I assume the "Two and a Half Men" question is something you added as a joke?
A bubble screen once beat up Al Borges and took his lunch money.
Fitz did good. “That’s really what we’ve wanted to do all year. With two weeks to get ready and some careful considerations with regard to not getting our quarterback beat up, that was a huge issue. We worked hard on trying to get back to what we originally wanted to do. We wanted to be more of a combination of pro to spread offense without, of course, completely divorcing ourselves from spread concepts. We still run a lot of it, but that is closer to what we wanted in the beginning. We just weren’t executing very well. Touss did a great job, and the offensive line moved some people, not only on the line of scrimmage but also on the perimeter.”
What makes Toussaint the guy? “He’s a tough guy that makes no concessions to the defense. You’re going to have to tackle Fitz. He’s not just going to go down. He’s really improved in his ability to find the cavities in the defense. When we first got here his vision wasn’t all it needed to be but he’s gotten so much better. Some guys never get that, but Fitz has. He’s got a better feel for pressing the line of scrimmage, finding the cutback lanes … do whatever the defense dictates that you must.”
Were you surprised to see Denard take a knee during the offsides call? “No. No. He’s fine. We got a free five yards.”
Toussaint looks faster. Is it because he's finally healthy? “Yeah, he’s always been fast. Fitz has got speed. He was a track guy in high school. It’s just opportunities. That’s really it. Chances to carry the ball. That’s what I said -- we’re going to find a guy who can carry it 20+ and gain a 100 yards. He got to carry it 20+ and he did.”
You used Devin a lot. Do you worry that you use it too much and it disrupts the rhythm of your offense? “No. Not at all. As a matter of fact, we used him as much as we would like to use him. Our productivity in our two-quarterback offense in the last two weeks has been pretty good. I think it adds to our rhythm. Now if you kept him in there a few plays and Denard wasn’t lining up every single snap, I guess that could break it a little bit, but no. That’s why I don’t like series. That does break a quarterback’s rhythm. But spot him here and spot him there, and the quarterback stays in the game -- I don’t think it hurts us at all. I think it helps us.”
(Jeremy Gallon says he can dunk.)
How much have you noticed teams bite on the Denard jet sweep fake? “He gets guys’ attention. That’s why we do that. You have to force them in that stuff to defend Denard. You have counterpunches often, but it starts with the idea that you have two very athletic kids, both can throw, both can run. You don’t get that very often now. Rare instances, and you have to have one in the package to explore all those skill and force the defense to defend the perimeter and the inside.”
Are you concerned about injuries up front? “No. No. We’ll be fine.”
Hoke was concerned about not being able to punch it in. Thoughts? “In terms of play calls I don’t really have any reservation about anything. We had scored on a shotgun power early in the game. We lined up in the shotgun 12 times in short yardage. Four [times] for third [down] and one to two, and we made it in 12 times. You’re not going to get it every time. Eventually somebody’s going to stop you. Now that’s the one everyone remembers, believe me. As a playcaller I know that, but eventually that’s going to happen. That’s not an excuse now, but that’s the reality. We didn’t block the play very well and we didn’t get in. But our short yardage goal-line percentagewise has been excellent. As much as I don’t like it, I don’t have a lot of reservation about how we went about it.”
Iowa has struggled against dual threat quarterbacks. Does that mean that you might want to run Denard more? “No. No. It leads me to believe that we should take the approach that’s been the most successful and attack the defense in the way that they’re most vulnerable. If that means running the quarterback more, then we’ll run the quarterback more. Again, it’s never our goal to run him 25 times. That is not our goal. I just know battlefield decisions change your tactics and it could happen. It has happened. We’re going to go into the game and assume we’re going to maintain balance in the running game and see how things go.”
How much do you coach Denard on audibling at the line of scrimmage? “Well, quite a bit. In certain games more than others. As you learn the offense more, you gain more autonomy to do those kinds of things.” Has he been getting more confident with that? “Yeah, oh yeah. He’s done a good job with that whether it be redirecting, audibling plays. He’s pretty good. He understands what we want to get accomplished. We have an occasional error, but for the most part he’s pretty good about that. But the one thing when you allow your quarterback to control the game on the line of scrimmage, he has to have full understanding of everything you want to do. We’re not a peek at the sideline team where the coach can control a lot of that. We don’t do that. So if you’re going to put it in his hands, you have to make sure that everything you’re doing has a rhyme or reason. Any time a play’s being checked or whatever, there’s good rationale for doing that. The better he understands the offense, the more autonomy you give him to do it.”
