(ok had to be said)
Michigan's running game wasn't quite as bad as it looks in the stats, as they had some good gains wiped out by phantom holding penalties, but it warn't good. One of Michigan's main issues was not getting the Akron nose tackle blocked, but when this happened the guy in the backfield seemed only partially at fault, because Michigan was asking him to do something very tough.
Here's a play at the end of the first quarter. Michigan has just shifted various players around and gotten Akron to do this in response:
That is a massive gap between their nose tackle, who's "shaded"* over Miller, and their end, who's outside of Jake Butt. Michigan decides to run at this, which seemed like a good idea at the time.
*[ie, lined up between the center and guard, closer to the center.]
Michigan's going to run a stretch to the wide side of the field, and get a loss out of this. I know. So. Akron's got about seven guys in the box. Michigan has two uncovered OL to the playside plus Kerridge. This should be easy.
[After the jump, it's not going to be]
It isn't, and this is basically why:
The nose tackle gets into Miller immediately and starts driving him back into the play. This is not good. But Michigan has a choice here: double that guy. Glasgow released immediately in an attempt to cut a linebacker instead of hitting that DT, allowing Miller to step around him.
In the wider shot, you can see 1) Glasgow cutting that linebacker as 2) Miller continues to give ground and give ground:
But notice something about the Akron linebackers? Their hair is not on fire. They are not yelling war whoops and plunging at the line of scrimmage, screaming yo ho ho. Neither ILB type is trying to shoot a gap; the weakside guy is just trying to get to the play. This is not playing Notre Dame.
Too late to consider that though. Kerridge ends up banging into that DT a couple yards into the backfield:
Toussaint is presented with a couple of not-great opportunities; he tries to cut back behind Miller and gets nailed by that weakside linebacker, as he flows up behind Kalis. This isn't Kalis's fault; the cutback changes the blocking angle without his knowledge.
"When you rush the football, you don't want to take loss yardage plays" –Chuck Long
Michigan managed to turn that massive gap into second and twelve.
This seems like an obvious error but it was consistent. Earlier in the game it was Miller who released immediately and gave Glasgow the near-impossible assignment:
Why is this going on? I'm guessing it's a reaction to Notre Dame's linebacking style, which is to run hard up any gaps in zone plays. Michigan had problems recognizing that and getting to the second level. After a week of getting coached up on that, it seems like anybody who didn't perceive a lineman directly over them just went to the second level, with results like those above.
The weird thing is that seems in opposition to their often-frustrating approach to inverted veers and the like where Michigan would block the guy who's supposed to be optioned. When they do that it seems like their priority is to assure themselves a moderate gain at the expensive of explosive plays. Here they're betting on a very difficult first-level block to get back to the line of scrimmage.
The alternative is Miller and Glasgow are misreading both these plays and they should double. Once I see that happen on the first snap and two drives later, I lean towards this being a play on which the assignments are executed—or at least attempted—correctly. Akron just slanted into the play and got Michigan RPSed.
I don't see how Miller is going to have anything but a bad time here. Not even David Molk could take a lineman shaded playside slanting away from him and do anything but slightly harass him as he beasted his way into the backfield. Yeah, he ends up in the backfield on the wrong side of the guy, but how the hell is this supposed to end any differently?
In this game most Akron penetration was a result of asking guys to do things that I don't think it's easy to do. You know that ostentatiously bad block by Funchess on a pitch? He was in a two-point stance trying to deal with a defensive end lined up outside of him.
That is not how that is supposed to go. He's even aligned with his inside foot back—also a gameplan thing, Michigan did it for a big chunk of the game—so if he's going to step outside of that defensive end he has to turn his body outside.
Akron ran a ton of bear fronts—linebackers tight to the line between DT and DE in this game, often showing an eight man front with six guys at or near the line of scrimmage. This really threw Michigan off; in that still above you can see that Akron has a linebacker near the LOS at the bottom of the screen, allowing them to flare that DE.
Michigan doesn't have a response to this. They still have no counter play. They have a few different run plays that don't seem to fit together in any reasonable way. I see what Michigan is trying to do with their pass game (eg, a bunch of TE outs in the first half lead to an out and up that would have been first and goal but Gardner threw it behind Funchess). I don't see any kind of punishment for cheaters.
