Niko Porikos grew up in an NTDP billet home. Cool story.
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- NT gets sealed on the backside, Smith hits the frontside A/B gap.
- NT wins his hat across Hill's hat, Smith bounces to the backside.
|1 day 15 hours ago||Interesting that it's inside zone base||
I haven't watched nearly enough Northwestern this year, but in the past, they have relied heavily on outside zone and pin and pull (the Jackson cut above is pin and pull), so interesting to hear they've switched to more inside zone. They aren't the biggest OL in the world, wouldn't be surprised if they tried to get outside more on Michigan.
As for their passing attack, they are heavy on rub routes, which actually is a good way to attack Michigan's coverage. I've written previously about their use of bunch formations, but the mesh concept above sees two different rubs and very easy underneath reads for the RS FR QB. The first rub is between the outside drag and the bench route; the QB reads left to right. Next rub comes from the mesh concept in the middle; again, QB is just reading left to right. Nice way to get your QB into a rhythm with concepts that can beat both man and zone coverage.
One thing about Michigan is that they are doing a much better job of switching up coverages. They actually did it at key times against Northwestern last year, and that's how they came away with the win, but I've seen them use much more combination coverages (inside/outside, banjo, lock, etc.) to cover those types of things. There is the risk of miscommunication (that tunnel screen that Thomas nearly blew a few weeks ago), but in general, it allows tighter coverage on the back end. That'll be key in this game.
|1 day 17 hours ago||That's one of the best methods||
It's also why teams influence block (as we discussed in Seth's piece the other day), because it pulls guys out of the gap.
It's also a bit easier in high school where teams (some at least) do a lot of trapping, and far less throwing. You're not as concerned with not getting immediate pressure on the QB and things of that nature. But you get to the college level, these guys really want to get after the QB and get into the backfield; it becomes much more difficult to get guys to actually do that because they are abandoning doing something else (that far more of the time will be the right thing to do).
|1 day 17 hours ago||Depends on where your eyes are||
Because of the layout of UFR, and how Brian says what the offensive play is, I can usually get it pretty solid on the first viewing unless it's something totally unexpect, simply because I know where to take my eyes.
Watching live, again, it's going to depend on where my eyes are. If I'm watching routes or coverage, it'll be a bit trickier to read the blocks, though on TV it certainly makes it a bit easier to read blocks (not so much coverage and route combinations because they zoom in way too much). If a pass is made I can generally determine the route combination based on where the receivers end up and where the QB is looking, but there are still some times where I have to watch again, especially if I really want to pick up on everything.
FWIW, some games on TV are essentially useless when trying to get good information. Wisconsin vs Iowa last week was awful. I understand neither team was throwing much, but they zoomed in really tight on the LOS and had a really shallow angle, making it difficult even to read too much into the blocking because you couldn't tell defensive shades and things like that. With the size of TVs these days, TV should really just be All-22, it makes for much better viewing even for people not trying to determine what the play is.
As for guys like Durkin, that depends. Seeing things from the field level is much more difficult than from above, especially from the sideline. Too many bodies, not a good enough angle. But that's why all teams have guys up in the box. They'll have a guy watching the secondary and a guy watching the lines and as a coaching staff, almost all plays (offensively or defensively) can be determined by these guys live. But from the field level, again, that's why even the NFL has tablets to go back over things.
|2 days 7 hours ago||Michigan will get trapped eventually||
But neither of the Maryland plays above are designed traps. The first is simply a down block on a pin and pull outside zone scheme. OG down blocks on the NT, and the Center pulls. It's not a fold block because everyone else is blocking outside zone, so it's pin and pull. MSU will run a ton of that if they want to get outside. Northwestern has been known to run it quite a bit as well.
The second looks like single back power, but the playside OG gets so blown up that the pulling OG just kind of runs into him. But he's shuffling and still really high, there is no way that's an intended trap block. That's an "oh shit, we just got destroyed on the playside, I'ma run into someone" block.
