One-Play One-on-One: Ben Braden

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 25th, 2016 at 10:00 AM

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[Barron/MGoBlog]

If you asked me back in August where Ben Braden would play if he wasn’t at left guard, I probably would have told you tight end because, I mean, trains and things. I can guarantee that I wouldn’t have mentioned left tackle, yet that’s where Braden started on Saturday. He did a nice job in his first game on the outside, and after rewatching the game his smoothness working to the second level stood out. I found a play in one of the highlight videos where Braden flings a DE upfield before taking off and getting into a guy long enough for De’Veon Smith to get at least 10 extra yards, and I figured I’d ask him about it.

It’s hard to tell exactly from the camera angle, but it looked like he got his arm into you and then you were able to use that to push him past you. Is that what happened, and do you want him to make contact so that you can throw him upfield a little bit more?

“On that one I’m just trying to reach and get to him. It’s kind of whoever makes contact first but yeah, once you’re locked up with a guy you kind of feel how he’s moving and move off that. That goes for second level and the D-line as well.”

So there’s not one thing you want him to do so much as just feel the momentum and use it against them?

“Yeah. I mean, it depends on how the play’s designed, but yeah.”

What were you guys doing in the game that made that draw so successful?

“Practiced it a lot during the week. Tried to focus on little things. Like, talk with coach and say ‘What do I need to do to make this as fast as possible?’ It’s something we’ve had in our pocket for a while. Just working and trying to be the best I could during the week on it so when I got to the game it was natural.”

Conversely, what was their line doing that made it effective?

“They were a penetrating defense. We knew they were going to rush up the field and just kind of tried to play off that and use that to our advantage when we can, but you know, just try to prepare for it as best as possible.”

With them using the Tampa-2 as their base, when you released to the second level were you expecting that linebacker to be there, or when you were releasing were you just looking for a white jersey and somebody to hit?

“Well, that one I was kind of expecting him to kind of be in that general area, but it depends on our backfield and what we’re doing,”

What’s the most difficult aspect of blocking on the second level?

“Usually guys are quicker. You know, just trying to keep your feet moving up to the second level and staying on your block and moving your feet through your block once you make contact. A lot of guys like to kind of think about—they’re kind of thinking about it on the way up there and they’ll get there and once they make contact they’ll stop their feet. So, just trying to keep the little things moving once you get up there and practicing that and getting repetition at it so that way you can naturally do it.”

This is outside the scope of one play, but what’s the biggest difference between tackle and guard? Is it footwork or hand placement?

“Footwork’s a little different. Obviously things are on the edge. The speed is definitely different. Guys are defeinitely quick on the inside, but as far as general overall speed, you just see a lot more things that are going on [outside] as opposed to inside, where you’re working with the center or you’re working with a tackle. As a tackle you’re kind of more on an island.”

Comments

Yo_Blue

October 25th, 2016 at 11:51 AM ^

This series is always interesting to me in that you don't get simple answers.  You always seem to get a thought out, totally descriptive narrative from the players.  That is a testament not only to the quality of young men we have on the team, but the level of coaching they have received.  I'm hardly ever not impressed by this team.

UM2k1

October 25th, 2016 at 11:12 AM ^

Not to hijack this discussion, as I love the write-up and watching the play in the video clipped (he had a similar block 2 or 3 plays earlier in the video as well, same DE and same LB).  

 

In the video at 4:37, during the Thomas interception, you can see Tyree Kinnel hobble off the field after the play.  I didn't remember seeing him get injured during the game, but it appears it is an ankle, knee or hamstring as he is running towards the play, pulls up and just sort of falls out of bounds. Does anyone remember this injury, and if he was in the game after this play?

Gameboy

October 25th, 2016 at 11:15 AM ^

I watched the entire game again just concentrating on watching Braden and Bredeson and I was really impressed. The combo blocks were as good as I have seen in awhile. Braden's pass pro was outstanding. The single sack he gave up was after the DE was trying move after move on an island.

Brede son really looked good on pulls, nice and shallow and quick, with lots of violence at contact. This may turn out to be a blessing in the long run.

kevin holt

October 25th, 2016 at 11:24 AM ^

The most promising thing to me is that Braden looked so good on presumably short notice from playing guard. He probably hasn't practiced much at tackle unless we just didn't know or hear about it. So it seems like he will get even better. I am pleased with this development of events.

dragonchild

October 25th, 2016 at 12:13 PM ^

Only truly desperate teams experiment with the O-line in the middle of the season.  Not only is Harbaugh ever likely to be that unprepared, they have Cole-Braden-Kugler and have used it.  Meaning, they wouldn't have done this if they didn't already know it was possibly better than that combination.

I think they've gone on record saying every person on the O-line reps two positions because they expect injuries to happen.  Braden was never going to play center and has the frame for tackle, so odds are he'd been repping it for a while, but they used the bye week to give it some serious burn, see if it'd work, and clean it up.

rc15

October 25th, 2016 at 11:28 AM ^

Should Braden try to engage more with the defender at the second level? That guy does come back to make the tackle, but it might not be worth the risk of a holding call...

Unsalted

October 25th, 2016 at 12:08 PM ^

Great feature. I'm psyched about the way Ben Braden is playing. I'm a west Michigan guy so I always pull for the M players from the west side.

Remembering back to the Utah game last year, Ben and Kyle had rough time. The guards were considered the weak link(s) on the O-line. Now, mid-way through 2016, Kalis is an absolute beast, and Braden is the LT savior. What a transformation!

Hats off to Drevno and JH.

Baldbill

October 25th, 2016 at 12:09 PM ^

I saw them do this a couple of times. I was thinking that the Illinois D was very good a getting upfield quick, accounting for their number of TFL's, but we used this to their disadvantage. Let them take the first step outside, give him a good hard shove and he is out of the play, RB is already past him and into the second level. It worked well.

CoverZero

October 25th, 2016 at 3:40 PM ^

Be nice to get comments from the DBs, especially the Safetys on how they read their keys and make adjustments to the offensive formations that are thrown at them.

Another cool feature would be to talk to the CBs about press coverage and how they defend the WR using the boundary and in terms of what the rest of the D is doing.