One-Play One-on-One: Tyree Kinnel

One-Play One-on-One: Tyree Kinnel Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 21st, 2017 at 2:53 PM



It’s been a slow season when it comes to the addition of new phrases to Harbaugh’s vernacular, but one thing he’s mentioned a few times this season that has stuck with me is one’s “football sensibilities.” This is very much a feel thing, and it’s the reason I picked this play. Wisconsin blocks this as well as they can; there’s a Mack-truck-sized lane for the back with one guy to shake. Each guy has an opportunity; someone will succeed, someone will fail. It’s binary. It’s brutal. It’s decisive. That appeals to my football sensibilities.

What were you expecting from them at that point?

“I had a read and I seen the fullback come to my side off a little short motion, and then I just read off the fullback and I tried to get down to the line of scrimmage as fast as I could. So as soon as I came down there and read the fullback’s block I tried to fit the hole as fast as I could and get my arms on the running back and tried to get him down as fast as I could, so that was pretty much my read on that play.”

It was 2nd-and-6 at that point, so pretty much everything’s available to them. Were they tipping anything as far as run or pass goes?

“Oh yeah. We seen how heavy their hands were on the ground with the linemen, and the D-line gives the linebackers the checks and the linebackers give us the check and we read that really well and I came down and executed the play really well.”

The receiver on the outside was running a drag. Did you see him and have to get underneath him first or was he not really an issue?

“On that play I did not. Josh Metellus was in the back helping the corner with that coverage.”

You were talking about the fullback earlier. Once he motions over, you basically know where the play’s going to go?

“Yeah, yeah. Watched film on them all week and saw that type of motion. They had more plays out of that type of motion, but I was very confident on that play. Got down there and trusted my gut feeling and made the play.”

That hole opened up perfectly for you to make the tackle, but were you expecting, based on what you’d watched on film, the back to bounce?

“I was expecting him to hit the hole harder, I thought, a little bit at me. I didn’t expect him to bounce it back inside, which he tried to do, and then I just tried to trace it back and get my arms on him, which I did. I did expect him to hit that hole. Like you said, it was wide open, and I tried to get down there as fast as I could to close it because, you know, once it’s not closed you know he has room and he’s a good back. He can make you miss, so I just tried to get down there as fast as I could.”

So when he decided to bounce he saw that you were in the hole and there was nowhere else to go and last minute he decided to cut?

“Yeah, I don’t know what he seen but yeah, I think that might have been the reason why. Me getting down there so fast, he wanted to cut it back. So, like I said, I just tried to get down there and just fill the hole as fast as I could.”

Technique-wise, what’s most important when you’ve got pretty much a free hit like that?

“You just want to bring your feet and shoulders to the tackle. When you make contact you want to keep your feet going, especially with a back like that. He’s big, and once he gets contact  he’s going to keep his feet moving, so you want to get your body on his body and keep your feet moving and just wait for your guys to get there to finish it off.”


One-Play One-on-One: Patrick Kugler

One-Play One-on-One: Patrick Kugler Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 14th, 2017 at 11:02 AM



I sat down to do my usual Sunday-night film dig and didn’t have to dig far to find the play I wanted to go through on Monday. I started with Chris Evans’ vault because a human wearing full pads shouldn’t be able to jump over another pad-wearing, presumably angry human whose only object is to fling their mass into said person. I didn’t even get to the vault itself before something at the top of the screen caught my eye: the numbers printed on the back of a Maryland defensive lineman’s jersey. Like leaping a person, that, too, is a sight to behold on the football field. To gain additional insight, I asked Patrick Kugler about the technique behind how he and Ben Bredeson spun that guy.

Let’s start broad: were the defensive linemen tipping anything during the game?

“No. The formation that we were in, we knew kind of what they were going to be in and we knew that inside zone scheme was going to be pretty good because it’s a box-sensitive play which means you can only have [redacted] in the box usually for the play to work but by spreading them out with the three-receiver set we knew that one of the linebackers was going to go out and cover the slot, so it allowed us to get good double teams up to the backers and yeah, got to see Chris make the pretty sweet play.”

