasing because there's going to be a hole. It's going to be a hole without anyone to block him in it if he gets to it quickly enough; instead he gets hammered.
When he did things right—and he did a couple—he was a decisive slasher. He, more than most LBs, needs to figure out the play and hit a gap before blocking can get in place. He's not going to make a lot of plays by taking on lead blockers. Diagnosis skills are key for him.
I think EMU actually did us a favor here by exposing a lot of mistakes in the defense. The film room this week is going to have a lot of "ohhhhhhh" moments; hopefully we can iron some of this out before Ronnie Hillman shows up this weekend.
So, Jibreel Black and Craig Roh both did things.
Yes, yes they did. A lot of Black's positives are encompassed above, and Roh got off the stat schneid with a sack and some other tackles. It's not that Roh has been actively bad. He's done a number of quiet things that help the D without showing up on the statsheet. For one, he's the hidden reason Michigan made that fourth down stop on the goal line. He got penetration and caused a lead blocking EMU OL to leap at the endzone from the three. RB had to follow, Kovacs came in from the side, stop. He's probably not going to be James Hall at this point but he can be solid.
Black looks like a different player, though. That downfield pursuit on the fumble recover is both smart and fast. He did that all day. If anyone was holding the edge on a number of plays he would have been crushing dudes from behind. He's holding up at the POA better (against Eastern, granted) and seems to be emerging into a starter.
Here's a thing that has a 50-50 chance at happening: Michigan starts playing both at the same time, with Roh (probably) at strongside DE. Roh's bigger, Black's pursuing like a mofo, and Roh has far too much experience coping as an SDE, which he played as a freshman when he was too exploitable alone on the edge and sort of played last year when he moved to a three-man line. Is he ideal? No. Is it a way to get better personnel on the field? I think so.
What's wrong with Mike Martin?
I don't think anything is yet. He's having a hard time making an impact when everyone's heading outside.
They get an incomplete on the day, though Thomas Gordon did take another step forward, and not just because he speared a pass I would have rated an 0.5 if he was a receiver.
Jibreel Black had his best day in a winged helmet; Martin was solid inside; Roh got off the schneid; Gordon interception hello.
Pick a linebacker, with Hawthorne having the toughest day. Also the three-tech is a sore spot. Heininger got blown out, yeah, but you can see that RVB suffered the same fate in a couple of those clips above.
What does it mean for SDSU and the future?
Unfortunately, Hawthorne has not locked down the starting WLB job and will probably have to fight for it as long as he's not diagnosing pulling linemen more quickly. The three tech spot is a sore one and will need to be addressed if the interior run D is going to hold up; choosing between freshmen at SLB is leaving Michigan vulnerable on the edge.
I know everyone says the three tech gets one on one blocking, but that has not been the case so far this year and the inability to hold up there has caused a multitude of problems.
As for the rest of it… Black may or may not be a player. Check back in a couple weeks to see if he keeps it up against better competition.
This is the point at which we see learning happen—they're not very good right now but since they won't be swapping systems midseason these issues with play diagnosis should get better. We are all scarred by the last few years; here is where they start sucking less when people teach them how to play football.
Hypothesis! Michigan is going to start slanting heavily when they feel they're in trouble. The three tech is not holding up well, the linebackers are not good when being asked to read and react, but they've got a lot of DL who can get penetration when tasked with being aggressive one-gap players and linebackers who can come over the top to the other side. It will be a high risk, high reward system but against teams with good running games the alternative is getting bled to death because your guys are getting plowed or are hesitant.
Q: How did Eastern Michigan run for 4.5 YPC despite having their quarterback attempt five passes all game?
A: There were a few different issues. Here's one of the minor ones.
It's first and ten on EMU's first drive of the day. They've just gotten a first down on a jet sweep. Their second play from scrimmage is POWER they will run with POWER and on the BIG TEN NETWORK they use HUGE WIDE ANGLES instead of REAL TIGHT ANGLES and this was going to be MATT FOLEY but now it's more like a BRAWNDO COMMERCIAL.
Anyway. EMU I-Form, Michigan responds with an even front with three linebackers back. They'll run power at Will Heininger. The images will be a little fuzzy. Tackle box:
On the snap the backside G pulls; linebackers start creepin':
The playside DE is Craig Roh and he'll do a pretty good job. He's at the LOS, his guy is a yard or so behind it, he's able to release either way. He is not sealed. This is what he looks like:
This is the essence of a half-point. You are relevant to the play. You are basically doing your job. When everyone does their job and you don't get rock-paper-scisssored you are not going to give up many yards. Roh will eventually get plastered by a pulling G and tumble to the ground, but that's fine. Two guys blocking you means someone's free to hit.
