Monday Presser 10-17-16: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 10-17-16: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 17th, 2016 at 5:52 PM

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[Fuller/MGoBlog]

Graham Glasgow started for the Lions. Did you see that, and is there some kind of a similarity between him and Jordan [Glasgow] in terms of temperament; he was just Special Teams Player of the Week.

“Yeah, I mean, they’re brothers. Similar. Very similar, yeah. Similar parents.”

In terms of their temperament and the way they approach the game, is there something there?

“Yeah. All three brothers are really smart guys, good guys, good teammates, good football players. Breed ‘em well in the Glasgow family.”

You guys had the knee braces on the offensive line. Did you guys have a talk about that after Grant [Newsome] got injured or what led to that?

“Yeah, yeah. No longer optional. All linemen are wearing knee braces.”

What is Grant’s status now? Is he out of the hospital and what’s his prognosis at this stage?

“Um…there’s been good progress and he still has more surgeries to go.”

Without specifics, can you talk about your recruiting trips and how you got involved with the chain gain and the homecoming announcement?

“Yeah, I was asked to announce the winner at the homecoming game, and Tatiana Mendez was the winner. It was great to be a part of the activity. Then the chain gang, we needed a guy and was promised a tri-tip steak sandwich at halftime. That was all I needed to hear. That was a lot of fun.”

Can you assess the play of Kalis and the right side of the line?

“He’s really--somebody asked last week how is his intensity and that’s really what he does. That’s his forte. He’s—he brings to the whole offense a great amount of intensity and good physical play. Strength. The lost art of toughness in football. Also, the valuable talent that is toughness and strength. It’s a respected quality.”

[Hit THE JUMP for more]

This Week's Obsession: Midseason Roundtable Espectaculo

This Week's Obsession: Midseason Roundtable Espectaculo

Submitted by Brian on October 12th, 2016 at 11:57 AM

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So far the train’s on time. [Bryan Fuller]

As is tradition, we go long for the midpoint.

The Questions:

1. Most pleasant surprise?
2. Biggest downer?
3. Most improved player?
4. Guy who will emerge in the second half of the season?
5. Expectations relative to preseason outlook?
6. Biggest surprise in the conference?
7. Ditto, except national?
8. Predict three stats, individual or team, that will be by year's end.

The Responses:

1. Most pleasant surprise?

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Linebackers have not been a problem [Bryan Fuller]

Adam: The linebackers. What seemed like a weak point heading into the season has been anything but a liability. Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray have been great in the run game and good in coverage, and their athleticism has not gone unnoticed by us or by the stat sheet; Gedeon's second on the team with 7.5 TFLs and has 3.0 sacks, while McCray has 4.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, and 3 PBUs. Peppers has been generating earnest Heisman hype this week in part because of his 32 tackles, 10 TFLs, and 2.5 sacks (and also because he's so good that his head coach has to go back to the early 20th century to find a comparable athlete), and including him with the linebackers leaves a position group sans concerns.

Seth: Agree on Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray. Also it's fun to have blitzing from that position again: Adam mentioned that Gedeon already has 7.5 TFLs—that means he’s on pace to beat the 14 that Bolden (6.5), Morgan (2), and Ross (5.5) had combined in 2015.

David: Karan Higdon. He got like 5-10 snaps last year, looked ok-ish, then disappeared. With Walker and Evans coming in (and potentially other big names in 2017), I was wondering if he would get passed by. NOPE!

Brian: Matt Godin. He got lucky with some injury issues for Hurst and Mone but both guys are back now and Godin's playing time isn't budging. He's been productive beyond expectations, and here I should remind you that I was advocating for a role for him in the season preview since he's always been a solid... SDE.

That he's playing DT and mostly holding up to double teams is a leap in performance I could not project. Hurst has been the more dynamic player and I do expect him to suck up more snaps as the season goes on, but Godin may have even played himself into late-round NFL drat chatter.

