I enjoy it. Even if it is just like picture pages. I am all for picture pages. MOAR PICTURE PAGES!
Good analysis too though. Can't see this play working against ND if they don't set it up properly. 2 against 4 is usually not so good.
Trying a new series on the blog this year, kinda like picture pages but more focused on base concepts in Michigan's offense and defense, and how the skill level and talent of our players and our opponents' interact with that. If you're like "yeah, that's Picture Pages" well, yeah, sometimes, except usually PP is about showing you something specific while I'm really trying to show how all of these mad football skillz we talk about in recruiting translate into plays with a big outcome on the game. Since I'm still pretty new at this stuff I strongly appreciate criticism and comments. Anyway this week's play:
A very slow-developing play-action where Gardner is either very lazily getting into his drop or else doing a very good acting job of a lazy quarterback who handed it off already and is just going through the motions. Because Michigan was up 38-6 and Central's front seven were getting so pwned the safeties were being forced to sell out against the run, a play-action deep pass was so set up you can hear the announcers literally wondering aloud at the snap when it would come. Or should have been. Was it? On the fourth play of the drive (following a waggle, an Iso and a zone stretch), it comes.
[After the Jump]
What Were We Thinking?
It's a flood, another Cover 2 beater. As you can see these are long-developing routes that eventually put both the corner and safety to that side in a bad position with multiple receivers to either side of their zones. The key to letting those routes develop is to sell the play action: make the safeties and linebackers stay too far in to cover the run, get the line to set up in their gaps so they can be sealed away for a long time.
Much about this play is selling the play-action with Gardner's acting, zone blocking, and having the receivers run slant-n-go routes that initially look to the cornerbacks covering them like they're trying to block the edge. Giveaways that it's PA are Miller and Schofield don't release downfield, and everybody is trying to block a guy lined up to the wrong side of him. Because CMU defensive end is bad, had this been a run it still would have gotten yardage since Funchess and Lewan scooped that poor DE and had the corner.
The best thing would be to get those safeties biting hard on the run so that the receivers are running right by them. If you're lucky the corners will try to fend off the receivers' "blocks" and also get run by, or if they're playing Cover 2, they'll sit in their zones covering nobody until it's too late. If you don't sell the fake you have two receivers running long and double-covered. A Gardner scramble might work if we catch them in a blitz but if the LBs are sitting back in their zones they're in position to hold that down.
Let the play go long enough and eventually one of the three receivers in the route will come open in between the zone.
What Were They Thinking?
CMU was running a simple one-gap system, i.e. every front-seven defender has a gap he's responsible for plugging (because of math, "one-gap" nearly always means one guy gets two gaps; in this case it's the SAM). The safeties are responsible for cleaning up anyone who loses his gap.
The corners read the tight ends and then break with the receivers when they see the TEs aren't going to the flat. The safeties are also looking at the tight ends, and both move over toward the run a bit after the snap while they diagnose. When the receivers enter their zones they go with them. What is this? It's Rolex:
This is my made-up example play from the link. Purple means a read. If the inside receiver (the TEs) go to the flat the safety and corner will play cover 2; if he goes vertical or does something else they play cover 4 to that side.
i.e. Enos is using the same thing MSU does. In this case the defensive backs all read that the TEs aren't going downfield or into the flat and leave them for the linebackers to deal with. The two receivers in the pattern are now double-covered, and it's up to the linebackers to deal with Toussaint in the flat or a tight end disengaging. That is a good matchup for them.
How It Went Down
The safeties came up a little at the run, and the defenders all correctly read play-action. Nobody was fooled for more than a second but that was long enough to make everybody take a step playside and put the defensive line where the OL could handle them until a linebacker abandoned his zone.
Chesson made things worse by taking his route way too deep. Since the defense was in a read-quarters and both TEs are effectively blockers that means both receivers are running into double coverage, and Chesson's route is dragging two more defenders precariously close to where Reynold's route is supposed to be:
Reynolds might have a shot here of breaking away from those defensive backs (where pure speed helps you) but he doesn't have that kind of speed. Meanwhile the MLB (correctly) decides it's not a run and nobody's coming near his zone, and blitzes past the offensive line's grand performance. Once he's through there's no more pocket. Timer starts.
