Michigan ran near-identical zone stretches on back-to-back plays at the end of the first quarter yesterday. One worked. One did not. Why? Let's see if we can find out.
This is the first one. We're in the formation I've complained about all year:
Note that the second receiver from the bottom is covered up by the outside guy. If he goes downfield it's a penalty. Michigan has not passed from this formation all year, nor has it had much in the way of a successful running attack.
Michigan goes with a zone stretch, as is their wont. The resolution on these images is low, unfortunately, so it's a little hard to make out what's going on; I've added an amateurish pointy arrow to help things out. The guy being pointed at is the backside defensive tackle, who's currently being shoved by Moosman.
You can see Schilling ignoring the backside defensive end; the plan is for Ortmann and Moosman to execute a scoop block, where Moosman will briefly engage the DT long enough for Schilling to get over to seal him. Moosman will then head downfield to block a linebacker.
Here we have the scoop block having reached completion with Moosman heading out to plow a linebacker. Note that he's got a great angle on the LB and if Minor can squeeze through the DTs he's likely to hit the secondary.
However, the scoop did not work here, as Schilling has not got his helmet across his guy and is escorting him down the line. If Minor tries to split the DTs he's likely to get swallowed whole. The outside is not an option, as Ortmann's guy has beaten him.
Minor cuts up, escaping the playside DE's tackle. He's cutting behind the block of Schilling. Note that Moosman is cutting the LB to the ground; Michigan's cut blocking improved in this game substantially (or Purdue's ability to avoid it is just worse than we've seen so far).
The backside DE, crashing down after holding contain on Threet, meets Minor at the LOS and tackles after a minimal gain.
On this play we see how Steven Threet's failure to be Pat White hurts the running game even when someone else has the ball; if the Purdue defensive end had to set up wider and maybe linger longer because Michigan's quarterback wore rollerskates and had a jet engine strapped to his back, Minor's cutback may have met the backside DE three yards further downfield or not at all, and with Moosman cutting that LB the only thing between Minor and the secondary is that pesky unblocked guy.
Even so, the failure to be Pat White only affects the play when Minor has to cut back behind all five offensive linemen and expose himself to to DE. And even the threat of Dual Threet is enough to turn this essentially busted play into a two-yard gain.