Ace: I’ll go with the most Harbaugh answer here and say Khalid Hill. Some of what he’s done has been expected; we knew coming out of high school that he was a skilled receiver, and that’s translated over to fullback, where he’s made a habit of picking throws off his shoestrings in the flat and still turning upfield for extra yardage. The surprising parts have been his blocking, which has been solid between the tackles and often spectacular in the open field, and his knack for converting goal-to-go situations. I mean, he dubbed himself the Hammering Panda, and we’re going to not only let the self-nicknaming slide—we’re running with it ourselves.

[Hit THE JUMP for the other seven]

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Wisconsin

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Wisconsin

Submitted by Brian on October 6th, 2016 at 3:31 PM

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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]

Punting Is Winning Again

Punting Is Winning Again

Submitted by Brian on October 3rd, 2016 at 12:34 PM

10/1/2016 – Michigan 14, Wisconsin 7 – 5-0, 2-0 Big Ten

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[Eric Upchurch]

I was scared once.

Let's dispense with the I ain't scurrred talk: football is terrifying and brings you to your knees and you can either admit this to yourself or embark on a life of chest-puffing Brandon stuff. Michigan hadn't won a game against a top ten team in 12 tries. When they're tied deep into the second half after spurning a pile of opportunities to make it a contest that's only kinda-sorta competitive you're goddamn right the idea they'd lose a game to a team that might as well have started drives on third and eight was bowel-shaking.

Anyway. Channing Stribling fell over and Alex Hornibrook heaved the ball at his receiver. It seemed long from the get go and turned out to be long, but you never know. As that mortar arched back towards earth my annoyance momentarily morphed into terror, because this was the kind of game where 7-7 is a war and 14-7 is a surrender. That ball clanged harmlessly to the turf. Wilton Speight's deep shot to Amara Darboh did not.

Hornibrook negotiated terms shortly thereafter, and hello it is October and it's hard to see a loss on Michigan's schedule until what's looking a lot like Football Armageddon II. Bill Connelly's fancystats have Michigan a two-touchdown favorite in every game before The Game, and it's not hard to see Vegas issuing double-digit spreads until then. This is the elite team it is supposed to be, even if someone needs to hit the field goal kickers with a frying pan until they remember to put it through the uprights.

This is because of the defense. Many expectations were piled upon it this offseason, and all have thus far been redeemed. You've seen it with your personal sensory organs. I have as well. I have seen other defenses, many of them, and the sense of serene calm when Michigan punts has only been matched by 1997 and 2006 in my experience. Michigan passes the eye test. They pass the scouting test. PFF has seven different Michigan DL with 100 snaps charted and a grade of 75 or above, which is bonkers.

And they pass the computer test. As of today Michigan is the #1 defense in S&P+ by a furlong and a half:

image

The gap between them and #2 Florida is bigger than the gap between Florida and #10 Washington. They are first or second in any capacity you'd like to name, and complaints about schedule strength start to ring hollow when Colorado is lighting up everyone they come across with a backup quarterback who netted –4 yards against Michigan and Wisconsin ends up with half the yards they did against LSU or MSU.

Michigan's supposed weakness on defense isn't one, and everything else is coming in at or above expectations. People used to say things like "punting is winning" and mean them as something other than shots at Kirk Ferentz. That's because football used to look a lot like Saturday's game: trench warfare punctuated with one or two seismic moments. I have an old feeling, and a good feeling, about this football team.

------------------------------------------

With Iowa playing competitive games against Rutgers and Indiana going toe-to-toe with Michigan State, thoughts inevitably turn to the roadblock at the end of the season. The team has to take things one game at a time. I don't. I can take them six or twenty at a time. I can know the names of a couple of large men in the 2019 class at Belleville, because it's never too early to think about 2023.

So. This defense and the great roadblock. One of those previous defenses had a fatal flaw. One did not. The 2006 defense had one and a half excellent cornerbacks and no nickel package. Leon Hall would go on to a long NFL career. Morgan Trent had a cup of coffee in the league. Michigan went up against an OSU spread offense with Chris Graham as their spacebacker. This was part poor roster construction and part horrendous gameplanning; Michigan was put to the sword by Troy Smith.

You'd think that's in the past now, but just last year a good, if depleted, Michigan defense entered the OSU game with a plan to do the exact same thing they'd done the rest of the year and got ripped for 300 yards on the ground, yet again. The failures linger and give you pause when you project down the road, especially since this does not seem like a rebuilding year for the Great Satan. Worry, worry, worry.