So I wanted to talk about the art of the double team. Take me through that. What’s most important? Is it speed off the ball or is it leverage or is it something else?

“I think the most important thing is getting hip to hip, definitely. With the 2i, because he’s playing on Ben [Bredeson], Ben’s got to get a good initial lift on him. Then I come in and get really tight with him, and if I bring a lot of power to that we’re going to get some good movement, so it’s all about that initial pop and getting hip to hip and being able to drive them off the ball.”

How’d you end up turning that 2i?

“Like I said, yeah, Ben got two really good steps down and was able to turn his shoulder a little bit which allowed me to get in there and kind of get squared up on him, allowing Ben to work up to the backer.”

To go back to double teams for a second, does it depend at all on chemistry and time on task with the guy next to you, or is that something where if you’re both sound technically you can kind of plug and play?

“It definitely helps when you have a lot of practice at it. Coach Drevno does a great job. We work at double teams countless hours during the week. Yeah, but it definitely becomes an art form. I think me and Ben got a pretty good feel for most of our double teams because we’ve been doing it all season. Me and Mike [Onwenu] as well and Cesar [Ruiz], just getting everyone in there. But it definitely takes a lot of work to get a really good double team.”


One-Play One-on-One: Maurice Hurst

One-Play One-on-One: Maurice Hurst Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 7th, 2017 at 2:01 PM



Thor: Ragnarok just came out. Justice League comes out later this month. Some people don't like "comic book movies" because they say they're too unrealistic. If you ever run into one of those people, show them this GIF and whisper "I've seen some things." Their argument is instantly invalid.

Was the offensive line tipping anything in this game?

“A little bit. We were able to get a read on a couple of the pass stances that they were showing. I think the biggest thing for that play is that I was able to see the running back go in motion, and once the running back goes in motion they didn’t really have any quarterback runs where they were using the quarterback to draw or anything. I just knew it was going to be a pass, so I sort of switched my stance to a little bit more of a pass stance and got off the ball as quick as I could.”

So it’s an opportunity for you to pin your ears back there on second down.


It was 2nd-and-12, so what were you expecting from them at that point?

“They were actually running the ball a little bit on their second and long drives. I think six was kind of their cut-off where they were passing the ball. Just expecting run first, but then once the running back went in motion was able to expect that was going to be a pass.”

What’s the first thing you noticed about the guard once the ball was snapped?

“Just leaning back and sort of getting into his pass set. That was kind of where I was, and then once I sort of engage the guy I was able to get control of his hands and sort of control the man. I think that was probably the reason I was able to bull him back is that I was able to get control of his hands and use my leverage against him and was able to knock him back into the quarterback.”

From a technique perspective, what was he trying to do to you?

“He was just setting back far. Probably a little more afraid of speed than power. Normally when guards set back really far they’re trying to protect themselves against speed, so doing that kind of leaves them vulnerable to power moves. So once he started leaning back his momentum’s going that way so it kind of just carried back towards him.”

Looked like he got a hand in your face. Were you able to tell that you had even gotten to the quarterback? Did you just keep bulling through him or did you know which direction to push?

“Yeah, I mean, I could see the quarterback but one of the things is I thought the quarterback was going to scramble out of it so I was just trying to bull him, and then once I saw the quarterback was still there I just sort of reached out for him and was able to get a sack on him.”


One-Play One-on-One: Karan Higdon

One-Play One-on-One: Karan Higdon Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 31st, 2017 at 1:57 PM



I usually try to go with a play that isn’t the first one you’d rip from the boxscore, but exceptions can always be made. A play where Higdon pushes Onwenu through the hole, the tight ends block it so well that Onewenu spins around like someone just took the tray of grapes away from training table, and Higdon outruns two defenders in pursuit seemed like a good time to make an exception.