Sometimes Michigan gets a defense by running power when they expect zone, but they don't have a run play designed to look like another play until it's too late.
Toussaint probably should have followed his fullback. Kerridge may get him a crease and once he cuts behind that DT there's no help. I don't blame him for what he decided, but Michigan still had something here if he can pick his way through on the frontside.
(ok had to be said)
No it didn't.
not a pick. I am NOT an animal!
What is supposed to be the advantage (or whatever word you choose) of not doubling the DT with Glasgow? (Outside of: it is great to be able to block one on one and win every time) You still have Butt to take the End upfield, and Lewan and Kerridge to hit the next level of those linebackers. Why would you ever not double as part of the strategy?
If the linebackers are all hopped up on goofballs, they would get by Glasgow before he is done helping Miller double the DT and meet Kerridge in the hole, clogging it up. But if Miller can't single-block the DT, keeping that LB out of the hole doesn't really matter, especially if the LBs aren't all hopped up on goofballs anyways.
This is pretty poor by our interior linemen. In the first play, as Brian pointed out, Glasgow MUST help on the Nose or Miller has no chance. He doesn't need to worry about cutting the LB or angling him one way or another. At the second level all he has to do is occupy the guy and Fitz should be able to blast by on either side depending on which direction Glasgow is leading the LB.
We're talking about the basics of zone/stretch blocking here. When there is a DL shaded between two linemen, the playside lineman must engage the DL until the other OL can scoop him before releasing to the second level. This is taught in HS. The fact that we're three games in and making the same mistakes is pretty pathetic.
Glasgow and Miller have to help each other out of those zone plays. It doesn't matter if you can pick up a LB when there is penetration on the 1st level. I don't care how fast ND's linebackers got downhill it shouldn't change their primary goal of moving the 1st level defender. If linebackers are flowing too hard there should be cutback lanes. Or you hurt the linebackers with play action. The guy thats responsible for the linebacker doesn't have to stay on the combo block long, he just has to "chip" the DT or give him a little punch with one hand to give his partner a fighting chance.
On the bright side this something that should be cleaned up with just more time working together and watching film. The running game is closer to breaking out than it has looked.
Good stuff. I've been wondering "how close" the O-line is to actually functioning as a unit in an above average manner. I've thought myself, MOAR TYME, but wasn't fully sure that it would ever be the case this season. All in all, good to hear an opinion that they're "pretty close" even if they won't be world beaters (read: Alabama).
I understand the ND hyper-aggressive LB syndrome. But in the first play, why wouldn't Glasgow and Miller just double the nose up and let Lewan take the ILB leaving Butt to either block the other LB or kick the end out. Whatever Butt decides to do determines where the FB blocks. With that mess there is no way the backside backer makes the play.
Miller might be able to make the play if he didn't have to snap the ball first... but he's at a half step disadvantage.
EDIT: honestly, with the way this play is blocked, who is the FB supposed to take? IF Miller gets the block, is Kerridge supposed to just lead Fitz to the endzone without having to block anyone?
I really like these slow-mo videos. They are really helping me interpret the plays. As a bonus, you can hear football.
Paul is dead.
that in overreaction to ND's LB blitzing insanity, instead of scooping DTs we were sending one of those OL to the 2nd level immediately to try to cope with blitzing LBs (that were not really there)?
in that type of play. Just judging by the photos, don't know if Akron made any last presnap adjustments, but it appears the backers should have been taken out by the LT and LG. Center should have fired into second level, and flanker on left side should have cut block the DE, allowing FB to block the corner. Much easier block for flanker because if motion iis used by flanker, DE can't see it which, if the two inside blocks are done correctly, should have allowed a clear path into their secondary for our FB. If seal is created correctly by flanker, blockers inside widest on line defender should only have to shield, not pancake anyone, and RB should use speed to get to outside and cut off FB's ass. Would have to look at this in live action to see if Zips made any presnap moves but judging by lineup, this is the way I would have assigned blocking for this play. I believe Fitz ran a 10.6 in h.s. and that should easily allow him to move outside the block of the flanker who hopefully is able to seal a defender who isn't aware he is coming down the line toward him.
