and the outside corner bites, Stonum is off to the races.
Picture Pages: You're Killing Roy Roundtree
This is from the UConn game and has been discussed previously, but here it is in glorious coughing-up-blood Picture-Page-O-Vision. It's pretty simple but I don't think I've spent much, if any time, on the site discussing making reads in the passing game.
It's the start of the third quarter and Michigan is facing second and eleven. UConn comes out in their two-deep look with corners playing off. Unless the Huskies are disguising a coverage this is likely to be two deep, and since opponents are almost forced to play zone against a spread attack featuring one Denard "Shoelace" Robinson, Esq., Michigan has a pretty good idea that UConn is either going to play a standard cover two defense or a cover four "quarters" look.
On the snap Michigan does a half-roll of the pocket, which gets Robinson closer to his intended targets, can delay linebackers uncertain whether it's a run or pass, and opens up lanes for Robinson if his receivers are covered:
At this point it's obviously a cover-two zone with the two deep safeties and the corner sitting about seven yards downfield looking in the backfield. Roundtree breaks well outside of the playside LB, who was held inside by the threat of a run. That guy's not going to prevent him from turning upfield if the ball is accurately thrown.
This is a curl-flat package where the inside receiver runs a very shallow out and the outside receiver heads about ten or fifteen yards downfield, then sits down in what should be the hole between the corner and the safety. The cover-two corner then has to pick whether to sink deep to take away the curl, opening up the flat, or come up on the flat, opening up the curl:
Robinson cocks to throw, but there's a problem:
He's throwing the ball too soon, before the corner has been forced to make a choice. Stonum's not even five yards downfield. The corner is is looking directly at what's going on and can jump up into the route…
…and it's never good when you're catching the ball with your back turned to a blur…
…so Roundtree is daed:
Video of what went down:
- Opponents are going to have to play a lot of zone against Michigan this year. Anyone intent on having base personnel on the field—which both Notre Dame and UConn did the entire game—will be putting linebackers in space against slot receivers if Michigan goes to man, and possibly opening up big plays when those guys read run incorrectly. Also, man coverage against four verticals means a lot of guys are running downfield with their back to Denard. This is not good for a defense.
- Most of Michigan's routes will be zone beaters, then. This may be the source of criticism about Rodriguez's fairly primitive passing packages, but if you've forced the defense into a limited subset of available coverages you can get away with this, as Michigan did all day against UConn and on the final drive against ND, when Michigan ran several variations on curl-flat to march down the field.
- Zone-beating routes endeavor to make one particular zone defender cover two guys. Here it's the outside guy on Stonum and Roundtree. In the snag package Michigan ran all day against UConn it's the playside linebacker and sometimes the playside corner.
- Most of Robinson's reads are simple "if this one guy does this throw it here, otherwise throw it there" things.This is the privilege afforded him by his running ability. Exotic coverages are difficult to get away with unless you're really good. I expect Ohio State to be able to confuse him. Maybe Iowa, Wisconsin, and Penn State will be able to do this as well, though PSU and Iowa are replacing lots of linebackers and are dedicated to base defense, too, so man coverage will be hard to get away with.
- Here Robinson lacks the patience to let the play develop. If he just waits a second or two it will be clear which option is open.
Later today: Robinson learns from his mistake to Notre Dame's detriment.
that might be true, but it'd be hard to get the corner to bite on a pump fake given his assignment and the proximity of the linebacker. on the other hand, there a few fakes that can be run off this route combo, such as a screen to the other side, which should be side open.
in theory Stonum is then picked up by the safety help coming over. This is what you saw so much last year with our defense where the corner would jump the short route, but the safety would be either late (or not at all) coming over to help. If the corner bites, on the short route and the safety gets over, Stonum is sill able to sit at the sticks under the safety and gain a first down. Not sure if Stonum has an option to go deep or if he has a designed route to sit under the coverage.
I look forward to seeing much more of the passing game and big pass plays. 300 yards in the air next week (please?)
