One-Play One-on-One: Chris Wormley

One-Play One-on-One: Chris Wormley Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 22nd, 2016 at 10:02 AM


[Eric Upchurch]

I saw Chris Wormley on the list of players available to the media Monday and knew that I wanted to talk to him. I didn’t know exactly which play I’d talk to him about; it’s a heck of a luxury to have blind faith in a player’s weekly wrecking of a tight end. Sure enough, I found multiple examples of Wormley taking on a poor, unfortunate tight end after going through the tape. I picked this one because it allowed the opportunity to discuss proper technique when taking on a tight end as well as what a DE sees when he’s flowing down the line of scrimmage to make a tackle.

What did you see in their alignment as you were getting set?

“We knew all along that play set-up. We watched film on it. The tight end was off the line and I knew I was either going to get a reach block from the tackle or cut-off from the tight end. I got a cut-off from the tight end, and usually when a tight end’s on me usually it’s not a good thing for the opposite team. I saw the play and then being the guy that needs to make a play, I made the play.”

Were they tipping run/pass with the back’s alignment?

“You know, they were actually really good at the play-action pass, thinking it’s a run and then trying to get off and pass rush, so I think they did a good job at that. When it’s third down you kind of know it’s a pass, so we’ll be ready for it.”

You said the tight end was trying to cut you off. Technique-wise, what’s the proper technique when a tight end’s trying to do that in terms of your first step, where you want to put your hands, etc.?

“Especially for us, we’re reading the tackle and then depending on what he does your eyes shift to either the tight end or you get your hands on the tackle. My eyes shifted to the tight end, I got my hands on him, and there’s an escape drill that we do every day that comes in handy when you need to get off a block and then make a play.”

As you get your hands on him, are you able to see the mesh point in the backfield to see that the back’s getting the handoff or is the tight end too far in front of you?

“I think it all depends on the certain type of play, but for that play specifically you get your hands on the tight end, you extend, you escape, and then you try to find the ball. If the guy’s still on you it’s kind of hard to make a tackle, so you’ve got to get the defender off you first and then go make the play.”

When you dove into that gap it looked like you might have had it prediagnosed. Was that the case were you thought you knew where it was going to go, or was it more instinctual?

“Yeah. All through the week last week we repped that play. We repped the two different plays that it could have been. Just being a college football player for four years now you can kind of read a tackle and his stance, a tight end and his stance, and see what they’re doing. It’s a play I had to make and I made it.”

When you’re almost airborne like that and trying and make a tackle, what’s the most important thing technique-wise? Is it hand placement?

“I think getting a good base and a good shoulder on the guy. Wrapping is pretty key, especially now with people just trying to throw a shoulder in there or down at the legs. You’ve got to wrap up is the most important thing.”


Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Iowa

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Iowa Comment Count

Brian November 18th, 2016 at 12:13 PM


SPONSOR NOTES: Here is an article about a rate hike "relatively soon," and it's not from Macedonian teenagers. Those Macedonians teens, always with their incorrect news hijinks and saying WHAT ARE THOOOSE in Macedonian. Anyway, now is a good time to get a loan, and later will be a less good time.

In addition to being a gentleman replete with Michigan tickets, Matt is also a good man to know if you need a mortgage. It's striking that we actually get non-astroturfed comments about positive experiences with Matt not infrequently.

If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan may have had two "deep" safeties, but they were not very deep. This was MSU-level #disrespekt for Iowa's ability to punish Michigan over the top, and this was a relatively conservative safety deployment for M in this game.

tight safeties

One guy would generally bail while the other shot into the line of scrimmage. Michigan also used its safeties as SAM linebackers with some regularity. Here Peppers is over the slot and Thomas is tight to the LOS to the bottom of the shot:

4-3 even

Also sometimes I hate directors. This is a presnap shot on third and six.

are you fucking kdding me

There is more than the usual sprinkling of ??? in this chart because of things like this.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Massively reduced rotation. Save an injured Delano Hill the back seven got literally every snap, of which there were 68. Taco Charlton did not leave the field; Wormley only rested on four snaps; Glasgow got 50. Hurst and Godin split snaps about down the middle again; Hurst had a slight edge with 30 to Godin's 24.

Kinnel got 23 snaps as Hill's replacement. Spare parts included Mone(15 snaps), Gary (9), Winovich (3), Lavert Hill(6), and Brandon Watson(3).