What were you seeing from Rutgers’ front and what were you expecting at that point?

“Yeah, they were in a three-down front. They kept stemming and playing these line games. They felt like they knew our calls which actually made it easier for me because they were telling me where they were going to go, so I was able to cut behind them, follow my fullback, follow the linemen, and make things happen.”

So were they tipping on this play what they were going to do?

“Oh yeah. The linebackers were telling us they were either going left or right. It just made it that much better.”

I’m guessing you have an idea of where you’re going to go and where the hole’s going to be before the play. Do you re-read the defense as you get the ball in your hands?

Yeah, of course, because it’s not a piece of paper. So you would like to think you know exactly what they’re going to do or how a player’s going to play but sometimes you just never know, so you analyze what’s happening in front of you and you’ve just got to make decisions very fast.”

One thing I’ve heard coaches say is that once a player starts thinking too much their feet slow down and they get into trouble, so how do you balance that, being able to analyze versus reading and reacting?

“Yeah, I actually just read and react. I don’t try and overthink it, I don’t try and do any of that. I just see what they’re giving me and just react to it.”

Is that something that gets better over time?

“It gets better over time.”

Is that from watching film or drills or full-padded practices? What helps the most?

“It’s all, it’s all. it’s football as a whole.”

So it all comes together—

“It all comes together, from watching film to practicing it to practicing cuts or pressing the line or just studying your playbook, it all comes together. You’ve got to know what everybody’s going to do: the O-line and the fullback, the quarterback, the receivers, and you’ll be able to put the pieces together as it unfolds.”

That play was so well blocked that Mike [Onwenu] pulls through the hole and it’s pretty much clean. Does that throw you off at all when your guard goes through the hole and there’s nothing to block?

Nooope. It’s Big Mike and Big Mike, I’m going with Big Mike wherever Big Mike goes. I know he’s gonna take me where I need to be.” [laughs]

When you got to about the 10-yard line it looked like you might be checking the scoreboard to check pursuit.


How helpful is the scoreboard as a tool for that?


“I really don’t ever worry about pursuit.”

[laughs again]

“I don’t. One thing I learned: if you get out, you better go. If you get caught from behind, don’t come home. I don’t really ever use the scoreboard to check for pursuit, I just know I’ve gotta get out of there and get into the end zone.”


One-Play One-on-One: Henry Poggi

One-Play One-on-One: Henry Poggi Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 24th, 2017 at 4:06 PM



I knew exactly who I wanted to talk to when I saw the list of players available Monday. It was the perfect confluence of events: a great overhead angle of a Michigan touchdown run, Poggi mashing two guys at once on said run, and a question stem using The Big Lebowski that popped into my head after watching the replay just once. It seemed related enough to ask. This is a very professional website. 

What were you expecting from them at that point and what did you get?

“Yeah, I think we were down at what, the five- or six-yard line? Not sure what exact front they were in but we knew they were going to be heavy run there. We were I think in like a wing, pretty much just a regular Power play. Down, down, guard pulls, and I have everything off the edge—Ty [Isaac] made a great cut—and just fitting right up off of that edge.”

Once you do engage the safety you’ve got that corner behind him. Are you trying to turn him so you can block two at once or is that just the way timing worked out on this play?

“Yeah, just kind of hit ‘em how you see ‘em.”

Walk me through the finer points of a goal-line kickout.

“I think just the most important thing is you can’t let much penetration and you’ve got to win inside and upfield, so you want to go attacking at his outside shoulder and just kick him out and push him upfield. Kind of create that running room.”

I can’t let a one-on-one go by without a Big Lebowski question. Who were you trying to channel on that play? Was it Walter and the red Corvette, because it seemed like Walter and the red Corvette.

“Definitely Walter. Had to let #2 know that he’s entering a world of pain.”