However the quarters read now means Toussaint is going to be open in epic space in the flat unless the WLB reads it right. He doesn't; that WILL is bailing deep thinking Chesson is going to be running through the top of his zone and doesn't realize until he's turned that the receiver ran the wrong route. As Gardner releases it Toussaint's in-route is coming open for a nice dumpoff. But Gardner's already releasing it.
And Michigan beats it anyway when Devin puts the ball deep enough that only one of those defenders is fighting with Reynolds when the ball arrives, and Reynolds makes a tough catch with a cornerback closing on him:
The yard of separation Reynolds earned with his speed was eaten up a little by Gardner putting the ball a yard short—that's dead-on in terms of this distance—but it did mean the corner had to use those crucial milliseconds to catch up rather than spend them adjusting to the ball. Reynolds gives us a textbook adjustment and hauls it in to put Michigan in punch-in territory.
Who Won at RPS?
Draw. CMU has the right coverage to defeat the pass that eventually came but was also just a second away from Toussaint coming wide open in the flat, and then they're dealing with hoppity Fitz in the open field. Leave Fitzgerald Toussaint open in space: gonna have a bad day. Meanwhile I can't plus Borges because at this point the play-action wasn't very set up; if they ran this during the freshman RB drive Reynolds might have been all alone.
Who Won at Football Skills?
To the Bad:
To the Good:
I should mention a linebacker getting too deep in his zone on 1st and 10 is something NFL guys do all the time on flood because it's the least damaging result, and an NFL DE might even be able to detach and affect that play once he sees he's not needed it he backfield.
If this ball is short it's an arm punt. By stepping into his throw and putting it long, however, Gardner has changed that math to "probably incomplete" with a slight chance of his receiver making a play. Reynolds's speed couldn't break him away a la Manningham (he did have about a yard of separation), but it's enough to get big separation from the safety, and his concentration is good enough to bring in the catch. Gardner plus former walk-on wide receiver FTW.
I enjoy it. Even if it is just like picture pages. I am all for picture pages. MOAR PICTURE PAGES!
Good analysis too though. Can't see this play working against ND if they don't set it up properly. 2 against 4 is usually not so good.
I like the new series. Keep it up
I second mgobaran. If too much picture pages is wrong, I don't wanna be right.
Question for Seth or others who have played or coached WR: what would possess Jehu to take his route that deep? Was it just a mental error or was he reading something in the LBs or safeties that called for that response? It really made the play look ugly at the end, but a nice throw by Devin and great concentration by Joe saved it.
1. Remember this is his first game. Juices are flowing. He's probably moving faster than he's used to, his stride is longer, and he essentially gets farther down field than he anticipates.
2. If you look at the safety to the top of the screen he's walling off inside. Basically, the safety and CB are bracketing Chesson. Because of this, Chesson struggles to release inside on his drag, so in an attempt to get around it he works down field a bit. If Chesson releases clean at that level I'm sure he gets to the correct spot. I'm also not exactly sure Reynolds didn't get slowed down at some point, as even if Chesson is getting deep it's hard to believe he's run across the field and down the field and somehow essentially caught Reynolds.
Space, I read much of the football content on MgoBlog, although I very seldom post.
I really appreciate your posts and your football insights/input. It makes reading the football-related stuff much more interesting, especially for a non-football person like me. Well done.
First, Joe Reynolds isn't a walk-on anymore, and I'm not sure why you're criticizing his speed. That ball was underthrown. Put three more yards of air under the ball, and Reynolds is three steps behind a defender walking into the end zone. Not fast? Where's the proof? I think that's something we cannot make a statement about without more evidence.
Because Michigan was up 38-6 and Central's front seven were getting so pwned the safeties were being forced to sell out against the run, a play-action deep pass was so set up you can hear the announcers literally wondering aloud at the snap when it would come.