[After THE JUMP: [very Kirk voice] WAAAAAAAADLEY]


Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Wisconsin

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Wisconsin Comment Count

Brian October 6th, 2016 at 3:31 PM


SPONSOR NOTES: Also at the Marlin tailgate I met a guy who had refinanced with Matt and was now hanging out with him pregame, because they're buds. I didn't judge. Maybe I judged a little.

In addition to being a gentleman replete with Michigan tickets, Matt is also a good man to know if you need a mortgage. It's striking that we actually get non-astroturfed comments about positive experiences with Matt not infrequently.

If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan spent a lot of time in this formation:

4-3 over press two high

Line is shifted to the TE so that's an over set. Peppers is overhanging the TE. Two deep safeties, press coverage.

They'd also put Peppers inside the end. I called that "4-3 bear".

PERSONNEL NOTES: Wisconsin's manball and constant three and outs caused some shifts in the DL snap distribution. Charlton played every snap—although there were just 53. Wormley and Glasgow were close behind with around 40; Godin and Hurst just about split the other DT spot. Gary (13 snaps), Mone (7), and Winovich(2) rounded out the rotation. Mone's just getting back, obviously; the other two are either freshmen getting their first taste of manball in a game situation or much lighter than alternatives.

The back seven starters never came off the field except for a few dime packages without McCray. Watson(7 snaps) and Kinnel(3) got a little bit of PT on passing downs as extra DBs.

[After THE JUMP: this QB got shook]


Neck Sharpies: Goldilocks and the Three Reach Blocks

Neck Sharpies: Goldilocks and the Three Reach Blocks Comment Count

Seth August 26th, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Once upon a time, there was a little girl with hair wings the color of goldish yellow, kind of like corn, or maize, or maybe the 14th most populous city in Texas if that makes sense. (She also had a phase where she dyed it neon. A lot of people bitched about what color this was, actually).

Anyway, one day she went for a walk in the forest. Pretty soon, she came upon the house where lived three bears. She knocked and, when no one answered, she walked right in.

Earlier this week I went over what a reach block is. There's actually a play where they're trying to reach block all three relevant linemen. It's called a zone stretch, also known as outside zone. And no, it doesn't actually rely on everyone getting reached; in fact all sorts of things are expected to go wrong, with guys getting help and offensive players coached to react to defensive reactions.

Those links cover what the offense does, but how should the defense play it? Indiana ran a lot of zone stretch against Michigan in 2015 and on one in particular I thought we got a nice example of the actions and reactions that go into these plays.


Zone blocking asks the OL to get the best block they can based on what the defense does, and as you might have guessed a reach block is the best block you can pull off. On a stretch play the OL will ID the defender they need to get playside of by how the D aligns, and the way they play the block is determined by how the guy getting block reacts. The RB then picks whatever hole materializes.

There are three different reach attempts going on here:


  1. The LT (Jason Spriggs) will reach/cut Godin (top)
  2. The LG (Jacob Bailey) will try to reach Willie Henry (middle) with a minor assist from the C (Jake Reed) as he releases.
  3. The RG (Dan Feeney) and RT will try to scoop Chris Wormley.

A scoop is a combination block where the OL lined up outside blocks the defensive player until the guy doing the reaching can get in position. Once they've got another guy around, the outside man releases to block someone else. Teams that run a lot of zone will get good at combo-ing with each other, and it's rare that any reach block is purely the work of one man. Even in our last example Braden lent Mason Cole an arm.

[After THE JUMP, too soft, too hard, and just right]


What Is: A Reach Block

What Is: A Reach Block Comment Count

Seth August 24th, 2016 at 12:00 PM

This is a new series I've begun to serve as an ad hoc glossary of specific football concepts/terminology that get thrown around in our articles. The plan is to discuss as they come up and then (probably forget to) link them when we're talking about this stuff down the road.


When an offensive lineman blocks a defensive player who's lined up playside of him. For example on this play Mason Cole is going to block this guy:


…on a play going to the right of him.  In other words this play is going to the defender's left, and it's Mason Cole's job is to be in the way of that defender going left.


There are lots of O-line technique videos out there but here's the simplest:

The reaching blocker takes a short (that's key) step at an angle toward the defender's opposite shoulder. That puts him in a stance sort of like that of an Olympic sprinter, so his next step can launch him across that defender and get your helmet across the defender's torso. Lock in that victory by putting the inside arm into the defender's outside number, and pivot around to seal. The key is quick feet and a wide stance to not get off-balance—remember the defender is also fighting.