One-Play One-on-One: Devin Bush

One-Play One-on-One: Devin Bush Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 17th, 2017 at 4:00 PM



Devin Bush picked an opportune time for his first credited QB hurry of the game. It took Indiana two plays to get to Michigan’s side of the field on their final drive of the fourth quarter; then their right tackle false started, resulting in a 10 second runoff and 1st and 15. From there Michigan lined Bush up over center and he went to work, twisting Ramsey to the ground and causing what looked like it should have been intentional grounding. I thought it would be interesting to talk to him about a play where he bulled his way through the line instead of looping in from a couple gaps away. The conversation that follows starts right after we finished watching the play below.

Obviously we’re at the end of the game here. What are you expecting out of their offense at that point?

“At that point?”

First and 15, 28 seconds left in the game.

“Oh, with 20 seconds, trying to drive the ball down the field, keep the ball in bounds or try to get the ball to the sideline as fast as possible and run out of bounds so you can get another play.”

You’re head up on the center, then you hit the A gap. What are you expecting from the center and the guard and what does that guard end up doing? Looks like he loses you.

“I’m expecting a double team, for them to mesh me. I’m able to gash that gap and draw both of their attention and try to get Maurice [Hurst] a lane to hit and get a QB pressure.”

Walk me through the finer points of splitting a double team.

“Just putting your helmet in that gap and hitting it as hard as you can trying to crease it. Keep your hands alive. Don’t bury yourself; they can jump on your back or push you down. Keep your head up and keep your feet running.”

What did you see when you got in the backfield? Did you see Rashan flush him up and into the pocket?

“Yeah. I saw his eyes drop. He wasn’t looking downfield no more. Rashan had him flushed away from him. He created an opportunity for me to get off a block and make a play.”

So when you see his eyes drop, that’s the moment you know you have to get that arm out?


Coach Harbaugh just said you guys were concerned about him and his mobility, so is--

“Yeah, we knew pressure’s going to make him drop his eyes and run, so we tried to get him in that situation as much as possible. Once I saw him drop his eyes I knew he wasn’t looking to throw the ball downfield. He’s looking to get out and create a first down and try to get as much yardage as he can to get in the red zone.”

Did he drop his eyes pretty quickly or were you surprised by how long it took?

“He kind of held it a little bit but eventually he dropped his eyes.”


One-Play One-on-One: Patrick Kugler

One-Play One-on-One: Patrick Kugler Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 10th, 2017 at 3:52 PM



The defensive line shifts over right about the time you’re snapping. What are you thinking about there?

“Well, we know it’s probably going to happen with the line shifting over. That was shown with the tight end, the Y [shift]. They showed it versus Iowa so we figured that the front was going to shift. With [Sorry, state secrets] the fullback’s going to block the widest and then the tackle’s going to pull to the alley and I’m going to pull around to the Mike and if I see [Oof, so close, Indiana. So close.]. So the guard’s going to block the 3-technique there and the backside guard’s going to have to try to reach that nose. Difficult block for him because I’m pulling around, but it’s been a very effective play for us this year. Got like, eight, nine yards on that. Was it Karan running the ball?”

Got 12. And yeah, it was Karan.

“Yeah, and he had a hell of a game. He runs that play really well. It was blocked pretty well. I was pretty comfortable on it.”

In that 4-3 Over look they’re giving you, did you see anything unusual out of it or pretty much what they put on film?

“They did what we expected them to do. That play worked out. Some didn’t, but that play was pretty effective against them.”

At that point it had been raining off and on for a little while. You do the dead-ball snap, right?


Is that tough in that kind of weather?

“No, I like it. I think it’s really accurate. He started doing that with Graham Glasgow when he was here and I adopted it. It’s just almost hard to have a bad snap with it, and the refs did a really good job of keeping the ball dry so I had no problems with my snaps.”

I know footwork near the line is intricately prescribed, but on a stretch like that does something else become more important technique-wise like hands?