Ok, I am not all that technical in the football sense, but after reading this I will sum up what I took from it.
Akron saw what ND did, they choose to actually do something completely different while Michigan seems to have assumed Akron LB's would do the same as ND's did.
Ok, that is a bit of gamesmanship there but my question is why didn't we adjust better at halftime? Borges sits up in the press box and looks down, is he not seeing what they are doing? I don't know enough to second guess game plans but I will say I think Michigan got out coached last week and it hurt us. However, the coaches at Akron are not slouches.
Second half adjustments have always seemed to be a problem for Borges. He's great when his plan works, meaning he runs a set of pass routes with an intended result, we achieve that result, and Borges anticipates the adjustment from the defense and comes over the top with his planned adjustment. He's not great when the initial plan doesn't work. And, as Brian said, he's not great in adding the counters/constraints to our succesful running plays.
In 2+ seasons I think there's been one game where the offense was demonstrably better in the second half: ND - 2011, and considering that success was all big plays, many of which were Denard throwing jump balls that ND was hillariously bad at playing, I'm not sure that game is saying much. It might be time to accept that Borges is simply a guy that can design a great game plan (maybe just passing game plan?) and execute it perfectly when things go well, but when things go poorly, he's not adept at changing stuff on the fly.
pushed back every other play is very concerning, I think Glasgow would have made the better center...it seems as if we are yet another year away from having a good o-line
for everyone who takes this year away approach i am asking this honestly. what make you say this, just hope? because we lose the only 2 good players on our current OL. we keep the 3 inside that in reality have showed little to nothing and i'm not sure we can take any positives from our OL coaching can we? has any OL player become significantly better since Hoke came here. I'm asking because I don't know but I know Lewan and Schofield are both from the last regime.
But this isn't "Miller getting pushed back because he's not very good". This is "Miller is doomed to be pushed back unless he's from Krypton". Just by alignment, Miller loses half a step on the tackle. Having to snap the ball costs another half step. Add in the tackle's slant (which is basically telegraphed by the huge gap Akron leaves in the line - where else is the nose gonna go?), and Miller has no chance. This is either a brain fart by Glasgow or the coaches' failure to understand physics and/or zone blocking.
"it seems as if we are yet another year away from having a good o-line" Are we? Next year you lose a top 15 draft pick and a guy who will probably be a 4th or 5th round draft pick or worse case find his way as an UDFA in the NFL a your tackles. You will be replacing them with guys with limited playing time and 2-3 years younger. Your most experienced "high end" player will be Kyle Kalis...who in 2014 shall be known as the "grizzled veteran". There is a chance a boy named Kugler will push out Miller/Glasgow as your center. So you will have at minimum 2 new starters, at the most important line positions and potentially another at center. you also might have a new starter at the guard position opposite Kalis. And they will all be young at a position where young sorta stinks. I think we are talking 2015, not 2014 on when we can be "all cool" on the OL. And 2016 if everything pans out - we should finally have "the line". But next year I expect these exact same stories to be written, just the cast changed.
The scary part of this is that Al hasn't figured any kind of counters mid game. As much as a failure the previous regime was...the one thing they seemed to go was figure out mid game adjustments on offense to get the running game going.
This is a problem if that is indeed the case, while we all expect to blow Akron off the ball, if guys are put in bad situations then it is up to coaching to adjust to akron and make them pay.
This has been an argument against AL for more than 1 yr now...lets hope somehow it can solve itself.
Yep. This is the most concerning part. Borges just doesn't seem to be able to adjust much when his initial plan isn't working well, or the D doesn't react like he was expecting.
Al had a solid gameplan against ND which kept Devin in shotgun and allowed him to use his legs...For some reason Al kept using play-action against Akron when Miller and Glasgow where getting blown up! every time Devin turned around he had a guy in his face...granted, Devin played a bad game, but keeping him in shotgun is far more successful than under center since our center can't hold many blocks
how many times in the past 3 years has he run his "style" only to struggle in the first half. then, he uses the QB's legs to bail him out. time and time again. unfortuneately, we ended up losing games @iowa, @nd and @osu because he adjusted too late. and struggled against akron. i'm fearful in a few years when our QB's legs won't be able to bail borges out.