Yuh huh. The lineman has a fraction of a second between when the ball is snapped and the defense starts to read the blocking to get around that guy, get leverage, and seal the dude being blocked before dude can put a stop to this. It is the hardest of blocks.

Coaches emphasize different talking points but the basics are a short first step toward the outside shoulder, get your arms into him and your head across to seal, all the while keeping your feet apart so don't get knocked off.

Back when (IU OL coach) Greg Frey was at Michigan under Rich Rod, Michigan would try this a handful of times a game, and Molk was better at this than just about anyone I've watched closely. In fact Brian had a Picture Pages in 2008 to show Molk getting a guy lined up outside the guard.


Michigan tried a bunch in 2007, when they were a zone stretch team. This had varying results: Jake Long and (former tight end) Adam Kraus could pull it off occasionally; Justin Boren, Jeremy Ciulla, Alex Mitchell and Reuben Riley were comically bad at it. Against FBS competition it takes a very agile player.

[After THE JUMP: running it, and defending it]


Anonymous Quotes from Big Ten Players

Anonymous Quotes from Big Ten Players Comment Count

Michael Spath July 29th, 2016 at 4:07 PM


[Patrick Barron]

[Ed—Seth: Every year, by tradition, Mike Spath (@MichaelSpath198), one of the best journalists on the Michigan beat and bar none the best source of Michigan hockey info, also generates the only content I ever care about from Big Ten Media Days, offering anonymity to opposing players in return for their unvarnished opinions on Michigan players.

Spath has departed The Wolverine, but he still went to Media Days and got those golden quotes. He was at WTKA this morning and shared some of them with Sam Webb. You can listen to the entire segment on WTKA's website here. With their permission, Adam and I transcribed the parts that were paraphrased from those players.

Note: "paraphrased." Note again: I SAID PARAPHRASED. On a lot of these Spath is combining several players' thoughts, and he was talking on the radio. Please don't construe that into misquotations that result in me being chased by a tall blond man who in turn is being chased by a Big Ten athlete.

If you want more Spath, he'll be contributing some at, and is expected to become a regular contributor on WTKA.]


HOW THIS WORKS: So I’ve gotten some harsh feedback on Twitter saying “you know, if I was going to say something critical I’d put my name to it,” but that’s not the way that it goes. I don’t go up to them and say “Sam, I’m going to ask you a question and I want you to put your name on it.” I’ll say “Sam, I want to ask you some really honest feedback about Michigan football,” and the only way you’re going to give it to me is if I don’t quote you—if I don’t use your name.”

And so that’s how I do it and I would say this: if you’re a pretty smart person you can probably figure out that I went up to Indiana players, I went to Minnesota players, Rutgers players, Illinois players … and Northwestern.

So those are the five teams I was able to approach. It was a little more difficult this year—Sam you were there, and they didn’t go into roundtables where you have a lot more one-on-one times. So you really had to wait these guys out, and I waited until the last five minutes when they were completely empty, or I wasn’t afraid to—when a guy was getting up and leaving the podium when he’s done with his hour, or walking down the hallway with him. Because that’s when you’re gonna get the good stuff: when there’s nobody else around, and you have to really assure him: “I’m NOT gonna use your name.” You can see the light bulb going on in their head for that first second like: “I don’t know about I really wanna do this?”

But eventually, and here’s the thing too, is that when you ask these questions—and I’ve seen other people try to do it—I think if you ask generic questions you get generic answers. If you ask specific questions, you get specific answers. And so a lot of the time what I’ve focused on is specific players.



“The player that they played against in November: we had six games of film on him from earlier in the season, and who was that player? This was a guy that caught everything, was a big play waiting to happen. There’s a play where he caught the ball in the middle of the field against us, and we had two guys right there, and we thought we had the angle on him, and he pulled away!”

“There’s track speed and there’s football speed, and this guy’s got football speed. I couldn’t believe how unbelievably fast this guy was, and how much of a difference he made over the course of the second half of the season.”



I posted some of these things to Twitter and there’s already this Jourdan Lewis thing that blew up big time:

One guy said that the reason they throw at Jourdan Lewis is there’s not a fear factor. And I immediately got jumped on and ripped on. I think when you read the whole quote it’s a little more understanding.