Is the bubble screen ever going to be a part of your offense? “I’m not saying one thing about any bubble screens.”
How much of an issue is the snap count going to be in a place that’s as raucous as Kinnick Stadium? “It could be a deal now. You have to make sure you practice all that stuff. You have to practice crowd noise and have a variety of snap counts and not bat an eye just because there’s a lot of noise. I’ve coached in the SEC. I’ve learned every stadium -- darn near -- that was an issue. You just can’t let that affect you. The biggest thing on that stuff is maintaining your poise. Getting in and out of the huddle fast enough, getting play calls so you don’t have to rush snap counts. That can happen [when] you’re on the line of scrimmage and that clock winding down, now they know when you’re going to snap the ball.”
Devin had some problems with that a couple games ago. Is it something where the more snaps he gets, the more he’ll be comfortable with it? “Yeah, no doubt. No doubt. You get the signal, you feel good about what you see, whether it’s wristband call or whatever. You spit it out, clear, get on the line of scrimmage and go. Him and Denard both. This is the thing that’s not talked about is it’s a huge issue. I’ve been enough places when you first learn a new offense, you have to learn how to speak, okay? It’s a different deal. It’s like moving to Greece, and now you have to learn how to speak Greek. That’s not easy when you’ve been speaking another language all that time. It doesn’t exactly roll off your tongue, so it takes a while sometimes. You have practice and boy we practice and practice it. We have wristband calls out there the first week we go out. We still huddle. Quarterback’s got to get used to making those calls.”
So this game was more of the pro style/spread you want to see? “Yeah. Yeah, pretty much. We had a balance in the two. We were going to be a hybrid offense. We were much more hybrid that I had even had anticipated for the first few games, but in this game anyway, we were much more towards what we planned originally.” Was that because of the bye week? “Well we got a chance to practice it more during the bye week.”
After the back-to-back interceptions, did you focus more on the power running game? “Yeah, to a degree. I’m not one of those guys that gets gun shy just because a kid throws a pick. If you get scared of that, you’re never going to be any good throwing the ball, first of all. You have to jump back on the horse. Sometimes just to get the offense going a little bit, if you want to get a little bit more conservative until the kid gets his feet on the ground again, that’s good, but don’t get where you’re afraid to throw a pass, because then you become very predictable.”
Now that Vincent Smith has an incompletion, are you rethinking the halfback pass? “Just because he threw one incompletion you’re going to fire him?” You said he was on a short leash! “He won the audition. That’s just the audition. When you audition, you either get the part or you don’t, right? Once you get the part, you don’t fire the guy then until he’s Charlie Sheen or somebody. I hope Charlie doesn’t watch these interviews. I didn’t mean that, Charlie. You’re cool. I get a kick out of you. I like the show.”
Have you ever played at Kinnick Stadium? “No. I played Iowa, but I was at Indiana. We played them at home. I have not been there, no. It’s going to be fun. I heard it’s a great place.” Pink locker rooms? “Yeah I’m fired up about that.”
Do you like Two and a Half men? “Sure, it’s hilarious.”
Does your lack of O-line depth limit the things you can do? “Yeah. Yes. We’re not very deep. We had a plan for early in the season to run a six-offensive lineman offense. We just can’t do that. We’re not at that point. But we have some good players, and we have to play with what we have, and I like them. There may not be a lot of them, but I like them.”
Do you get better chemistry with this group because they all came back from a year ago? “You bet you do. Absolutely. Same guys played together. They communicate better. They have a good feel for what each other’s going to do. And that position in football -- I think the secondary and the offensive line, those two positions are so critical that they gain some chemistry. They’re so communication oriented. Every position is, but those two I think are at the top of the list in terms of that type of deal.”
Has Schofield settled in at left guard? Are you happy with how he’s played? “He’s played pretty consistently now. But that’s still a competitive deal. We aren’t handing it to anybody.”
