Jibreel Black is going to be a beast.
Picture Pages: Lack Of Massive Cutback Lane
Yesterday I put up an analysis of a simple iso that cut back behind Mike Martin and picked up ten yards. In the comments Magnus mentioned he thought this must be a mistake on someone's part because when you have the DT and MLB both heading to the playside A gap your defense is no longer "gap sound"—ie does not have one guy in every place a tailback can go—and things like ten yard iso plays result.
This resulted in some discussion about how the MLB's job in the 3-3-5 is to "make the nose right", IE fill the other A gap depending on what the nose does. This is a phrase unleashed to the world by Jeff Casteel's 3-3-5 DVD, and I think it's what West Virginia does with its middle linebacker. It's evidently not what Michigan is doing with Demens when he's aligned in what I've come to think of as the Gergbacker position. Demens doesn't have time to make anyone right because he's too close to the play; he picks a side of the line and goes into the guard.
Another commenter complained that I shouldn't criticize Van Bergen for getting locked out upfield on this particular play because I can't be sure what his assignment is. That's true and a frustration I often have but amongst Wisconsin's brain-melting array of second half runs there is a serendipitous iso that Michigan stops that demonstrates the trends from yesterday's post and suggests that the key guy on a cutback is indeed the backside DE.
It's first and ten on the Michigan 41 in the midst of Wisconsin's first soul-crushing ground based touchdown drive of the second half. Wisconsin comes out in the same I-form they showed on the play featured yesterday. Michigan goes with basically the same stack look as well, though they've flipped Kovacs and Avery. The backup DL (Banks, Patterson, Black) is in:
A moment after the snap we see a difference: the backside tackle is releasing downfield instead of blocking Banks out of the play. That's left to the TE. He gets slanted under:
A moment later we see that Patterson is getting playside of the center… and Demens is shooting into the same gap to take on whoever shows up. Banks is sliding down the line behind them; also note that Jibreel Black has beaten the block of the RT and is coming upfield.
At the handoff point Patterson is beating his guy and Demens is about to slam into a guard at the LOS. In doing so he halts all progress from both the G bubbled over him and the FB. Massive cutback lane would result, except Banks is right on the center's hip. Black is now through the tackle totally and converging; tailback has nowhere to go:
Wad of bodies…
…and two yards.
So. To continue the Week of Defensiveness, usually these plays are picked because they illustrate a larger trend—Kenny Demens runs at the playside guard all day and eats facemask, and I'm pretty sure the design of this defense has a backside DE assigned to an A-gap. My choice here was between criticizing Van Bergen for getting locked out so easily or Greg Robinson for putting him in a tough position. The right answer is some of both, probably.
Object lesson type objects:
- This is a slight variation on the play yesterday. Yesterday Wisconsin kept the backside T in to block Van Bergen and ended up blocking Mouton with a guard. Here the guard attempts to slide over on Patterson and the T is assigned Mouton. These seem like subtly different playcalls with the first designed to cut back and the second to go straight upfield.
- Kenny Demens really does just run to the playside A gap all game, where he enjoys a scone with the DT. Here it works, though the next play is a 12 yard Down G run, the play after a four yard power play, and the play after that a 23-yard Down G touchdown.
- So that means your options on the cutback are backside DE or no one. Here Banks gets a relatively easy task since the guy lined up over him heads downfield and he can just slide along the line; Van Bergen had that guy blocking him. Still, the results were not so good and were repeated on a number of other runs.
- I'm pretty sure this is a bad idea. And not just on general principles! Having the backside DE clean up behind the NT seems like a thing that would work in the 4-3 where the backside DE is actually a DT inside of the tackle. In this scheme he releases downfield or he's got what seems like easy work to seal out a guy who's supposed to be an A-gap player.
- How about Jibreel Black beating a block and being useful on a run play? Woo progress!
I LOVE progress!
4 man line? Roh-RVB-Martin-Black? Pretty please?
RVB is a DE not a DT.
He is capable of playing DT though.
...except for 2009, when he played DT and did a pretty good job at it.
Washington, Ash, and Talbott aren't ready now. But Washington has only been playing defense for a few weeks, and still has 3 weeks of bowl practices and all of spring and fall practice to work on his game. Ash and Talbott are true freshmen and most players improve the most between their first and second years in the program. It's dangerous to assume that unproven players will be productive, but I'd take the odds that at least one of Washington, Ash, and Talbott will be good enough to rotate in every so often.
Even if they aren't very good and we have to stick with a 3-man line, either Washington or Ash will have to rotate in for Martin from time to time, because we have no one else who can play the nose. Also, the 3-man line would be Martin, Van Bergen, and either Roh or Black, which would probably get pummeled by power running teams.
