Picture Pages: Getting Thumped

Submitted by Brian on September 23rd, 2008 at 3:05 PM

Part of an erratic series. Check the comments for potential corrections from gsimmons and others who are actual coaches.

Notre Dame didn't have a ton of success running the ball against Michigan, but their performance against Michigan State—2.0 YPC for the running backs—indicates they suck and that any amount of success is disturbing.

Notre Dame's run strategy last Saturday was to double the hell out of the defensive tackles and exploit Michigan's crappy linebacking. Time and again ND would leave Michigan linebackers totally unblocked and still pick up plenty of yards; they did this mostly by crushing Johnny Thompson with their fullback. An example follows.

It's second an nine on ND's first drive of the third quarter; they come out in an offset I and Michigan has their base set on the field.

bad-iso-setup

The play is pure caveman: an iso up the gut. Will Johnson is doubled; this one of the rare times that Taylor doesn't get the double himself. Johnson's holds up decently on the initial play and Jamison isn't upfield so the hole Thompson has to deal with is manageable.

bad-iso-1

Thompson meets the fullback and makes a critical mistake: he lets the FB get outside of him, losing leverage on the ball and opening up a hole outside. There's no one outside of him: he's the outside linebacker.

Meanwhile, Johnson has slipped and is going to the ground; Ezeh has to watch a cutback lane opened up and is hesitant; he still needs to read the RB's cut faster than he does. (It wouldn't have mattered much because of Thompson's failure to get to the outside shoulder of his blocker.)

bad-iso-3

Thompson is now getting shoved backwards by the FB, and Johnson is finished getting wiped out. Note that Taylor has beaten his blocker and slid down the line; if Thompson had done his job and funneled the tailback inside there's a good chance he's making a tackle right now.

bad-iso-4

Thompson did not do his job and is now three yards downfield; Hughes takes it up into a sizable hole, gaining seven. Notre Dame would run the exact same play on second and three, gaining thirteen as Thompson repeats the performance encapsulated here.

bad-iso-5 

This play highlighted a number of themes from the day: Taylor crushed single blocking whenever Notre Dame provided it, which was rarely. Johnson did okay against a wide array of double teams but not great. Thompson was owned by the fullback, and Ezeh was hesitant.

Comments

colin

September 23rd, 2008 at 3:52 PM ^

They didn't run it toward Ezeh because he showed in the weeks previous that he can learn to stay out of the hole until the FB clears.  When the play comes at Thompson...not so much.

The Original C

September 23rd, 2008 at 3:55 PM ^

If he is seriously getting doubled most of the time and has trouble holding up, while Taylor is up to the task...why not play "4-3 under" defense, where the 3-tech (Will Jon in teh above play) is to the weakside and the 1-tech NT is to the strongside with the strongside end in 5-tech and the SAM is near or on LOS in a 9-tech. The 3 tech DT can never get doubled..while the NT in our case seems strong enough to hold up.

Thoughts? 

gsimmons85

September 23rd, 2008 at 4:08 PM ^

I've been having with the 4-3 scheme and michigans lb's....   made a couple of comments over the past several weeks about our power run defense not being very good. any play to the tackle, where there is the possiblitily of a bounce, is bad news for our very average lb's...    this is why i prefer the 3-4, and why michigan does a better job out of the 3-4...   more lb's on the field means less responsiblities for those lb's...    if our lb's have one gap to cover on flow to them, they can handle it... give them more than that, and we have trouble...   the 3-4 turns into a 50 scheme against power formations.. and you have a drop player taking away the outside bounce responsiblity of the ilb's... nayone who watches the clips of my defense, the ilb's are very very average,  we protect them, by giving them very limted responsiblites, and by running the 3-4 scheme...

gsimmons85

September 23rd, 2008 at 6:23 PM ^

of playing his okie defe3nse more... i think he will...they practice 3-4 everyday, just a matter of using it against the power game as well...  

 about 4 lineman   common misquote  "we want our 11 best football players on the feild"  like ive said before its more like  "i want the 11 best players at exectueding 11 assingments on the field"  i ask you, who is a better contain player,  and average olb whos only job is to contain...   or a great de who has several jobs, and an average safety that has several jobs...      average players play slow when forced to make decsions...  average players play fast when they have one job...  

also about the isso block...   it is ALWAYS the job to take on a lead blocker and force it back to your buddy...  no ifs and or butts about it,  a right lb, must force the play back to the left as far as tackling on lead blockers  weahter it be a fullbakc or a g scheme...

BleedingBlue

September 23rd, 2008 at 11:08 PM ^

Sorry if this is redundant to other conversations, but what were we doing last year when we brought in an extra linebacker a few times (Max I think) like versus illinois?  Is that something we could also do this year, or the 3-4 you're talking about? 

Also - anyone else see Mouton getting stuck inside a lot and losing contain?  Is this bad instincts or bad design?

contra mundum

September 23rd, 2008 at 5:05 PM ^

The angle of the FB into this play is one of the subtleties of this offset look. If Thompson gets too far outside here, he gets kicked out toward the defensive end and opens too large a whole inside. If he gets too far inside...well you can see what happens.

 JT has to put his helmet on the outside shoulder of the FB..you shouldn't be able to see JT's helmet in frame three. Then he has to hold his ground..shed the FB if he can and try to make the play as the TB passes.

 Ezeh, is too slow to respond..and as a result gets caught up in the trash of the double team. He's still not outside the OG by frame 4 and should be. It looks to me as if he has safety help on the cut back run from Brown and doesn't realize it.