That said, MSU will trap block, for the reason you said. Michigan's interior DL is difficult to block, sometimes inviting them to move forward is the easiest way to block them (it's how MSU had a lot of success on the ground last season against OSU).
Agree with most everything else, particularly the assessment of losing Mario. I don't think it's insignificant, but it won't show up in all games. It will probably force Michigan's hand a bit in some ways. I worry more against the bigger/stronger OLs than against Northwestern, as more of a DE/OLB hybrid should hold up to the smaller Northwestern OL. But against teams that want to ram it down your throat, may have to move to someone other than RJS, who hasn't been as great when tasked with handling blocks inside (which is expected from a guy that was a true LB previously). If the game can be simplified a bit for RJS, I'm not as worried, but with some teams on the schedule it won't be that simple.
|2 days 8 hours ago||I think the inexperience at OL really hurt them||
Maryland was awful at running the football last year, but they were great at the flare screen. They only tried it once against Michigan, it looked somewhat threatening, and then they never went back to it. Brian has touched on the difficulty of WR screens, particularly bubble screens (tunnel screens can be a little more effective against press because you release off the line to threaten vertically first). But the fact that Michigan isn't forced to blitz a lot with the LBs because of the ability of their front 4 makes it very difficult to screen the LBs. Either tunnel screens, traditional screens, or whatever, the LBs and safeties can come down on those because they don't have to focus on selling out on the run or the pass rush too much.
It'll be there in certain situations, but I don't think the next few teams will take big advantage of it (Minnesota is probably the biggest threat in the next three games).
|2 days 8 hours ago||Disagree a little bit||
Michigan needs to bottle up Jackson and force Thorson to beat them. I like Thorson going forward, I think he'll be a good player, but Jackson is the danger man and the guy that the offense as a whole is based around (runs, run fakes, and play action set up a ton of their offense).
You take away the threat of Jackson without selling out on it (read: still playing sound around it), Northwestern's offense isn't designed in a way to get a lot of yards. The pass game is conservative and simple, Thorson isn't a great runner (though he's mobile enough to keep a D honest), and so they'd have to consistently and methodically work their way down the field against a very good defense, which is a tough task for a RS FR QB on the road that's completing 56% of his passes for 6.3 YPA.
Take away Jackson, the rest will fall into place for the defense.
|3 days 10 hours ago||I think position coaching is an issue as well||
As it always was in Rich Rod's time at Michigan.
|3 days 12 hours ago||Should clarify on the read||
I said the RB reads the NT the whole way, which is incorrect. That's the read the RB makes to determine whether or not he's keeping it front side or cutting it all the way back across the formation.
The first read is likely the same as inside zone.
As for trap/wham, a wham is a type of trap block, so it's not incorrect to call it that. But "wham" is more specific, and I think the details there are important. Guess on why the OL friend didn't call it a wham is because it's most likely still a gap/man scheme, rather than a zone scheme, which is what wham is typically associated with.
It could also be the more specific difference between a "wham" and a "T" block from a FB. A wham block seals the backside DT to the backside. A "T" block seals the frontside DT to the front side.
So, in reality, you can call this a trap block, wham block, or T block, and be correct in each case, but are being more specific as you work more latter.
Harbaugh will utilize every type of back block he can to gain an advantage.
|3 days 13 hours ago||Michigan has pulled the center a ton this year||
Which is an interesting wrinkle. I agree with your assessment. I think the Nose gets influenced (Block-Down, Step Down rules) and both LBs are supposed to be influenced (the MIKE and the Buck in the diagram above; the MIKE more so because the Buck's initially read is likely the OG in his line of view to the RB, but he should still see the Center crossing his path). I think that's a big reason why Kalis misses his block (he expects the Buck to step with the pull, he doesn't) and Braden doesn't get out as fast (he's expecting the MIKE to step with the pull, he really steps forward and then attacks fast to the front side).
To me, this shows that the BYU ILBs were missing their keys, or simply keying the RB, which is not optimal (and this shows why). If they were keying any of the interior OL, they would have stepped to their left, if they were keying through to the HB they'd step to their left. Neither really do, so they are really playing fast and loose, which is why wham and traps and counters break off for 11 yard gains.