The guy was talking about how they didn’t complete much last year—they only completed 36% of their passes that they threw at him. But they did throw at him, because he had 90 targets according to Pro Football Focus, and that’s the tenth most at any specific defensive back in the country. So I mean you’re talking about 127 teams, talking about four defensive backs for the most part on every team, so you’re looking at 400 players and he’s the tenth-most thrown-at? That’s pretty crazy for a guy who’s only giving up a 36% completion. And the guy said to me:

“You know we didn’t complete much, but he didn’t get many interceptions.” So I asked him a little bit more—why did you keep throwing at him, and he said “What did he have interceptions-wise compared to Desmond King? Two or three?” (The answer’s two). “You weren’t going to complete many passes if you threw his way, but he wasn’t going to pick you off either. You didn’t have to fear the turnover if you threw it.”

And I said “So you didn’t fear him?”

And he’s like “We didn’t fear him: no.”

So when I’m trying to present this as “there wasn’t a fear factor” that’s not really how the quote comes off. [Sam and Spath talked a bit about man-to-man versus cover 2. Upshot: the difference with Desmond King is cover 2 cornerbacks are facing the ball the whole play.]

[Hit THE JUMP for Victims of Glasgow and Wormley Anonymous, Glasgows, Guards, and Peppers]


Upon Further Review: Defense vs Florida

Upon Further Review: Defense vs Florida Comment Count

Brian July 29th, 2016 at 11:36 AM

HomeSure-Lending_logo_tagIt lives part II! When Homesure Lending sponsored these posts, Matt admonished me that his sponsorship was contingent on me actually doing all of them. So, yeah, next time you see him buy him a beer and get a mortgage. Matt just pinged me in case a refi made sense, demonstrating that 1) he's always on the lookout if he can save you money and 2) rates must be even more absurdly low than they were a couple years ago.

Matt's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call. (No pants required.)

Formation notes: Michigan spent almost the entire game in nickel, as you would expect against a spread. There were only a few plays on which they deployed odd formations. Here RJS is a standup DT in a dime package on third and eleven:

dime standup dt

This was "dime standup DT," because sometimes obvious is obvious. Michigan also had a couple plays where they walked out a bonafide linebacker over WR bunches:


But it was mostly standard stuff as Florida failed to threaten those formations.

Substitution notes: Peppers missed this game with a broken hand. Michigan moved Lewis inside and played Clark and Stribling on the outside. Thomas and Hill rotated at one safety spot next to Wilson. LB was the usual Morgan/Bolden pairing with both guys getting spotted by Gedeon.

DL was variable, with Wormley seeing time at three tech and SDE; Charlton was at WDE and SDE; RJS got a lot of WDE time. Hurst and Henry started at DT and got the bulk of the snaps. Marshall saw some snaps at WDE. Godin and Strobel saw scattered snaps on the interior. Brady Pallante even got a few plays in.

[After THE JUMP: way less data than the offense provided.]


Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs PSU

Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs PSU Comment Count

Brian November 26th, 2015 at 11:38 AM

HomeSure-Logo-NMLS-14_thumb_thumb_th[3]Upon Further Review has a sponsor.

Happy Thanksgiving. Merry Thanksgiving? I'm trying not to accidentally have a war on Christmas here. Whichever Thanksgiving greeting you feel is appropriate appears in this space along with a reminder that Matt's good at making mortgages happen and a solid all-around dude, so if you're in the market you could do a lot worse.

Matt's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.

FORMATION NOTES: Standard stuff from Michigan to the point where I forgot to take a screenshot. Here is a picture of Hackenberg getting swarmed instead.


[Eric Upchurch]

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Charlton moved to buck/WDE. With him there it's WDE. RJS backed him up an got a healthy number of snaps. Hurst, Henry, and Wormley got the vast bulk of the remaining DL snaps. Strobel got in for a few. Godin had a little bit more playing time than Strobel but maybe a dozen snaps total.

Gedeon rotated in for both Morgan and Bolden periodically. Bolden seemed to get more rest than Morgan. Gedeon might have been in there a quarter of the time. Ross played a reasonable amount as a SAM in 4-3 sets.

Secondary was as per usual now, with Hill the dime back behind Thomas. Stribling got scattered snaps. In the 4-3 Peppers and Lewis were the corners.

[After THE JUMP: diatribe! Three plays that went poorly! And then good stuff!]