It'll be interesting to see what defenses do if Tate comes in when games are out of hand (hopefully there are lots of them). Do they disrespect his running ability and treat him more like an immobile QB or play his like they do Denard? Not to mention how they deal with Gardner. I suspect they would defend his running ability more than his passing ability. But Tate is an interesting matchup for teams having just dealt with Denard.
I can't wait for the update!!!
And good call Greg, I can't wait until the deep wrinkles of the offense start unfolding.
Wonder what the odds are of that happening this year / in time for Iowa, Wiscy, & The University of Ohio.
My favorite part of this play is seeing the O-Line standing around with no one to block. Check out the 5th picture down - Shaw is the only one blocking and the linemen are just hanging out. The pressure on the defensive line to rush and contain is another amazing result of having a running QB.
Already way too stoked for the sequal, lol
It's funny that the last two weeks have only show flashes of what this offense can be.
breakdown of this play is right on the money. However, I would disagree that UM force people to play zone coverage. Zone coverage is not going to account for Denard very well in the run game. UConn and ND both played zone and got torched. Teams are going to be forced to play man coverage and put bodies on the "Zone Read", which should make the RBs very productive. Also, with the unveiling of a QB Iso pass-zone coverage will not be the answer. What UM did there to ND is take a zone look, present something as run with every intention of passing it. Defenses are going to have to play man-to-man or Denard will continue to do what he's been doing...
With the zone read who’s primary responsibility is the qb? DE? LB? If you were going to defend against mich wouldn’t you always have the de’s always play outside contain and the lb fill into their vacant gaps?
I am a new 8th grad coach and am trying to learn my x’s and o’s. It has been slow going. We play a couple option veer teams so any advice you have is helpful.
You're not in the B-ham district are you?
Seek the one called Magnus, it is with he you will find answers (or S. Sharik... or several other guys on here)
What is amazing is that Denard has been this impressive with (1) a primative version of our offense, and (2) such limited experience that he is making a pretty simple to correct mistake like this. As Denard matures over the course of the season, and as our team matures, our offense should get better and better. Happy that OSU is our last game (as it should always remain), as by that point, I would expect our offense to be fully unleashed and maybe be able to put up enough points against a good defense to keep us in the game.
You're right on about the state of the offense and the simplicity of the corrections. Even though the offense is still somewhat primative it "feels" like they're doing so much more because of the talent behind the wheel and what the first two defenses have shown. That said, my overall blinded-by-emotion-oh-boy-there-he-goes-again-denard-is-an-invisible-blur-impression is that this is the first time in Rich Rod's tenure where the offense looks how it is supposed to look.
Playing defense against Rodriguez and Robinson is kind of like playing chess against Creed Bratton.
Best explanation I've read....you sure you aren't Ron Jaworski? Well done sir.
I'm actually pretty encourage when reading about us having to make zone reads. I think this is a natural process in the maturation of a starting QB. Denard and Devin should have the chance to exploit coverage this year given our rushing threat.
I noticed that he did this a few times against ND as well. He just threw the ball as soon as humanly possible to Roundtree. I like that he trusts Roundtree's abilities, but he's taking a beating when the corner is coming downhill.
Im willing to chalk that play up as some first game inexperience, but Brian is definitely right, wait a second longer and that route is a 7 yard game, or throw the pump fake in there and the snag route is wide open for 10-15 yards. He progressed well from week 1 to week 2 and we should see much more improvement in these reads and Denards overall play as the year goes on. Scary for defenses, I know.
This thread brings back old memories. Back in the late 50's - early 60s, I was an intramural team quarterback. Seven-man touch. Every offensive play we ran (all pass) was designed to put pressure on one defender and make him choose to cover one of two receivers. Then throw to the open guy. Not real complicated. Won an intramural touch football title. Lots of fun, too.
Thanks for this excellent post. I couldnot help but notice that the weak side LB looks like he releases the tight end to persue the play to his left. Maybe we should think about throwing the ball back to that side if the LB is going to release that early to persue the play. I will go back over the game and see how often that happens. The wide out is going up field and taking the corner with him and the safeties are rotating quickly to the strong side play action. A pump fake right and a throw back to the TE left looks good to me.