“Yeah, definitely, we have placements on every play. The guard right there, he’s got to get his outside hand on the shoulder and the sternum so he can reach him and have the ability to strain him and pull out. For pulls on that, we know we’ve got to get two to two-and-a-half yards of depth just in case the Y lets up a little pressure on the D-end if he shoots upfield. If we don’t get two to two-and-a-half yards depth we’ll probably cut ourselves off. Even then, I got probably two or three yards depth on that and I still almost got cut off but then I came around and was able to block Chris Frey on that. That’s the key on that, then the backside it’s just running and being able to chop ‘em down on the backside.”

My next question is actually about that DE who shoots the gap there. Obviously you were kind of expecting it, but how are you able to track through traffic where you’re supposed to go. Is it tough to see or do you just have a feel for where you need to be?

“Yeah, you know where you’re going to. You know the fullback’s going to get the widest on this particular play, the tackle’s going to clean up anything in the alley, and I’m supposed to be pulling around for the Mike. [Really though, do your GAs search for this stuff or is it the SIDs?] It’s just a matter of getting around that Y-tight end, because that’s a very difficult block. Probably one of the hardest blocks in football, so just pulling around and getting your depth is key.”


One-Play One-on-One: Maurice Hurst

One-Play One-on-One: Maurice Hurst Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 3rd, 2017 at 4:07 PM



One of the more difficult aspects of preparing for these one-on-ones is finding a play where there’s enough to go through that a natural set of questions emerges; without multiple questions, these interviews would just be “whoa dang,” “yep,” fin. It’s always worth going through the entire game to make sure the right play wasn’t overlooked in favor of the one that stood out on the stat sheet. That said, we’re all human, and sometimes we get caught in the tractor beam that is talking about the “whoa dang” play. This is one of those times.

What are some of the differences between playing defensive line and playing the line on punt return?

“I think on punt return you kind of just get a running start for things. You’re not really keying a guy for the most part. And especially when we’re in our safe punt formation, more so just to fair catch a ball and not trying to do anything intricate with a return.”

On this particular play, did you expect that guy lined up a little outside of you to at least chip you as he releases?

“Yeah.” [laughs] “I think that’s normally what they want to get done and he ended up doing that and I was able to run free for the most part.”

Once he does get past you and see the open field in front of you, what else are you seeing?

“I’m just seeing the punter and their shield guy and I know from previous years that a lot of the times that we’re in our safe punt you try to blow up the shield guy, and that’s what I did on that play.”

With that shield guy, what are you thinking when you see that he starts to drop his shoulder and break down?

“Just to run over him.”

After you have that collision did you think about doing the belly rub or is that reserved just for sacks and tackles for loss?

“That’s just for sacks and tackles for loss.”

I gotcha. Not a special teams thing.

“Yeah.” [laughs]

[Ed. A- Props to Gfycat for coincidentally nailing the naming of this GIF. (Open in a new tab if you’re curious.)]


One-Play One-on-One: Zach Gentry

One-Play One-on-One: Zach Gentry Comment Count

Adam Schnepp September 12th, 2017 at 4:01 PM



The broadcast angle kind of cut out what happened at the top of your route. Did the linebacker get his feet tangled or did you break at the right time, or what happened there to the guy with inside leverage? Did he go to jam you and fall?

“Yeah, exactly. I think if I remember correctly what happened was I pushed upfield and made an inside move and kind of broke him off a little bit and took it underneath.”

For you, what’s different about going against a linebacker in space versus a defensive back?

“Those guys are usually nontraditional cover guys. They’re on their toes more; they’re looking to come downhill, so they’re obviously not as fast. They’re a little more physical but their hips aren’t as loose so it’s a little easier definitely in man coverage.”

Once you make the break, at what point do you know the ball’s coming your way?

“Well, we’re taught as soon as you make the break, get your eyes around. So it came right at me and I kind of had a feeling that I was open so I got my head turned around right away and it was just right there. It was already in the air and it was a perfectly-timed ball by Wilton.”

