Fee Fi Foe Film: Air Force Offense

Fee Fi Foe Film: Air Force Offense Comment Count

Ace September 13th, 2017 at 2:12 PM


QB Arion Worthman is a dangerous runner.

This is going to be a little different than the usual FFFF posts. Air Force is coming off a bye week; they crushed an overmatched VMI squad 62-0 in the opener; they return only six starters, five on offense and one on defense.

Another program under these circumstances may not even merit a full post, but Air Force is no ordinary program. Their success is based on plugging well-coached upperclassmen into their unusual schemes—a triple-option offense and wildly aggressive defense—to the point that, with a few exceptions, the personnel involved hardly matters.

So, instead of watching Air Force walk all over VMI, I went back to last year's Boise State game to get a feel for their scheme and how it functions against quality competition. AF's two most important offensive players starred in that game, too, so this should still give a decent idea of what Michigan will have to stop on a player-specific level.

Personnel. Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:


 

Air Force won't always line up in the flexbone. While head coach Troy Calhoun is very much a part of the Fisher DeBerry coaching tree, he's updated the offense in his 11 seasons at the helm, mostly by incorporating spread principles.

Beyond the two dangermen, don't get too caught up on personnel at the skill positions, as Air Force will rotate a ton. Sixteen different players logged carries against VMI, and six different players accounted for their ten receptions.

Yes, McCray lost his star until he cleans up his issues in space. He'll get a major test in this very game.

The base play. I highly recommend you check out EGD's diary on Air Force's offense, which was a huge help in putting this post together. The base play of their offense is the inside veer, which sets up everything else they'll do. EGD's primer:

Now, AFA is known for running its option plays out of numerous formations (and here is some VIDEO of them doing just that.  But in the standard flexbone formation that the triple option is commonly associated with, there are two A-backs who line up just outside the tackles (and may be called “slotbacks” in this formation), while the B-Back aligns two yards directly behind the heels of the quarterback.

Okay, so: the triple option.  The base play in the triple option offense is the “inside veer.”  That is the core play on which the B-Back threatens the dive (attacking inside the OT), the quarterback threatens off-tackle, and the (an) A-back threatens further outside (the linebackers).  Inside veer looks slightly different depending on whether it’s run against a three-man or four-man defensive line, and with Don Brown we really don’t know which one to expect, but for simplicity’s sake let’s just look at it against Brown’s basic 4-2-5:

The A-back (who'll be the pitchman) motions behind the B-back at the snap. The first read is of the defensive lineman to the outside of the playside guard (the circled WDE on this play); if he doesn't attack the diving B-back, the quarterback hands off to the B-back. If the quarterback doesn't give on the dive, his next read is the defender to the outside of his first read (the circled safety, in this case); if that defender goes after the QB, he pitches to the motioning A-back, who will attack the edge. If nobody takes the QB, he keeps it.

Simple enough, right? Now you just have to prepare for them to run it out of a bunch of different formations with several tricky constraint plays, all while making sure not to overcommit to the run and allow a deep bomb in the passing game.

Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? None of the above, really. This is still a flexbone triple-option system at its core, and that doesn't neatly fit into any of those categories. In this video from 2010, you can see them running the triple option out of Maryland I, shotgun two-back (with a shovel pass replacing the fullback dive), and flexbone sets:

Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? Mostly basketball on grass; there's an interesting four-minute coaching clinic video of Calhoun talking about how AF runs inside zone if you're so inclined. (The short version: they want to get upfield in a hurry, so their back has two options, frontside A-gap or backside A-gap.)

Hurry it up or grind it out? You'd expect an old-school triple option team to grind it out, right? Wrong. Air Force is even tougher to defend because they go at light speed; they ranked seventh in the country in adjusted pace in 2016. Just because they keep the clock moving doesn't mean they're moving slow.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]

Comments

Haknpoints: Offensive Concepts

Haknpoints: Offensive Concepts Comment Count

Seth December 9th, 2014 at 2:10 PM

"Every football team eventually arrives at a lead play: a "Number 1" play, a "bread and butter" play. It is the play that the team knows it must make go, and the one its opponents know they must stop. Continued success with it, of course, makes your Number 1 play, because from that success stems your own team's confidence." –Vince Lombardi

As we discuss coaching candidates we'll invariably get into the same old discussions on what kind of base offense said candidate might want to run. There was some discussion on the board this week and I wanted to expand that discussion into some basic "Rock" plays of various offensive schemes.

It is incorrect to identify any one play (and even more incorrect to identify a specific formation or personnel group) as a complete offense. You always need counters to keep doing the thing you do, and the counters will often borrow directly from some other offensive concept's rock. All offenses will borrow from each other so no breakdown is going to describe more than 60% of any given offense. Most zone blocking offenses throw in man-blocked things (example: inverted veer) to screw with the defense. You can run most of these out of lots of different formations. You can package counters into almost all of them (example: The Borges's Manbubble added a bubble screen to inside manball).

Really what you're describing when you talk about any offense is the thing they do so well that they can do it for 5 or 6 YPP all day long unless defenses do something unsound to stop it (like play man-to-man, or blitz guys out of coverage, etc.). Some examples of offenses and their formation needs (where a need isn't specified, figure they can use any set or formation: spread, tight, 23, ace whatever). I've given the rock plays, and left out the counters and counters to the counters because that gets into way too many variants.

Finally, the terms "pro style" and "spread" are meaningless distinctions. NFL offenses have the luxury of getting super complex: they have passing game coordinators who teach the QBs and WRs Air Raid things then run zone or power blocked things. The spread refers to formations and personnel—it doesn't say anything about whether the QB runs, if it's an option offense, or what tempo it runs at, or even what kind of blocking it uses. What I've done here is break up the offenses into "QB as Run Threat" and "QB Doesn't Have to Run" since the construction of these base plays usually stems from that. Remember, however, that QB running offenses can (and often do) still use blocking right out of Vince Lombardi's favorite play.

QB as Run Threat Offenses:

Triple Option

TripleO

The FB dive will hit too quickly for anyone but the DE to stop; once the DE bites, the RG moves down to the second level while the QB keeps and heads outside, with the RB in a pitch relationship to defeat the unblocked defender there.

Concept: QB makes a hand-off read then a pitch read.

Makes life especially hard on: Edge defenders who have to string out plays against multiple blockers and maintain discipline.

Formation needs: Two backs.

Helpful skills: QB who can consistently make multiple reads and won't fumble, highly experienced, agile OL, backs who can both run and bock.

Mortal enemy: The Steel Curtain. Stopping the triple option is a team effort; if everybody is capable of defeating blocks, challenging ball-carriers, and swarming to the pitch man there's nowhere to attack.

Examples: Air Force, Nevada, Georgia Tech, Bo's Michigan

[Hit the jump for ZR, QB power, Air Raid, West Coast, Manball, Inside Zone, and the Power Sweep].

Comments

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Northwestern

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Northwestern Comment Count

Brian November 14th, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Formation notes: We've already talked about Michigan's 3-3-5 at the end of the game, which was really blue for some reason:

f-3-3-5nickel

filmed in post-apocalyptic-Denzel-Washington-vehicle-o-vision

The rest of it was as per usual. Michigan goes with an even front against spread packages and flares the LBs out to deal. This results in things like this…

5-man-box

…and is a declaration of immense faith in the DTs. Here's Ryan over the slot again:

f-pistol-fb-offset

Michigan used some super wide splits once, when they were sick of getting edged by the option:

f-4-3-spread

This was a FB dive that looked dangerous before Pipkins spatted the ballcarrier for two yards.

Finally, here's something. What? I'm not sure. THANKS DIRECTOR GUY

dumbass-director

I swear these guys who come in and think they're Football Tarantino.

Substitution notes: Secondary as it always is. The front seven saw the same rotation they have in the last couple games, with CGordon/Bolden/Ross backing up Ryan/Demens/Morgan at LB and Heitzman/Black/Pipkins/Clark backing up Roh/Campbell/Washington/Beyer. Heitzman's increased PT continued; Bolden got relatively few snaps. Ross got more, including the last drive, but maybe not as many as I expected he did going in.

[AFTER THE JUMP: getting gashed, responding, Kovacs in your grill]

Comments

Picture Pages: Ending It, Part III

Picture Pages: Ending It, Part III Comment Count

Brian November 14th, 2012 at 12:15 PM

So. Michigan got a nice play from Will Campbell to turn second and three into third and one despite kind of conceding the first down, then saw Kenny Demens blow upfield as soon as he saw Venric Mark block a blitzing James Ross. He hewed down a Colter scramble in the backfield. Now it's fourth and two, and all the timeouts have been taken.

Michigan comes out in… this. I guess. Whatever this is. Weird is what it is.

stack-1

3-3-5 WTF

Please note that Northwestern has also brought their share of weird to the party. They're in a two back set with all three WRs to the field, which means one of those slots is covered up. Michigan is seven on eight in the box, with a safety—Gordon—hanging out deep. If Northwestern can get guys blocked they should have a guy running free. As we'll see, they don't.

This has been mentioned before, but Michigan came out in this weird formation on fourth and two in an attempt to bait Northwestern into a handoff up the middle, which they successfully did.

As a bonus, the bait here is compounded by Northwestern confusion.  It does not matter what Colter does here. They're dead.

Part The First: Black Surge

Jibreel Black is shaded playside of the center above and immediately shoots upfield of said center.

stack-1stack-2

This is easy for him. Just go straight upfield. It does two things:

  1. Invites Colter to hand off. That looks dangerous to him because if he's forced to pitch early by a Black surge then Roh is likely to contain the back.
  2. Forces the dive back to the backside of the play, where there are two Northwestern OL and three Michigan defenders.

In the wider view you can see three Northwestern OL releasing, with the fourth dealing with Clark.

stack-2

Part The Second: Handoff Away From Strength

That looks un-promising. But here's what they'll do:

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The option provides blocking strength to the front side of the play because you're letting the end go to option him; on the backside you're blocking him. Here Northwestern burns that strength as two confused guys go after Ross. A third has to cut Ryan, and there's no one for three separate Michigan defenders.

stack-3

At the mesh point Colter is looking at Roh on the edge and Black surging through, which seemingly puts acres of space between the NT and backside DE. There are acres, in fact.

Part The Third: Free Train With Purchase Of Handoff

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ACRES OF PAIN WOO

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Everyone run around and do things! Be happy! And then play the dog groomers song and kill everyone's buzz. But those first 5 seconds were rad.

Video

Things And Stuff

This was dead in every way. If Colter decides to keep he is probably going to get pushed wide by Black, maybe even have a pitched forced by him a la Mike Martin last year. If he does not…

stack-5

…it's Mike Trumpy in space against Jordan Kovacs with Roh pursuing from the inside-out. We've seen how that story ends, against this team even.

That was forth and inches, this is fourth and two. I'll take my chances there.

This play seems specifically designed to defeat the option. The Black surge is going to do one of two things. One option is what it did. The other is for the playside G to block Black, likely with help from the center, and leave one guy for Ross. If those guys can combo Black a keep meets the same fate you see in the frame on the last bullet. If those guys can combo Black and the C manages a release to the second level, then you are possibly in business as you hypothetically have enough guys to block the LBs.

I don't see how that happens though given what Black does here. No one is coming off that guy fast enough to be useful. The only option that gets yards is a check.

Nothing else? Just a check? The only other way in which this might eke out the first down is by letting the backside end go, too, and having that tackle hit Demens. This may or may not work and exposes the back to Clark coming down the line; at least if he's hit by Clark it's from behind. Really, though, there's nothing.

Demens! This isn't the hardest play in the world for a linebacker but even so you can't do it any better. There's no drama after this:

stack-7

No spinning out or grinding forward or sliding off. The guy just goes down, backwards, game over. That's one of them form tackles.

Cat and mouse. This play followed a series of timeouts. Michigan showed the formation they ran before the first one:

f-3-3-5nickel

Northwestern called TO, and came out with their covered slot formation. Michigan again showed the 3-3-5 alignment…

cs-1

…until everyone in the front seven yelled at Ryan to get on the LOS…

cs-2

Roh had to do a ton of pointing and talking to get this to happen

…and then Michigan called timeout before a false start. As a bonus, unless the slot receiver moved after the camera took him out of the picture, Northwestern only had six on the line of scrimmage and would have been hit with an illegal formation.

So they went to it, got a TO, showed it, got rid of it, called a TO, and then ran it. The dance of doom.

A gimmick defense for gimmick times. Yeah this could get gashed by stuff other than what Northwestern ran; Michigan knew their comfort zone and had a plan to blow it up. They had plenty of problems in this game, and I think Mattison is going to have to make some adjustments to slow the Wildcats down in future years, but at the end it was Michigan who got the last stab in after a knock-down, drag-out fight.

Comments

Picture Pages: Unblocked ILBs FTL

Picture Pages: Unblocked ILBs FTL Comment Count

Brian October 31st, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Why can't Michigan run the ball without Denard? As with anything in football, the answer is "it's complicated" but against Nebraska the pendulum swung decisively towards an inability to block anything.

There were two primary ways in which things went unblocked, one of which we'll cover in two posts.

Ain't Nobody Trying To Block Important People

The first were either busts, play design errors, or combo blocking errors that left totally unblocked linebackers in the hole. A here's a third-quarter iso on the penalty fiesta drive that resulted in a field goal:

iso-wtf

The highlighted guy is Nebraska's WLB. No one even tries to block him.

iso-wtf-2

Unsurprisingly, this doesn't go well.

iso-wtf-3

I'm not sure who this is on. I don't get the blocking. If Mealer releases directly downfield in the second frame in an attempt to get that WLB he does not have much of an angle and probably doesn't do much. I would expect Michigan to double that DT, leave Mealer behind on the DT, and then have Omameh pop off.

That doesn't happen. Did someone screw up? Is the play design bad? Is it Schofield moving to the second level poorly? Things are so confused I don't know.

Video:

If this was a one time thing you could chalk it up to a guy busting. It wasn't.

[AFTER THE JUMP: more unblocked guys! Like, so many you'll freak! They're coming out of holes in the ground like the Viet Cong!]