What did the O-line do better this game to get Fitz going? “This game we used a significant amount of movement with our line, pulling guys. We’re not bad zone blockers. We have a combination of zone blocking to down scheme, gap schemes and horn schemes. We’re athletic enough to do them all, really. We don’t really depend on any one because in certain games certain schemes show up more than others depending on how they defend you. Our kids are capable of all of it. They really are.”
At what point did you know that Gallon was going to be a playmaker? “First day of spring practice.” What stood out to you? “He can run and catch. No, I’m serious now. He can run and catch. He can run, and he can catch the ball. Plays big. He’s not very tall, but he plays a lot bigger. He goes over the top of guys that are a lot taller than he is, a lot bigger than he is, and he catches the ball. He’s competitive and he’s tough, and he blocks. I mean he blocks. He brings a load when he blocks. All our receivers. Jeff Hecklinski’s done a great job of really instilling some toughness in the perimeter with regard to our blocking ability. We take pride in how many knockdowns we get a game. We’re not perfect by any means, but we’re trying out there. That’s all I ask of receivers -- when it’s time to do the dirty work, do the dirty work.”
Did you have to do anything to restore Gallon’s confidence because of how much he struggled last year? “I don’t know anything about that. He’s been confident and been fine since I’ve gotten him. He’s been great. We just put it all out there, man. I don’t care about last year. See what they do. If they play good we let them play. If they don’t, they watch. It’s that simple.”
Are you surprised it took Taylor Lewan eight games to get a penalty? “Is that right?” It was a personal foul. “No I know what the penalty was, okay. But I think that’s pretty good. ...” (And then some coachspeak about how he doesn't allow his linemen to get penalized.)
You probably have an interesting relationship with Kirk Ferentz since your son played at Iowa. “I really respect him. I respect their program. Any time you allow your son to go somewhere you have to have a lot of faith in him. His experience there couldn’t have been better. It was a tremendous fit for him. It was a tough decision at that time because we had recruited him at Notre Dame. I just felt it was important that he go somewhere away and not have to put up with his dad being his coach. It was a great decision. As much as he is close to Brady and he loves what’s happening here, he said all along, he said, ‘Dad, there’s only one game I won’t cheer for you on, and that’s the Iowa game.’ He’s a big fan. It was a great experience for him, and that’s a great program.” He wanted to play for you and you said no? “Yeah. It’s just one of those things of parenting. It’s different coaching. It’s hard when I would be coaching him myself and I didn’t feel -- he’s such a strong-willed guy and he’s such a competitive guy that I didn’t want to put up with the politics of that locker room when you have to go to the coaching part of it to that part of it. It was a better fit. For Lisa, it was great to be at Notre Dame, but he likes to wear that camouflage jacket and hat on and all that. It was a perfect fit for him that way.”
Perimeter defense. Purdue attacked you there early but stopped. “Like I mentioned last week. We understand that that’s a place where we haven’t been real good at. We worked really hard last week on it. We knew that that was an area that they were going to try to attack. For the most part in that game, I think our guys did a great job. Really what that entails is a secondary guy beating a block. When you play the secondary, you have to read run-pass first, and then when you get that reaction, you have to come and beat a guy who’s blocking you, and a lot of times you’re being held, and in the rules out ther ein open spaces you don’t have time to be able to not have perfect technique. I think our guys improved on it but we still have a long way to go on that. That’s a place where we have to be a lot more physical, and that’s on the perimeter. ”
Defending short passes. For the secondary, is it more an initial read to get up there or is it aggression to beat the stop route? “It’s a combination of both. When you’re a young, inexperienced guy, you have to be totally locked into your keys. That goes throughout our defense. With linebackers. Same with anybody that hasn’t played a lot of football. If you take a bad read, if you don’t concentrate, now you become a very slow football player. If you’re not the biggest, strongest to go with that, now you’re really behind. So that’s why getting focused and really getting your keys on defense for us is critical.”