What led to the decision to keep running toward the sideline instead of turning upfield? Could you feel that bunch of DBs that were back there or were you just going?

“Yeah. When I caught it and turned my head upfield I could see some white jerseys in my peripheral and I knew that they were just going to try to edge me out to the boundary, so I just kept going upfield and Ty got a nice block that I was able to get around and take it to the sidelines.”

Is Ty being there and knowing that you have him on the outside influencing your decision to run that direction, knowing that he can block for you and give you some space?

“Yeah, definitely once I saw his leverage on the defender and saw that his back was to the sideline, I knew he was going to keep him out and I just took it right off his butt.”

Once you get near the sideline and those guys all start to bear down on you, can you see them in your peripheral and feel that or are you just going up the sideline and whatever happens happens?

“You can definitely feel those guys, and there were a bunch of them on that play, too.” [laughs] “I could definitely see that and knew they were closing in pretty fast.”

What helps you most being a former quarterback as a tight end?

“I’d say just being familiar with identifying defenses and the coverages and things of that nature and understanding matchups; like we talked about, tight ends and linebackers and things like that.”

As a tight end, where do you think you’ve made the biggest strides purely in receiving?

“I’d say overall just route running, getting in and out of breaks and my routes. Catching the ball was something that always came a little naturally to me but just working at that.”


One-Play One-on-One: Noah Furbush

One-Play One-on-One: Noah Furbush Comment Count

Adam Schnepp September 5th, 2017 at 4:00 PM



A Florida team intent on beating the brakes off of Michigan found themselves bracing for impact again and again Saturday. Don Brown made a strong case for inclusion in the next Nefarious Mustachioed Character Hall of Fame class by putting together what once seemed oxymoronic: a suffocating 3-3-5. Deploying the 3-3-5 in turn led to more playing time for redshirt junior linebacker Noah Furbush, who recorded two tackles and a fumble recovery. I spoke with Furbush about the play that led to his fumble recovery touchdown and subsequently sealed Michigan’s opening-game victory.

On that play, it was the second time you had them backed up inside their own 10-yard line the entire game. Did you have a good feel for what they might run, and how tough is that when you don’t get those looks very often?

“We knew that they were moving the pocket a lot of the game. When we get them down inside our own 5, inside our own 10, we really want to put the pressure on. We really want to make them feel uncomfortable. We wanted to get after them and we wanted to make a big play like something that happened. Chase stepped up and made a huge play for us.”

As far as what their offense was doing, was it what you expected when they were backed up?

“Yeah, I suppose.”

How important then is gap integrity against a guy like Zaire?

“Yeah, a guy like Zaire can spread a defense out, really change a play, and change how a defense can operate. It’s important to be assignment-perfect, do everything you’re supposed to do, and not lose contain on the play.”

It looked like you had to slide over a gap but first it looked like you looked inside before you did that. Is that related to Zaire and his running ability? Is that trying to stay gap-sound?

“Yeah. I just wanted to make sure that he didn’t get out of the pocket. I wanted to keep him in there and keep him inside so Chase could finish him off.”

You obviously had to shed a block to get there. What are some of the fundamentals of stacking and shedding, and what happened on that block?

“Every day we practice shedding blocks, working the hands, and that’s basically just instinctual stuff. You do it without even thinking about it.”

And that’s what happened on that block.

“Yep, yep.”

At what point do you see that Chase has gotten to the quarterback and at what point do you see the ball come out?

“Right when I got off the block I saw Chase hit the quarterback and then as I was running to him I just saw the ball. Another instinctual reaction, something we work every day. We have a fumble circuit and we work that every day: hopping on balls, fetal position, secure the football.”

So it’s just second nature at that point? You just know to dive and go?

“Yep, all reaction.”

And keeping it in bounds is the same thing?

“All muscle memory, yep.”

[gif courtesy of Ace]