The fact that football players are (or should be) considering all of this on a play-to-play basis boggles my mind. It's incredible to me that they can take all of this game theory and internalize it. Shows why instincts are so important.
Picture Pages: Ending It, Part II
Last time on keeping Michigan's overtime record sterling, Will Campbell played both sides of a guy and turned second and three into third and one. Venric Mark gets dinged on that play, Mike Trumpy comes in, and it's time for third and short.
Northwestern comes out in a goal-line version of the pistol they just ran. They again flip the FB:
Michigan sets up in an over front, which was unusually prevalent for the second straight week. It won't matter much because this is going to be a pass, which third and one with Kain Colter and you throw—Michigan's defense puts the fear of God into you on short yardage.
Michigan sends James Ross; Gordon and Floyd back out into coverage. Both NW players are taken care of, leaving only the tight end on the backside, who is running a slant to the interior.
This is not Demens's guy, it's Taylor's. Michigan is in man, which you can tell because of this:
The instant Mark lowers his head to block Ross, Demens starts flying at the LOS. He's got the RB out of the backfield, and once that RB commits to a blitzer he is now in QB attack mode.
Here's a wider shot:
Demens is moving before Colter even completes his drop. By the time Colter has taken a single step, Demens is across the LOS and closing:
It's now fourth and the game.
Things And Stuff
Colter had the third guy in the pattern but did not have the patience. He decides to take off after seeing the first two reads covered. Demens's presence may dissuade him from trying the route, but that TE is well inside Taylor and Ryan if Colter waits another beat or two for Demens to fly up at him.
Those guys were pointing at each other before the snap, confused; I am not sure if it's on Ryan or Taylor. Either way those guys are going to have a little trouble covering this since they're both lined up outside of him.
Can't really blame Colter for going one-two-go in this situation, but it looks like Michigan was banking on that being the default reaction here given how aggressively Demens plays this. He was likely told that if the back stays in go get the QB. If it's third and five, maybe he waits for Colter to take off.
Ross and Washington give Demens the space. Washington's playing this like he would a goal line carry, submarining the OL with no other thought than moving the LOS backwards. Look at that still above: mission accomplished. Ross meanwhile has bashed the OL he blitzed into into that mess and is taking the Mark cut block. Colter is looking at two guys against one blocker, who is Venric Mark, and knows those odds—another reason he was all GTFO.
Instincts is the important word here. They can do it subconsciously for the most part. I have trouble understanding it after reading and re-reading.
"It won't matter much because this is going to be a pass, which third and one with Kain Colter and you throw—Michigan's defense puts the fear of God into you on short yardage. "
I don't think a throw there is a bad call, really, since you need a touchdown, have a better chance of scoring a TD by passing there when the defense is probably thinking run, have had your QB scramble for first downs all day anyway, and figure you should be able to get it on 4th and 1 if you throw it incomplete. Michigan just defeated the play by getting him to scramble before his third read was clearly available and finally getting the TFL on one of those scrambles.
I take it that doing this Picture Page was more enjoyable then doing the Swallowing Kenny Demens Picture Page?
It looked like we had all three elements of the triple option covered on Demens' 4th down stop.
Great stuff, Brian.
Wow, Ross totally blew up that first blocker - and (based on the guy's number) I think that was an OL, not a TE. I'm pumped for this kid.
He's the right tackle. I like watching Ross make him do the Neo Bullet Dodging dance.
I love watching what Frank Clark does on this play. He starts by keeping contain, and then right as Demens commits to flying up toward Colter, Clark starts backing out and toward the middle. Rather than going for the tackle (which is Demens' job), he puts himself into position further downfield such that if Colter manages to juke Demens, he has nowhere to go but right into Clark's waiting arms. That's great discipline on Clark's part to know his assignment and stick with it, trust his teammate to do his [teammate's] job, and not greedy and go for the tackle himself when it looks like he's closer to Colter than Demens is at the point when Demens commits. That's the magical 'technique' everyone's always talking about.
And yes, it looks like Ryan and Taylor did get themselves a little screwed up on this play, and they managed to get away with it. Still, it's a tight window: the backside TE appears to break open right as Colter starts to run, but you can't see Kovacs just outside the frame. Based on where he lined up at the start of the play, Kovacs may have this under control, and we just can't see it. There might be time for a three step-and-bang pass, but the TE would have to be the first read for it to work.
Keep it up Brian; I can't wait for Part III.
Both of NU's receivers are going to the top left part of the screen. It'd be interesting to see the whole field on this play because it definitely seems like Kovacs could have been in good position to make a play.
Those two single-handedly (double-handedly?) removed 3 blockers from the play completely. Washington submarined the guard and ended up tripping the RT that Ross had jacked on his way to take out Mark. Then Demens has a clean shot at the QB. Awesome play
This is an awesome series Brian
Very cool series. I can't wait for Part III!
I know people love misery, but this is as interesting as "look at this wide open guy we're ignoring" stuff. The last play just screams for this, so I too can't wait, because there's so much to see on formation and execution.
Looking at the pictures I was wondering, why didn't that guard step up and block Demens? It's because Biggs hit him so hard on the blitz he was literally falling backwards. Impressive play when you watch the video
I can't begin to claim to understand the finer points of the game, but it seems to me that Ross is the one who should be getting as much if not more kudos than Demens here (and Demens deserves all he gets). Ross:
Blows up the right tackle
Avoids a chop block from the RB
Keeps the edge and forces Colter back to the middle (with some support from Clark)
The future looks bright at LB!
Thanks Brian for these posts. The UFRs are full of information but it is hard to digest it all. The posts breaking it down like this are so informative to those of us who previously just knew "Touchdown" or "Great Tackle" or "How did he miss that?". I now find myself actually watching things other than just the ball when I watch a game. In the past, I never would have noticed QWash or Ross making this play happen.