Comments

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Air Force

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Air Force Comment Count

Brian September 13th, 2012 at 2:38 PM

Formation Notes: Oh, the humanity.

vlcsnap-2012-09-10-19h50m39s70

This is an I-form. Sweet. Air Force started out motioning the outside WR into the gap between the two backs, FWIW.

vlcsnap-2012-09-10-20h00m22s129

This was called "near 3-wide unbalanced" because I think NCAA calls formations with RB alignments like that "near" and "far". Yes, large sections of my nomenclature are lifted from EA Sports. It is the closest thing to a lingua franca we have for footballing jargon. Note the covered-up slot WR. That's the unbalanced bit. You discovered this in the Picture Pages.

vlcsnap-2012-09-10-20h05m24s35

This is "flexbone big," which means there's a TE on the line. Just flexbone means the two wingbacks and two WRs.

op-1

This was "near half-flex."

As for Michigan, they spend most of the game in a 4-4 with a three-deep shell. They would shift the line towards the field side. I called it "under" even when it was technically "over" because Michigan aligns to field and Air Force doesn't really have a declared formation strength because of all the motion they do.

Substitution notes: The humanity continues. Michigan started Roh-Campbell-Black-Beyer on the line, rotating in Clark, Heitzman, Pipkins, and Brink extensively. Ojemudia also got time, mostly after Beyer went out with his "knee strain."

At linebacker, Ryan got the most playing time; he was spotted by Cam Gordon on a couple drives. Michigan started with Demens-Morgan, then started rotating in Bolden and Ross. Demens did not appear in the second half; the final AF drive in their base offense featured Ross and Bolden both on the field simultaneously.