I think that's an unwarranted conclusion. Do you have any complaints about Al's gameplan against Notre Dame? I hope not, and he used counters a-plenty there.
But this was Akron, and everybody was expecting an easy victory--and it is evident that the coaches did not bring a fully loaded playbook to the game. And why should they? Games like this are usually blowouts (see CMU) and using counters against an overmatched opponent is excessive and helps future opponents take advantage of you.
So the plan Saturday was to overpower Akron, lead by 28-35 at halftime on the back of your basic plays beating down the opponent, and play the backups in the second half. This is, 95% of the time, just fine. But everybody took it too light, and Akron responded, and disaster almost occurred.
Borges has some counters in the pass game, but his run plays are basically a small grab bag of stuff we don't do very well. We do some play action, that's about it. But as long as the defense correctly reads "run", they seem to have us dead to rights. Al needs to mix in some run counters that punish the defense for cheating on our tendencies.
There may be room for this critique later in the year, but I don't think any of us think that is is unreasonable to expect Michigan's Big Ten offensive line to physically dominate Akron at the point of attack, and I think Borges expected the same thing. Why pull out your counters in a 30-40 point blowout?
You can say, "but it wasn't a blowout!" Ah, but the coaches did not know that when they prepared the gameplan. I think they prepared poorly. But I think that we can't assume that Borges has no counters just because there weren't any here.
It is far more troubling to me that Michigan seems unable to physically impose its will. When you are more powerful than the opponent, it doesn't matter what they do to try to stop you. I believe that it has been a determination of Hoke and Borges to impose Michigan's will and I believe that it has not happened as they had hoped.
I'm a Borges skeptic in many areas, but this is not one of them; I suspect the interior line is a big part of the issue, as I nervously commented in the pre-season. Glasgow seems serviceable, but in the last two games he hasn't looked great. The fact that he pushed both the center and left guard seems to be more an indictment of those players, to me. He should be our first backup, not a key starter.
We didn't run any counters against ND. And why not use them against Akron? It's not like they are top secret stuff. We're talking stuff that anyone who plays Madden would recognize, it's just effective because it forces the defense to wait a tic before they can diagnose. We're playing Rock Paper Scissors and only throwing rock. We ought to at least try paper.
This idea that we should "simply overpower" anyone is asinine. Yeah, we have more talent than Akron - but even less physically gifted players can win when we allow them every schematic advantage. We don't get bonus points for
We don't get bonus points for physically dominating with no strategy. You're basically arguing that Borges and Mattison should get to take the day off against weak opponents because we have bigger, stronger guys. Why?
I promise you that Borges has plenty of counters in the run game. The lack of the success isn't because the defensive scheme isn't allowing them to be successful. It mostly a lack of execution. So if you can't exceute your base play what good is it to adjust to another play off of that. I think what he means above is that Borges wanted to see them execute this against an inferior opponent. Not that Borges didnt prepare any sort of adjustment because they were inferior.
How many times has Michigan completely manhandled a MAC (or similarly lower-level) team? 50? You think that they've opened the entire playbook in each of those games?
I'm not suggesting that the coaches have no culpability; Hoke himself said that they do. What I am suggesting is that we cannot conclude that Borges "does not run counters" just because, on a perfect storm of a bad day, with a dozen things going wrong, he did not use running counters Saturday.
Of course, some counters involve things like play-action passing, which Michigan used to devastating effect against Notre Dame, and which was used a bit against Akron but with some obvious reluctance to unleash the entire playbook.
What I am saying is that Michigan's coaches did what many coaching staffs do when playing an opponent thought to be vastly inferior; they shortened the playbook and kept it conservative. The thought is, why show PSU/MSU/Nebraska all of their planned counters and reactions when you're going to win by 30?
They weren't prepared for that stuff to be necessary. Is some of that the staff's fault? Absolutely. Should they have counters? Yes, though I am fine with them using play-action passing for that, especially with how good Gardner can be.
But the O-line needs to be able to block these plays. I think some of the problem with this play is in coaching, don't get me wrong--but in coaching the basic execution. If Glasgow helps on the nose tackle, this play gains yards. Given that there was a pattern of this that Brian highlighted, I think the line is not playing to its strengths. At least, not this past week.