"I'm pretty sure the design of this defense has a backside DE assigned to an A-gap"
I put the probability of this being true at 0%. There is no way that it is the case, especially considering that his pre-snap alignment is outside of the tackle. If anyone on this play not named Demens or Martin is supposed to the backside A-gap defender I would think it would have to be Mouton. That said, it is almost assuredly Demens or Martin, and more than likely Demens.
Asking a DE to protect a gap across two linemen against an I-formation would be a fail of epic proportions.
Not even GERG would have that kind of ludicrous gap responsibility.
My problem on yesterday's and today's picture page examples is that we insist on using 5 DBs and we don't even use the resultant speed advantage to any good use.
Look at Kovacs and Avery in yesterday's and today's examples.
They perform a redundant function because the guy up on the LOS is totally indecisive. Kovacs in yesterday's and Avery in today's needs to be shooting behind the line to the ballcarrier like their hair is on fire,
It's really hard to play good defense with only 9 or 10 players.
Agreed. With Banks lined up in a 5-tech (outside shoulder of OT), he's essentially aligned in the C-gap. Unless he's slanting somewhere, that C-gap would usually be his responsibility. The fact that she squeezes down the line to help on this play is the function of an ineffective blocking scheme that sees the TE trying to reach block a 290 lb. DT/DE aligned on the OT's outside shoulder.
It's a good play by Banks (exactly what he should do in this case), but that's either a weakness in the blocking scheme or an execution error on the part of the Wisconsin OL.
I know it's been a hard week but I don't think you should pile on Banks by calling him a girl:
The fact that she squeezes down the line
Especially in a comment where you're complimenting him, it's just confusing
BWS commented on the cutback from yesterday's post, saying that the extra overhang DB should have been crashing down the line for a cutback. I think his point is a good one. In this case, Avery and Kovacs both seem to have the overhang on that side of the field and there is only a TE there to cover. One of them should watch for TE release, the other should get down the line. Given the way Wisconsin was pounding the ball, it doesn't make any sense to have two people covering one potential pass receiver, especially when it's at the expense of the run defense.
Jibreel Black is going to be a beast. I still think he's going to be very Brandon Graham-like before his career is done at Michigan.
if he is only kinda-like Brandon Graham i will be pleased.
he already is; he wears #55!
You're missing a lot of stuff on this play. You keep ignoring the fact that there's actually a tight end lined up on the weakside of the offensive line. In the original play, the weakside defensive end (Van Bergen) is actually doubled by the LT and TE, and gets sealed to the outside. That's one of the reasons that he got taken so far out of position and there was a huge cutback lane. Also in the orginal play, the double team on Martin comes from the LG and C, and when that double releases, it's the LG that ends up blocking Mouton and opening the hole for the Wisconsin back.
In this play, however, the weakside DE (Banks) in only blocked by the TE, allowing him to get playside and close off the cutback lane. The LT releases immediately and blocks Mouton (like the LG did in the original play). Once again, the LG and C double Michigan's NT, but this time, the LG doesn't release from the NT.
On the playside, this is identical to how the original play happened: the RG is given a free release and is stuffed by Demens and the FB is hit by Ezeh in the hole. Why Wisconsin decided not to double the weakside DE and open that cutback lane when it worked so well the first time (and, strangely, deciding to double Patterson for the whole play rather than Martin when he was playing) is beyond me.
On BWS, I addressed what I think went wrong with the original play--mostly, that Kovacs was responsible for the cutback lane when Van Bergen was doubled--and had planned on posting this one tomorrow. But the point is, the only difference in these two plays is the blocking scheme on the backside of the play which allowed Banks to close off the cutback lane.
There's no way Kovacs can be blamed for the original play. He's lined up in the D-gap and has a tight end assigned to him. The ball goes to the A-gap. No way is he "supposed" to make that play. I mean, it would be great if he did...but it would also be great if Adam Patterson dropped back into coverage and intercepted a Hail Mary 50 yards down the field.
With the lack of a receiving threat on the weakside and Avery rolled toward the LOS as the overhand defender, Kovacs not attacking the play becomes problematic (hence, the result of the play). He needs to attack the backfield because Avery has coverage should the TE release. Kovacs removing himself from the play creates an even bigger numbers advantage for Wisconsin and opens the backside entirely.
So what's the coverage? If it's Cover 3, then Avery has a deep third and can't necessarily defend the flat.
It's cover-3 but when Wisconsin uses twins to the strongside, Avery rolls up and covers Kovacs' zone. Kovacs needs to attack the backside of the play and Avery (essentially) has man coverage on the TE should he release upfield. Vinopal and Rogers also drop into, essentially, man coverage should both receivers run vertical routes. Underneath zones are handled by the linebackers and Gordon.