In the secondary, Gordon, Kovacs, and Floyd took every snap. Avery started out as the other corner and was replaced by Taylor midway through the second. Gordon moved down to the nickelback spot and Jarrod Wilson came in when Air Force was stuck in passing downs, which was rarely.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 I-Form 3-wide tight 4-3 even Run N/A Triple option Floyd 12
Wingback motions to backfield before snap, creating Maryland I. I am going to be guessing a lot here. Dive doesn't get it; QB and RB head out with the wingback as a lead blocker. Gordon(-1) motions inside of the tight WR on the AF motion and looks in the backfield, getting sealed away by the WR easily. Floyd(-2) doesn't know what he's looking at for way too long; Gordon's getting plowed for steps before he finally commits to a run fill. He ends up trying to dodge a cut block eight yards downfield; I'm guessing he probably needs to be turning this inside at the numbers five yards further up. RB gets the corner. Morgan had good pursuit and Kovacs makes a good tackle at the sticks, FWIW.
O37 1 10 Near 3-wide unbalanced 4-3 under Run N/A Counter dive Black 4
AF did this a lot: line up the slot on the LOS. This should scream run at that slot defender. Here they motion towards that and hand it off on the backside, aiming for the hole between NT Campbell and 5-tech Roh. Campbell(-1) gets blown up by a downblock; Black(+0.5) blasts a G trying to pull across his face. This prevents the G from getting out on Demens, but then Black gets confused and starts chasing the QB. FB blasts into the G, who is now blasting Demens, and can fall forward for a few yards.
O41 2 6 Flexbone Big 4-3 over Run N/A FB power Beyer 4 + 10 Pen
Power == pulling guard. This is not a true option as the QB is not looking at anything but the FB as he gives. Beyer(-1) is unblocked for a moment, thinks he has to get down on the dive back(?--I thought M used DEs for the QB) and then gets nailed by the guard. He's sealed inside, FB bounces out. Morgan(+1) is getting blocked, sheds to the outside, and tackles. He's just catching the guy because of the blocker and everyone falls backwards. RPS -1; this took a pretty good play from Morgan to not hit the first down. Campbell(-1) gets a flag for tackling an AF lineman [BWS] trying to get to the second level.
M45 1 10 N/A N/A Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
Freedom.
50 1 15 I-Form 3-wide unbalanced 4-3 even Run N/A Speed option Gordon -1
They motion a guy to the field and run to it. He goes for Kovacs. FB goes for Demens. Morgan(+1) forces the pitch and then pursues well; Gordon(+1) gets the edge on the WR and should force it back inside the numbers but seems to get held and falls; no call. Getz is at the sideline and has to delay to get around the falling Gordon; he falls at the LOS. Morgan was there for a minimal gain even if he keeps his feet.
O49 2 16 Ace 4-wide 4-3 under Run N/A QB draw Ryan 7
Acceptable given situation. Demens(-0.5) reacts quickly enough to get past a blocker and force a bounce but ends up falling; Ryan(+0.5) forces it back and trips the QB. Demens not being on his feet gives up some extra yardage. Morgan was pursuing and helps finish.
M44 3 9 Ace 3-wide Nickel under Pass 4 Scramble Demens 9
Dietz comes off first read as Avery(+1, cover +1) gets depth to carry a seam to the safety. Morgan(+1, cover +1) is on the other slant and the outside guys are covered; Demens(-1, cover -1) is nowhere near the RB release, which could go for the first; Dietz doesn't bother to throw it and takes off; Black(-0.5) and Ryan(-0.5) can't make shoestring tackles(-1), and Demens's late reaction gives Dietz a first down.
M35 1 10 Flexbone 4-3 under Run N/A Triple option Kovacs 1
Washington(+0.5) gets nice push, and there's nothing on the dive, so a pull. Ryan is sitting on the edge and takes the QB. Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) was not blocked on this play and so does what Kovacs does when you don't block him, which is plaster the ballcarrier.
M34 2 9 Flexbone 4-3 under Pass 4 Drag N/A 6
This is ludicrously bad refereeing. Two Air Force OL release downfield on a pass play. One of them cut-blocks Demens! By the time Dietz releases the ball these two guys are six yards downfield. Anyway. Beyer(-1) gets cut by an RB and allows Dietz outside, where he calmly hits a little drag that Ryan is in meh coverage on. Pressure -1, Refs -2.
M28 3 3 Offset I-Form 4-3 over Penalty N/A Offsides Washington 5
Washington(-1)
M23 1 10 Near 3-wide unbalanced 4-3 under Run N/A Speed option Kovacs 3
AF motion man moves back and then starts moving towards the LOS pre-snap, no call. He ends up falling to the ground, possibly on purpose, as he blocks Demens along with another Falcon. Ryan on the edge with QB; Dietz fakes keeping it and draws him, in then pitches late. Kovacs is a bit late on this one, but it's a three yard gain so call it a push.
M20 2 7 I-Form 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Roh 2
Campbell(+1) gets under his guy and pushes him back, which forces the RB to alter his flight path in the backfield a bit. Probably needed a little better angle but this was still good. Roh(-1) got blown out, though, so when RB alters path there's still a hole. Demens avoids one block only to eat the FB; Morgan(+0.5) and Ryan(+0.5) close to tackle in the hole. Call it a push for the LBs.
M18 3 5 Flexbone 4-3 under Run N/A Counter option Ryan -1
Roh(+1) does not get faked out by the dive action and is there to force a quick pitch; Ryan(+2) is on the edge one on one and makes the open-field TFL(+1)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(36), 0-0, 9 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A Triple option N/A -1
Gordon rolled down with three deep across the top. AF fumbles the dive exchange.
O24 2 11 I-Form 3-wide 4-4 under Run N/A Triple option Morgan -1
Motion to Maryland I. Man, they have this as again Gordon(-1) get sealed inside way too easily but Dietz does not make Morgan(+2) commit; he shoots out on the edge and makes a TFL in space (tackling +1). Floyd(-1) ended up on his face five yards downfield; if Morgan is forced to take the QB this could have been a big gain.
O23 3 12 Ace trips Nickel even Pass 4 Corner Taylor 15
Taylor(-1, cover -1) does not get enough depth on his drop; he's seven yards downfield, sucked up on third and twelve when a corner route is going on behind him. He recovers well but the ball is a foot over his hand and AF's big leapy guy can bring it in in front of an immediate tackle from Kovacs. C. Gordon(+0.5, pressure +1) was in the QB's feet as he throws; without this being open a likely scramble and three and out.
O38 1 10 Flexbone 3-wide 4-4 under Run N/A Outside pitch. Floyd 9
No back; guy comes in motion and gets a quick pitch to the outside. C. Gordon(-1) gets crushed inside by a WR and ends up going upfield of him, which never works. This knocks a pursuing Roh out of the play as well. Downfield, Demens avoids one cut block only to take a second block as he's still trying to find his balance. Floyd(-2) again ends up on his face eight yards downfield. Morgan flows about as fast is as reasonably possible and manages to make contact from the side a ways downfield. Floyd needs to get on his horse as soon as he sees that WR crack down on the LB.
O47 2 1 Flexbone Big 4-4 under Run N/A Triple option Washington 1
Dive. Washington(+1) actually does a good job of getting under his guy and pushing him back into the runner but he's got no help since Roh gave ground to a double. That's tough.
O48 1 10 Near half-flex 4-4 under Run N/A Triple option Floyd 11
Kovacs again is supposed to have the pitchman; this time the WR releases downfield a bit, then cracks down on him. Floyd(-1) doesn't read this until it's way too late. RPS -1.
M41 1 10 Flexbone big 4-4 under Pass N/A PA waggle drag Gordon 18
This looks like a flood play but really there's just one WR this ever goes to. The guy who took Avery deep on a fly route is blocking the whole way. This is part structure(RPS -2), part Gordon(-1, cover -1) sucking way up. Fundamentally he was screwed, though, covering one of two guys.
M23 1 10 Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A FB dive Campbell 4
Campbell(-1) gets cut to the ground and the immediate release of the guard is not punished. Demens doesn't do great here but I'm not sure what he can do. It'll be interesting to see what, if anything, the freshmen are doing better.
M19 2 6 Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A FB dive Campbell 5
Same thing. When your NT is just falling to the ground on the FB dive that goes right behind him the linebackers cannot do anything about it, because they are getting insta-OL in their junk. Campbell -1. Brink(-1) also blown back.
M14 3 1 Flexbone Big Goal line Penalty N/A False start -- -5
Service.
M19 3 6 Near half-flex 4-4 under Run N/A Triple option Taylor 7
Same thing: Block Kovacs, exploit crappy corner support. This time it's Taylor(-1) who gives up the corner.
M12 1 10 Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A Counter dive Washington 8
Washington(-2) gets blown down the line; Roh(-1) is easily locked out by the LT. Big hole. Demens reads the play and tries to get to it but he's basically screwed. He gets blocked by a guy with a great angle. Morgan(-2) ran himself way out of the play and it's only a superior play from Kovacs(+2, tackling +2) to avoid a block and make a diving ankle tackle that prevents this from being six points.
M4 2 2 Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A FB dive Roh 1
Roh(+1) gets under his guy and pushes him into the running lane. This forces a cutback into Ryan(+0.5) and Demens(+0.5), who tackle for no YAC. Washington(-1) had gotten blown up, FWIW.
M3 3 1 Flexbone 3-wide Goal line Run N/A Outside pitch. Avery -1
AF blows this as the WR to the playside is headhunting Ryan, who's on the LOS and moving upfield at the snap this means he takes a bad angle that 1) immediately tips Avery that this is a run and 2) picks off the flex guy assigned to him. Avery(+1) moves up, forms up, and makes contact two yards behind the LOS. Ryan(+1) flattens the guy assigned to him and flows out to make sure there is no funny business. RPS+1. Putting Ryan on the line made AF go all crazy.
Drive Notes: FG(22), 7-3, 3 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O10 1 10 Flexbone unbalanced 4-4 under Run N/A FB dive Bolden 3
Bolden(+0.5) in. He does do better than Demens on this dive, hitting the guard about a yard from the LOS. He loses the battle a bit but does hit the FB directly before falling over backwards. He saves Michigan a yard over Demens, so here's a half-point.
O13 2 7 Ace 4-wide unbalanced 4-3 even Penalty N/A False start -- -5
Service this time.
O8 2 12 Ace twins 4-3 under Pass N/A Waggle out Floyd 6
I think. He's the CB on this side and he is not even in the frame as this completion is made. Hard to tell if it's a good idea because they had to go deep or not. Still... suspicious. Floyd -1, cover -1. Fortunate AF does not execute better here, they could have turned this upfield at the sideline for first down yardage easy. Beyer(-0.5) gave up the corner, FWIW. Pressure -1.
O14 3 6 Flexbone tight 4-3 under Pass N/A Scramble Ryan 4
They fake that effective quick pitch and shoot three WRs the opposite way. Taylor(+1), Bolden(+1), and Ryan(+1), cover these guys... it's dodgy for the former two but they are enough to dissuade a throw, and then they attack at the right moment to prevent Dietz from running for the first. (Cover +3). Taylor came up late, leaving the deeper guy to Gordon and preventing AF from going over the top of these LBs.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 12 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-4 under Run N/A Counter dive Bolden 4
Bolden is staring right at this and gets no blocker so he just runs right up in the hole, making contact after a yard. That contact is won by the FB, who pushes Bolden over backwards. Clark comes to help finish. A push; Bolden could have done better here but did not screw up an easy play.
O29 2 6 Near half-flex 4-4 under Run N/A Triple option Roh -2
Roh(+1) shoves the LT inside and releases into the QB, who has to pitch early. CGordon(+1) is the guy on the edge here and makes a nice open field TFL. AF RT stumbled here, making this easier for Roh.
O27 3 8 Ace trips Nickel even Pass 5 Throwaway Black Inc
Blitz sends Avery and Bolden with Gordon backing out; Black(+1) stunts around and gets through as the RG blocks air. Roh(+1) is coming up the edge as Black chases Dietz out of the pocket and he's all like F this I'm outie. This was a jailbreak [BWS]. (Pressure +3, RPS +2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, 6 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O45 1 10 Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A Counter power Demens 3
RT is pulling inside of the G here. Ojemudia almost tracks this down from behind but can't quite get there. Black(+0.5) constricts the hole, causing the RT to stumble. Demens(+0.5) is there for a tackle near the LOS.
O48 2 7 Flexbone 4-4 under Pass 4 PA throwaway Roh Inc
Fake pitch into a fake option to the other side and then into a pass attempt. Avery(+1, cover +1) isn't biting on that stuff and the deep route is not immediately open. Roh(+1, pressure +1) then chucks the LT and gets pressure—probably gets held—forcing a throwaway.
O48 3 7 Flexbone Nickel even Run N/A QB draw Roh 14
DTs split too much and give up a running lane; contain should be the name of the game here. Roh, Campbell -1. Now there's trouble as the LBs are pass dropping against blockers. Demens(-1) can't do anything; Morgan is trying to flow into the gap and may be able to make a tackle but one of the downfield blockers for Air Force literally tackles him, reaching out to grab his ankles. RPS -1. This opened up big. Just play it straight when they're in the bone, it's not like their passing game is forcing you into the nickel on third and seven.
O34 1 10 I-Form 3-wide 4-4 under Run N/A Lead zone Morgan 3
Heitzman(-2) gets scooped really badly. Insta-second level means Demens has to fight off a cut block, which he does. Morgan(+1) beats up the blocker on the edge and Gordon(+1) shoots past his, forcing a cutback. Demens could be there but for the DL. Beyer(+0.5) is there, but giving ground; momentum carries Getz for a few yards.
O31 2 7 Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A Quick pitch Ryan 7 – 15 Pen
Ryan(-2) chopped to the ground by a cut block, back goes outside of him, no chance for anyone else to do anything about it. Brink was pursuing and may have had a shot. Demens again ate a block from a guy releasing right away; he kept his feet; not sure if there's anything at all he can do to prevent himself from getting hit there. Kovacs(+0.5) beat a block to get to the edge and prevented this from breaking even bigger. At the end of this play, the AF guy who took out Ryan gets up and clearly talks smack to him. Good on you, flexback. AF gets a call for tripping as that OL who cut Demens puts his legs up when Morgan jumps over him. Not relevant to the play.
O40 2 16 Flexbone Big Nickel even Pass 4 Dumpoff Floyd 6
I think Floyd(-1) blows a coverage on the TE here as he is headed for the corner and Floyd turns around and chases him; Gordon(+1) has his back, dropping into that route and preventing it from being thrown. With both of those guys focused on a deeper route the swing underneath opens up for good yardage.
O34 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Run N/A Speed option Kovacs 11
RB moves simultaneously with snap; legal. They get out on the corner quick. Ryan is unblocked and optioned off. Morgan(-1) is slashed to the ground. He takes two with him as AF ends up doubling him. Three guys on the edge now: Avery, Kovacs, and Demens. Demens(+0.5) takes a good angle past the guy trying to cut him and is in the area ready for action about four yards downfield; Kovacs(-2) goes upfield of his blocker and loses leverage; Taylor(-1) is aggressive but puts himself right on the sideline and doesn't keep this hole small. Demens flows to tackle, but too late.
O23 1 10 Near half-flex twins 4-4 under Run N/A Triple option Ryan 4
Roh shucks past a tackle and then eats a cut block. Demens also gets hit with a block right away, he stays on his feet but he's been shoved away from the POA. Ryan(+2) is alone on the edge with both guys and splits them such that Dietz turns it up and Ryan can tackle him. Washington was coming from behind but fell, Clark pursued from the other end to help tackle. I should probably find a minus on a four yard run but can't. I plead option.
O19 2 6 Offset I-Form 4-4 under Run N/A End around Taylor 12
Dive fake and then a handoff to that guy going in orbit motion. Ryan is looking in the backfied and gets lit up by a receiver cracking down on him. Taylor(-2) is way off despite this being in the redzone and comes up poorly, getting cut to the ground and allowing the back to leap over him. Demens was flowing as soon as he figured out where the ball was going; he can't get to the sideline. RPS -1... hard to figure out how M will defend this.
O7 1 G Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A FB dive Campbell 2
Campbell(+1) is falling over but in the running lane; RB falls over him. Demens(+0.5) is there to help stop his momentum as well.
O5 2 G Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A Triple option Refs 5
This is the play where Arena league flex guy is hauling ass at the LOS before the snap and cuts Kovacs to the ground. Demens(-1) gets cut really badly here but once this goes outside Ryan there's no one to fill because Kovacs(-1) got blown up. Refs -2.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-10, 1 min 2nd Q. Hoke should have called a timeout once AF had second and goal with the clock running.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O12 1 10 Near half-flex 4-4 under Run N/A Triple option Gordon 14 + 10 pen
So there's still no help on the edge as the flexback is running right at Kovacs(-1), who gets cut. Morgan(-1) also goes down. I don't think that's too much on Kovacs but on Michigan failing to adjust here. The CB has to respect the deep route being run by the WR, Gordon is on the edge, and he has support on the interior—he should take the pitch. Instead he takes QB, again corner is open, big gain. RPS -1. Campbell(-1) gets another holding call for tackling an AF OL, which is why Bolden is running free. Picture-paged.
O36 1 10 Near half-flex tight 4-4 under Run N/A Counter power Bolden 6
RT pulls. A back shoots down onto Clark, cutting him off, and then the RB moves through the backside hole between the NT and Roh. Bolden eats the OL in the hole. Morgan(-1) is gone to the fake; Michigan is fortunate that Ryan(+0.5) reads it and comes down on the RB to tackle as he shoots through the gap. Bolden(+1) did force the RB into Ryan, whether it was intentional or not. Result-based charting. Big hole as Roh and Campbell(-1) got kicked. I get Roh since he's contain on the backside. Not so much Campbell, who ends up father away from the play than two guys lined up outside of him.
O42 2 4 Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A FB dive Bolden 2
Straight ahead at the Roh/Campbell gap. Bolden hits it as fast as possible, they get a couple yards, everyone says that's how that has to go down, next snap. Bolden +0.5 I guess, for keeping this to two yards.
O44 3 2 Flexbone tight 4-4 under Run N/A Counter dive Bolden 3
Again at the same gap, with the LT coming off of Roh to hit Bolden. Contact is made at a yard, but Roh is on the side and Bolden's getting hit so momentum pushes the pile over the line. Another push; this is just what happens unless someone MAKES PLAYS.
O47 1 10 Flexbone 4-4 under Pass 4 Out Taylor Inc
Straight dropback! No pressure(-2), though I understand. AF WR does not sell his route and rounds it off, allowing Taylor(+2, cover +2) to break on the ball and break it up.
O47 2 10 Near half-flex tight 4-4 under Run N/A Counter power Washington 7
Same play they just ran. Clark(+1) actually does a great job to get under the same block he just fell victim to. He comes through it and shoulders Getz, but he's literally shedding this block as he makes contact and can't use his arms. Brink(-1) fights way far upfield; they block Ryan. Washington(-1) is buried. Bolden hits the pulling T right at the LOS but there's just huge amounts of space to both sides of him. He sheds and tackles downfield. Morgan(-1) again misses the T pulling in front of his face.
M46 3 3 Near half-flex 4-4 under Run N/A Quick pitch Morgan 11
Back goes in motion before the snap and they pitch it out; no adjustment from M before the snap. Gordon has to keep leverage and turn it in. He does. Clark(-1) doesn't adjust to the motion and goes upfield, no pursuit. Morgan(-1) starts moving about two steps after the OT flares out and has no shot. He leaps a cut, but the delay is more than enough. Kovacs(-1, tackling -1) isn't going to prevent a first down; his missed tackle adds five or six.
M35 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Pass N/A Waggle cross Taylor 17
Bolden(-2, cover -2) gets utterly lost on the play action and lets this guy get open by ten yards. Yeah, so now they're decisive. Taylor(-2, cover -2) also sucked way up and didn't get depth even when it was clear this was a pass. There's no run threat to his side and he's still flying upfield. Nyet.
M18 1 10 Flexbone Big 4-4 under Run N/A FB dive Bolden 3
Campbell cut, ends up on ground, etc. Must be the scheme. Bolden(-0.5) there but not quite decisive enough and misses a tackle, Morgan and Floyd combine to finish the guy as he squeezes through the line.
M15 2 7 Ace twins 4-3 under Pass N/A Waggle hitch Floyd 9
Ojemudia(-1) flows hard down the line and gives up the corner (pressure -2). Floyd has to drop into the corner route and gives up a super easy completion in front of him, but that's a coverage thing—three guys ended up trying to cover one AF player. Cover -2, RPS -1.
M6 1 G I-Form 3-wide 4-4 under Run N/A Lead zone Roh 3
Roh(+1) thrusts playward, getting penetration and keeping the edge; he picks off the FB and forces a cut inside. Bolden(-0.5) gets past a blocker but his angle is not directly at the hole the RB must hit if he's going to be relevant. Ryan(+0.5) is containing but reads the cutback and gets a tackle in. Campbell did get a little penetration. FWIW.
M3 2 G Flexbone Goal line Run N/A FB dive Black 2
Black(+1) immediately hops inside his blocker, and though he falls he forces a cutback. Clark(-1) again just shoulders a defender and starts falling over; he's not there to stand the RB up, and he falls forward for two yards.
M1 3 G Flexbone Goal line Run N/A QB sneak Campbell 0
Campbell(+1) gets lower than two blockers and everyone falls at the LOS, not beyond it; Bolden(+1) is the first of many people to jump on Dietz. Roh(+1) also had a large hand in stalling the momentum of the pile.
M1 4 G Near half-flex tight Goal line Run N/A Quick pitch N/A 1
Michigan sends everybody, and Air Force calls rock to their scissors, shooting Getz outside and getting it easily since Taylor is blitzing. I don't RPS plays like this since you've got to roll the dice to stop them from getting a yard.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-17, 9 min 3rd Q. That's kind of depressing.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O34 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Speed option Ross 4
Our first all-freshman LB corps. AF motions a WR to the short side and runs a speed option at three WRs and not much space. Ross(+1) is blitzing with Bolden moving to cover him at the snap. He bowls over the WR who is trying to seal him inside, and the QB cuts up. Heitzman(-0.5) gets significantly delayed by a scoop block and blown off the line so there's a gap for him. Pipkins(+0.5) shot through the line at a crappy angle on the backside and manages to come around and tackle.
O38 2 6 Flexbone unbalanced 4-4 under Pass N/A PA fly Kovacs 32
They show their option and shoot that flexback downfield at Kovacs again. Kovacs is like NOT THIS TIME BUDDY, is determined to get outside of him, and... guy runs right by him. How the hell you're supposed to not have this happen I don't know. I guess you can key on is Roh getting blocked. Yes, in this case. Otherwise, screwed. I have to give him a -2, cover -4, but this is also an RPS -4, the culmination of Michigan's scheme leaving them vulnerable to this. WR is hit over the top with eight yards lead on the nearest defender, but bobbles the ball and falls over, which is the only thing preventing a TD. Picture-paged.
M30 1 10 ??? ??? Run N/A Counter dive ??? 0
I think. They are showing a replay on this down. No idea. Some pluses should be handed out for a zero yard run, and are not.
M30 2 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Pass N/A Waggle scramble CGordon 10
Coverage(+2) is good. Brink(-1) is chasing on the end but he's either slow or not going maximum speed. Either way this opens up more space than the QB should have. Bolden is underneath on a TE. CGordon(-1) roars up late when it becomes clear a scramble is coming but overruns it and gives up more yardage than is necessary.
M20 3 In Flexbone 4-3 under Run N/A FB dive Ross 2
They get it.
M18 1 10 Near half-flex tight Okie Run N/A FB dive Washington 2
Washington(+1) gets some push and impacts the FB with his blocker; Bolden(+0.5) pulls out of the seven man front and tackles unmolested.
M16 2 8 Flexbone big 4-4 under Run N/A FB dive Black 2
Oookay. Black(+1) dodges a cut and Ross(+1) again plows a blocker back; those two tackle after the usual two yards.
M14 3 6 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A QB draw Bolden 6
Michigan stunts, pulling Black around and sealing the intended hole. Bolden(-2) does not read this and sits, waiting for the QB to come through the hole the stunt closes off; he cuts behind where Washington was always going to get sealed off from thanks to the stunt. Black almost makes a saving play after avoiding a cut and coming around but can't; Bolden is not where he needs to be and this breaks for the first down. Ryan, who starts a full three yards behind Bolden, actually makes this tackle.
M8 1 G Flexbone goal line 4-4 under Run N/A FB dive Bolden 1
May be a bust as the playside G pulls. FB is running straight at where the G no longer is. Campbell(+0.5) comes under a block and helps tackle with an unblocked Bolden(+0.5) hitting it after a yard.
M7 2 G Offset I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A End around Ross 4
Ross takes one step playside and then bursts upfield as he sees the end around. Too far upfield. He's there to make the tackle but only from the side and just barely. Taylor(+1) provided good support here, getting into the lead blocker at the LOS and turning it in at then numbers. He also helps tackle. Ross gets a push; this was good recognition but that angle needs to be wider so that you're meeting the guy at the LOS instead of chasing him.
M3 3 G Near half-flex unbalanced 4-4 under Run N/A Outside pitch. Taylor 0
A crappy pitch bails M out, but I think they had this stopped. Taylor(+1) held the edge and dodged a cut, and Ross(+0.5) was going flat out for the outside. Bad pitch brings Getz into a ton of bodies and ends it.
M3 4 G Field goal 4-3 under Run N/A Speed option Ryan 2
Michigan leaves their defense on the field and AF still runs the fake. Not a good idea. Ryan(+1) forces it back and Bolden(+0.5) tackles with help.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 28-17, 1 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M39 1 10 Ace trips unbalanced 4-3 under Pass N/A PA fly Taylor Inc
Two deep routes draw man coverage, basically, as Gordon shoots up on the option fake. Taylor(+1, cover +1) is step for step with his guy and probably has a play on the ball if this is accurate enough to be caught; it's not.
M39 2 10 Near half-flex 4-3 even Run N/A Triple option Gordon 7
Same thing. Safety has to worry about getting burned over the top and by the time he commits it's too late. Gordon hops over a cut block but is still way far away from the edge once Ryan forces a pitch. I guess you can key on the OL releasing downfield and get on your horse. Gordon -1.
M32 3 3 Flexbone tight 4-3 even Run N/A Quick pitch Taylor -2
Taylor(+2) comes up hard on this one, smacking a blocker three yards in the backfield at the numbers. Other blockers run by Clark(+1), who delivers a thumping tackle. RPS +1, they were looking for this.
M34 4 5 Near half-flex 4-3 even Run N/A Triple option Gordon 6
Same thing, always. Gordon(-1) does not get outside the flexback, gives up corner, does tackle at the sticks but not enough. Clark is coming so hard from the back on this that if Ryan makes the QB turn up this is a stop, I think.
M28 1 10 Flexbone 4-3 even Pass N/A PA flare N/A Inc
Floyd(+1, cover +1) and Morgan(+1, cover +1) cover their guys, Floyd on a fly route and Morgan recovering from the PA. QB tries to flare it out as a checkdown and misses badly. Possibly thanks to Heitzman(+0.5) getting a nominal amount of pressure.
M28 2 10 Flexbone 4-3 even Run N/A Triple option Floyd 3
Ojemudia(-2) has no idea what he's doing and shoots down inside at the dive back instead of taking the QB. Floyd(+2, tackling +1) shoots by the corner and fills after the QB pitches for no earthly reason. Took a huge mistake by the QB and a great play to not have this break huge. Because the whole defense was going nuts about the dive back.
M25 3 7 Ace 4-wide 4-3 even Pass N/A Slant Morgan 10
Morgan(-1, cover -1) takes a weird bad zone drop and opens this up. OL had cut everyone, so this was coming out immediately or not at all.
M15 1 10 Flexbone 4-3 even Run N/A FB dive Black 6
DL shift does Michigan a disservice here; Black(-1) pops through the line at the wrong spot to do anything about this and LBs can't do anything about it either.
M9 2 4 Flexbone 4-3 even Run N/A Triple option Ojemudia 1
Ojemudia(+1) does hop out on the QB this time. He decides not to pitch for some reason and gets nailed. Pitch looked like a TD, FWIW.
M8 3 3 Flexbone 6-2 over Run N/A Triple option Morgan 8
M finally switches their scheme up, shooting Gordon at the QB from the corner. This forces a pitch. Morgan and Floyd are on the edge against one blocker... Floyd(-1) gets cut and ends up incapacitated at the three and Morgan(-2, tackling -1) overruns the RB entirely. TD.
M3 2pt 2pt Ace twins 4-3 even Pass N/A Waggle TE circle Bolden 3
Roh(-1, pressure -1) sucks up and does not get out on the edge. Bolden(-1, cover -1) also bites hard, so this is easy.
Drive Notes: Touchdown(2pt), 28-25, 12 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O34 1 10 Flexbone 4-3 even Run N/A Triple option N/A 2
Fumbled the dive fake.
O36 2 8 Flexbone tight 4-3 even Pass 4 Scramble Brink 1
One flex back is in a WR stance, so may tip pass. Dive fake and then Dietz drops back. He doesn't like what he sees(cover +1) and scrambles directly upfield. Brink(+1) and Pipkins(+1) collapse on him.
O37 3 7 Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A Speed option Floyd 13
Three AF players are moving before the snap, which ain't legal. Ross is hauling after this play—he really is decisive—but gets easily cut off by a guy blocking down. Kovacs takes another blocker and Floyd(-1) is one on one on the outside with a motioned flexback; he again gets taken out of the play. RPS -1. Schemed here, mostly. No response from the LBs to the motion.
50 1 10 Near half-flex 4-3 even Run N/A FB dive Campbell 2
Campbell(+1) shoves his blocker backwards and gets to the hole, tackling. C released directly into Ross; Campbell making this play saves a yard or two, an important yard or two.
M48 2 8 Flexbone 4-3 under Run N/A FB dive Roh 3
Campbell over C on this one, play goes behind him. Roh(+1) fights to the hole and helps tackle; Bolden(-0.5) isn't quite authoritative enough with his fill and shoulder-blocks the RB down.
M45 3 5 Flexbone 4-3 even Run N/A Counter dive Ross 2
Woo! Ross(+1) is going forward on the snap, splitting the two guys releasing downfield and blasting the RB at the LOS. Would be two but he does not wrap. Black(+1) ditched a blocker and takes out the pulling G; he uses the Ross-created delay to tackle.
M43 4 3 Near half-flex 4-3 even Run N/A Triple option Clark 0
Michigan stunts. They send Clark upfield and take Black out behind that. Clark(+1) takes out the lead blocker and forces Getz upfield. Black(+1) is now out on the QB, who ends up pitching it forward to a guy right next to him. Black and Ross(+1), who flew right by a blocker en route to the edge, make the stop. RPS +1. The stunt killed it. Way to pull that out at a critical juncture, Mattison.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 31-25, 4 min 4th Q. Okay, so ABC screwed up here and the tape misses the first three plays of this drive. They are INC, 7 yard completion plus 15 roughing the passer, Roh(-1), incomplete (Clark +1 for leaping PBU), and a sideline interference(!) penalty. We pick it up on second and fifteen.
Ln Dn Ds O Form DForm Type Rush Play Player Yards
O37 2 15 Shotgun trips 4-3 under Pass 4 Out Ryan Inc
Roh(+1) gets some pressure after initially getting stopped by the LT; Dietz is rolling out to his side after he dumps the tackle and has to throw. Ryan(+1, cover +1) is in position and breaks to break up a poorly-thrown ball.
O37 3 15 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Run N/A QB draw Clark -2
Mattison is so looking for this, running a stunt that sends Clark(+1) directly into the running lane AF is looking for. Ryan(+1) darted inside the tackle he's stunting and helps tackle. RPS +2.
O35 4 17 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Batted Ryan Inc
Ryan(+2) sets the RT up inside, looks like he's going to burst outside, and then is definitely bursting outside because the RB clunks into the RT. Ryan in, QB has to throw, Ryan knocks it down. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 31-25, 1 min 4th Q. EOG for D.