If the rest of the line did this there'd be nothing. Unfortunately, this is Will Heininger's fate (second from the top in the first frame):
You can see the blue stripe. Roh has his helmet on it. Heininger ends up a yard behind it and sealed away. That middle frame is a butt-kicking, and the third frame is the result: two Michigan players with no hope of making a tackle.
The result of this is a hole with blockers headed out to the linebackers:
Here's the key point as EMU's #13 has to whack Roh, leaving the pulling G for Hawthorne. If there's a crack here the RB is into the secondary:
Hawthorne holds and the RB runs up the back of his blockers. His other option is a bounce outside that Floyd may or may not have covered:
The blob stops moving after about six yards.
I don't think Heininger can hold up. Last week I pointed out a couple instances where one on one blocking handled him easily against ND; here he gets blown up by a couple of dudes from Eastern Michigan. He makes plays from time to time but I shudder to think about what will happen when we play Illinois, Nebraska, and Ohio State to close out the year. Those OSU drives against Miami where their interior line whooped that of the 'Canes give me the heebie-jeebies.
So Campbell's pretty important, and every time I see something like this it increments my Rodriguez firing justification meter, especially with Jon Hankins starting as a sophomore for OSU.
The playside DT is probably the most important player on a power. We've explored what happens when DEs aren't in the right spot, but what happens when they are in the right spot is not often impactful. The play kicks you out and you need to restrict the hole; you also need to be prepared for a bounce. This makes it hard to do much* except sit there and maybe try an arm tackle if the running back passes by close enough.
The playside DT is kind of the key to the whole thing. If the DE is in the right spot and that DT holds up to the double two things are going to happen:
- the hole in the line is going to be very narrow or nonexistent.
- one of the linebackers is going to be a free hitter.
If the guy gets caved in it's hard not to give up your three to seven yards. It's hard not to get caved in—that's why they double you—and this is why planet-sized DTs are popular.
*[Exceptions for slants and stuff granted.]
Michigan's alignment exposes Heininger to the double. This is not the "under" alignment that usually allows the three-tech to take on single blocking. Here he's on the strongside between the G and T. Ryan is not on the line hovering over the TE.
That's about it. It's bad if your DT gets his butt kicked. SCIENCE!
Last week we highlighted a couple of power plays on which
Jake Ryan Brennen Beyer was out of position to disastrous effect. He screwed up the second one in a totally different way than the first one, though, so at least he's trying something new, and while Michigan got scorched by Cierre Wood I haven't run across too much that's his fault this week. [Ed: uh… because he didn't play. I have a nasty cold that is damaging my brain; bear with me. This is still a good example of where the guy on the end needs to be when power gets run at him.]
I hadn't run across a power run at him, either, until early in the fourth quarter. I wonder how he's doing?
Here's the setup. ND is in its two-TE set; Michigan undershifts their line and has Ryan over their third-stringer in the slot—by this point Mike Ragone is out with an ACL tear:
ND motions the TE in to act as an H-back so Ryan slides down to the more traditional SLB spot.
[SIDE NOTE: I really like what ND does with their TEs. This was a consistent theme: spread it wide and motion the TE in as an H-back. Provides a tough decision for a defense when you've got TEs as athletic as ND does. He's way more of a threat as a receiver than a generic fullback.]
Eifert's going to block Ryan. Presnap:
An instant post-snap:
Check that out compared to
Ryan's Beyer's earlier adventures against power:
LEFT: Three yards upfield against WMU. His porridge is too hot.
CENTER: At the LOS having lost outside leverage against WMU. His porridge is too cold.
RIGHT: One yard upfield w/ outside leverage against ND. His porridge is just right.
He was blitzing in the first still, granted, but I wonder what his angle would be if sent on a blitz this time around.
By the time the tailback gets the handoff he's set up in a good spot. He can release outside on a bounce and string it out for the secondary. He has restricted the available space between himself and Van Bergen:
Unfortunately for Michigan, they've still got problems. Look at Hawthorne(#7) and the ND center currently releasing from Van Bergen. Demens will take the pulling G, leaving Hawthorne as the free hitter…
…unless he doesn't read the play fast enough, runs upfield, and gets blocked by the center.
By positioning himself correctly Ryan takes the bounce away and makes the rest of the defense's job easier. The porridge just right shot means the RB has to start running laterally, even bouncing upfield, if he's going to get outside the tackle. His positioning maybe a yard inside his starting position restricts the available space on the interior, making it easier for the linebackers and three-tech to shut down the hole. This is "squeezing" power.
