Mailbag: Unbalanced Lines, Turkmenistan, The Nature And Purpose Of Slanting

Mailbag: Unbalanced Lines, Turkmenistan, The Nature And Purpose Of Slanting

Submitted by Brian on September 7th, 2012 at 10:58 AM

In re: "who are you optioning?"

vlcsnap-2012-09-03-20h40m57s161
This is a weird formation, right?  Lewan is eligible receiver, Kwiatkowski is not?

It's a little weird. Neither Lewan or Kwiatkowski are eligible in that formation. Lewan wears an ineligible number; Kwiatkowski is covered up by a receiver outside of him. I call these formations "unbalanced" when I talk about them.

They're not that weird, though. Teams do it to screw with the defense's alignment, test various things, etc. If the play ends up being a pass you've declared that you've only got four receivers, but since the tight end can pass block you're still playing 11 on 11.

Occasionally you'll see Michigan line up with two receivers on the line of scrimmage to the same side. This drives me nuts since the slot guy may as well not exist. This was more common under Rodriguez but IIRC Borges did do it a couple times last year. These are always runs, and usually short ones if the defense notices the alignment, which it seems like they always do.

Why do coaches do this? They're trying to mess up a defense's alignment keys and get easy yards. It's the same principle at work whenever a wide receiver lines up at fullback and motions out to the flank, or when a running back ends up lined up way on the outside.

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welcome to turkmenistan

Join our flaming crater!

What effect do you think the 'Bama game will have on recruiting? Much to my surprise many fans think neutral or positive.

Peter F

I don't think it will have much, if any. Michigan's down to a couple of scholarships in the next class. By the time the 2014 kids start committing in numbers, Michigan will have played 12-13 additional games and the Alabama debacle will be a lot less relevant than it seems right now.

If it's going to hurt, it'll be with Derrick Green and LaQuon Treadwell. I don't think anyone was optimistic about Green after Auburn popped up even before Saturday; Treadwell is more of a mystery. We'll see.

In general, short-term results are not the be all and end-all in recruiting. See Charlie Weis, Ron Zook, etc. You either have it until such point as your job is under threat or you're at Kansas, or you don't.

An update on the Stubhub thing.

Hi Brian,

Just a quick heads up that UM still appears to have their relationship in place with StubHub.  I received an email on Friday from the Michigan Ticket Office proclaiming, “Don't forget to use our online Marketplace (in its second successful year in service) to easily resell your tickets electronically.”  I know you mused about whether this relationship was still in place after StubHub referred to UM as a former partner, so I wanted to pass along.

Take care,

Scott

False alarm. Still amazed at that MBA who managed to make counterfeit tickets incredibly easy to manufacture unless you were selling through Stubhub. Probably laughing moooooohahahahaha right now in a lair somewhere.

fbz3gg[1]Inversion. Also, this section sponsored by Slanty the Gecko, inexplicably the first hit in Google Images for "line slant football," or at least it was a year ago.

Steve Sharik, a former high school who you may remember posting some great diaries a couple years back, sent me an email about what happened to the defense; I responded with a question, and he answered. So let's put me in a yellow box:

It looks like Michigan is slanting the DL a lot to get their guys in gaps between the massive OL and set up an obvious cutback lane in which the LBs are supposed to be 2v1, but rarely do both of them get there. It's so consistent that it almost seems like I have to be wrong. I want the LBs to absolutely tear ass for the gap behind the slanting DT (usually they leave the DE to contain the backside). Instead they check up for cutbacks constantly that seem like the DL's job. Am I crazy?

-Brian
mgoblog.com

Sharik:

Slanting does two things to zone blocking:

  1. If I'm an OL zone blocking to the right, and the guy on my outside who I'm supposed to block goes left, there is a natural tendency to go after my guy.
  2. More importantly, slanting the DL gets penetration, which wreaks havoc on zone blocking.

Recall how effectively OSU slanted against us in 2007 (yes, that screen shot).

disaster-image

the most infamous

What would continually happen was the ball would show in a hole a LB was supposed to fill, which was done fine, but the hole was created so well that there essentially are two gaps where there was once one: there is space on both sides of the lead blocker, so the filling LB has to pick one, meaning the extra LB/S/C has to fill the other one. Consistently this second, unblocked defender was late and too far away, creating a seam in the run defense.

[ED: This came up last year too. I complained about Brandin Hawthorne not getting past a blocker against EMU. Michigan has been short on free hitters.]

BONUS: we also had a discussion on that seam route Alabama hit early and Floyd tackled immediately on. I am still in a yellow box.

Sharik: Even the normally reliable Kovacs was bad.  Demens was in the wrong gap a few times, Morgan doesn't have a great feel for when to attack now or where to fit, and Kovacs and JT Floyd were very tentative.  In other words, our extra run defender (when the QB is turning around and handing it off, they're playing 10 v. 11, so we should have an extra, unblocked defender vs. the run) was late to the party or in the wrong gap, creating the huge seams you saw.  Even vs. the pass, on their conversion on a 3rd and long, Kovacs went to wide and too aggressively to re-route a seam, and ended up being outside the numbers and too close to the LOS, thereby giving up the seam right behind him.

I caught that Kovacs thing, but thought the problem there was a crappy chuck on the guy. If he really jams him there the blitz should have time to get there or Floyd has time to get over. yes/no?

Against the pass, the defender responsible for the seam must stay on that seam--reroute the receiver off the seam.  You do this with both your horizontal and vertical position.  When Kovacs was so aggressive he took himself outside of the seam and stayed too close to the LOS, creating an open window for the seam.  The technique is to not gear up to hit the guy, but to shock, catch, and run.  If a guy is running in the seam, it almost looks like man coverage if the defender is playing his technique correctly.  (Actually it does look like man, the way to tell man or zone is by what other defenders are doing.)  Also, Floyd can't come over b/c he has deep 1/3 and the outside receiver was running a go route.

If Kovacs stays in the seam window, he doesn't have to take his eyes off the QB and he can eliminate the possibility of a throw without touching the WR.  And if their QB holds the ball b/c the seam isn't open, the blitz gets home (or at least has a better chance).

Actually, I think the designed route was an inside skinny; designed to be behind the Mike and in front of the Free.  The WRs job is to clear the seam defender, then post to the middle at about 10-15.  (Different coaches teach different depths, and different defenses command slightly different depths, as well as the drop of the QB--3, 5, 7 step.)

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

I am now out of a yellow box. When Steve mentioned that the slot defender on the seam often looks like man coverage, it made me think back to Courtney Avery consistently carrying receivers deep on similar routes, and wondering if that was what the intent was. We eventually figured it was—this was a BWS debate—and then last year Mattison flat out said so after Avery carried a seam route deep and Iowa got a 44-yard gain out of a simple crossing route; we asked what happened there and he said Countess got out of position.

Thanks to Steve for the input. Long way to go.