Also agree on the missing holes assessment. Yes, certainly the backs miss holes at times, or don't read the play appropriately. But when you have the ball and all the action is going on in front of you, you have a read that you make as the ball carrier for how to attack the play. Certainly, there are times when doing something outside of that would be the better option, but 9 times out of 10 you follow the blocking and you'll be better off, especially at avoiding negative plays.
|3 days 13 hours ago||Just to clarify||
Smith's read the whole way is the NT:
Braden doesn't get out to the MIKE, but he helps Hill seal the NT to the backside. Thus, Smith has read the play correctly.
Kalis keeps blocking because, despite not getting into his initial assignment, he can and does still have an impact on the play. In this case, he occupies a defender so that he doesn't make a play. In the event the NT wins across Hill, he has now opened the cutback wide open, as is seen above.
As far as the Wham/Trap difference, they are different keys for the defense. Sometimes the FB will block where a pulling trapper is vacating, and the OG is the key for the defense. Sometimes the backside OG doesn't pull, and the FB is the key for the defense. The difference is in that it's a different key for the defense for what is essentially the same play for the RB. They mimic other plays and force the defense to do/read plays differently, and pulling or not pulling an OG has different strengths/weaknesses for the offense. It's a small difference, but it's a difference; and those small differences and adjustments are details that are often missed, especially when looking at pro-style schemes, but they are important.
I detailed the trap/wham play a while ago, FWIW.
I do like the format of this though (show the video, show schematically step-by-step through the play, combine with actually pictures). Only advice (that I don't follow enough in my breakdowns) would be to show a video again at the end, maybe in slow motion so people see it again (of course, they could just scroll back to the top and do that themselves). I'd also like to clarify that while I have a different perspective of this play, I really, really love this feature, Seth. I am an X's and O's junky, I love reading this stuff and love when others have the opportunity to learn about this stuff, and I always enjoy reading these and the fact that this blog takes the time to go into this level of detail. Not many fanbases get the opportunity to learn the game in this depth.
|3 days 14 hours ago||I have to disagree on this one; think you have it backwards||
This looks like a standard influence wham. The influence block (Glasgow pulling) is designed to influence the offense into thinking it is Michigan's standard outside run play; it pulls the defense to the top of the screen. Hill is then asked to Wham block (an H-back version of a trap block) the NT. Smith hits this play correctly, exactly where it is supposed to go.
Now, that doesn't mean that cut to the backside isn't wide open. You'll notice that Kalis lunges to try to cutoff the LB, but he misses, and once he misses he decides it's time to just drive. That's the correct reaction to initially missing the block, at least drive a guy somewhere so things can open up elsewhere. The cut all the way across the formation is in the event that the NT wins against the Wham block, then the HB can just flip and arc that guy back to the bottom of the screen and the bounce is the way to go.
But the NT never did win across Hill. Braden (I think you are correct in that he is supposed to get MIKE, but he gets occupied a bit and then sees the MIKE vacate and just sticks with blocking the NT). That means the NT is sealed away from Smith's hole that he hits. Smiths first read is that NT. He reads it correctly and attacks downhill for a nice gain.
As a side note, this blog should really start differentiating between a trap (an OL pulling and blocking an interior DL) and a Wham (an H-back blocking an interior DL), because Michigan does both, and otherwise they are often confused.
|3 days 16 hours ago||Didn't even know Pure Volume still existed||
I looked it up, and the stuff I posted way back in the day when I was but a wee little lad is still there. Luckily, there is no connection between myself and that music, so it will remain at the corners of the internet for forever and always (but hint, it certainly is not ska).
This leads me to wonder though, just how many MGoUsers have music on Pure Volume. I'd bet it's in the hundreds, easy. I bet Magnus has some sort of folk-music group in a weird sort of counter to his standard persona. Just spit ballin' here.
|3 days 16 hours ago||It's probably meaningful somehow||
That both the Lions and the Browns lost in the most Lions or Browns fashion this week.