The idea of "it's okay to have a plain vanilla gameplan" just seems utterly counter to the idea of taking each opponent seriously. I guarantee you the coaches don't tell the players "hey, no need to do anything but the minimum this week, it's Akron" so why don't the coaches hold themselves to the same standard in their game planning ?
Yeah, you shouldn't have to go very deep in the playbook against a MAC team - but that should be because you're winning with the basics, not because you're unprepared to go deep in the playbook. It would be like a boxer saying, "I know I can beat this guy with my right hook, so I'm just gonna rest my left arm this week".
When the basics are failing, you should be ready to respond and adjust just as you would against a "better" team. We did do that to some extent, but we weren't particularly quick to do so.
And again, I dot see the upshot of "saving"
plays, unless you're talking about some sort of fancy trick play. The whole point of "we can do several things from this look" is not to totally fake out the defense, it's to force them to react and keep them from cheating. That way your talent advantage will shine through.
Finally, I agree that we need to execute better. I'm just arguing against the idea that the coaches should go into any game ASSUMING we will easily impose our will. It really seemed that the coaches were caught off guard by Akron's success and were slow to react. It was almost like the plan was "just work on stuff" from the get-go, as if this were a scrimmage or something instead of a live game. That can't happen.
And stay vanilla from start to end needs to stop. The coordinators are starting each game with a plan to win with a combination of execution and putting the players in a position to execute. It is this way on both sides of the ball. If the lead gets big enough, sure, they'll scale it back and go vanilla because they are winning purely with execution, there is no reason to tip their hand, but until then it isn't happening.
People bitch all the time about "why did they show this wrinkle against this opponent rather than saving it?" It's because they play to win that game. If they are dominating, they may not show the whole hand, they may not go as deep into it as they need to. But they have plays they want to run, they want to see executed, and they want to win the game.
That is the case for this game. Both coordinators made adjustments during the game based on things that they saw Akron doing. They weren't holding back. They didn't hold back this week in practice. They implemented the same amount or nearly the same amount of new wrinkles they do every week, and they do so with Akron in mind. That's why you saw inside zone from the offense this week, it was the new wrinkle they were trying to establish. That's why you saw Michigan switch up some things on defense. You play a part of your playbook and go as far as you need to to make sure you win the game, they aren't taking games off by just saying "we aren't going to do anything special this week" because that would send the wrong message to the players.
You're right of course. I got caught up in responding to the posters who seemed to be saying "we SHOULDN'T be anything but vanilla against Akron, because we shouldn't have to be", when in actuality Borges did make several adjustments that helped us win.
That said though, it did seem from body language and some comments (I'm thinking of Gardner's talk about pressure) that the players and to some extent the coaches were not ready for this to be a contested game.
I don't think the game plan was not taken seriously. But I certainly think there were issues with game prep and both players getting ready to play and coaches helping the players get ready to play. Certainly agree with that, otherwise Michigan would not have been in the situation they were.
These comments are the ones I pay attention to the most. I think everyone is forgetting the CMU game results entirely by some of these grasping at straws reasons. It is similar to comments like, "Hoke's strategy is execution over scheme". That statement makes no sense. Schemes never work if they aren't executed. Coaches call a play on first down with the widest range of choice. When the execution causes failure, the next choice is greatly resticted. Borges, like many coaches seems to have few choices on third and long. Oregon has fewer choices on third and long, once you are in third and long the defense has the advantage, and their acces to scheme expands!
Go watch the post game press conferences again everyone, the most dodged question was the one about, "didn't you notice in practice that players were not preparing as they had the previous weeks?
Everyone thought this game was in the bag except Akron. It is as simple as that. Well, and Devin panicked multiple times. Hopefully Captain Red Zone got it all out of his system and can go back to his super hero results. I'll give him the deflection in traffic, but the non-pitch to Fitz was ego or mental freeze, the pass to double covered Gallon instead of wide open Funchess was playground mentality football, and the pick six was the scramble panic flub that he did in the ND game. The one everyone said "He knows to not do that again"
Not really on the rest. The coaches could probably sense it. Did they think it would result in a loss? Probably not. But I doubt they were just going through the motions entirely.