That could have gone better.

Yeah. I found this reference to what Michigan was doing on The Birddog, the great Navy blog:

The biggest surprise in this game was how poorly Michigan defended the option. They spent most of the game in a 3-deep 4-4, with the safety assigned to the pitch man. Sound familiar? No wonder Air Force was able to move the ball. After playing both Navy and Air Force several times in his career, you’d think that Brady Hoke would have known better.

That link takes you to the Birddog's extensive breakdown of the 2008 Georgia-Georgia Tech game in which the Yellow Jackets broke a long losing streak against the Dawgs by completing one pass for 19 yards… and rushing for 409. In that game, the pitchman was the safety's responsibility, the safety started eating the flexback, and the Jackets looked like Las Vegas for a day. The Birddog chalks this up to old-timey ways to defend the wishbone that time-pressed coaches default to because they aren't up on the ways in which the flexbone makes those defenses invalid.

It's of purely academic interest until Michigan schedules another option team, but the similarities between how UGA defended Tech in 2008 and how Michigan defended Air Force in 2012 are extensive. If you just want to know why Saturday went down like it did, I can't recommend that post enough.

This is already nine thousand words.

Uh-huh.

What I'm saying is could I have some cliffs notes?

Ah so:

Fundamentally, the mechanics of your basic triple option play are the same whether you’re running it out of the wishbone, I-formation, spread, or whatever. Each of these formations, however, imply different overall philosophies. The underlying theme of the wishbone– bringing blockers to the point of attack to support a power running game– is very different than that of the spread. In the spread, you want to stretch the defense, both vertically and from sideline to sideline, in order to create running lanes. You might think these are just platitudes, but they aren’t; this difference, coupled with the threat of the pass, is why wishbone defenses don’t work against the spread option. The spread allows an offensive coordinator to use a greater variety of formations in order to create the space he wants for his ballcarriers. That advantage played a big part in Georgia Tech’s win over Georgia.

Mattison knows he was burned, and we won't see Michigan try this in purely hypothetical future option matchups. But when it came down to crunch time, he did respond.

Oh yes?

Oh, yes. On Air Force's final drive he had the luxury of the Falcons trying a shotgun passing attack but it's still a big plus when you call rock to the opponent's QB draw scissors, and on the even-more-critical final AF drive in their base offense Mattison finally pulled out a variation of his base defense that worked:

Clark bursts upfield and Michigan stunts Black outside, getting both a delay on the QB and a second tackler in space. Also featured is James Ross getting on his horse and doing what James Ross does: running at maximum speed somewhere. I assume there will be moments this year when Ross doing this leaves a tight end wide open, but you can't accuse Ross of being indecisive. If you need to figure out where to eat dinner with 12 people, invite James Ross.

He is in fact the only edge-type person on the—

probably pretty doomy CHART

--chart to not get a negative.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Roh 9 5 4 Size not a problem against Falcons.
Campbell 4.5 7 -2.5 I may have been a little harsh on some early cuts as AF didn't get that many yards on them.
Washington 2.5 5 -2.5 Right, this is more realistic than his Alabama number.
Black 6 1.5 4.5 Some big plays late.
Brink 1 3 -2 Eh.
Ash - - - DNP
Pipkins 1.5 - 1.5 Showed some agility after popping through the line at bad angle
Beyer 0.5 2.5 -2 Clark seemed a lot better.
Heitzman 0.5 2 -1.5 Probably shouldn't be playing yet.
Clark 5 2 3 Too bad impressive PBU not shown by ABC.
Ojemudia 1 3 -2 One bust on QB he got away with.
TOTAL 31.5 31 0.5 Step up from 'Bama; maybe not very telling anyway.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Morgan 8 10 -2 Faded late after strong start, thus setting up allfrosh.
Demens 2 3.5 -1.5 Poor guy was dodging two blocks a play.
Ryan 13 2.5 10.5 Ran up the score with +4 on final three plays. Option blame fell elsewhere.
C. Gordon 1.5 2 -0.5 Will be viable depth for Ryan.
Ross 4.5 - 4.5 Goes, man, just goes.
Bolden 5.5 6 -0.5 Some nice plays, some getting lost.
Hawthorne - - - DNP.
TOTAL 34.5 24 10.5 Thought these guys did okay considering all the cut blocks
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 3 10 -7 Has always been a terrible run defender, this played into a weakness.
Avery 3 - 3 Did okay before getting pulled with back issue.
Taylor 7 7 0 Had some crappy plays, but also popped up to pop people.
Kovacs 3.5 7 -3.5 Really put in a bind by the scheme.
T. Gordon 3 5 -2 Did not do well compared to Ryan on edge.
Holowell - - - DNP
Wilson - - - Did not chart.
TOTAL 19.5 29 -9.5 No Marlin Jacksons here.
Metrics
Pressure 7 7 0 Not really important.
Coverage 15 15 0 Push good against this kind of offense.
Tackling 6 3 66% AF != Alabama
RPS 7 13 -6 Mattison said as much.

So… I did not get the Demens removal. I thought the DL was pretty scary save Roh, loved Ryan, thought the linebackers were otherwise eh, hated Floyd's run support, was disappointed in the safeties, and think Michigan got outschemed somewhat. Thus Air Force racking it up.

Ryan is so shiny here, but you thought he might be a problem live?

That was probably lingering Argh Ryan bias from last year. He made tackles in space, he was very likely not the guy who had the pitchman at any point except when he was making tackles in space, and he almost singlehandedly ended Air Force's final drive. Bennie Oosterbaan would be proud as soon as he stopped asking why a linebacker was wearing his number.

He also lowered some BOOM:

Note that the alignment there drives the blocking crazy. The WR is trying to crack down on a LB but he's on the line, so the CB knows right away that this is a run, and then the angle he has to take cuts off the guy assigned to Avery.

Ryan did have one ARGH RYAN; other than that he was stellar. Easily Michigan's best defender on the day. 

But Floyd not so much.

No. While he got a lot better in coverage last year—Gibson minus all of the points—he remained a sucky edge defender. Remember bubble screen fiesta by Northwestern? Etc. He is not real good at taking on blocks of any variety. This ends up a Morgan TFL but watch Floyd:

That was a constant occurrence, and it would have been a problem on this play if the QB had made Morgan commit before pitching. It cost Michigan lots of yards on others. On this one he's not even blocked and ends up in the parking lot:

I don't know why they're so far off. I do know that attacking Michigan's corners in the run/screen game has been easy money for a couple years now.

How did Taylor do in his first extended time?

He was uneven, as you might expect. I don't blame him on the easy pitch touchdown Air Force got since he was blitzing at the snap—watch Floyd for confirmation—and got blocked in the back something fierce without a call from this ref crew deathly afraid of throwing a flag on America. Mattison dialed up a risky play in an effort to get a stop and got beat, which is fine on the one yard line. You've got to dial it up somehow.

He did extend a few Air Force drives with rookie mistakes, like this corner route on which he has to know the situation:

That step up is the difference between a completion and getting off the field, and it was made against a stationary tight end three yards downfield on third and twelve. On the other hand, he recovered pretty well there. If Dietz doesn't put it up high he's got a play on it. He's got the athleticism. He needs to learn how to play zone coverage, is all. He might already be better than Floyd at run support.

Demens got pulled but doesn't stand out as terrible above.

No. I'm not sure what he could have done on most of these plays. I mean, the poor guy ended up dealing with multiple blocks for big chunks of the first half:

That is not one but two Air Force blockers who do nothing but go after Demens. No consideration for guys on the line, no one else to block, just Kenny Demens vs The World.

Bolden was okay, but I think maybe Demens doesn't get sucked to the frontside and makes a stop on this play:

That's pretty bad because of the stunt in front of Bolden. That hole frontside is going to get filled by the stunter, and that's something the LB should realize. I didn't see much from Bolden that was option-relevant. Michigan was using their MLBs mostly to nail that FB dive.

Ross showed that maybe there were plays out there to make, but I don't expect Demens to get buried. I also don't expect him to do much unless Michigan starts getting more plays from the DL.

So what about this covered slot thing?

I've never seen anyone do that with the frequency Air Force did, and wanted to know if Mattison was using that stuff as a run key. Answer: yes. Via Heiko:

MGoQuestion: A lot of times Air Force came out with two receivers lined up on the line of scrimmage such that the slot was an ineligible receiver. Do you coach your defense to use that as a run key?

“Yeah. We knew that. We knew that. In fact, if you watched that, you would have seen J.T. Floyd come over to him and know that he didn’t have to drop, and he didn’t. He became another run defender over there.”

Even so I was frustrated a couple times when that happened and the guy over the slot did not react quickly enough to the run. It is possible to pass out of it but the contortions you have to go through are extreme. Nebraska got a corner route TD on it against Southern Miss by not even bothering to move either of the outside WRs. [HT: Smart Football.] We saw the magical journey the covered slot guy went on on the long shoulda-been-TD in Picture Pages.

LOLrefs.

Just astoundingly bad. Here's an Air Force pass play on which not one but two Falcon offensive linemen release downfield:

vlcsnap-2012-09-10-20h32m02s57

Those two guys in the middle of the field are OL. One of them cut-blocked Demens. No flag. I know the packaged plays have made everyone aware that refs will give OL a couple yards, but that's ridiculous. There was that Arena-league touchdown, and Morgan got tackled on a critical third down:

I mean, call it both ways. We're part of America too.