Meanwhile I can't plus Borges because at this point the play-action wasn't very set up
So which one is it?
The funny thing is, the play-action is aided by the fact that EVERYONE KNOWS that Joe Reynolds is only a blocking WR.
Yeah I was trying to do a thing with that "play-action is set up" and it just totally whiffed. Made an edit.
I disagree on the Reynolds situation. We don't get to see much of the run but Reynolds was putting all of his legs into that and that's why there's only one guy instead of four in the picture when the ball arrives. We've seen faster receivers get big separation on a play like that and if he had those kinds of jets he would have gotten there since CMU's DBs aren't that fast. Devin hit him in almost full stride (he did have about a yard of separation from the cornerback so, okay, Devin put it a yard short--that's dead on from that distance).
He did make a great catch anyway--this play shows you that speed is just one weapon. I've made some edits. Good criticism; thanks.
The view of it in the GIF feature shows Reynolds slowing up to let the ball drop in. I didn't notice how much he had to fight the DB on it until I saw that angle, FWIW.
Good job man
I think this is just a basic cover 2 man under rather than a more complicated scheme. While you are essentially correct in the reads, it appears to me that the CB are only looking to the inside because the WRs take an inside release; or in other words they are looking for a rub route to switch receivers. With the corners pressing high, they wouldn't be able to read a play develop to run a coverage like "Rolex". It's a match up, yes, but it's a built in adjustment to what offenses do.
The other thing the corners are trying to do here is play the crack block. If the WRs are releasing inside and cracking on the zone stretch (something that's quite common as we now know), they need to replace the LB on the outside. That's why you see him originally delay and then run with.
As for the LBs, they are dropping into a curl/flat zone because they don't have numbers to pick up man to man. Pretty much they don't believe that Michigan will send 5 receivers into routes so they are willing to match up outside, prevent anything deep, and take their chances underneath. WILL is actually initially in position (though not dropping extremely well) but DG's eyes are telling him he needs to gain depth. That's why he flips back inside to try to get straight down field.
End of the day, this is still a good write up and says what it needs to say. I'm nitpicking on what the defense is, when in reality it doesn't mean a whole lot in the context of this article other than it's a nice thing to know. I always like more detail and play breakdowns, as you well know, and while I do believe it's cover 2 man under, it's extremely difficult to tell what with camera angles and in-play adjustments changing defenses into what are essentially other defenses.
I spent a long time trying to determine if this was Cov2 man or Rolex. What did it for me was:
1) Enos is a quarters guy; if it was another defense I wouldn't immediately go to "that's a fancy read coverage" except we know he uses fancy read coverages
2) I saw the corner and safety move exactly the same time exactly the same way on the bottom of the play and saw their eyes were both on Funchess, until Reynolds starts to cut upfield.
I agree, it's damn hard to tell. I'm basing it on reputation and because I thought the DBs' eyes were on the tight ends, which isn't where their eyes ought to be if they're in Cov2 man.
Although, again, it may be because they are looking for the rub route to switch off. Either way, on this play, whether cover 2 man or the defense you describe, the coverage is going to end up looking the same.
I guess an added learning point to the piece is that defenses are designed to work against any route combination; either of the coverages we're talking about will end up looking the same, and we're both basing our assumptions on what is happening initially. This is why QBs don't try to read cover 1 vs cover 3 or cover 2 vs cover 4. They try to read deep safeties and then move onto the other DBs. Because when it boils down to it, a lot of the defenses with similar high safeties will end up looking the same, so that's the biggest tip for the QB.
Anyway, just want to reemphasize I enjoy the work and the pieces you're doing here. I feel sometimes I try to nitpick these sorts of pieces too much, even when I myself am not sure. Discussion leads to looking for different things and seeing other view points and IMO that's the best way to learn and teach, so by teaching I'm also learning, but sometimes I think it comes off as more critical than is my intention. Good work as always.