Still, Jabrill Peppers is not Chris Graham. Michigan just crushed a manball team without taking their 210 pound linebacker-type substance off the field. They are not running a defense that tells you which guy is not going to play the run presnap. They have survived the first five games with a just couple of injury scares on the defensive line. I am thinking Michigan might be able to punt a lot and win, even down in Columbus.

HIGHLIGHTS

Parkinggod:

AWARDS

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[Eric Upchurch]

-2535ac8789d1b499[1]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

you're the man now, dog

#1 Ryan Glasgow forced Channing Stribling's second interception by hitting Hornibrook as he threw and spent the rest of the day tossing UW's poor center to the ground, whether it was run or pass. He didn't rack up many counting stats because of the nature of the Badger offense but he's in line for a big-ass UFR grade.

#2 Kyle Kalis was a pile-mover in a game that needed to move many piles. Michigan's run game was decidedly right-handed in this one, and Kalis didn't have the protection issues Magnuson did. The repeated zone reads with Peppers were an impressive demonstration of Michigan's ability to shoot a very good defense off the ball.

#3 Jourdan Lewis was only targeted twice. One was incomplete. One has been photoshopped into a nouveau Jumpman logo. In addition to those two incidents, Lewis had two excellent plays in run defense that shut down Wisconsin attempts to get to the edge.

Honorable mention: uh, everyone on defense. Amara Darboh was the main target on Michigan's second touchdown drive.

KFaTAotW Standings.

5: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado), Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Wilton Speight (#1 UCF).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW).
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU), Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU), Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU), Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU), Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

Speight bombs one over the top to Darboh for the winning points.

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[Upchurch]

Honorable mention: The Lewis interception.

WGIBTUs Past.

Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

For the second consecutive week this is a key piece being knocked out, probably for the season. Grant Newsome took a cut from a defensive back that resulted in a knee injury "as serious as a knee injury can be" and Michigan has to find out what they've got behind him now.

Honorable mention: Wisconsin scores an actual touchdown; any of three different makeable field goals go awry; Speight gets picked off; Michigan takes 34 consecutive penalties on special teams.

PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs

Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.

[After THE JUMP: one bushel of beets please]

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Penn State

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Penn State

Submitted by Brian on September 28th, 2016 at 3:16 PM

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SPONSOR NOTES: Getting a mortgage with Matt is a matter of collecting your documents, getting them uploaded to the secure server, and then checking out a set of rates while wearing whatever you want, like pants. Or... not pants.

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: Okay. Breaking things into front and cover look seems to be mostly functional. By "press" I mean that the two outside corners are in press. Usually the slots are still a number of yards off. This was a 4-2-5 package. The front is nickel over—Peppers is playing S and the line slides towards the run strength—and the cover look was press two high:

press two high

Goal line package was called 4-4 press zero:

press zero

When Michigan went to a dime package they had a couple of different approaches. This is a 3-man front like you'd see in a 3-4 with OLBs flanking it and just one ILB:

3-3 split

I called this front 3-3 split. They also did some wacky stuff, like putting all three DL to one side of the line:

heavy slide 3-3-5

"Heavy slide 3-3-5." Taco Charlton, the nominal nose tackle, will help tackle an outside run to the top of the field.

And as a reminder I'm lumping all fronts with a bunch of dudes at the LOS under "okie":

okie

BTW, "half press" or "off" looks are usually zone so far.

PERSONNEL NOTES: Just 57 defensive snaps and a ton of rotation on the DL. Charlton seems all the way back and in fact took the most of any DL(39); Godin, Glasgow, Hurst, Wormley, and Gary all had around 30. Winovich got 22.

The two ILBs got every snap until the final drive; McCray was lifted a few times when Michigan went to passing down packages. Furbush debuted for the final two drives. Stribling, Hill, Peppers, Thomas, and Lewis were near-omnipresent. Clark got just 15 snaps before his exit; Kinnel got 23.

[After THE JUMP: this is turning into the usual Penn State game.]