Heroes?

Jake Ryan and James Ross.

Goats?

Floyd's run support, Mattison's antiquated approach to defending the flexbone option, the D-tackles (somewhat), and the safeties (somewhat).

What does it mean for UMass and the future?

Not a whole lot since option has just slid off the schedule. However: I think Taylor will have some rough spots but come through okay. He's an athlete. Ross is going to get more playing time until such time as his hypercaffeinated ways get Michigan burned, and possibly beyond that. Jake Ryan is developing as well as Michigan fans had hoped.

Still feeling pretty ominous about the line, unfortunately, but a lot of Air Force's success is not replicable by other teams. Since Alabama is way up there, UMass way down there, and Air Force way out there, our first read on how this defense is going to play against humans comes against Notre Dame.

Comments

Picture Pages: Nefarious Option Scheme

Picture Pages: Nefarious Option Scheme Comment Count

Brian September 12th, 2012 at 11:41 AM

Air Force's ability to consistently get the edge on Michigan's defense was the most frustrating thing about Saturday's game, and many theories have been proffered as to what was supposed to be happening, why it wasn't, and why we will or will not die on the rest of the schedule.

I'm of the opinion that Michigan's scheme was predictable and that as soon as Air Force started blocking Kovacs they were out of ideas.

Here's Air Force's first play of the second half. Denard Robinson's just gone 58 yards to put M up 21-10 and a poor decision by a Falcon player to fall on a squibbed kickoff sets the Falcons up on their own 12 yard line. Michigan has just sat in the locker room for 20 minutes getting coached up; Air Force comes out and runs the same triple option they've been running all game.

It does not go well.

op-1

Okay: I called this "near half-flex" for Air  Force. Michigan is in their 4-4 under, which I know is actually shifted towards the nominal strength of the formation and so is technically an over. Michigan aligns to field, not strength—so they would flip their formation if it was on the other hash.

Against Air Force, Michigan brought Gordon down into the box and made their formation basically symmetrical. Mattison:

Jake and Thomas were the exact same position in our scheme. A lot of people play the same scheme.

Kovacs is playing center field. Earlier in the game, he was not getting blocked and doing Kovacs things. Like this:

Air Force was all like Eff that to the A and started blocking him. That took out Michigan's edge defender and opened up the corner. Michigan didn't really adjust.

op-2

Air Force's "triple" option" wasn't really that. They occasionally ran the dive to keep the defense honest but when they did that the QB just turned around and give it, no read. Here they're running the option with the token dive fake. Already in the above frame, bad things are happening.

Will Campbell(1) is tackling an Air Force lineman who's trying to get out on Bolden. He'll succeed at this, allowing Bolden to flow freely for the rest of the play, but he'll pick up a second defensive holding call doing so. On the edge, Gordon(2) is the optioned guy. Michigan is playing him to pitch like they have been all game. Kovacs(3), is the destination of the flexback.

In a second or two, Michigan is going to eat cut blocks:

op-3op-4

Thanks for participating, Clark and Morgan, but you've been elimidated. Try again next play. Meanwhile, downfield…

op-4

…the ref is ANGAR at Campbell and Jordan Kovacs is decidedly not coming up to stop the pitch.

Why is Kovacs taking that angle? Why is he not attacking the run? That's an eligible receiver he is in man coverage on. He's got no one behind him, and there are two other receivers going vertical. He has to respect this guy as a receiver, or he could give up an 88-yard touchdown.

op-5

At this point it's pretty obvious, but Kovacs doesn't have good options.

op-6

Gordon forces the pitch. Michigan has Bolden ready to hit the QB if necessary, but he doesn't know that, and that's not the scheme.

op-7

The scheme is getting cut to the ground 13 yards downfield.

op-8

Presenting yet another ten yard run on a pitch. WSG Will Campbell holding flag.

Video:

[After THE JUMP: Air Force twists its mustache!]

Comments

Mailbag: Ojemudia Redshirt, Triple Option, Rodriguez At Alabama Alternate Universe

Mailbag: Ojemudia Redshirt, Triple Option, Rodriguez At Alabama Alternate Universe Comment Count

Brian August 8th, 2012 at 4:35 PM

MARIOOJEMUDIA10MP150[1]t1_johnson[1]image

1: pew pew pew  2: a man Al Borges isn't 3: an alternate universe

Ojemudia redshirt?

I think there is no way Mario O plays.  A ton of guys could be put on field before him.  Several combos could fill the WDE spot better, eg Ryan-Cam Gordon combo puts our best, or at least most experienced, backup on the field, Ryan-Avery is similar, or how about flip back Roh for a Roh-Brink/Heitzman/Wormley/Black(?) replacement.  Given how important a redshirt could be to Mario, I would think coaches will be creative.  

-Dirk

I agree with you philosophically. Ojemudia should get a redshirt. I get frustrated when certain players have theirs burned for what seems like no reason. I'm with you, man. But… I don't see how he doesn't get on the field if Clark's issues are severe.

The problem with the above scenarios is that they reduce Michigan's specialization by flipping guys around and they still leave Michigan an injury from putting Ojemudia on the field. Is that injury reasonably likely? Yeah. So it seems to make more sense to leave Ryan at SLB full time, where he is still getting a grasp on all the particulars, and Roh at SDE, where he needs every snap he can get to figure out how to deal with his size limitations. The immediate payoff here seems real, and given the way Michigan is recruiting they figure they will be able to insert a Taco Charlton or 2014 kid into the lineup when Ojemudia graduates without losing too much. Of course, Mattison just told everyone that he was comfortable with the idea of Ryan at WDE in practice and proclaimed his faith in Cam Gordon's ability, so what do I know?

But even with that move, you're still juggling just three players between two positions. That's not tenable. If the coaches know Clark is going to be back relatively promptly, then I can see holding Ojemudia out the first couple games and getting him the redshirt. If Clark's out until Notre Dame or later, I think you have to blood Ojemudia and worry about the consequences in the distant future.

Triple option?

Brian,

This may be a non feasible idea, but why not kill two birds with one stone by creating a triple option package for Denard and company? Everyone says its really hard to prepare for Air Force, and we could prepare our defense while surprising the crap out of Alabama. Think about it, our RB, FB, QB combo are familiar with zone reads and are a lot better than any combo air force will ever have. We surprised Ohio with the inverted veer last year, and Bama's young defense won't know what hit 'em.

In addition, I can't help but think kicking and coverage teams, plus Denard's (hopefully) reduction in interceptions will make up for the fortunate 80% fumble recovery rate. The special teams will likely improve with the influx of talent and depth we are getting, or negated by rule changes. Either way its a net gain for Michigan in special teams.

Jim

Unfortunately I think we have to file that under "not feasible." Triple option is not something you can go into halfway. Hell, Michigan's speed option last year was mostly a Denard run off-tackle that had little if any chance of getting to the tailback. The one time Denard pitched it was a fumble caused when a blitzing linebacker met him after he'd taken one step playside. While it had the excellent benefit of keeping defenses honest and shooting Denard into secondaries, calling it an "option" is being generous.

Adding a true triple option and trying to get him to better understand Borges's West Coast passing attack is way too much to bite off in one fall camp. Since Borges is what he is, he's going to do what he does, and that's get Denard to throw more accurate balls that are less frequently intercepted.

The inverted veer is a different business because it's a handoff. The worst thing that happens there is you make the wrong decision and you eat some yardage. We almost saw the worst thing with the option last year, and that's the last thing an offense trying to cut down on turnovers needs.

IN RE: making up for fewer fumbles recovered. I'm not sure the special teams will be much better than last year except in the realm of punting. Gibbons is still Gibbons, kick returns just got nerfed, and it's damn hard to have an impact punt return game these days what with everyone spread-punting their way to seven gunners. Punting should be better because Hagerup will either get his foot on straight or a quick hook for the steady Wile, but we're talking a few yards a game.

The interceptions, sure. Denard's interception rate dropped over the tougher second half of the year and he should improve somewhere between noticeably and spectacularly in year two with Borges. That still leaves Michigan treading water even in the most optimistic turnover scenario, and the schedule has taken a turn for the bear-like.

brian,

pre-bama thought experiment. in december of 2006, alabama offers rich rodriguez their head coaching job. he accepts. what happens to both alabama and michigan from then on?

trippwelborneID

images[1]

Well, let's start with Alabama. They struggle through an RR-at-WVU transition year probably a little bit worse than their initial 6-6 Saban year, with Star Jackson taking over for the Bama bangs QBs midseason. Jackson doesn't end up transferring to nowheresville and becomes something like Pat White but probably not as good. No one gives six hundredths of a crap about the academics of RR's incoming recruits or Rita's jaguar pants, but RR probably still makes his fatal "I don't need Casteel that badly" error. With a somewhat more secure powerbase and money-providing demons, he does not hire GERG on try #2 and cycles through one of the then-available proven SEC DCs (Jon Chavis, for example).

This plus the better fit with his recruiting makes his defense not the worst ever assembled at the school he's coaching. He gets his QB a year earlier and has considerably better talent than he inherited at Michigan. He's replacing a total loser, one of many such since Bear. He does at least okay, probably pulls off an SEC title game or two, maybe wins it once, and sees a BCS bid or two.

He's probably still at Alabama in a Pelini-esque state: decent success, the fanbase is relatively happy with him, but they'll start to sour after a subpar year and two means you're out, buddy.

Meanwhile, Michigan finds itself adrift in the middle of the Les Miles/Bill Martin boat thing without a seemingly A-list candidate willing to jump. At that point I have no idea what they do. At the time I was muttering about how Jim Grobe mutterings were just the worst. Ferentz was out, Schiano was out, Miles was out, and Tedford was seemingly uninterested. Michigan clearly had no idea where to go, whereupon Rodriguez fell into their lap.

large_826umqbs[1]If Rodriguez is not there… does it matter? I'm not sure it matters. Lloyd was not Bo but he did have an impressive winning percentage, a national title, and the continuation of a record bowl streak. Would a pro-style coach have been able to turn Threet/Sheridan/no OL/nobody at all into a bowl appearance? I don't think so. At that point you're working from behind the eight ball and you have to be really fantastic to pull yourself out of that tailspin. Would Hoke have survived that? I doubt it; at that point his resume was a bunch of .500 seasons at Ball State. Would any outsider Michigan could have acquired have managed to hang on? Maybe by another year or two.

Even if we have no clue about who takes the reins in RR's absence in 2008, we can hazard a guess at their fate: similar hammering by OSU, flameout in 3-5 years, replacement. That's the way of things whenever you replace a legend, and if Carr wasn't a legend (debatable) he was definitely the continuation of Bo. It would have taken a truly A-level coach to not bomb out with no quarterbacks and no safeties and no offensive line, and it didn't look like any were available.

In the end, both programs are probably happy with the way things turned out. Alabama's case: duh. Michigan's: Rodriguez was such a terrible fit that Michigan rejected it in three years, at which point Hoke was just plausible enough to show up and shock everyone by doing everything right for going on 18 months.

Comments

Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs Illinois

Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs Illinois Comment Count

Brian November 17th, 2011 at 4:36 PM

Thing of the week. Introducing Vampire Denard, as MVictors dubbed him.

vampire-denard

Formation notes: Michigan went heavy shotgun in this game. I've only got nine I-form snaps, two of which came in garbage time. As for how those snaps worked out… more on that later.

Michigan operated with a lot of 2-back sets in this game, from which they deployed a variety of zone runs; when they went three-wide with a TE he was usually aligned as an H-back a la Rodriguez.