The Lions, as seen above, drove down the field, were going into the end zone, only to fumble the ball right before crossing the goal line.
The Browns made a brilliant comeback, everyone had their hopes up, the San Diego marches down the field and into field goal range. Only to miss the field goal... but the Browns were offsides, and then the Charges hit the subsequent field goal to win.
This is what it means to be NFL fans in this area of the country.
|1 week 12 hours ago||Predicting that is difficult without getting into a lot of depth||
As far as film study is concerned, and in-depth with both teams.
One thing is for sure though, they'll need to get outside the tackle box at times. That means they need to continue to develop the T-Lead and the Counter plays and execute those better. The "screen" you saw to Green, which is essentially a run play with the ball is caught behind the LOS and blocking set up immediately, is another play I wouldn't be surprised to see more of. Possibly some QB option game, either read or actual option at times. A few more draws to try to pick on the OLBs and safeties in the run/pass conflict their defense presents them with.
|1 week 12 hours ago||I think right now I give the Michigan D the advantage||
If I had to guess, I'd guess it's a low scoring game. Michigan has a DL that makes running the ball difficult (MSU currently is fairly inconsistent running the ball) and the guys on the outside that make you have to be accurate in the pass game.
MSU's offense on the whole has been really inconsistent so far this year. They've flashed being really, really good though when things click. And if they recover from some of their injuries, then it's a dangerous offense. The thing about MSU is they have a lot of options to go to. Several backs that can run, several concepts the OL can block (and a very experienced group), a QB that can make all the throws. If something isn't working, they can try something else. That makes them difficult to defend for 4 quarters.
Again, I think it'll be a low scoring game, but I don't think Michigan can completely shut them down. Michigan will have to score some points of their own to win. They can, no doubt about that, but it isn't a given. Both defenses match up well right now, IMO.
|1 week 14 hours ago||Yup||
That's something I pointed out at the end of the first article. If the FB doesn't beat the LB to the spot, then the defense simply forms a wall at the point of attack. FBs have to be mean, they have to be fast, they have to get out of their stance and attack; otherwise the play will be dead before it even begins.
Luckily, Michigan has had pretty good FB play so far (and BYU's ILB struggled a bit in this game reading and reacting).
|1 week 15 hours ago||MSU is going to be tough||
Michigan is going to have to keep improving, they aren't there yet. Need to get stronger up front, need to develop a couple more wrinkles, and need to get better at a few plays in particular (specifically, the T-Lead play and the counter, they need to block those better).
MSU's D matches up really well with Michigan's offense. They are still strong up front, their base naturally brings 9 into the box, and they play against a fairly similar offense throughout the whole off season. They are also still a strong run defense in the way that they generate a lot of failed runs (they give up some chunk plays, but they shut down the offense on a high percentage of plays). But they can take advantage of some of MSU's weaknesses. Obviously in the pass game a bit, but the counter and T-Lead can really attack some of the weaknesses of LBs playing in space and safeties taking poor angles down into the box.
So Michigan's ability to continue to improve and adding things will be key. I haven't watched much Northwestern this year, I know they shutdown Stanford, which really surprised me given their strengths/weaknesses from last year. So that could be interesting. But MSU will be a real challange; I like the rate at which Michigan is improving, I thought they had a decent shot coming into the year (MSU still clearly favored, but Michigan had a chance), and I think their chances are improving, but right now I still think MSU has better odds. Michigan isn't where they need to be yet, but they are improving at a nice clip.
|1 week 15 hours ago||That's actually the way I initially took it, FWIW||
And usually I'm pretty good at finding insults in things that aren't necessarily insults (I think it's a coaching thing; something Dantonio has obviously mastered), but I could be wrong.
|1 week 15 hours ago||Does he even coach any more?||
He never was a good defensive coach in the NBA, not sure this would help him.