What did you see out of guys like Blake Countess and Desmond Morgan in fall camp that led you to believe that they would contribute a lot this season? “They’re wide-eyed, aggressive. They’re football players. You could see it the first time they went out there. It wasn’t too big for them. They both have tremendous pride. They both want to be good. They both want to be coached. It hurts them when they don’t do it right. They’re both very intelligent so they know before you even say it what they were supposed to do. As long as they keep that attitude, then you have a very big upside. There’s always a learning process from a freshman that becomes successful to what happens that next year. I already have talked to them about that. You’re getting better, you’re getting better, we’ll find out how you are next year. That’s where you see a lot of guys that have had pretty good freshman years have that dip, and we can’t allow that here. I don’t think it’ll happen with them.”
Is playing this many freshmen something you’ve done a lot before? “I’ve always believed you play the best players. Once you get into college, now everybody’s equal. You’ve got four or five years to play -- best players play. If you’re a scholarship football player at the University of Michigan, then that must mean you have talent. If you have the mental part and have done all that kind of thing, then you’re ready to play.”
What went into the decision to move Troy to safety? “The one thing -- it was a combination of things. One, Troy is a very fast football player. He can run very well. He also has a lot of experience. We need a little bit more speed back there. That along with Blake showing us that he is more and more ready all the time, and our things will always be here to put the best 11 players on the field. Having Blake and Troy rotate wasn’t necessarily having the best 11 on there. That’s why we did that, and the combination of him and Jordan back there should be very good. It should help us that way, so that’s why we did that.”
Did you expect JT Floyd to be able to do as much as he’s done this year after being injured last season? “Yeah I expected him to be back. You always have communication with our trainers and everything like that. Again, he was another example, like Troy, who was limited but did everything they could up to that limit. They weren’t, like we say, milking it. They wanted to be out there, and that kind of gave you signs that hey, these guys want to play. And they’ve got talent. They’ve improved and accepted coaching and have gotten better.”
Seems like teams aren’t throwing at JT. Are you noticing that on film? “No. No. I haven’t really looked to see they’re not going to throw to this guy or they’re throwing to that guy. I think the one thing we do have to improve on is those two big plays. Both of those should have been tackled. That’s unacceptable. If you want to be really real with it, that first touchdown should have never happened. That was a bad pursuit angle. The last one -- we had three or four guys just stood there and watched it. We don’t play football that way. Those are all things we have to improve on. So whether they threw to them or didn’t -- bottom line is when you’re a member of the secondary, your job is to get the ball down and tackle it. Give us a place to stand. When we have a place to stand -- our guys have been pretty good about that -- about fighting as long as the ball isn’t in the endzone.
Is there any dropoff in communication when Jordan isn’t in there? “Well I was worried about that in that game, because Jordan is a coach back there. They did a really good job. Thomas Gordon did a really good job of getting everybody lined up … and Troy. That’s one of the maturing things that I think you’re seeing in our defense. Desmond Morgan wouldn’t say a word, and now he’s talking. Everybody’s starting to talk more. They’re feeling comfortable with their defense. I talked to them all the time, once you put in the defensive scheme, it becomes their defense. They’re the ones that have to run with it. We don’t make a lot of changes each week either. They’ve got the package now and they’ve got what we’re going to run. Now it’s about everybody getting everybody in the right spot and playing hard. I was really happy with them as far as their communication. In fact, I screwed up a couple calls -- there was one of them where they were running all over the place, and that wouldn’t have happened earlier in the year. I told them when we watched the film. I said, ‘that’s good, you made me look better on that one.’ That was a bad deal on my part. I was supposed to call right and I called left. You could see them all looking and they just ran over there. Earlier in the year there would have been guys going like this (universal ‘HUH?’ gesture), so you could see that part of it was good because God knows I make mistakes, too.”
What happens to Woolfolk when Jordan comes back? “He’s in that secondary. He’s in that secondary, and he’ll be doing just what he’s doing. Both of those two guys will be playing safety, and both will be in there.” Will he be ahead of Thomas Gordon? “Thomas Gordon has a lot of roles for us. He plays some nickel for us, he plays safety in certain situations, so we’re kind of looking at all three of them in there, just when they play. Courtney Avery’s done a really good job of that. You’ve got to have more than four guys, so they all get a lot of play.”
