Picture Pages: Cut It Up, Tate Comment Count

Brian September 18th, 2009 at 3:19 PM

Yet another in this site's series "counters to the scrape exchange." 

This one doesn't take a whole lot of explanation. Michigan's in its H-back set and Notre Dame in the nickel it used all day. It's first and ten on Michigan's field-goal drive right before halftime:


Michigan's going to run something I called a "QB counter"; it, I believe, is not a read but a called QB run. Just like the dive play we saw yesterday, the TE (in this case Martell Webb) is going to pull across the formation and look for a block. LT Mark Ortmann, the topmost offensive lineman, is going to downblock on the weakside defensive tackle. But you'll do fine on this play if you just watch #80. He's the whole play.


Here we have a moment right before the key part of the play. Forcier has pulled the ball out of Minor's belly and Webb is approaching the point at which he's supposed to block the defensive end.


So Webb reaches the DE and… uh… runs right by him.


Here note two things. One: Ortmann has not done a great job with the DT, who has apparently read the play or was stunting or something and has shot into the backfield. This held the defensive end up. Normally on a scrape he'd be hauling ass after Minor, but since he got delayed he's right there and sees Forcier with the ball. Two: Webb ignored that guy and is heading right for the scraper. Tate has to deal with the DE.

Next, the moment of truth:


One: Forcier has beaten the defensive end despite the screwup/stunt by Notre Dame. This is MAKING PLAYS, and something it's doubtful either Threet or Sheridan could have pulled off. Two: Webb has blocked the scraper. Crushed him.

Forcier, well…


look at all that space


nooooooooo cut it up cut it up



Object lessons:

  • This is another scrape counter. This one didn't go very well for whatever reason and it still should have been 8-10 yards because Michigan has blocked the one guy tasked with the quarterback.
  • Assuming your guy with the quarterback isn't going to get blocked can be dangerous for the defense. The scrape read presumes that your guy tasked with the QB isn't going to get lit up by a tight end, and it's hard to see any way to read what's going on to help out. The only player who can be of assistance is the backside DE, and that pulling tight end can do so many different things—block the scraper, block you and spring Brandon Minor up the middle, head out into the flat, pass block—that you're really picking your poison.
  • I don't think it matters what side the guy gets blocked on… usually. Here Webb gets outside of the scraper and that's key because of the defensive end's presence, but if that guy's not there it makes no difference because Tate will be jetting up into massive space on either side of the block.
  • Rodriguez's offseason planning was hugely focused on the TE. This was something we talked about in UFR, but it's worth repeating. There was a lot of hype about Michigan's tight ends and that hype has been more than met. A TE is on the field 90% of the time and has been a huge key in Michigan's ground game. Rodriguez has adapted to the scrape exchange and his counter is the tight end. At this point I'm actually a little concerned Michigan doesn't have a tight end in the recruiting class.
  • Tate needs to realize he's no longer way more athletic than everyone on the field. He's done this three or four time in his first two games. It worked against Western,  but not so much here.

This ended up being three yards, but it should have been ten, and holy God what if Denard Robinson was out there in that kind of space?

UPDATE: forgot the youtube-o-vision:



September 18th, 2009 at 4:40 PM ^

As I look at the pictures and the full speed video, if Tate cuts it up the middle there are three unblocked defenders who will close that lane and fast. It looks like Tate sees more potential for lead blocks around the corner. If our #9 blocks their #8...then Tate is gone for 10...or more...


September 18th, 2009 at 5:16 PM ^

I hate to dig up the corpse as soon as we laid it to rest, but I'm again confused about the strongside/weakside distinction. Some very helpful comments from posters yesterday offered the general rule of thumb that the side to the left or right of the center with the most offensive personnel = the strong side. Typically, this would be the side where the TE has lined up.

In this case, although Webb has lined up on the right side of the field (as a H Back), I count 5 hats to the left of center, 4 hats to the right of center, with Tate presumably directly behind center in the gun. From this, I would conclude the left side (top portion of the screen) is the strong side, and the right (bottom portion of the screen) is the weak side.

Ortmann blocks the DT shaded to the left of center, which my third-grade understanding of formations has taken to be the strong side of the field. Brian identifies this DT as the weak side DT, causing me to doubt my new rubrics.

Is it more accurate to say the side on which the TE lined up will always be the strong side? Please educate my struggling brain.


September 18th, 2009 at 5:16 PM ^

get to view the replay before he makes his decision either at full speed or in slow motion? How long does he have to sit at his desk and decide? Does he have a camera angle from the top of the stadium or only at field level?

Obvious answers are zero, about a tenth of a second, and only field level. Even if we could agree (and the readership does not) after watching the tape 4 times that cutting it up was the correct choice, I don't think any of us can quibble with his decision on this one given the inputs he had and the time he had to choose.


September 19th, 2009 at 1:08 AM ^

Tate may not win the Heisman this year, but before he leaves Michigan he will have one. This kid can play! He is cerebral, has ice in his veins, is unselfish, and seems to be having fun while doing it. Tate Forcier will improve and he will win at Michigan. He could, dare I say it, win a National Championship for Michigan.


September 18th, 2009 at 8:26 PM ^

As a (former) HS football coach, I'd prefer a QB try to take the outside if he's unsure of his blocks. Backside pursuit is farther away, and it gives him the option to avoid a major shot. Also, officiating tends to be much friendlier to a QB vs a defender on the sideline than, say, between the hashes.


September 18th, 2009 at 9:50 PM ^

I sent this email to Brian -

On the picture captioned "look at all that space" do you think Tate saw potential blockers instead. After seeing the great pics and video on your site, I think I've changed my opinion on the play. When I saw it game day, and in replay, I kept thinking the same thing - why not up the f'n middle! But now I see that pic, then I watch the video, and I cannot help but to believe he saw Odoms, and was expected a block. Stonum mad his block, and Odoms epically failed to throw a block. Oh the what if...

Would love to know what you think. Keep up the great work and thanks for the daily addiction.

Bobby Sanders

(no, not THAT Bobby Sanders...)

What do you guys think? I would to ask Tate. I think he saw Odoms, and if the block would have been there, we'd be discussing a another magnificent play rather than a missed opportunity.