Plus, I've written a ton about Dantonio's defense, so that's out there anyway (plus, all these guys already know everything I'm talking about and more).
|1 week 15 hours ago||Brian was absolutely correct about Johnson's missed cut||
Johnson has a fairly simple task on that play: read the butt of your read blocker. He kicks out, you cut up; he arc blocks, you bounce. His lead blocker kicked out and there was a huge gain to be had from simply sticking a foot in the ground and getting north/south. Maybe it isn't a TD because of pursuit, but it's a huge gain, and exactly what the RBs are supposed to be looking for.
|1 week 15 hours ago||I prefer FB trap over dive||
Both of which Michigan is running. But the reason it is effective is not just in the play itself, it's also highly effective in what it forces the defense to do.
The base run is Power O in Harbaugh's offense. That is a bit of a slower developing run play as you need the FB to kick (which should happen fast), and the OG to pull around. Yes, defenses key the FB a lot of the time (which is why Michigan also runs split zone, to run the FB away and make it look like Power O on the opposite side), and as soon as they see the FB move they break immediately for the gaps Power O is trying to attack. They need to get there and get there fast, and form a wall, or else the offense has too much power at the point of attack.
So they see the FB go and they take off, but it's a dive, not Power O. Now the defense has overrun the play and the FB can crease it for a decent gain (typically the backside LB will catch him if he's flowing over the top). You get a nice gain, but you also delay the defense the next time you run your base play. They need to make sure it isn't dive before moving on to the Power O, which gives the pulling OG that extra second to get in front of the LBs and set up his blocking.
It all works within the scheme, which is nice. I like the trap better because I think it gives the FB a little better blocking and also pulls an OG, but it takes a little longer to develop and great DTs can kill it really quick.
|1 week 3 days ago||There is always room for lots of improvement||
I have never, in my entire life, seen a single play perfectly executed from all accounts, let alone a series, or a quarter, or a half, or a game, or a season, or a career. You can always be more disruptive, you can always get off blocks better, you can always have guys in better positions to make a play on the ball, you can always finish tackles better, you can always do better staying in your rush lanes, you can always read/react quicker. I mean, those are issues Michigan had repeatedly on Saturday and throughout the year, that they them give up yards, and possibly more yards against better teams. Those are areas where Michigan can still improve significantly between where they are relative to perfect.
This is a very good defense. I've never seen a unit that didn't have tons of room for improvement. Satisfaction is the saddest fiction; you are getting better or you're setting yourself up for failure down the road. I expect nothing less to come out of the mouth of one of our coordinators.
|1 week 4 days ago||It's role specific||
You will notice that almost all of Isaac's carries have been outside the tackle box outside a few to keep the defense honest. Almost all of Smith's carries have been between the tackles outside a few stretch plays to keep the defense honest. Johnson is pretty much the change of pace guy (draws, some outside runs, some quick hitting plays, etc).
Green is almost certainly Smith's primary backup for Smith's primary role (between the tackles runner). It's something Harbaugh noted, and why Isaac had a big game against UNLV and Smith didn't. Each back has their role, and they are going to utilize those guys in those roles for the most part.
FWIW, I thought Green was mostly fine. The play calling went fairly vanilla and BYU was stacking the LOS heavily. He had a few nice runs, a few he should have done a little better on (one he should have cut up field that Brian noted, another that I don't think he saw the tackler coming from inside-out when he himself tried to bounce it).
|1 week 4 days ago||Think Brian is confusing Colquhoun for Copeland||
Colquhoun took over for Copeland (who fractured a vertibre and is done for the year). Copeland was flashing some potential, but was still young. Colquhoun has been struggling quite a bit.
Also, their starting safety Williamson left the game on Saturday, forcing Cox back to safety. Not sure his status, but I don't think it's anything long term
|2 weeks 4 days ago||At least Countess tried to tackle him the right way||
Some of those tackle attempts are awful. From the link, it's clear some guys hardly even tried, preferring to leave it to others to attempt a tackle. Some guys thought the best approach was to hop on his back and go for a ride. At least Countess put himself in a position to potentially bring him down by going low.