What do you think about your linebackers? “Honestly I wasn’t very pleased at all early. Early games. Really really was upset with them and I didn’t feel like they were doing what a linebacker at Michigan had to do. I tell you what, over the bye week and this last game, I thought they made a huge jump. It’s as much as little things. When you watch the linebackers -- if they’re reading their keys correctly, they don’t take false steps. They’re not stepping this way when the ball’s going that way. These are little things you can see, but they’ve really made a concerted effort to get better. This game will be a big key coming up. The linebackers, you can’t take false steps against these guys. You’re going to have to be honed into your keys and stepping. I thought this last game they really stepped up. I think that’s one of the reasons why we did some things well at times because it was the way the backers played.”
Marcus Coker had 252 yards rushing. Did he do something differently against Minnesota? “No. He just ran real hard and there’s a lot of times where he ran over secondary guys. He’s a big, strong running back. He’s a really good back.”
What’s the best way to defend a fade when the receiver’s 6-4, 215 pounds? “Sack the quarterback. I mean he’s a very good receiver. Big thing is I think you’ve got to make sure you’re staying really tight to him. Don’t look back. You’ll see when a guy catches a fade a lot of times because the guy’s right on him and he happens to look back for the ball and that’s just the separation that’s needed for him to catch it.”
Was last Saturday Mike Martin’s best performance? “Mike Martin has played very very good in a lot of games, and it just happened -- if you keep doing like Mike’s doing, you’re going to get rewarded. There are so many times when he’s done a really really good job in there and somebody else made the play. I was just happy for him to see him get the reward, because he has really worked hard.”
Sometimes Kenny Demens is everywhere, sometimes he’s hesistant. What have you seen from him? “I think he’s one of the guys that’s stepped it up last game. In his defense, you’d like to get him out. He plays 60-some plays. Linebackers have to play secondary and defensive line. You’d like to be able to get a guy in there for him, but he’s kind of the most experienced of all of them, and our games haven’t exactly been runaways. For us on defense, he’s had to play. I think he played better this last game. If we can still try to get somebody in for him sometimes to give him a blow that would help.” Who would that be? “That would be J.B. [Fitzgerald].”
What kind of a different look is Iowa’s offense going to give you? “They’re not going to be different. [Ed-M: Calling BHGP--opposing coordinator calls Iowa offense conservative; Hawkeye BINGO!] It’s going to be downhill zone running. They’re just going to wait for your defensive line and your linebackers to not be where they’re supposed to be with the right keys with the right precision of what you’re doing. When that’s all done, when you’ve done all that correctly, they’re going to wait to see if you’re going to get more than one or two guys to the tackle, so we’ve got to get guys off blocks and we’ve got to get one guy tackling and swarm and play Michigan defense that way.”
I assume the "Two and a Half Men" question is something you added as a joke?
Nope. It was an actual question.
The really stupid questions. No reason to protect the guilty. Maybe we can shame them into better questions.
I suggested that Heiko note which questions were his but it appears as though he does not take advice kindly. Either that or he didn't ask any questions, in which case he is not pulling his weight for this website.
From posting who asked the stupid question if it was himself.
Is the bubble screen ever going to be a part of your offense? “I’m not saying one thing about any bubble screens.”
Man I hope this means they are saving it for an important game after Thanksgiving
that's what it sounded like to me. But after watching the spread for the last few years, I think of it more as a staple play. That'd be like saving the Iso dive for nebraska.
Has anyone hear anything more about using the diamond formation in the backfield like they did a few times against SDSU and Minnesota (I think)? To me, that seems like a much more effective formation with Devin in the game than having Denard spread out wide. It seems like there's so much more they can do from the diamond formation. Or maybe I just like the look of it better . . .
I think they're trying to spread the defense out and keep them from cheating to stop inside runs, so the jet sweep (fake) works better at pulling someone to the edge trying to follow Denard. I wouldn't be surprised to see the diamond formation come back at some point though. I would love to see Denard catch a couple balls while lined up as a receiver at some point too. *sigh* man that Minn game was fun to watch.
Since the game I've been thinking that the only reason for the Gardner at QB package is to get successful carriers from runners who aren't Denard. That seems to be the only way to get teams to stop crowding the box quite so much, allowing the RBs to actually have a shot without having to be Adrian Peterson. Seems that was Borges' plan too. Now that teams see that Gardner isn't a great QB however, I wonder if they will just start putting 8 in the box again.
I know that a lot of this stuff is just coach speak but I love these coordinator press conferences.