One Frame At A Time: Penn State

One Frame At A Time: Penn State

Submitted by Ace on September 27th, 2016 at 4:45 PM

"I've been thinking a lot about this over the last four, five, six weeks," Harbaugh said after No. 4 Michigan's win. "Because I am the football coach doesn't mean I can dictate to people what they believe. I support our guys. I think this is something, it's not going away, it's gonna keep happening."

Jim Harbaugh didn't know ahead of time about the pregame display of unity and strength by members of the football team, but hearing his postgame comments, it's clear his players have his full support. That became even more important yesterday, when racist propaganda was posted around campus, prompting a denouncement of the fliers from the University and a protest at the Fishbowl.

I know how our readers feel about getting politics mixed with their sports, so I'll keep this brief, though as Harbaugh said, this isn't something that's going away. As a human being, I was horrified to see what appeared on campus yesterday; as a Michigan grad, I could not be more proud of the actions and statements from the players, the support and response from the program, and the swift action taken by many on campus. I hope we can all agree that hate has no home at U-M. For far more nuanced thoughts on this, I strongly encourage you to read these pieces by MTV News's Jane Coaston, a Michigan grad, and SBNation's Spencer Hall.

And now, let's see that ref take a football to the face again.

[Hit THE JUMP for the Penn State game in GIFs.]

Wednesday Presser 9-21-16: Chris Partridge

Wednesday Presser 9-21-16: Chris Partridge

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 22nd, 2016 at 11:17 AM

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[Fuller/MGoBlog]

The linebackers on Saturday said they were getting sucked up sometimes in play action. On some of those slants, is that one of those cases where they were just a little too aggressive?

“Yeah, I mean, I think so. The bottom line is we want to stop the run first and foremost. That’s just kind of a learning thing, a seeing thing. I think we’re going to get better at that. But yeah, they did, they got sucked up a little bit in trying to stop the run. We’ve got to work on it and get a better feel.”

Talk about the impact of special teams and how it helped turn that thing around Saturday.

“Yeah, special teams is a huge facet of every game and we want to always make an impact. Our team, we talk about attacking and putting the opponent on their heels in all special teams categories. I think we were able to have an impact. It’s funny, because to everyone else it’s like ‘Oh, what tremendous game’ and then to me it’s like we left so much out there. We can get a lot better and make more impact plays on teams, and we’re working at that and working to build off of the game to do some more stuff. Yeah, we felt good and felt that we were able to contribute. That’s all we want to do is get out there and if the team needs a big-time special teams play, we want to be able to make it and switch the momentum.”
With the punt game and the amount of kicks you guys are effecting, are you doing something different schematically or is that just having the right guys in the right places?

“You know, it’s a lot of different things right. What I’m going to say is that the kids have bought in, they’re going hard, they’re understanding it, they love it, they take pride in it, and we’re doing whatever we see to try to effect it. We got a weapon back there, so it’s kind of fun calling that game because you kind of can do some different things and try to figure out what they’re trying to do. And then these guys have really bought into it. It’s cool.”

Jabrill being in the back gives you more options with the other ten guys on the field?

“Oh, absolutely, yeah. I mean, it’s a matter of are they coming with a block, are they coming with a hold up, are they coming with a block and a hold up, are they setting a wall—it’s just different things in different areas of the field what we’re able to do. He makes us more dynamic, I think, as any returner does.”

[After THE JUMP: why teams might still kick to Jabrill, more on the linebackers, fixing field goal issues, and how many plays Jabrill would play if he had his way]

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Colorado

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Colorado

Submitted by Brian on September 21st, 2016 at 4:06 PM

HomeSure-Lending_logo_tagSPONSOR NOTES: Got a couple of requests to re-record the podcast commercial featuring Matt and his kids because it sounds like Matt has dragooned his offspring into this. Well, yeah, that's what offspring are for. Matt is a man who will dragoon for you. That's not something everyone can say, because not everyone knows what that word means. Matt does!

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.

IDIOT DIRECTOR NOTES: This goober zoomed in so close to almost everything and provided zero high-angle replays, so I'm doing a lot more guessing about coverages than I usually do. As a result some plays of interest aren't clipped because the interesting bits I remember from the game aren't actually on the screen.