As far as the last paragraph. The non-pitch to Fitz may be because he isn't actually reading anyone. It may have nothing to do with ego or mental freeze. The pass to double covered Gallon was late and forced, likely trying to make up for a mistake. He wasn't just out there winging it though. The pick 6 was a scramble panic flub. It's a screen, he's supposed to draw in the defense. He actually did a nice job of that, and then of altering his arm angle to put the ball where it was supposed to. The problem was he didn't see the defender and the OL failed to block a guy that had Fitz in coverage like they were supposed to. Mistakes happen at all levels of football, both mental and physical. They happen more with players with less experience. But the mistakes by Gardner weren't "this is Akron, I can do whatever I want".
Space Coyote argues below that Borges did run some counters.
They didn't run "counter" the run play, but they ran plays to counter what Akron was doing up front.
Yeah, I think that's an important clarification. Based on the way the word "counter" had been used in the thread, I thought people meant the latter, but perhaps they actually meant the specific run play "counter."
Ok so by what you are saying, when M plays the Akrons (App St) of the world we should not expect the coaches to have the team fully ready for a battle, with a full playbook, but just expect cause "We are Michigan" that we should roll by 30-40 points and come out with a small playbook. Yeah that has worked out well in the past. The coaches should gameplan and have the players ready for a 60 minute battle every single week, this is not 30 years ago where the helmet spotted us 10 points and playing a non-BCS school automatically meant a 30+ point win. You would think week 1 of this season would have opened everyones eyes up if App St didnt.
So on the one hand it seems that Michigan just refused to adjust to the looks Akron gave them, putting players in a bad position to make plays. Perhaps they believed that Miller could handle those blocks, perhaps they were just going through the motions and looking for massive plays since it was Akron and they should've gotten them. There's weight to the "taking the opponent lightly" theory here, a problem that is correctable.
On the other hand, Molk may not have been able to make that block, but it still seems like Michigan should be able to outmuscle a bottom-rung MAC team even with a bad scheme.
More troubling is that this is not the first time I've seen Miller put in this position. When Michigan was stuffed at the goal-line against CMU when Fitz ran left, Miller had basically the same block to make; his man slanted playside, Miller wound up on the ground, and the carnage resulted in Fitz barely making it back to the LOS. In his UFR, Brian gave Miller a pass and dinged Glasgow for this, but it seemed to me that Glasgow was supposed to pull and that Miller was supposed to make that reach work.
Which suggests that either Miller isn't doing what the coaches think he should be capable of doing, or they are putting him in impossible positions with some regularity. And that is a problem.
it seems Miller is problematic more times than not...time will tell, but the last game is really showing of how bad the interior o-line has played
I think the answer to our O-Line struggles is obvious. If opposing teams would just run the same damn Linebacker schemes we'd be A-OK. For some reason they insist on doing things differently which is presenting all kinds of trouble to us when running the ball.
If only there was a way to know in advance what a team was likely to do. If only there was some way for coaches to predict and gameplan the opposing team's predisposition in defensive playcalling. If only there was "film".........
Is Glasgow supposed to chip? I swear in Schofield's presser, he mentioned that Glasgow graded out very well. That suggests Glasgow had a good game, and if he was bolting for the second level consistantly, suggests he was doing what he was coaches to do. Maybe the coaches are just expecting unrealistic results from Miller.
Plus, Akron is pretty clearly baiting M to run toward that gap. It doesn't take Admiral Akbar to diagnose that. They clearly have a plan, and the obvious one is to slant the nose toward that huge gap. Maybe Miller/Glasgow just over thought to and said, "this has gotta be a run blitz by the LBs, Glasgow better go there ASAP." I dunno.
Maybe Miller made the call to send Glasgow to the second level. Part of the problem here could be Miller getting confused on the calls. I don't know, I'm not out there or in the film room. But zone running 101 says not to allow first level penetration. So I doubt the coaches are telling them to leave Miller 1 on 1 with a nose shaded to the play side. Like someone said above if Miller gets caught like that he should just use the defenders momentum to run him past the play and let Fitz make the cut behind him.