Substitution notes: Nothing you don't already know. Line was Lewan/Schofield/Molk/Omameh/Huyge, WR rotation was the same as usual, Denard was knocked out when he hit his hand on a pass-rusher's helmet midway through the third, Toussaint got the bulk of the carries.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 under Run Triple option dive Toussaint 0
Wow, good thing I didn't see this live: the NT times the first snap of the game. Anyway: Odoms is in the slot to the short side and comes in motion at the snap; he then appears to get in a pitch relationship with Robinson. Denard hands off on a dive to Toussaint; this is a mistake with the MLB headed to the dive. NT shoots past Omameh thanks to the snap timing and has time to come all the way around to tackle at the LOS. Toussaint had no other options because of the LB, who prevents a yard or two of YAC. RPS -1 for snap jump. RUN-: Robinson(2)
M20 2 10 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 65
The big run opened by the safety overplaying Robinson. M uses Koger and an H back and shoots him to the backside of the play to get a linebacker crashing down. Denard reads the exchange and hands. There are three second level defenders left with the scrape. One drops into coverage on the snap since the slot blitz left Hemingway open and Michigan threatens passes in these situations. A second tries to blitz the backside belly gap between Omameh and Huyge; Huyge(+1) just manages to get over to slow him down. LB is coming through because he's gotten in too fast but a significant slowdown is enough. The last guy is the free safety, who is still checking Denard by the time Toussaint bursts past the LOS. With Watson(+1) releasing downfield and sealing the cornerback there is nothing but grass in front of Fitz; the other S manages to grab his shirt because all long Toussaint runs this year end with someone grabbing his shirt. Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) provided the frontside crease; Toussaint(+2) saw it and hit it immediately. RPS +1. I would normally give this more since there are three guys checking Denard but this is a basic spread play Illinois should not get clunked on like this. Picture paged.
RUN+: Molk, Huyge, Toussaint(2), Schofield, Robinson(0.5), Watson RUN-:
O15 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Triple option dive Toussaint 6
Denard slightly in front of the TBs, implying inside zone. Hopkins motions into a pitch relationship with Denard on the snap. This pulls both linebackers to the wide side of the field; slot guy comes in to contain and Robinson hands off. Hopkins never even looks at Denard so I don't think this is a read. Schofield(+1) kicks one DT; Molk(+1) another. Omameh(+1) comes off a momentary double to seal the SLB after he stepped the wrong way on the option fake. Lewan(+2) rides a DE five yards downfield. Toussaint hits the crease provided and hops outside... I think he gives up some yards by cutting back behind Lewan instead of just running right for the corner. RPS +1.
RUN+: Lewan(2), Schofield, Molk, Omameh RUN-:
O9 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB draw Robinson 9
Slot LB stays with the slot this time; Illinois makes it up with a safety. They blitz a LB right into the intended hole; Smith(+2) hacks him to the ground as Robinson(+1) darts around him. Molk(+1) seals the playside DT; Schofield(+1) and Koger(+1) get downfield to wall off the last two guys. Lewan(-1) almost gets it all blown up by losing his guy; Robinson(+1) glides past that guy and into the endzone.
RUN+: Robinson(2), Smith(2), Molk, Koger, Schofield RUN-: Lewan
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 13 min 1st Q. Craig James says the last play is 'almost like a designed quarterback run'. O RLY?
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M47 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 7
Illinois keeps the LB over the slot and sends the guy on the short side; M runs another inside zone. The linebackers slide a little to the backside since Hopkins shooting into that end threatens both a Denard keeper and a Toussaint cutback; the corner has the frontside gap. Or at least he would if Gallon(+1) didn't read his blitz and crack down on him, shoving him past the hole and helping Omameh(+0.5) out on his WLB block. With Molk(+1) and Huyge(+0.5) not doing anything too bad on their blocks Toussaint hits the open hole for a good gain.
RUN+: Gallon, Huyge(0.5), Molk(0.5), Omameh(0.5), Toussaint(0.5) RUN-:
O46 2 3 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 1
Bubble complaint lodged. Anyway, Illinois has a corner on one side of the line with no one in his zone since the TE is offset to the WR side. He can run at this as soon as he sees the RB move away from him. He does. On the playside the optioned DE heads upfield so Robinson keeps. Omameh(+1) kicks the playside LB effectively. Cutback means the corner tackles Robinson from behind; even without that Lewan(-1) lost a downblock and Schofield(-1) couldn't get out on a linebacker. RPS -1. Picture paged.
O45 3 2 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run QB draw Robinson 1
Twinned WRs stacked over each other; Toussaint motions outside of them. No one really goes with him; Illinois is still playing a full two deep so it's six on six in the box. Illinois charges upfield, opening up a draw; a blitzing LB seems like he's supposed to deal with that possibility. Molk(+1) shoves him past the play. Mercilus beats Huyge(-1) upfield in a flash, which wouldn't normally be a problem but the guy actually catches Robinson from behind just as it looks like he's going to burst into the secondary. He can't tackle; he does redirect Denard into the DT peeling back. Omameh(-0.5) could have done a little better here and still made this a big play. Hopkins(+1) got a good block on the last LB. RPS +1; Michigan had this for big yardage but for Mercilus being great.
RUN+: Molk, Hopkins RUN-: Huyge, Omameh(0.5)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 10 min 1st Q. Boo punt.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Throwback screen Gallon 8
It's back. This one works because there isn't even a corner anywhere near the WR on the catch since Illinois bit hard on the play action and played soft behind it. Koger(-1) whiffs his block, unfortunately, and Lewan(-1) did not adjust to that reality; meanwhile Schofield(-1) also whiffs. Hard on these guys in space but man, I think one block here is a big, big gainer. RPS +2. (CA, 3, screen)
RUN+: Gallon RUN-: Koger, Schofield, Lewan
M25 2 2 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run QB draw Robinson -2
I think this doesn't go anywhere like where it's supposed to go because Molk(-1) cannot react quickly enough to a blitz to prevent a linebacker from getting in past him. Both RBs are headed to the left side of the line but that's no longer an option. Instead of redirecting Toussaint bangs the blitzing LB. Robinson is now alone in some space with two Illinois players. He hesitates(-2) and tries to go back to the play he had already abandoned. If he hits it up directly he may get a yard or two. Instead he loses four; the refs inexplicably say he lost only two. Refs +1, RPS –1.
RUN-: Molk, Robinson(2)
M23 3 4 Shotgun trips bunch 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass Delayed slant Hemingway 8
Lovely little route combo here as Odoms runs a drag across the field and Koger releases deep as Hemingway just kind of hangs out at the line waiting for everyone to GTFO. Denard stares down the drag, drawing a zoning DE, and then comes off on a wide open slant for the first. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1) This was explained in the Football Fundamentals diary.
M31 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Run Zone stretch Toussaint 9
Old friend. Illinois is way undershifted on the line and Molk can release immediately; Omameh(+1) cuts the NT to the ground. Molk ends up missing the MLB but only because he's charging straight upfield; he runs right by the play. Schofield(+1) adjusts to chuck the other blitzing LB to the ground; Lewan(+1) kicks the playside DE and Toussaint(+1) zips into a gaping hole. Illini have two safeties back so they combo to hold this down. RPS +1; Illinois reacted poorly to this.
M40 2 1 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Power off tackle Toussaint 3
Illinois slants to this play, which makes life difficult. Koger gets good push on a downblock; McColgan(+1) blows up the EMLOS; the two good blocks on this play give Toussaint enough of a lane to slam it up for a first down.
RUN+: McColgan, Koger RUN-:
M43 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Zone stretch Toussaint 0
Classic Molk reach(+2) sees the NT buried in the middle of the field. With the slot LB sticking to the WR and a backside blitz from the other corner plus two deep safeties there is now one player with any hope of preventing this from breaking big. Omameh(-2) runs by the guy and he makes the tackle. RPS +1.
M43 2 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Dime even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 25
The WTF Zook play. Illinois wants to defend this by slanting to the right and shooting a linebacker underneath into the belly gap to tackle for loss; Molk(+2) starts releasing left, reads this play that I don't know if he's ever seen before, and rudely ejects the LB from the box. Lewan(+1) and Schofield(+1) crease the backside DT and DE and Toussaint runs fast into a gaping cavern. RPS+2, but sort of a play where I'd like to RPS-2 Zook without giving a plus to anyone else.
RUN+: Molk(3), Schofield, Lewan, Toussaint. RUN-:
O32 1 10 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-4 even Run Power off tackle Shaw 5
I think Michigan tips this by lining McColgan to the weak side, but whateva. Illinois blitzes the MLB to no effect. Think that's a Denard blitz. Huyge(+1) does a good job on the playside DT. There's now two Illinois players to the outside and one scraping from the inside. McColgan gets an iffy bump on the outside guys; Schofield(-1) realizes he needs to turn inside to get a scraping LB too late and lets him by. Shaw(+1) makes one hard cut upfield and runs into three arm tackles. He goes down. Did well to get yardage there and if he had a little more room could have creased this for a big gain.
RUN+: Huyge, Shaw RUN-: Schofield
O27 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone read keeper Robinson 4
The backside DE starts shuffling down the line to defend the belly and Robinson(+1) pulls. This is the right read and it takes a series of unfortunate events to hold this down. Event one: shuffling DE reads the pull and manages to bang Koger upfield. Event two: NT decides before the mesh point is complete that Denard is pulling and chucks his blocker to head backside. (This is why the handoff looked so open.) Event three: Hemingway's block on the slot guy is crappy. He gets upfield and takes Koger's block; Denard has to cut behind all this. Thanks to Lewan(+1) pushing that shuffling DE past the play he does have a cutback lane that he takes to the sticks. Unfortunately he puts the ball on the turf(-3). Addressed in a picture pages.
RUN+: Lewan RUN-: Robinson(2), Hemingway
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-0, 3 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O41 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Triple option dive Toussaint 6
WLB blitzes right at Molk(+1); Molk picks him up and walls him off. Triple option makes the MLB run upfield. Illinois is filling hard with a safety; Roundtree(+1) cracks down on him. Michigan has adapted to this Illinois strategy well; their WRs are picking up the right guys in the secondary. Change from last week. Anyway, Toussaint is now breaking free. Roundtree's block is tough and his man gets an arm tackle attempt that slows Toussaint; Huyge's man comes off to tackle with the corner. Omameh did a good job on the DT.
RUN+: Molk, Roundtree, Omameh RUN-:
O35 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB iso Robinson 10
Schofield(+2) gets playside of a guy who is playside of him on the snap and buries him. Toussaint(+1) reads the block of Omameh and cuts inside; Robinson follows. Omameh's block is kind of crappy but as the DT is coming off he eats Toussaint. Robinson darts by. Molk(+1) takes out the MLB. Hemingway(-1) basically whiffs his block; Denard(+1) runs through that arm tackle attempt and gets a chunk more than the first.
RUN+: Toussaint, Schofield(2), Robinson, Molk RUN-: Omameh(0.5), Hemingway
O25 1 10 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 7
Illinois now scraping down the line with that DE; I think this is actually a bad read by Denard(-1). With Odoms in the slot the corner opens up; Koger is running by the DE's block and should have any scraper DOA. (Hemingway's blocking is really an issue in this game.) Anyway, the DE should snuff this out at the LOS but inexplicably derps just as the guy with the ball runs by him. Toussaint(+1) runs through an arm tackle from that guy. That done he rides behind a great diving block from Schofield(+2) that sees the playside DT deposited five yards downfield. Half of Toussaint's plus is using this block to its fullest. Molk(+0.5) helped with a momentary double and then walled off a linebacker.
RUN+: Toussaint, Schofield(2), Molk(0.5) RUN-: Robinson
O18 2 3 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 8
MLB blitz; Lewan(+1) shoots him down the LOS and eliminates him. Playside DT is already slanting away; Molk and Schofield help him but not plus. Hopkins(+1) walls off the DE containing Robinson. Slot LB is in no-man's land; Toussaint(+0.5) hits it up for a quality gain. RPS +1.
RUN+: Toussaint(0.5), Hopkins, Lewan RUN-:
O10 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 2
With Koger pulling around it seems like Denard has a blocker for the scrape LB and is one on one with a safety. Anyway. Handoff is made. Molk(-2) is chucked to the ground by the NT; seems like it should be defensive holding but results based charting. Omameh(+1) is still blocking this guy but he's got a two for one. Schofield(-1) falls down and allows the backside DT to flow behind this business. Toussaint(-1) still has a lane thanks to a good Huyge(+1) kick but hesitates. For what reason I don't know. Angling outside and just slamming for whatever you can get seems like 4; he gets two.
RUN+: Huyge, Omameh RUN-: Molk(2), Schofield, Toussaint
O8 2 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 6
Michigan's blocking changes, possibly based on opponent alignment. Lewan(+1) kicks the DE; Koger(+1) dives inside that block and picks off an aggressive LB. Schofield(+1) comes off a double to get another LB and Toussaint dances through the blocks to get down to the four. From there it's push the pile.
RUN+: Lewan, Koger, Toussaint, Schofield RUN-:
O2 3 G Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Run Speed option Robinson 2
Omameh(+2) slashes the backside DT to the ground and that is all she wrote. Molk(+1) gets the last linebacker with a chance and Robinson(+1) reads the situation for an easy six.
RUN+: Omameh(2), Molk, Robinson RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 12 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M41 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 0
Okay, now Illinois has this down. Shuffling DE comes down the line and tackles Toussaint as he cuts behind Omameh. M is running the Odoms end-around fake; without that—with a bubble—it seems like the keeper is open. As it is I don't even know if this is an option. RPS -1.
RUN-: Robinson
M41 2 10 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass PA TE Flat Koger 2
Robinson has to dump it immediately and can only be sure Koger is safe; he hits him; a cover two corner comes up to tackle on the catch. Koger fell down anyway. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS -1)
M43 3 8 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 4-3 even Pass Rollout out Hemingway 15
Man, this rollout gets three Illini defenders running at Robinson unfettered but he does have enough time to zing a great pass into a well-covered Hemingway for the first down. Hemingway has to leap for it but it's not particularly tough catch and putting it at the height Robinson does is a good way to keep it from prying hands. (DO, 2, protection 0/2, Toussaint -1, team -1)
O42 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass TE wheel Koger 40
Finally we get a derp easy play based on a team overreacting to something. M runs PA and then fakes the throwback screen. When the corner comes up hard on Gallon, Koger releases downfield and gets crazy wide open a la 2010. Denard has a touchdown... and leaves it short. To be fair, an Illinois blitz did get a guy in on Robinson, forcing him to throw off the back foot. Still... lay it a little further out here, man. (MA, 3, protection ½, team -1, RPS +3)
O2 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read dive Toussaint -3
Bandit type player actually looks like a DL; he charges hard at the LOS when Molk pops that head up. Another LB blitzes behind this. Both these guys get in free. Toussaint has no chance. RPS -2; Michigan dead on snap.
O5 2 G I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Delay Toussaint -3
Guh, man. Michigan runs a delay on the five after passing like five times in this game. I'd rather just throw here. Illinois blitzes right into it and again gets an unlbocked LB into the backfield. Molk(-2) doubled a DT and was the primary culprit. Still not a fan of the call. RPS -1.
RUN-: Molk(2)
O8 3 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Scramble Robinson 7
No one open, Robinson finally just runs and almost gets a huge reward for it; unfortunately he does step OOB early. Review picks up the ref error. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)
O1 4 G Shotgun trips 2 3 0 Goal line Run Speed option Robinson -4
I do think the snap takes this from a low chance to zero chance but man... they didn't try to manball once on this series. If this is a good snap Robinson might pitch and then Toussaint either gets crushed by the guy flaring out or dives inside of him and drives the unblocked LB into the endzone. Still... when RR did this he threw two TEs on the line to give his runners more gaps to probe. RPS –1.
RUN-: Molk.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 5 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB iso Robinson 0
Illinois shifts as Molk puts his head down, sliding one LB to the line and putting another guy right over the NT. Robinson has few good options once Molk(-1) gets beaten playside. He can wait and get tackled from behind by the shifted LB or not wait and get tackled by the NT. He chooses door #2. RPS -1.
RUN-: Molk
M13 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone stretch Shaw -8
W/ Illlinois in a true even set Molk cannot reach anyone. Omameh(-3) is then tossed to the ground by the playside DT, which blows up the play. Normally you can cut to one side or the other other of that guy; here Omameh fails to exist and Shaw is doomed either way. Shaw(-3) compounds matters by not cutting straight upfield and accepting his loss of a couple. Instead he bounces outside and loses eight.
RUN-: Omameh(3), Shaw(3)
M21 3 18 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even Pass Sack -- -6
Zone blitz confuses the M D line; live this looked like Huyge got destroyed but really this was just a complicated protection executed poorly. Huyge sets up to maybe block an OLB who drops off; Omameh eventually peels off Mercilus because a blitzer is coming unblocked up the middle and he does not have faith—or does not know—that Smith is about to slice the guy down. Mercilus annihilates Robinson as he delays because he isn't actually looking at the dude; ball pops up and is either recovered or intercepted. (PR, N/A, protection 0/3, Omameh -1, Huyge -1, Team -1) No replays show the routes, but M got killed on a zone blitz and had no obvious short options. RPS -1.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 14-0, 3 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O43 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 7
Starts out with the triple stack; Odoms motions to the other side of the field. Illinois ends up with just six in the box; M runs at it. DE contains; handoff. Huyge(+1) picks up the WLB's blitz and kicks him out. Omameh(+2) gets an excellent driving block on the playside DT and a sizeable hole forms. Molk(-0.5) reads another LB blitz late and can't cut his guy off; he does impede him enough that Toussaint can run through an arm tackle. He cuts past a safety that Odoms isn't blocking in the back but is walling off; the delay allows the guy containing Robinson to come back and tackle from behind.
RUN+: Omameh(2), Huyge, Toussaint RUN-: Molk(0.5)
O36 2 3 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Iso Toussaint -2
Schofield(-0.5) gives too much ground here, making the angle of attack awkward. Lewan(-1) whiffs on a linebacker as he releases downfield, which spooks Toussaint into bouncing outside despite the fact that he's still got Hopkins and will probably get something by just slamming it up. As it is his bounce is a bad idea since it's into a guy with excellent position.
RUN-: Lewan, Toussaint, Schofield(0.5), Hopkins(0.5)
O38 3 5 Shotgun trips bunch tight 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Drag Odoms 19
Part II of drag-follow, this time with the drag opening up. Illinois corner starts pointing at the Odoms motion and gets no response; he ends up having to make a hopeless march through traffic and has no shot of catching Odoms as he makes the turn upfield. Pattern got M an easy first down on a dead simple catch. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS+1)
O19 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Toussaint -2
Playside end dives under Koger(-1) and gets upfield into Schofield, picking off that puller. Aggressive MLB now shoots into the gap unmolested and Toussaint has nowhere to go. Hopkins had to flare out to block the blitzing slot guy, bubble complaint etc. RPS -1.
RUN-: Koger
O21 2 12 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Dime even Pass Screen Smith Inc
Smith gets bashed as he tries to get into the pattern and Mercilus gets a free run as Lewan(-1) is suckered by a zone blitz, so Robinson doesn't have time to let this set up or find a receiver. He throws it away. (TA, 0, protection ½, Lewan -1, RPS -1)
O21 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Rollout fly Odoms Inc
Guhhhhhh. Odoms runs right by a zoning corner and is wide open for a touchdown. Denard throws it on a line and zips it just past the outstretched hands of Odoms. He deflects it but no way. If Odoms isn't 5'8” it's a TD easy. Still, Robinson had this and if he puts a little more arc on it this is an easy six. (IN, 0, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(39), 14-0, 1 min 2nd Q. Michigan gets the ball back for a final play; Hail Mary not charted.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M42 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Yakety snap -- -9
On Robinson; snap is perfect.
M33 2 19 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 11
Koger(+1) drives the playside end inside. The WLB is gone upfield to the other side of the line. Toussaint(+2) gets a crushing block on the MLB that blows him downfield; Hemingway(-2) does nothing with the slot LB. Robinson feints inside as that guy threatens to do bad things upfield; Omameh(+1) pulls into him, at which point Robinson bounces back outside and jets for the corner, stiffarming a safety.
RUN+: Robinson(2), Toussaint(2), Omameh, Koger RUN-: Hemingway(2)
M44 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Rollout what -- Inc
Rollout just gets Robinson killed when he has to pull up since the edge is not clean, which exposes him to a free run from the backside end. Robinson pulls up and ends up chucking a ball directly at an Illinois DB, which is dropped. I have no idea what he saw; should have thrown it away. Possible this was deflected? These rollouts are more trouble than they're worth. (INX, N/A, protection 0/2, team, RPS -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 10 min 3rd Q. Robinson is done for the day.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Pass Zone read dive Toussaint 9
Hopkins comes around for the speed option; DE forms up so Gardner hands off. Toussaint(+1) squeezes through the backside hole between the OL and that DE. That's thanks to Schofield(+1) giving him some extra room. Schofield's guy eventually spins off to get an arm tackle attempt in; that slows Toussaint and allows a LB to come from behind. Lewan(+1) did a good job to erase the MLB on the play. RPS +1. Play design gets the gain here by optioning off the DE.
RUN+: Toussaint, Schofield, Lewan RUN-:
M38 2 1 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Power off tackle Toussaint 0
Playside DT slants away from the play into Huyge, who is essentially blocked and cannot get out on the MLB. The rest of the play goes as intended but unblocked LB in the hole means a cutback into a mess for no gain because Omameh(-2) got shoved to the ground and a DT is sitting there unblocked. RPS -1.
RUN-: Omameh(2)
M38 3 1 I-Form Big 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Toussaint 0
Eight guys in the box and a safety coming down. M doubles the playside DT; Koger(+1) pops off and gets a driving block on the MLB. Playside DE slides down; Hopkins does kick him but Schofield has to slow up significantly to get through the hole. He ends up blocking the overhang corner as Toussaint(-2) runs into two unblocked players; had to follow Schofield and Koger for the first.
RUN+: Koger RUN-: Toussaint(2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 7 min 3rd Q. Runs from the I so far: 6 for -4 yards. Illinois muffs subsquent punt.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M32 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Delay Toussaint 3
Corner blitz overruns the play but the guy recovers well. Toussaint finds considerable running room at first until the DE on the edge gives it up to fill the hole; Toussaint bounces out smartly only for that blitzing corner to tackle from behind. Molk(+0.5) and Schofield(+0.5) got good looking blocks that weren't tested; Lewan couldn't really be blamed since the DE released in a way he had no ability to combat. The corner blitz gets the play. RPS -1.
RUN+: Toussaint, Molk(0.5), Schofield(0.5) RUN-:
M29 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Rollout hitch Odoms Inc
Edge acquired this time but this is going to be a five yards and immediate tackle sort of pass despite the roll. Ball winged to Tacopants. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M29 3 7 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 4-3 even Pass Rollout cross Hemingway 20
I think the snap is too early here; a guy is coming across the formation but ends up not even getting to the center by the snap. He ends up useless when he's supposed to be a drag route underneath, I bet. Gardner gets pressure thanks to a Smith(-1) whiff on the cut but at least he whiffs to the outside and sends Mercilus inside; Gardner manages to run through the tackle attempt. Once he does that he lobs a wobbler to Hemingway that's brought in for a good gain. (CA+, 3, protection ½, Smith -1)
M9 1 G Ace 2TE tight 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Pitch sweep Smith 0
Pitch formation and pitch play picture paged last week, except Hemingway(-2) runs by the playside LB, leaving him to a pulling Molk, who has no chance to get this guy shooting upfield for leverage. Hemingway then whiffs on the safety. So he blocked the wrong guy and didn't even block the guy he was trying to. Smith has to cut back behind Molk because the LB has shot out to the corner; heavily flowing MLB Molk should be blocking and safety Hemingway whiffed on combine to tackle.
RUN-: Hemingway(2)
M9 2 G Shotgun trips 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Pass Rollout drag Hemingway Inc
Blitz w/ DE flying upfield and LB coming behind it cuts off the roll and forces a quick, bad throw from Gardner. Hemingway can't haul it in; it's three yards if he does. (IN, 1, protection ½, team -1, RPS -1)
M9 3 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB draw Gardner 5
Give up and kick.
Drive Notes: FG(27), 17-0, 4 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 2
Playside DE contains; Koger(+1) moves out on the slot LB, who is coming down. That erases him way outside. Omameh does an okay job on the backside DT; Huyge(+1) gets a good block on the MLB, and Toussaint has a huge cutback lane... that he totally misses. Instead he runs to the wrong side of Omameh's block and turns a good gain into a crappy one.
RUN+: Omameh, Koger, Huyge RUN-: Toussaint(2)
M22 2 8 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Zone read keeper Gardner 2 (Pen -11)
Backside DE shuffles down and Gardner pulls. Depending on Hopkins's assignment his either fine or insane, because Hopkins slams that DE. Gardner now dealing with a scraping LB and a safety shooting down and has to bounce all the way outside, where he gets a couple yards. Hopkins gets a chop block PF for his block of a technically engaged DE, but I don't really blame him since the whole point of this offense is that guy is not actually blocked. So... someone's wrong. Hopkins or Gardner? I'm guessing Gardner.
RUN-: Gardner(2)
M11 2 19 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 9
Illinois clearly backing out into safe coverage so M runs at a six man box. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) blow out the playside DT; Schofield(-1) has a tough time with his guy and he almost blows up the play but the great work on the frontside gives him a crease; Molk pops off on a LB. Toussaint does good work to make one dash cut right upfield after clearing the arm tackle attempt from the backside DE. He's into the secondary, where everybody is. Everybody tackles him.
RUN+: Toussaint, Molk, Omameh RUN-: Schofield
M20 3 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Okie Run PA Scramble Gardner 4
A blitz off the edge gets two guys in on Gardner almost before the fake mesh point and erase any thought of a throw. Gardner manages to scramble for decent yardage. PA on which you are not blocking a guy on third and ten? Come on. (PR, N/A, protection N/A, RPS -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-7, 13 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O22 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Zone stretch Toussaint -5
Yeesh: not only does the slot LB blitz but so does the corner. Both of these guys are on the playside. Slot LB charges upfield; Hopkins(+1) manages to shove him past the play and Toussaint hops past him. With the playside DE sealed and Huyge(+1) out on the playside LB this is opening up but for that blitz; Hemingway(-1) again is watching his guy make a tackle after barely or not touching him; quicker reaction here maybe gets Toussaint a bounce. As it is he almost does before getting chopped down by an ankle tackle. RPS -2.
RUN+: Hopkins, Huyge, Omameh RUN-: Hemingway
O27 2 15 Ace 4-wide tight 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass PA Whatever ??? Inc
Fake toss; WLB is blitzing upfield and is instantly in on Gardner. He chucks an ugly dangerous duck off his back foot that lands yards in front of Hemingway. He might have been open. (IN, 0, protection 0/2, team, RPS -1)
O27 3 15 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Dime even Pass Dig Odoms 27
Three man rush gives Gardner all day. He gets a crease and steps up into the forever pocket, then hits a wide open Odoms breaking into the endzone. Yeesh, Zook. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +2, though again this is more of an RPS -2 for Illinois than anything else.)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-7, 10 min 4th Q. Game is over when M gets the ball back but for posterity...
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Power off tackle Toussaint 13
This is all RB. Lewan(-1) downblock is beaten by a slant; that guy cuts off the pulling Omameh. Toussaint has no crease and if he's going anywhere it's into the arms of an unblocked LB. Backside blitz should have this dead on the cutback but Illinois has two guys go after Gardner's waggle, allowing Toussaint(+2) to cut back hard and fast into the secondary. No RPSes now but this is not something that should have worked.
RUN+: Toussaint(2) RUN-: Lewan
O27 1 10 I-Form big 2 2 1 4-3 under Run Iso Toussaint 27
Everyone runs right at this and misses; Molk being a culprit. This is just here because Toussaint(+3) did silly things.
RUN+: Toussaint(3) RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-14, 2 min 4th Q. M gets the ball back and kneels. EOG.