This is a lot closer to successfully defending the power with a base defense. On the very next play Notre Dame will line up on third and two to run this again and get stuffed thanks to a run blitz that gets Van Bergen penetration and allows Hawthorne to slice through the backside of the line when the guard over him pulls:
That's an RPS play. Michigan needs to get better at defending things without RPS getting involved, because it doesn't always get involved in a good way. Here it's second and ten and Michigan gives up a chunk, but it's not nearly as open as Western's counter power schemes were.
On second down, all Hawthorne has to do is step playside of the ND center and fill that little crease and this play is a minimal gain; Michigan also might have gotten a bit better play from Van Bergen and gotten that crease closed off without help from the linebackers. It's a lot easier to diagnose what went wrong here because the answer isn't "everything."
Given what happened the rest of the game it's obvious they've got a long way to go. You can see the beginnings of improvement.
Jake Ryan is getting better. He does this again on the next play and seems in position to at least string the run out if Wood gets to bounce, which he doesn't because Hawthorne makes the play before he has to.
I've got him with a big minus on a 38-yard counter on which he is crushed inside, but on the next play—the Wood fumble—he's in even better position on an inside zone that goes nowhere. Michigan's defense obviously has a lot of problems but he wasn't the major issue on the line. Heininger, sorry to say, was.
Hawthorne can play. Needs work, but that second play is a thing of beauty. I wonder if that run blitz is specifically designed to hit that gap caused by a pulling OL or if was just a fortuitous occurrence; either way that's beautifully timed and executed. Two plays earlier he got a PBU on Eifert with beautiful coverage. He's ascended to the top of the depth chart; hopefully he secures that over the next couple weeks. That would be an Ezeh to Demens upgrade at the sorest spot on the D if it pans out.
Last time on Picture Pages we saw how hopeless n00b Brennen Beyer made life very difficult for Michigan on a 25-yard counter play Western ran in the second quarter. Poor linebacker play from Kenny Demens and Carvin Johnson contributed.
A bit later in the half, Western would go back to the well. How would Beyer react?
It's first and ten at the Michigan 17 on Western's third drive. They've taken the ball from the Michigan 47 to get here. Western comes out in the same look-ma-spread-in-shred formation and will run the same counter play they ran before. Michigan is again in an aggressive one-high press look:
A lot of backups are in. The DL is Beyer/Heininger/Brink/Black. LBs are Herron, Fitzgerald, and Johnson walking down into the box.
On the snap it's the same business, with the backside G and H-back pulling around. This time Beyer's got it figure out, though. You can just see his head popping out from behind the tackle who is releasing downfield:
All right, now we are in the business. Or not. You can read the title.
Beyer disappears in the above frame because he is making contact with the G at about the LOS. Also look at the linebackers. Fitzgerald has not moved; Herron is starting to run at the play.
Beyer has run inside and gotten sealed at the LOS approximately where the center started the play. The fullback sails outside no problem. Instead of making a pile he's just created a huge hole by removing any leverage available.
Meanwhile Fitzgerald is getting cut to the ground. He's hardly moved despite a guard pulling in front of his face, and thanks to that Johnson can't flow. Neither can Brink, who is giving ground to pursue but just gets cut.
Herron, for his part, is going to blow the leverage again…
…but it wouldn't have mattered much because there's hardly anyone behind him.
Kovacs cleans up again.
Video with dramatic pause:
Someone took Beyer aside and told him how he'd screwed up on the first power and what to do. If you look at the comments on the last one there is some debate about whether or not Beyer was absolved because of a blitz. I don't think that's entirely possible; if you're blitzing and no one's blocking you off the edge while the QB executes a mesh point you need to slow your roll and adjust. Beyer didn't; someone told him he should do that.
Beyer took that advice and overcompensated a la Cam Gordon playing safety last year. I'm still not sure if they were playing to squeeze or spill. I'm guessing squeeze. This is the cost of playing freshmen. This kind of thing will get better.
I do wonder why he's even on the field. If they're going to run a four-man line I'd rather have Brink and Heininger out there than Beyer, since at least they've played football in college before. I guess you have to chalk that up to the heat and the necessity to play the walk-ons on the interior, which means just terrible things about Ash/Campbell/Washington. If Cam Gordon returns next week it wouldn't surprise me to see Ryan in Beyer's role.
Yet more indecisive linebackers. A guard pulling is a dead giveaway as to the direction of the play and twice we see Michigan players not reacting to it at all. If they're not reading the G whatever they are reading is not giving them a heads-up quickly enough.
