The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
Not much time this week, but I wanted to put up some plays from the OSU games, Neb game wrap will come out during the down time before the bowl game. Win or lose vs TSIO, revisiting the beatdown will be something fun to do in a week or so.
OSU used a lot of unbalanced sets against Purdue, so our CB's have to be ready for it and talk to the LB's so that we can get properly aligned.
On this play, the boilers are in man coverage so when the TE flops, the OLB goes with him. This means the the DE no longer has contain so both he and the DT on that side shift down a gap. The OLB needs to be aware that his man is now ineligible to go downfield, so he doesn't have any coverage responsibilities, or he's got backs coming out of the backfield.
Purdue is betting against Miller's passing game and has 8 in the box, 9 if you count that CB who is kind of playing center field on the backside. The two receivers are man'd up by the CB and FS
OSU continues to have problems identifying who to block with their zone scheme. Both the split end and the LG completely whiff leaving the two frontside LB's unblocked.
There is a danger of a playaction rollout on this play. If that safety is so far off of the split end, there's a lot of room for him to do a post deep cross, so it's important for the backside DE to keep contain and respect Miller on a rollout.
With the missed block, this is an easy TFL for purdue, but their frontside defenders have also beaten their blockers since they maintained outside leverage and the LB forced the RB to bounce.
On this play we've got the same formation, but it's flipped. Again, Purdue is selling out against the run. They're showing 9 in the box as that CB is faking a blitz, but he steps back and is in man coverage with the split end. Again, the TE is inelligible, so guy #5 up there has contain on the strong side and guy #1 has contain on the weakside.
Again, there's a real danger for playaction on that post or crossing route. The SAM backer has to get into a pass drop if he reads pass blocking from the linemen. This play turns into a lead draw, so he's okay, but he's in a tough position because he has to help in coverage and watch for the cutback once he sees that the action is going weakside. Fortunately for Purude, the DE beats his block and the FB fails to pick him up.
So this results in another TFL, but if that SAM evacuates his area too quickly, there's going to be a huge cutback lane.
[ed: time to jump]
This next play is the counter, which is designed as a key buster. The FB takes a jabstep to the strongside but then breaks back to lead into the hole. The counterstep gives more time for the pulling guard more time to get to his block. If the man in front of you is pulling, you ALWAYS FOLLOW HIM! In this case he was uncovered, so it's up to the MLB to read it correctly. Demens is going to have to read THROUGH the interior linemen to the FB. If he is myopic on the FB, he'll take a false step to the strongside, but if he catches the pulling motion, it'll take him to the right hole.
Boom Herron is much more talented than Hyde, and a notch and a half better than Hall. The weird thing on this play is that Boren completely misreads the hole, but Boom is experienced and just follows him outside.
The Purdue DE screws up by ducking inside thinking he can get a tackle, this is when both RBs bounce it.
Boren kicks out the second level man and Herron has a huge lane. He's very dangerous once he breaks contain or gets past the LB's
He is our #1 defensive priority. Stop the run, contain Miller. As I talked about in the QB comparisons, Miller is inexperienced and won't follow the design of the play if he doesn't feel like. Almost the complete opposite of Denard.
This is a zone speed option. The uncovered linemen release to the LB's and Miller gets to pick his hole or pitch it if he gets forced.
There's a great hole right in front of him. But for some reason he doesn't like it. The one unblocked defender isn't really respecting the pitch man and the blockers might not be all that great at maintaining, but still. Taylor Martinez woulda been all up in that hole.
So Miller cuts back, and he really does have elite change of direction. There's another hole in font of him, yeah, there's a free blocker 5 yards downfield (because that's not where the play is designed to go) but Miller bounces again. It's going to be very important for our defenders to maintain gap discipline and pursue under control. Miller will run right into the backside pursuit if you give him the chance and don't leave wide open holes or over rush on the ends.
On this goal line play, it's another speed option. I have no idea what Miller is looking at, but he decides he wants a 180 degree cutback. Maybe he's looking at the CB who beat the WR, but with the DE sealed to the inside, and a pitchman going out there, the called play should have worked.
Instead he cuts pack. There's a hole right in front of him for about 3 yards, but there's a unblocked linebacker sitting there (because that's not where the play is designed to go). Miller gets lucky in that the stongside OLB has given up contain in pursuing the initial action.
The DB's are in man coverage and are unable to get off their blocks, so Miller uses his excellent speed to walk in for the TD.
If it's 3rd and long, there's about a 70% chance the QB lead draw has been called. Some of Miller's longest runs have come off this play. And it's very hard to read because it looks for all the world like a pass. The RB tips it a little bit by getting on his horse and going up into the pocket for the block instead of flaring out or setting up to passblock. But it does also just look like he might be going into a pass pattern. So down and distance is going to be more off an indicator for this play.
This is set up nicely for about a 5 yard run. But because Purdue wasn't respecting Miller's arm (No Posey this game), the safety is sitting right there to stop him short of a first down. Meanwhile there's been a stunt on the backside and the DE has a free line to the QB.
If Miller had followed the blocking, he might have been able to cut inside the RB's block and get huge yardage since the safety is shading outside too much. But instead he sees the DE coming free and then.... ... he cuts outside(?!?) of him.
Miller is very elusive and he ducks underneath the tackle, but now the timing of the play is all messed up and the defense collapses on him from all sides.