"He can run and catch"
Just great stuff.
"Sack the QB"
I think what you meant to say was, Tremendous.
How do you stop a fade with a 6-4 receiver?
"You're first offensive drive takes 30 minutes. When the second half starts, you onside kick, and your second drive takes 30 minutes."
Any idea what was up with Borges saying “I’m not saying one thing about any bubble screens.”? Thought that was an odd reaction. Was it a roll-of-the-eyes kind of thing where he thought it was a dumb question or did it seem more like an intentionally cryptic answer so as to not give away future things? Or what?
Just trying to get some insight - as the biggest oddity to me of the offense is Borges seeming unwillingness to check to bubble screen when it's wide open.
He was annoyed. I think he's been asked about that other times that I either don't remember or wasn't present for.
Are you still denoting the questions you ask?
I think from now on I'll just mark the ones Brian and I talk about beforehand.
The bubble screen question was mine, and that didn't go over well. wah wah.
Thanks for asking it anyway it makes no sense that we don't use it.
Just sounded like a Brian question via Heiko.
Do you ever catch cues from Mattison or Borges that they recognize a smart question and/or the same guy asking good ones week to week?
One can get really far in life just knowing how to ask good questions!
Sort of the anti Craig James approach to parenting:
He wanted to play for you and you said no? “Yeah. It’s just one of those things of parenting. It’s different coaching. It’s hard when I would be coaching him myself and I didn’t feel -- he’s such a strong-willed guy and he’s such a competitive guy that I didn’t want to put up with the politics of that locker room when you have to go to the coaching part of it to that part of it. It was a better fit."
Saying Mattison saved the life of 5 hookers?
Well, Mattison would actually have saved them, but you know what I mean.
Can someone please tell me what's up with the fascination with bubble screens around here?
I remember everyone up in arms about Debord and his frequent bubble screens once upon a time.
DeBord would frequently just throw an extended handoff to a single wideout with no potential blockers and hope for a missed tackle.
The bubble punishes a defense for stacking the box and allowing a numbers advantage on the perimeter of a spread formation.
Refusing to allow Denard to check to the bubble against extremely unsound alignments is quite inexplicable.
As an example:
debord would call the 0 yard hitch which requires the receiver to make a move on the first man. So it only works if you've got a guy like steve breaston out there.
The bubblescreen has one or two blockers and the possibility of the unblocked defender getting caught up in the wash.
Hemingway has an inexplicable way of getting YAC...snap the ball, fire it out to him and let him wiggle his way for 6-7 yards.
Go to the 3:12 mark
Our only issue with this is if you notice, the DB is playing 10 yards off Braylon. Teams would crowd the line to stop Hart and back off to keep Braylon, Avant and Breaston in front of them.
This year teams crowd the line to stop Denard, and press the WRs to make Denard throw over the top. This is why we've had so many "QB oh noes" and desperation-like throws. It's man-to-man press coverage on the outside so Denard takes that shot deep assuming our WRs can get by the coverage.
With all that said, AS soon as I see them crowd the box and back off the WRs (you can't press all game)...as SOON as I see this, I immediately would check to the play above.
Props for pulling that play out of your mental index.
I need a pronouncing check on Jason Avant...
I have always pronounced it... you know... the french'ier sounding way... more of "a-vah-nt" instead of "av-ANT" like the announcer.
Have I been saying it wrong all these years?
the blog much do you?
I guess I just don't understand the huge difference between bubble screens and tunnel screens (which we've been doing, usually with success)
EDIT: I know what each play looks like, but what I don't understand is how each play exploits different weaknesses in a defense. I guess what I'm saying is that we have been running tunnel screens, isn't that pretty much exploiting the same things in opposing defenses that a bubble screen would?
Bubble screens involve WRs blocking for each other. In the picture posted above, there are 3 WRs to the left and only one DB within 10 yards of them. If 1 or both of the 2 outside guys blocks the DB and you flip it to the slot guy, you've got 5 yards for free.
In a tunnel screen the playside tackle pops out to block the DB over the WR. The WR gets the ball running parallel to the LOS with the idea when the tackle blocks the DB, he'll turn upfield and have room to run.