FWIW I forgot to mention on his radio show Hoke said something about CMU using the same defense MSU did, is where I got the thing about Enos.
...on the whole even/odd deep safety distinction?
I've been doing as much reading as I can on this and I still haven't quite figured out why a cover 4 is more similar to a cover 2 than it is to a cover 3 as far as passing goes.
I did one over the summer: http://mgoblog.com/content/hokepoints-which-safety-which
A Cover 2 is more like a Cover 4 because they split the field in half, making life easier on the safety and allowing you to get a little fancier with the things you do since you just have to worry about the eligible receivers to your side of the field. In a Cov3 you have a center fielder who has responsibilities for both sides of the field, therefore he has to know what all of the receivers are doing in case one is heading toward his zone.
Cov3 is really a changeup for most teams--Penn State under Paterno was (not 100%) unique in running it as a base system for as long as they did because it can get tough on that midfielder if the LBs don't do their jobs.
The way most teams use Cover 3 is to mess with teams that are attacking Cover 2. Cover 2 is the fastball of defenses because it works against most thins and is easy on your defenders and keeps everybody in a decent position to stop the run. You beat Cover 2 or any zone by sending receivers to both sides of the zone. The good ol' fashioned smash (High-Low) route is a favorite Cover 2 beater because it puts that cornerback in a bad spot. You see it all the time when a receiver catches a ball for seven yards near the sideline then a cornerback immediately arrives or a receiver gets the ball 12-15 yards downfield and a safety immediately arrives:
If a team is running smash too much you Cover 3 his ass:
The quarterback expects that corner to be falling back to cover the top of his zone and leaving Z open, but instead he's right there to jump the route for an interception. This was Taylor's interception against CMU: they beat us twice with Cov2 then we went Cov3 and *yoink*.
The tried and true method for attacking Cov3 is four verts.
Again, you're putting receivers on the edges of zone; usually that midfielder ends up with the slot receiver on one side of his zone and the tight end on the other. He's dead. However if you run a Cover 4:
Those guys are totally covered.
Now imagine running that same play into Cover 2:
Notice how everybody is basically covering the same zone except the cornerbacks are deeper? Now imagine the cornerbacks, seeing that there's no other receivers to their sides, follow the outside receivers as if they're in man. It ends up looking just like Cover 4.
I like it, too. More detailed analysis is welcome. And in this case, I learned more about the type of play it was as well as what happened.
I didn't obsess about this game as much as I might have with some others and didn't watch it all over again. There were plenty of replays of the long pass, though -- so I had seen the ending a lot. My questions were: 1) Why didn't the PA get Reynolds more open?, and 2) Why were there four defenders back there?
This answered both of those questions and then some. Nice work.
Loved this! But I was confused by the Rolex moving picture (the one with the purple lines). It seems like it is a different play than the one you are analyzing. The routes are different. I still loved it. Thanks.
That was from the linked article where I described what "Rolex" is.
Got it. Thanks.
I don't have an ton of knowledge with x's and o's other than mgocontent, but this was clear and made a lot of sense. One thing that might have been handy (or just clutter) was a side by side shot of the initial "What were we thinking" play diagram next to the "How it went down" diagram. Now that I'm thinking about it, a .gif comparing the two might be an even better way to look at the two.
Anyway, really liked it overall but thought I'd throw out an idea for the future.
I appreciate learning more of what is going on, and why it is going on. Can't have too much analysis. "Football for dummies" would be an apt title for the likes of me.
Xs and Os : how much of this can you guys see in real time versus on video review? I love the content an think I can grasp it well when you explain it this clearly, but, I still can't see most of it during live action. Is that the next level for a football fan?
I think you can watch for things, especially if the preview tells you what to look for from each team. If you see two receivers in the same area with a gob of defenders you can say "I bet [name of guy more likely to run the wrong route] ran a bad route there."
If you see a safety take two steps toward the line of scrimmage and the play goes deep you can say "he was fooled by the play action."
If you see the defensive backs all staring at the inside receivers then breaking you can say "oh that's that quarters-cover2 read coverage thing."