FORMATION NOTES: Okay, I separated front and cover look, and am still not satisfied with the results. "Press" was anything with hard corners on guys on the LOS:

press 

Off was off. This was two high, and also the post TD.

One high version of same:

2016 Michigan vs Colorado 1st Half.wmv_snapshot_00.13.34_[2016.09.21_15.55.43]

Still a work in progress.

Michigan and Colorado didn't do anything too weird except for some offset three man lines I'm just piling in as "exotic."

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Again a tight rotation, which makes yet more burned redshirts puzzling. Wormley and Glasgow led the way on the DL with 53 of 71 snaps; Godin, Winovich, and Garry all got around 40. Hurst got 27 and since he played well I'm guessing they're trying to keep his workload light as he continues to recover from whatever held him out of the opener.

Linebacker was as you'd expect, with Starters getting the whole game minus some personnel package items. Gedeon is the guy who stays in when Michigan has just one true LB on the field.

Secondary was also low rotation, with Thomas, Stribling, and Clark playing every snap. Hill got dinged up and missed 16; Kinnel saw 20 snaps, most meaningful; Watson had 18.

WTF burned redshirt of the week goes to Carlo Kemp and his four snaps.

[After THE JUMP: panic calibration.]

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs UCF

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs UCF

Submitted by Brian on September 15th, 2016 at 4:16 PM

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SPONSOR NOTES: So we fixed the link, as someone informed us that the page had been password protected for seemingly no reason. That is no longer the case. You can go over to Matt's site and be lovingly led through the process of financing a home purchase now. Alacrity, that's the ticket.

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: Okay. I added a column. "D Pack" is short for defensive package and lists the personnel. 4-2-5 is Michigan's standard with two ILBs and Peppers on the field. Peppers counts as part of the 5 because he can play CB and S, which he did in this game. 3-2-6 lifts a DL for (currently) a safety. There was one 4-0-7 with Peppers at LB and six other DBs on the field.

I'm still sifting through what I want to do with the other columns. I'm probably going to split Front into Front and Coverage, but given how complicated coverages are these days and my lack of ability to see downfield sometimes that'll be noisy data.

Anyway. Most of the stuff wasn't crazy. I called this 4-3 SAM slide, as it's a 4-3 even with Peppers on the end of the line:

4-3 sam slide

This was a more standard 4-3.

pop-slant-1

PERSONNEL NOTES: Almost zero rotation in this game. Starting defense when the whole way, with all 68 snaps given to the starting  DBs. Kinnel and Watson got 10 and 7 snaps in various dime packages; Lavert Hill got in for that 4-0-7 play.

Peppers, Gedeon, and McCray all missed one snap. The DL rotated six guys close to evenly. By snap counts: Winovich(55), Glasgow(47), Godin(40), Wormley(36), Gary(33), Hurst(33). Marshall got 13 and was the only other DL to play.

[After THE JUMP: calm with bursts of WTF]

What Is: Contain/Lane Integrity

What Is: Contain/Lane Integrity

Submitted by Seth on September 13th, 2016 at 11:27 AM

“The more you tighten your grip, Governor Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”  –Princess Leia

It is one of the easiest ways to sound like a knowledgeable football watcher: The pass rush is closing in. The receivers are all covered. Then suddenly the quarterback is running through air. “Contain!” you yell with appropriate obviousness to the people who obviously aren’t paying attention. “You must keep contain!”

CONTAIN

Contain is a concept put in every play design, a plan to be understood before every snap, and a mantra to keep in mind. “Contain” isn’t limited to pass rush; in fact it’s exactly what a Force Player is doing on any given run. Coaches don’t use this term so often—rather you’ll hear them talk about “lane integrity” or “leverage”.

GAP/LANE INTEGRITY

Before the snap, every play is a running play, because that’s where the ball is. No matter the defense, the defenders will have gap responsibilities, sometimes more than one.

image

GAPS: Are usually labeled A to whatever. Brown doesn’t go beyond D (which he defines as off a tight end’s butt). The A gaps are between the center and the guards. B gaps are between the guards and tackles. C gaps are between the tackles and whatever tight ends or backfield material exists.

[Hit THE JUMP to solve the mystery]