I AM SO CONFLICTED

Illinois gives up 280 yards a game and hasn't had anyone score more than 21 against them save Northwestern; Michigan had more yards in the first half than OSU and PSU did in their entire games against the Illini; they spent most of the second half trying to strangle the game with their backup quarterback; one extra yard and one field goal pushed a little further inside and they put up 41.

Be happy.

BUT THE NO POINTS

Bothersome. Less bothersome than not moving the ball at all, like Iowa and MSU.

I THOUGHT YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO HATE BORGES

I hate the pro-style-with-Denard-and-Zoney-McOffensiveline, not the man. Are you Joe Paterno again?

IT'S NOT LIKE I HAVE ANYTHING BETTER TO DO NOW

Would you like to scream—

CHART

—chart?

[Hover over column headers for explanation of abbreviation. Screens are in parens.]

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR DSR
2009, All Of It 1 7 6(2) 3(1) 4 4 - - ? 44%
Notre Dame 3 25(8) 3(1) 4 1 - 4(1) 2 - 71%
Michigan State 4 14(3) 1 7(1) 1 - - 2 2 68%
Iowa 1 11(3) 2 3(1) 2 - 1 - - 64%
Illinois 4 9(1) 1 4 1 3 1(1) - - 60%
Purdue 2 12(1) 1 3 1 1 1 3 - 68%
WMU '11 - 6(1) 4 3 1 - - - 1 56%
Notre Dame '11 6 7(1) 1 6(1) 5 1 1 1 - 50%
EMU '11 1 10(1) - 5 1 - 1 1 1 59%
SDSU '11 - 10(2) - 4 2 1 - 1 - 53%
Minnesota '11 1 13(3) 1 3 1 - - - - 73%
Northwestern '11 4 12(3) 1 7 2 - - - 1 59%
MSU '11 1 8(1) 4(1) 6 5 - 1 7 1 40%
Purdue '11 1 7(1) - 1 2 1 - 2 - 66%
Iowa '11 2 21 2 7 1 - 3(1) 2 - 69%
Illinois '11 1 4(1) 1 2 - 1(1) - 1 1 66%

Gardner had two CAs, three INs, and a PR.

Denard's DSR is an incredibly small sample size—4/6—so read as little into that as possible. His two bad throws were the "argh, why aren't you six feet tall, Odoms" overthrow and his last insane pass that was so off and wobbly it seems like it must have slipped or been deflected. He did have an impressive throw to Hemingway:

He gets an INC for his passing in this game, but if you look at his season trend he does seem to be getting better. The last three games he's been hovering in the md-60s, which is acceptable. The MSU debacle is a heavily mitigated outlier in a decent Big Ten season.