I had to watch the play a few times before I realized Toussaint was open and the MLB did what he did.
How much easier is this in person? Having to watch all the games on TV really cuts out most of the secondary and puts you at the mercy of the replay guy but at least the in close cameras give you a great view of the line and QB action. Thoughts?
see the whole secondary alignment in person. It happened too much and too fast to comprehend what's going on the field.
The best way to do is to look at All-22 tape and review it critically.
And by good coaches, I mean good high school coaches and a guy like me. Another thing you have to separate is knowledge of the play call before the play, which really helps things.
For example, I worked with a guy that used to be the OL coach of the Buffalo Bills way back when. He could be down on the field and see exactly what happened instantly almost every play outside of a defender shading to one side of a gap to the other. It's also the reason Borges is up in a box. He knows the play call and quickly decipher exactly what's happening right/wrong on offense and at least get a general feel for what the defense is doing, at least to a much higher extent than what any of us here are capable of.
Now you can get a bit. All-22 tap and endzone tape help tremendously. Some coaches can watch something once and can ramble on for a half hour about everything they see immediately (see: Nick Saban). A guy like me will take a few viewings. Now, just from experience and watching tape I personally have more experience of what to look for and where to look, and knowing the play can give me that much more of an advantage of figuring things out quickly. If I'm in person I can pick up on what coverage it is relatively easily if I have the correct viewing angle. Then on tape I can probably pick up things a bit quicker than someone else. But I admit to watching and re-watching tape again and again to try to get nuances of plays, because I'm not a good enough coach or viewer to pick up on things as fast as better high school coaches or pretty much any college coach.
experts share with the rest of us really enhances my love of the game. It's like looking at a Rothko or Pollock painting and understanding they didn't just slap some paint on the canvas.
Very good question. Identification of offensive and defensive sets can make this easier to identify. Like most complicated scenarios, only a few of the pieces in play can be followed in live action. I found that in the Denard read plays that occurred all the time that I kept watching the defensive end to see which way he would bite rather than watch to see if Denard would hand off or keep. Love to here Seth or Brian's take on this question.
[Devin] makes an aggressive vertical move and defeats him with a missile. The encounter was a victory, but we show it as an example of what not to do.
right (after he showers, of course)?
One other too-obsessive question: in the graph of the play, it looks like Reynolds might have wanted to turn his shoulders to the outside (what we used to call a flag route when I was but a lad in the sandlots). But he either doesn't or sees that Gardner is leading him to the inside. So,
By error I just mean that if the ball had been thrown to the outside and that's where JR was expecting it, he wouldn't have had to fight the safety so much.
Since he's over the top the end of his route is really "get open."
Gardner had to throw it early when Reynolds was still on the "n-go" part of the slant-n-go-n-flag route. Going to the corner of the end zone from there is just a way to get more separation from the safeties and extend the route so you're not running out the back of the end zone. If you've got the entire defense behind you, keep running downfield.
What I would call the initial movement is "stemming". It's not so much a slant and go as he isn't really trying to sell the slant, he's trying to get to a position horizontally across the field. That position allows him to threaten seam, post to the opposite half of the field, and of course the corner. He's doing it here to suck the defense inside so he can beat the safety to the corner vs cover 2. In this instant, the route is called a "corner-stem" or a "flag-stem". If he stayed seam, it would be "seam-stem", post would be "post stem" and so forth.
Now you are correct that the end is essentially "get open". He's running to open grass there. The defender is in chase mode, so any sort of corner route would allow the defender to catch up. Against cover 2 he would get back to the corner. Against cover 3 he'd probably straighten it out to threaten the seam to force the defender to that third to choose between him going vertical and the drag. But basically, at his final break, he's just looking for the open spot on the field.
It was 35-6, not 38-6. But totally irrelevant to the thread itself. Either way this play set up another touchdown for moar points than 35 or 38.
I think this is a simple Cover 2 by Central, they just get beaten badly on it.