I mean, yeah, he gets trucked, but if a whole bunch of others guys didn't just miss terrible tackle attempts right before that and actually got around the football, then at least Countess's attempt was enough to slow (a little bit) Fournette down and actually alter his running motion, where if others were around they may have actually got him to the ground. Fournette ran through some of those other tackles like they were a stiff breeze.
|3 weeks 2 days ago||From the rulebook||
SECTION 3. Blocking, Use of Hand and Arm Interfering for or Helping the Ball Carrier or Passer—ARTICLE 2 Approved Ruling 9-3-2 I. In trying to gain yardage, ball carrier A44 is slowed by defensive players attempting to make the tackle. Back A22 (a) puts his hands on the buttocks of A44 and pushes him forward; (b) pushes the pile of teammates who begin to surround A44; (c) grabs the arm of A44 and tries to pull him forward for more yardage. RULING: (a) and (b) Legal. It is not a foul to push the ball carrier or the pile. (c) Foul for assisting the runner. 5-yard penalty with three-and-one enforcement. (Rule 9-3-2-b)
You could make the argument that he's moving the pile or pushing him. Does he grab him? Yeah. But it'll never get called because you could make an argument that he was not; especially because he didn't grab him by the arm and literally drag him forward outside of the runner's will. The rule is more about preventing a runner from going down and allowing him to make progress without his ability to do so (basically, the blocker is doing all the work).
Part (a) of the above (the Bush Push) used to be illegal; it isn't any longer.
|3 weeks 3 days ago||Picking nits||
I'd argue this is actually Lead Inside Zone to the weakside of the formation rather than Iso, but I could be wrong there; in essense they work the same here against this D alignment and in most cases, so it doesn't really matter.
My argument would be based on Magnuson's footwork (and that of the rest of the OL). Each OL laterally steps right parallel to the LOS. On an Iso play, I'd like to see Magnuson step directly at the DE so he can plant his head on the inside of his breast plate immediately, and I'd like to see the other OL step directly to their targets rather than step laterally (but again, they may be zoning off the playside anyway). It's the difference between a down block (gap block) and a zone block, the former steps directly to the target so it can quickly turn the target (follow the butts) while the latter initially blocks square and lets the defender dictate which way the OL blocks. May not matter here with the slant on though.
With the defenses alignment, Iso is very difficult to block without zoning it (3 DL to the weakside). So it may, in fact, be a called Iso that they zoned off. Either way though, Brian is correct in how the offense must adjust on the fly to slants/stunts (and how Glasgow/Kalis should have adjusted better, when the guy outside of Kalis slanted inside he should have given a shove, passed off the Kalis, and moved onto the MIKE; FB always blocks WILL here, which is the LB outside the DE in this case) in a gap scheme. Pointing out the Kerridge block is great, it's a very nice adjustment on the fly, something he wasn't doing a couple years ago and has obviously greatly improved (he even got to the right side of the defender, taking him completely out of the play even though he "whiffed" the block, which is why you block to particular targets on defenders).
By the way, bottom left is similar play, though it's missing a defender in the playside B gap, which is why it's so difficult to block Iso here. But it's a walk-up WILL, the harder he charges the lower the FB blocks (and here he cuts):
|3 weeks 3 days ago||The play should have been checked out of probably||
According the the pre-snap alignment, OSU had 4.5 defenders for 4 blockers on the weakside. Now, the slant took the Nose to the backside of the play, so Michigan ended up having enough blockers, but Power O to the strong side would have killed on this play. Down TE/LT to MIKE, arch the CB with the FB, pull the BSG to the other LB and you're in business and OSU can't defender it even with their slant (the down blocks would take care of those).
|3 weeks 3 days ago||Slant messed with Glasgow||
Glasgow was trying to quickly release to reach the MIKE, but the slant knocked him off his track. Kalis/Glasgow should be combo blocking to the MIKE.
|3 weeks 3 days ago||It wasn't allowed then, it is now||
Everyone was doing it, so they just got rid of the rule, as did the NFL (one of the few things either does that makes sense). So it is now allowed.