Let's remember, that he's a true freshman. Sure he's got 11 games of experience, but there's still a lot of things he's dealing with. I mean, this is how they're signaling in plays. I'm betting that's crackable, at least for a half.
It's going to be important for our DL to rush him square on to not give him easy lanes to choose from. Miller will often make the first man miss, but we have to rely on his poor reading of blocks by maintaining gap discipline.
I really don't know what he's looking at again. Maybe he sees that the guy getting double teamed is getting pushed outside, so he wants to cut off their block. But if he had just gone to the sideline he would have picked up big yards.
Instead he cuts back into the unblocked guy.
The guy loves to improvise. This was a called downfield pass. Everyone is covered because the WR are just as inexperienced as him. (But Posey will be back for our game). He's got his checkdown flare wide open.
But he either doesn't see it, or is more concerned with that free LB coming right up the middle towards him.
At this point, I see 2 defenders to his right and 5 to his left. Guess which way he went. Pressure should definitely be up the middle. And we can't run past him, or he has the ability to kill us once he breaks past the LOS.
This is Hyde doinking a Kickoff return, maybe the sun was in his eyes.
How did Ohio beat Wisconsin? I appreciate the relative ease with which Mac-bowl bound Purdue was able to beat Ohio. But how did Wisconsin fail?
Ohio State forced Wisconsin to start all but one of their drives inside the 30, blocked a punt that set them up at the one, got a couple of FGs off short fields, busted long runs by Herron and Miller on two TD drives, and then the Hail Mary.
The keys to this game for us are
1. Don't turn the ball over in our territory or do something else that sets Ohio up with good field position (punt/kickoff return, punt/kick block).
2. Don't give up 30 yard+ plays in the running game.
OSU's going to have trouble sustaining drives. If we can limit big plays and turnovers, we should be in good shape (knock on wood).
Oh, and cover the GD wheel route, which seems to be Miller's go to pass.
There is the little matter of a Bucket standing between Purdue and a replacement bowl bid. I'm sure Kevin Wilson would love to cap his first season at IU with a win that knocks Purdue out of bowl eligibility. (There are more than a few Purdue fans who would appreciate that as well; I don't agree with rooting against your school in the hopes that the coach will be replaced, but some do.)
What strikes me is the seemingly terrible reads miller makes on the run. The kid looks like a rockstar when it works, but these pages just highlight his tendency towards one on one football. I hope his lack of vision makes Saturday a great senior day for RVB and MM.
I agree, but don't expect a lot of sacks. More likely the D-line will be called upon to shut down Dan Herron to put pressure on Miller to win the game by himself. Jobs #1-3 when the ball's in Miller's hands will be to contain, contain, contain. Once he decides to run it doesn't look like he'll find an open man. Mattison and RVB will out-think Miller, and that'll be fun to watch. I want to see that kid panic.
The X-factor against Miller, though, will be Jordan Kovacs. Kovacs is a solid, solid tackler. The pursuit angles he takes are things of beauty, he never lets go once he latches on (his whirling, diving tackles are automatic highlight reels) and his signature move (that barrel roll to the thighs) you can't juke out of. Miller won't beat him to the edge, and if Miller tries to get cute with cutbacks Kovacs will herd him into tacklers like a sheep dog.
Honestly, if an option QB was going to burn us it would've happened by now. As for the RB, Dan Herron isn't to be trifled with but he's not Marcus Coker.
It's Chuck Testa.
Ohio state deserves this! So haha to them for thinking they could beat purdue, but ended up losing. Question is...how did they beat Wisconsin?
I'm feeling pretty good about how our D matches up with their O. They are 116th in the nation with 36 sacks allowed, and our DLine is playing at it's best right now. Also, if they can't seem to figure out who to block in their zone schemes, I smell many sacks coming their way.
It really seems that pressure he can see causes him to go into panic mode and try and take off right away regardless of what is available. If our D line is able to be disruptive we should be able to get in his face and make him frustrated all game.
That first speed option is setting up for a QB Oh Noes. The slot receiver could have run all day.
At least we dont have to worry about being outsmarted...
The key is to come out strong and put Ohio in a two score hole so that they are forced to pass. After that it is a sack-fest. If Ohio feels comfortable with the clock and continues running - then we open ourselves up to long runs by Miller/Boom. Our best bet is to sell out against the run, take out Posey with bracket coverage and let Miller float interceptions/incompletions against an aggressive zone blitz attack.
Home crowd will be the key. Shugart is false-starting at key moments - need to put them under pressure right away. The longer they hang around, the more confidence they will gain.
With all due respect, I think you're misreading the mental game. Them gaining confidence with a lead won't factor much because there's no way in hell this Michigan team will break. The mental game flows in the other direction; if the D imposes its will on Miller you might see an epic breakdown.
OSU isn't handling the adversity they've got and they haven't played a down against us yet. They're basically where Michigan was last year. Michigan's seniors have been to hell and back and are just now tasting the fruit of their hard effort. The mental game is the most lopsided mismatch this season.
I'm not calling this game for Michigan, as OSU's defense knows Denard well -- and knows how to shut him down. If turnovers get them a short field this could be Iowa redux. But if OSU wins it's going to be something like 16-14, with Denard turnovers giving OSU enough free yards to boot 3 field goals and maybe eke out a TD. If the mental game breaks the other way, though, it's not gonna be close.