Johnson is doing okay here. Ideally, you'd like him to stonewall the double at the POA. In frame 3 and 4 he is still fighting with the OG and has given Ezen plenty of time to make this play.

Enjoy Life

September 23rd, 2008 at 7:02 PM ^

But, U/M should be 2-1 and that "mediocre" Utah team we had a chance to beat is now ranked #17 in the nation.

BTW: nd should be 0-3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 We'll all know if we should commit hari-kari or start to get excited in just about 120 hours.

madvillian

September 23rd, 2008 at 8:51 PM ^

Ezeh's key is the fullback probably. He's slow to get downhill and then lets himself get turned to the line of scrimmage. That's just poor reaction then compounded by bad footwork. He needs to confront the ND blocker (chipping center I believe) in the hole or not allow himself to get blocked, a swim move or forearm would have been perfect there but he was in no position to make it because he let himself get turned.

Enjoy Life

September 23rd, 2008 at 10:14 PM ^

 One play does a defense make. Yeah, we sucked on some running plays. But, let's wait for the UFR and Brian's grading.

 FYI: Total for all 3 games: Avg Rushing/Game = 65 Yards, YPR = 1.8

 MSU Total for all 3 games: Avg/Game = 107, YPR = 3.8

 And, yes it is not comparable (necessarily) because of the offenses they faced.

 But, still.

gsimmons85

September 23rd, 2008 at 10:47 PM ^

to brian, of course,  but i dont need his UFR to know that during the game Notre Dame was able to run power ot, and isso ot at michigans base defense for a good gain eveyr time...  in obvious runnign situations in obvious runnign formations.  Thus shafer has to use rush blitzes and creep safeties, which leads toplay action..  During the game i commented several times, that yes the defense is being put into bad siutations, but taht i was worried about how easily ND was able to run at us...  Every DC knows that your defense has got to be able to stop the run in your base, or its time to change the base...  maybe they are better this week, i sure hope so

Enjoy Life

September 23rd, 2008 at 10:26 PM ^

That should have been 4 games for MSU.

 Also, the rushing stats for the little brother/nd game are a bit skewed because of some sacks that still go as rushing losses (correct me if this has changed).

nd total rushing yard against little brother =  63 on 22 carries = 3

But, nd lost 47 yards "rushing" leaving a net of 16 yards on 22 carries = 0.7

U/M vs. nd: nd had 121 yards gained on on 34 carries = 3.5

nd lost only 8 yards rushing against us so this is the major difference.

 

Wolverine in H… (not verified)

September 23rd, 2008 at 10:41 PM ^

I blitzed home for Mom's surprise 60th birthday party.  Had to do it, no question.  On the way back, I passed through Suck Bend, IN.  As I came around a cloverleaf onto the IN tollway, there was a BIG snapping turtle smack dab in the center of my lane.  Concrete wall to the left, embankment to the left: nowhere to go. I tried to line him up between the wheels, but there was still a delicate "chack!" under the rear axle. 

I looked up in the rear-view to see that I'd clipped his head right off, and it tumbled after my car, opening and closing its beak. 

The lesson here is that speed kills.  

Let's buckle up and be safe out there.

Tim Waymen

September 24th, 2008 at 12:50 PM ^

First of all, I think someone explained to me once that that Michigan defense sucked in 2005 was because of Jim Hermann's experiment with the 3-4 but also because he wasn't relating well to the players and teaching fundamentals.  Was that it?  Also, what kind of defense did Michigan run in 2006, as well as in 2007?

Why is it that Scott Schafer isn't running the 3-4?  If I understand gsims correctly, this is Schafer's specialty.  Is it to make the coaching transition easier on the defense?  Is it because depth/experience at LB is rather poor?

Tim Waymen

September 24th, 2008 at 2:59 PM ^

So it's a case of Jimmies and Joes vs. X's and O's?  I figure that that had to be one major factor when you have a front 7 consisting of 1st-2nd round draft picks who were slimmed down to fit Ron English's philosophy of just attacking the ball, as opposed to last year when everyone was a fatty.

gsimmons85

September 24th, 2008 at 1:55 PM ^

The De may not be getting up field, but he sure is making it easy for a TE to keep him walled off...   why not fight against that preasure, try to turn the shoulders of the te, and knock him back into the hole.  You can still keep outside leverage...  if a de can be blocked that easy by a te, there is no reason not to run iso, zone, stretch, counter etc... 

03 Blue 07

September 24th, 2008 at 2:15 PM ^

Am I the only person who looks at our defensive alignment pre-snap and
thinks we are destined to fail against an iso to the strong side of the
offense here? Think about it: They have strong left (tight end),
fullback offset left, and we have...our 4-3 shifted over to the
weakside. Mouton starts the play outside of the defensive end. Are we
slanting back to the strong side here? I just don't understand, I
guess, why we wouldn't want our linebackers shifted to the strong side
of the offensive formation instead of completely opposite, unless we
had intended to bring Mouton on a blitz and slant everyone to the
weakside....any thoughts would be appreciated.

03 Blue 07

September 24th, 2008 at 2:16 PM ^

Am I the only person who looks at our defensive alignment pre-snap and
thinks we are destined to fail against an iso to the strong side of the
offense here? Think about it: They have strong left (tight end),
fullback offset left, and we have...our 4-3 shifted over to the
weakside. Mouton starts the play outside of the defensive end. Are we
slanting back to the strong side here? I just don't understand, I
guess, why we wouldn't want our linebackers shifted to the strong side
of the offensive formation instead of completely opposite, unless we
had intended to bring Mouton on a blitz and slant everyone to the
weakside....any thoughts would be appreciated.