It's not Cover 3 if Avery doesn't have a deep third.
Regardless, there's no way that Kovacs was responsible for making a play in the A-gap when he's aligned in the D-gap, especially when there's a tight end assigned to block him. If he's supposed to make that play, then why don't we blame Mike Martin for not keeping contain on a toss sweep? I mean, sometimes Martin lines up in the A-gap, so he should be able to make a tackle on plays run outside the tight end...right?
But the play didn't go to the A-gap. The cutback sent the play to the weakside B-gap. Weakside defenders can't just stand around and hope the play comes at them. Also, there wasn't a TE assigned to block Kovacs: the TE and LT doubled Van Bergen. Kovacs (until it was too late) was completely unblocked.
Okay, there wasn't a tight end assigned to block Jordan Kovacs...
...but the tight end to Kovacs' side blocked Kovacs.
P.S. By the way, the cutback in the original play DID go to the A-gap. It's very clear that the running back goes between the left guard (who released on Mouton) and the center. That's absolutely the A-gap. Sorry, but you're wrong.
Also, with Avery rolled up as the overhang defender, he was responsible for any play that comes outside the TE. Having both Kovacs and Avery take this responsibility is a redundancy that gives numbers to Wisconsin (besides, if Kovacs attacks from the weakside of the play, there's little to no chance that the RB makes it outside the TE). And the reason Avery can't just attack the weakside B-gap is because he has coverage on the TE should he release, relieving Kovacs of both of his responsibilities in the original cover-3 design.
Defensive formations shift judging by the way offenses line up. Kovacs missed one of these checks in the original play, but this is a cover-3 formation.
I'll agree to disagree. We're getting nowhere. Good debate, though.
Anyway, if the scheme involves Kovacs playing the A-gap or the B-gap from his D-gap alignment, then the coordinator should be fired.
And the coordinator will probably be fired at season's end. So that's awesome.
and the blocking schemes is that in the original play Demens is lined up shaded to the playside, or to the left of the NT; In this play, Demens is lined up shaded to the backside or right of the NT. This tells the offensive line not to double the backside DE who happens to be Banks in this current play. This allows Banks to crash down and thus there is no huge cutback lane.
To add, nice play by Jibreel Black.
Can someone explain the A, B, C, D gap thing to me please? I'm somewhat lost
The gap names ("A", "B", etc) refer to the gaps between the offensive linemen.
You'll also hear of a defensive linemen playing a certain "technique" (eg. a 3-tech DT). This refers to the D-Linemens alignment with respect to the OL.
A gap = between the center and guard
B gap = between the guard and tackle
C gap = between the tackle and tight end
D gap = outside the tight end
There are two "A gaps" on the field (between the LG/C and between the C/RG). Therefore, you have the designation "playside A gap", which is the side where the ball is supposed to go; and "backside A gap", which is away from the play. "Playside" and "backside" apply to each of those gaps (A, B, C, D).
Thank you very much! This clears things up!
Ok I'm going to propose a scenario.
You are Greg Robinson( I know this is going to be a tough one). You are playing a team that is very good and very experienced. You have players that are young and right now not very good or for the most part injured. You are tasked with stopping this team with your rag tag army.
Do you line up and play conventionally and hope your guys get off blocks and make plays even though you know they are not talented enough to do that or do you make some unconventional calls hoping to catch them off guard knowing if they figure it out you will look like a baffoon?
I really think we need to have a MGOBLOG fundraiser to bring in an expert. Jerry Hanlon? Jon Jansen?
It appears to me Jerry Hanlon loves talking Michigan Football he might come in and educate us for a nice homeade apple pie. My wife cooks a killer one, I'll foot the bill. Make it happen Brian.
I believe this is the second time you've made this mistake in the last couple days, so I'm going to make a correction here...
The word is "buffoon." Not "baffoon."
but were I in Greg Robinson's shoes I would be making some kind of really basic scheme that involved very little decsion-making and reading. Getting them to do a few simple things right before trying to load a lot of complexity on them would be my starting point.
So I have a gnawing suspicion that people are way over-thinking what's going on here. Rather than being a normal defensive scheme where everyone has complicated assignments and reads, most of the players may have very limited assignments. So all of this "here's what he should have been doing" may be nonsense - that would be stuff he could be doing in a normal situation, but it's not part of this scheme.
Something like "Demens, eat a guard every play" while Martin is assigned to do something creative to try to blow up the play because he's a junior and understands more.
It seems to me that starting from the assumption that Robinson is at least a decent coach trying to make the best out of a bad situation would be a better starting point for analyzing the defensive play than assuming these are top-notch players blowing assignments constantly.
I will allow for the possibility that I'm completely retarded and don't know what I'm talking about, as always.