My problem with Denard's game was not in the air, but on the ground:

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Lewan 8 5 3 Had some mistakes in space.
Barnum - - - DNP
Molk 14 7.5 6.5 Off to roaring start and then hit a wall on the goal line stand.
Omameh 14 7.5 6.5 Had a really good day except when getting tossed to the ground on two plays that lost a ton of yards.
Huyge 7 1 6 Very solid day against Mercilus.
Schofield 11.5 5.5 6 Doing well, solid starter.
Mealer - - - DNP
Watson 1 - 1
Koger 6 2 4 Back to the usual after fun with Purdue DEs.
TOTAL 61.5 28.5 68% A solid B day from the line against a good D.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 6.5 8 -1.5 Fumble, bad reads, hesitancy.
Gardner - 2 -2 Blew one read.
Toussaint 18.5 6.5 12 +5 on the meaningless last drive but still a quality day both running and blocking.
Shaw 1 3 -2 Turned in the ultimate Shaw run, at least.
Smith 2 - 2 Supplanted. M may have tipped screen by throwing it to him.
Hopkins 2 0.5 1.5 Marginalized in spread.
Rawls - - - DNP
McColgan - - - DNP
TOTAL 30 20 10 Good day from Toussaint; everyone else bler.
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Hemingway - 7 -7 Huge, huge problem. I hate having him in the slot.
Odoms - - -  
Gallon 2 - -  
Roundtree 1 - -  
Grady - - - --
Jackson - - -  
Dileo - - - --
TOTAL 3 7 -4 Paging Floridian mountain goats to slot STAT
Metrics
Player + - T Notes
Protection 14 13 52% Team 8, Omameh 1, Toussaint 1, Huyge 1, Lewan 1, Smith 1. NO MORE ROLLOUTS
RPS 18 20 -2 +8 before goal line stand; that was  big chunk and then Borges was just bleeding the game out w/ Gardner mostly. That'll happen.

So… yeah. Denard being negative on the ground is a recipe for bad things happening. A chunk of that is the fumble, but even if you take that out he barely edges above even. He danced too much and gave up yardage, he missed reads on the zone, and he didn't have any runs on which he could truly deploy his speed. That is part of Toussaint's day, obviously, but Denard's trend on the ground is now in the land of cocked eyebrow.

When the playside LB is doing this…

triple-option-2

…and you're handing off you have messed up. That kind of thing is getting distressingly common.

Good god, I've never even seen a relevant wide receiver. What happened?

I don't know, man, but the difference between Hemingway and the little headbutting goats from Florida is stark. Having Hemingway in the slot against an opponent that loves to bring a linebacker off the corner is asking for trouble, and then there were plays that were just bad. Michigan ran that same pitch sweep I picture paged from the Iowa game to Hemingway's side; instead of blocking the playside LB Hemingway ran right to the safety. And then he whiffed. Molk had no shot at cutting off that LB when he ran free and Smith had to cut back into bodies. And then there was this:

fumble-no-bubblefumble-no-bubble-2

I get that you might not be able to seal the guy to the outside but at least shove the dude somewhere. Like… touching him would be a start.

Meanwhile, Michigan's throwing go routes into the endzone at Odoms. I get moving Hemingway around a little bit but let Odoms headbutt people and catch touchdowns from the slot. Needs moar tiny bastards.

Barely relevant WR chart?

And here's the barely relevant WR chart.

[Passes are rated like so: 0 = uncatchable, 1 = very difficult, 2 = moderately difficult, 3 = routine.]

  This Game   Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Hemingway - - - 2/2 10 0/2 8/9 18/21
Roundtree - - - - 10 1/5 5/7 9/10
Odoms 2 - - 2/2 4 - - 2/2
Grady - - - - 4 - 0/1 2/2
Gallon -

-

- 1/1 7 - 2/2 21/21
J. Robinson - - - - - - - -
Dileo - - - - - 0/2 2/3 2/2
Jackson - - - - - - 1/1 1/1
                 
Koger - - - 1/1 6 1/3 3/4 10/11
Moore - - - - 2 - 1/1 -
                 
Toussaint - - - - - - - 2/3
Shaw - - - - - - - 1/1
Smith 1 - - - 4 0/2 1/1 7/8
Hopkins - - - - 2 - - 1/1
McColgan - - - - 1 - - 1/1

The only thing to say to this is "whatever."

I thought running Denard on the goal line was instant touchdown, smart guy?

It's a good idea when you're in a power set… maybe not so much when you've only got five blockers against seven guys. When RR wanted to power it into the endzone he would put two TEs on the line without fail, which spread the defense further out—harder to get around the edge—and gave Denard more gaps in which to cut. Heck, Borges did it:

That is tough to stop with everyone spread out and one guy going down enough to give Denard a crease. Going four wide is asking for trouble. Think of it like a power play for the defense, which always has one extra guy to tackle: would you rather be killing a 5 on 4 or 4 on 3? (Note that this equation is reversed when there's a lot of field left and two deep safeties are back: then you've got the power play.)

The snap didn't help either, obviously.

Is it just me or do you also want to cry into the pillow when they come out under center?

It is not just you. We've been tracking the efficacy of Michigan's running game from the shotgun versus under center all year. It's been a blowout in favor of shotgun most weeks, but never so much as it was on Saturday. Michigan ran ten times from under center and collected 39 yards.

It's even worse than that sounds. 40 of those yards—ie, more than all of them—came on the two Toussaint runs after the Illinois onside kick that I only charted to demonstrate how good of a back the kid is. On the first he cut to the backside of the play on a power, which rarely goes well; on the second he had to dodge three tacklers on the backfield on an iso and bounce all the way to the sideline before finding open grass. At no point did Michigan open up the hole it wanted to from the I.

Shotgun runs averaged 5.8 yards a pop. If you take out the 65-yarder they get hacked down to 3.9… so… yeah. Take out the best run of the day and Shotgun Michigan had an average outing against the Illinois defense. Leave it in and it's the best performance of the year by over a half-yard. Under Center Michigan was two garbage time carries away for being negative on the day.

Those are the numbers.

stretch-argh

AAARGH TEN MAN FOOTBALL

Anecdotally, it felt like all of Michigan's under-center runs were doomed from the start and a lot of  Michigan's unsuccessful shotgun runs were close to breaking long. This Toussaint zero-yarder is one easy Omameh block from being a big gain:

Guhhhhhhhhh. Omameh gets even a weak shove on the linebacker he's way playside of and Toussaint is shooting at the safeties with a lead blocker. That's thanks to the Classic Molk Reach Block, something that just about kills any attempt to defend a stretch play and a thing I hope we see more of as the season concludes.

On another Michigan caught a double A gap blitz and ran right by it.

That's playing with fire, though given the different alignments of the QB in stretch versus inside zone alert opponents might pick up on it.

To be fair, it didn't work consistently in this game. There was a nine-yarder, the missed opportunity above, the WTF Shaw play, and a late stretch that lost a chunk of yards because M was in murder-the-clock mode and Illinois blitzed not just the slot but the corner from the playside. The numbers don't suggest using it more. But I'm telling you: with its sparse use so far this season there is a big stretch play in the near future if Michigan just runs it 6-8 more times.

So they ran the stretch. Did that feel like an RR-esque gameplan?

Moreso than any we've seen so far. The TE-as-H-back was straight out of the RR playbook and allowed Koger to attack both the frontside and backside of the line depending on what was called for. The stretch came back, and Michigan used the belly to good effect. They attacked various places along the line and didn't expose themselves to the monotonous repetition of the blitz.

Will we see something similar this weekend? Who knows. Borges changes like the wind.

Is the offensive line actually any good?

Molk is very good, Schofield has been consistently above average, Lewan is solid in the run game and people don't even bother testing him on passes. Huyge… variable. Not good in pass protection. And Omameh clearly has size and strength issues even if he had a good game this time out. Watch Akeem Spence toss him to the ground on the Shaw BOUNCEBOUNCEBOUNCEDERP play:

That is a big no-no and it happened twice. He also biffed that block on the coulda-been stretch.

Despite all that I had him +7.5 on the day, so he's not just a liability. It's just that when he does something wrong it's very wrong.

Heroes?

Toussaint and the interior offensive line.

Goats?

Hemingway's blocking was terrible. Michigan needs more from Denard on the ground if they're going to win the next couple weeks.

What does it mean for Nebraska and beyond?

Do you think this will be the final straw for playing from under center? I don't, either, but there's no way either of the last two games sees play distributions like the Iowa game. Probably. We'll get the usual dosage of POWER that has no POWER and is actually kind of like A GAP ADULT CONTEMPORARY. Hopefully it will be on second and third and one and actually pick up yards, unlike this game.

But anyway: this is a shotgun running team still, and seems to be doing some more shotgun running things. The triple option stuff was clearly a decoy in this game, which is why they dumped it after it worked a couple times. If I know Borges that means an actual triple option is coming. That plus a little more stretch and maybe a return to that sprint counter once the stretch is established could break some stuff open. Look for misdirection against Nebraska—Lavonte David is fast but if you get fast running the wrong way you are in business.

We didn't learn anything about the passing game on Saturday; you might be able to put a grain or two in the "Denard isn't as bad as as it seemed early in the season" pile, but that's it.

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Unverified Voracity Blitzes The A Gap

Unverified Voracity Blitzes The A Gap Comment Count

Brian November 1st, 2010 at 5:51 PM

Schadenfreuede starring you. You may be featured in TWIS…

It's time to play "MGoBlog Content Or Smiths Song?"

  1. "Embarrassing really doesn’t cover what this is"
  2. "If you have a pitchfork I want to talk"
  3. "That joke isn't funny anymore"
  4. "I've got nothing left"
  5. "I started something that I couldn't finish"
  6. "Searching for something to hold on to"

…but so am I so it's only fair. Also the first one isn't actually MGoBlog content, it's from MGoFootball, but it was too perfect.

What happened when that other thing was happening. If you weren't one of the sixteen people at Yost on Saturday this is what happened:

That completed a four point weekend after Michigan's last-ditch tying goal led to a shootout loss in Big Rapids. The NCAA does not use shootouts as part of the PWR formula so to them it's just 1-0-1, which is a decent enough weekend against an opponent that traditionally plays Michigan very tough at home.

Michigan heads up to Fairbanks this weekend for a tough series against Alaska (That Alaska):

The Nanooks are 5-2-1 on the year and have a win over Colorado College; they've beaten some weak teams and lost to North Dakota at home and had a 0-1-1 trip at Munn in their first and only weekend outside of Alaska. After that Michigan gets a rejuvenated Notre Dame program at Yost; the next two weeks will go a long way towards establishing just what Michigan is this year after a slightly shaky start.

Brian Kelly terror level: reduced. I'm on record saying that in Brian Kelly Notre Dame had found a real coach who was likely to whip the talented but lost Weis leftovers into a formidable team sooner or later, likely sooner. Eh… not so much. The decision to have your freshman backup toss a fade to Michael Floyd when you need a field goal to win and a Groza candidate at kicker is Weis-level outsmarting yourself. Also it was against Tulsa.

So that's one thing. More damning still was what happened in the Navy game. At halftime Brian Kelly mumbled something incoherent about the "veer" to the sideline reporter, implying that the Mids had brought out the fireworks for their big game against Notre Dame:

If you saw the game you might have thought this was weird since the Navy offense looked pretty much like the Navy offense always does except the fullback wasn't getting tackled until he was 20 yards downfield. Navy blog The Birddog, which breaks down Navy games in detail equivalent to UFR, explains what the fancy new scheme was:

Kelly and Diaco just have absolutely no clue how the Navy offense works.

Navy started the game in the heavy formation, with two tackles lined up on one side and a wide receiver in the tackle position on the other side. Contrary to Kelly’s comments, this isn’t unusual at all for the Navy offense. Offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper frequently uses the heavy formation when the defense has an inside linebacker with exceptional playmaking ability; in Notre Dame’s case, that would be Manti Te’o. … The first down lineman on or outside the B gap is still unblocked as the quarterback’s first key, and the next player out is still #2 in the count. Since it is the lineman in the B gap that is left unblocked, that’s the path that the fullback takes on his run. If that lineman steps upfield and takes the quarterback, that’s where the running lane will be.

That isn’t something new that the Navy coaches saved for Notre Dame. That is Navy Offense 101. It’s the absolute basics; the bread and butter play run in every game out of every formation. If Diaco and Kelly hadn’t seen it before, then I have no idea what film they’ve been watching, or if they even watched any at all. That isn’t even hyperbole; they thought that Navy’s fullback ran through the A gap. And that was their plan– to send the inside linebackers crashing into the A gap that nobody was running through.

The Birddog explains Kelly's odd veer comment as a fundamental misunderstanding of the Navy offense based on the idea they run the midline a ton (they did run it against ND, but only twice). Which fine he's an offensive guy but that's got to be the explanation he got from DC Bob Diaco, then, so you're just devolving the gaping incompetence to the coordinator level. (This does not sound familiar at all.) So Notre Dame goes in at halftime aware they've made a fundamental mistake when it comes to the Navy offense and they change their scheme up like so:

Those ILBs kept running into the A gap for the entire game. Once or twice Te’o scraped outside to make a play in the backfield, and I’d think,”OK, now we’ll see something else.” But we didn’t. Notre Dame would go right back to the same old thing on the next play, and the Mids would pick up a big gain.

That's how you lose 35-17 to Navy. Navy then went out and lost to Duke, rushing for 148 yards at 4.0 a pop. So… yeah. As long as Diaco's around I'm not going to be that terrified of Brian Kelly. (This is not a criticism you can level at Michigan.)

Give me back mah bukkit. Elsewhere in Charlie Weis comparisons, Danny Hope is one easily-peeved walrus:

After Purdue cut its deficit to 37-10, Illinois threw three passes on a 57-yard scoring drive, including a 15-yard scoring strike from Scheelhaase to Chris James with 1:36 left.

"I probably would not have done that but I’m not going to cry about it," Hope told reporters after the game. "That's their choice, their call. I would not have done it. He’s the coach. If it makes him feel better about him and his team, call it, chuck it and run it up."

Unlike former Minnesota coach Tim Brewster, who had a heated postgame exchange with Wisconsin's Bret Bielema after an Oct. 9 game in Madison, Hope doesn't intend to confront Zook.

"Why would I say something about that?" Hope said. "Game's over. It's his call. It’s done. I'm not going to cry about it."

Charlie Weis press conferences were laden with statements like "I'm not going to blame Jimmy Clausen for overthrowing Golden Tate, I take that responsibility myself. Another thing I'm taking responsibility for: our defensive line being comprised of mewling kittens. That's on me, and does not reflect poorly on the character of Ian Williams." Here Hope repeatedly states he's not going to cry about the thing he is crying about.

Etc.: 2011 PG commit Trey Burke continues to play well in local tournaments, going head to head with a top-50 player and coming out almost even in points (33 to 34) and seeing his team pick up the W.

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