I wouldn't characterize the tunnel screen play this year as a success at all. The tackles have had a hard time getting outside and getting good blocks. The one example I can remember from the Purdue was moderately successful because the Purdue DB helpfully fell down.
Why Borges seems so dead set against bubble screens, I have no idea. I mean FREE YARDS, YO!
Not sure what youve been watching, but the tunnel screens have looked extremely effective so far to me. Tunnels and bubbles are not mutually exclusive, and I agree with the idea that we should use more bubbles, but the tunnel has worked very well for us thus far.
It's quite possible that I'm remembering only the times that it doesn't work because I have a tendency to focus on what's wrong instead of what's right.
One of the first times they ran it, it was modest at best. But the next time they ran it, it got a pretty good chunk of yards.
I just looked through all of Brian's UFRs for this season, and he only has 3 tunnel screen charted: 1 against WMU and 2 against EMU. They gained a total of 2 yards (1 wasn't executed properly and turned into a 14 yard Denard scramble).
There were a couple of other WR screens involving linemen that he has charted as reasonably successful throwback screens.
So I'm not misremembering the lack of tunnel screen success going in the Purdue game, although I could have sworn they'd run it at least a couple times a game. I'll be interested to see what the Purdue UFR has to say on the subject.
I'm roughly 100% sure Gallon scored a TD against NW on one.
Brian has that charted as a "throwback screen". Looking at the video I would have identified it as a tunnel screen. So, hell, I dunno. The only difference I can see from what I think is a tunnel screen is that Gallon actually goes downfield a little before coming back instead of running towards the middle of the field parallel to the LOS. And instead of simply stepping back and throwing to the WR, Denard turns to his left for play action before spinning to throw back to Gallon. Maybe that's enough to make it a throwback screen instead of a tunnel screen. I guess that's why Brian is doing the UFR, and I'm a typing monkey on his blog.
Thanks, this makes sense. Tunnel screens are more designed to counter defenses that blitz and stack the box by getting a quick dropoff to the WR behind the defenders. Bubble screens are effective against soft coverage on multiple receivers on the outside, correct?
At any rate, the tunnel screen got us a TD against ND, and I can't quite recall, but I'm pretty sure we've ran it a few more times and gotten some big chunks of yards out of it.
The tunnel is definitely a great blitz-beater because if the blitz is coming from the playside and the blocking is executed correctly, your WR is running free through space vacated by blitzing backers and safeties. But I don't think that it's exclusively meant to be a blitz beater.
And, you're right that bubbles are good for taking advantage of soft outside coverage.
I don't recall a tunnel screen scoring a TD against ND. If you're thinking about the V Smith TD, that wasn't a tunnel.
Ah, you are correct, that was a rollout pass where Denard threw it back to the flat on other side of the field.
Similar concepts, but iirc the tunnel relies on a tackle coming out off of PA and making a block, sending the WR inside. A bubble relies on a WR taking on a CB, springing the other WR to the outside. It also takes less time to develop, and is therefore considered an "automatic" 5 yards in certain alignments (i.e. if the CBs are playing 10 yards off of the WRs). But the tunnel, because it can suck up a safety with the PA, has a higher probability of turning into a big play.
Youre right, though, both plays try to get the ball to the outside and rely on a numbers advantage to get some yards. It seems silly not to at least install a bubble package, though, because of how "automatic" they can be.
Also, throwing the bubble forces the defense to bring their DBs closer to the LOS which gives your WRs more chance to beat them deep.
Bubble screens are one of the proposed solutions to teams (MSU, solely MSU, this suggestion is coming as a result of our loss to MSU) abusing the A gap/snap count.
Bubble screens will soften a team between the tackles by disallowing an outside linebacker or safety from cheating inside, and that can give an offensive lineman just enough time to get position at the second level.
I don't see nothing wrong , with a little bubble screen.
Are you implying you don't think Gallon can dunk?
offsides and fumbles, etc. Taking the knee might not have been the right move, but it was a quick and thoughtful move.
The success of bringing Gardner in and out will not be measured by a single play or game, but at the end of the season. I'll bet it pays increasing dividends, most of them not obvious. It's a little like Beilein's offenses--the other squad has to defend the whole court.
I find Borges every bit as canny, upbeat, and interesting as Mattison.