This may be four defensive systems in four years with three coordinators; it may be a talent issue. Demens suggests it's at least some of the latter. Either way, Fitzgerald sits entirely still until he's chopped to the ground by a Western OL, which eliminates not only him but Johnson and Brink thanks to the location of the block. Meanwhile, Herron has a tough job that he does poorly with, losing leverage on the play.
I assume days that aren't blistering hot will see Demens on the field for every snap, but if he's hurt we're screwed and WLB is a real problem. Herron had two touchdowns and is going to end up significantly negative on the day.
Heininger does not accomplish what RVB does. He gets sealed away and is trying to spin free when the LB-FB contact occurs; he's in no position to help if Herron turns it inside, which he doesn't because no one turns it inside ever. This may be a slight exaggeration born of frustration.
People are worried about the defense, and with good reason. The worrying bit isn't so much the best quarterback in the state averaging 5.9 YPA and being forced into two turnovers by getting clobbered, but rather Western Michigan running for almost 5 YPC with guards they picked up at a yard sale in Jackson.
I have good news and bad news about this. The good news: a major reason for these issues was a true freshman in his first game who made obvious errors. He fixed some of those errors. The bad news: he fixed those errors so hard he made the opposite error. More bad news: he wasn't the only culprit.
We're looking at two successful first-half counters run by the Broncos. Here's the first. It's second and two on the Michigan 47 on Western's second drive of the day. Western's all like "look, ma, I'm the 2010 Michigan offense" and Michigan brings out its aggressive one-high press man for the first time:
You see the 3-4 front with three tight corners. Kovacs is out of the picture deep. The slot "corner" is Thomas Gordon. The LBs from top to bottom are
Herron Jones, Johnson, Demens, and Beyer, with Roh/Martin/Van Bergen the DL. Your key players are the bottom three guys in the front seven: Beyer, RVB, and Demens.
A moment after the snap:
The tackle blocks down on RVB, leaving Beyer free to fly into the backfield. This is an Admiral Ackbar situation that Beyer is too pumped up on adrenaline and youthful stupidity to recognize. He's all like "gonna get me some QB."
Meanwhile, the RB is moving right, but check out that OL directly in front of the QB: he's pulling left. This is a counter.
A moment later Beyer is recognizing his DERP far too late. He's already three yards into the backfield and his momentum is stopped as he tries to change direction now that the QB doesn't have the ball. the pulling G is going to hammer him.
Not all is lost, though: Demens has read it and is moving into the hole. And you see a lot more of Van Bergen's jersey, don't you?
RVB has given about a yard but now has his helmet across his blocker. Beyer defeats the OG's block and would have a shot at a tackle if he hadn't flown upfield so fast. There's that lead blocker and a lot of room for Demens to close down but he could…
…just about turn it back inside to RVB, who has now totally defeated his block, or he could…
…turn into Jonas Mouton and lose leverage.
That's 25 yards before Kovacs can come up and save the bacon.
Video, with annotation!
I learned this from Spielman. There are two main ways to defend the power play: "squeeze" and "spill." Squeezing is getting into the guard upfield a bit so that the RB has to take it inside into a more restricted hole. Beyer would have to be a yard or two closer to the LOS and to the inside to be squeezing. From that spot he can make a play, or at least make it harder to burst outside that LB.
Spilling is kind of a scrape exchange type deal where the playside DE roars down the line at the pulling G and cuts his ass to the ground. This is intended to create a pile that takes out the other lead blocker and forces the running back to bounce outside, where a linebacker scraping over the top should clean stuff up. Beyer would have had to shoot directly at the G as soon as he reads the pull.
Obviously, he does neither and gets kicked out of a very large hole. If he's in the right position he's dealt with the block well enough to make a tackle. He's not.
Demens did Mouton it. He's got a tough job here with the fullback and a big hole, but letting the guy outside of you is a cardinal sin—unfortunately, one we're all too familiar with. If Demens gets outside that fullback WMU might get a big run anyway but "losing leverage" (the jargon) guarantees it.
Another quiet Van Bergen plus. This is the kind of thing I am talking about when I say RVB is good but the things he does often go for naught. Here he beats a downblock, which is tough, to show up in the hole and potentially rescue Johnson, who you may note ran ridiculously playside and ends up farther away from the play than double-teamed NT Martin. Demens loses the plot and Van Bergen's reward is just a UFR plus and a chase downfield.
Ugh Johnson. To reiterate: the guard directly in front of Johnson's face pulls and he ends up yards away from relevance.
Kovacs. He tackles. He does not not tackle. Here he sort of misses, but this was very rare. This may not hold up against Big Ten teams but there were plenty of opportunities for the Broncos to pick up a touchdown that they could not because Kovacs tackled them.