Picture Pages: He Just Used Power, Part I Comment Count

Brian October 9th, 2013 at 12:19 PM

"He just used POWER"

–Kirk Herbstreit, every play, every edition of NCAA Football since 2003

Michigan spent half its day with Michael Schofield tucked just inside of a tight-end-ish Taylor Lewan, and ran ran ran ran ran ran ran out of this. Your "tackle over" breakdown:

  • PASSES: 2, one incomplete to Chesson, one 30 yard post to Gallon.
  • POWER: 11, one each for Green and Gardner, nine for Toussaint. 54 yards acquired, all but one on Toussaint's carries. [Includes playside G pulls.]
  • ISO: 3, two for Toussaint, one for Green. Five yards total.
  • STRETCH: 4, for 28 yards. Green picks up basically all of his yards on two of these.
    [Excluded are four goal line plays that were all runs; those were a pair of two-yard touchdowns, one successful play that got M from the 4 to the 2, and a zero-yard iso.]
    All told, when Michigan lined up Lewan next to Schofield they acquired 4.8 yards a carry. One the one hand, woo-hoo BFD Minnesota is terrible and that's a mediocre YPC once sacks are put somewhere sensible. On the other hand, woo-hoo, only two TFLs and a screw-you performance against a team dropping eight or nine guys in the box. When Michigan did deign to pass from this, Gallon and Funchess were both open on deep posts and Gallon picked up 30 yards only because Gardner threw the ball behind him; an on target pass may have been a 60-yard touchdown.
    Let's delve. We'll cover three plays eventually, all of them relatively successful but not that successful: Michigan's first two snaps and the 12-yard touchdown that was like "oh, I guess that was easy."
    Michigan's first snap comes from the opponent 35 after a fumble. Michigan comes out in what I dubbed "tackle over I-Form Big H," a set with one WR, two TEs, and two RBs; Butt motions to the usual H-back spot:


Minnesota responds by singling up Gallon and putting everyone else within seven yards of the LOS. Could Michigan have bludgeoned this repeatedly with easy Gardner/Gallon hookups? Yes. They were intent on establishing the run, though.


Power rules, like zone rules, depend on how the defense lines up. Minnesota was mostly an over team in this game, so Lewan would kick and the hole would be between the two OTs. Here they're shifted under, so Lewan will block down, Butt will kick, and Michigan will shoot the pulling G and fullback into that gap between the two.


This all goes just fine. By the next frame you can see that both Schofield and Lewan have easy control of their end, Bryant is coming down the line, and a gap will develop.


By the time Toussaint gets the handoff, the gap is truly massive. The playside end has been clubbed inside to the hash, with Lewan popping off on a linebacker. Meanwhile the SAM is three yards upfield, 2/3rds of the way to the numbers.


Part of this is bad play. Ace pointed out in the Minnesota FFFF that Minnesota's ends tended to get way upfield, and that was the case in this one. (It's a SAM, but same thing. End man on the LOS.) The gaps the Gophers were trying to shut down were difficult for them to do so.

Also bad play: Minnesota's #9, who should be reading power all the way and attempts to shoot a gap upfield and to the inside of the POA. If it's third and one, okay maybe you make a play and boot the opponent off the field. On first and ten this is asking to get a huge play on your face.

So now Michigan has two guys plunging through a large gap with one linebacker showing because #9 is exiting the play on his own recognizance. That leaves an extra guy for the overhanging safety, right?


Note gap even larger now.

Uh… no. Bryant hits the guy Lewan has already blocked.



That guy tackles, but not before Toussaint picks up six yards.



Items of Interest

He used power just like he would have in any other situation. Over the last few days I've scoured the internet for anything it has to tell me about unbalanced lines, and found that when it's in use it's either 1) a package designed to futz with alignment keys as teams try to find a tight end and locate him in an unexpected position, or 2) Stanford HAM.

Naming your 7 OL package after notorious steroid case: Stanford football.

Stanford's stuff endeavors to screw with your brain by putting four guys to one side of the center, which conventional defenses don't have a great answer for. It's something you have to prepare for. There's not much to prepare for here, at least in terms of "we haven't seen this before."

Here Michigan was confronted with…

FACT: our tight ends can't block
FACT: our tackles are the only upperclass OL we have and they're both pretty sweet
FACT: manball
FACT: especially after inserting Chris Bryant

…so they just swapped Lewan and AJ Williams and ran normal power out of normal power sets. There is absolutely nothing about this play that would be any different if Michigan ran it from a normal line, except that AJ Williams is a lot less likely to execute his assignment with this authority.

Michael Schofield was a revelation in this game. Traditionally he has been the least-involved Michigan OL in the run game charting because that stuff doesn't bother with "hinge" blocks on the backside of power, which are executed literally 99% of the time by anyone—say, nice place to stash a TE—or blocks on the backside of stretch plays that are tough to evaluate without a cutback and often patently unfair to expect the backside T to execute. Schofield's gotten a lot of those because Michigan runs towards Lewan, a lot. Surprise.

That said, Schofield has always been regarded as more of a finesse player by everyone including his offensive line coach. He has never consistently moved guys off the ball. In this game, he did. Minnesota isn't good, sure. It's still going to be a record positive day for him.

The art of the kickout. Kickout blocks get relatively short shrift from me in UFR charting because they are by their nature a compromise between offense and defense. The defense says "I'll stay out here so the play turns back inside," and the offense says "I will push you a bit and make sure you stay out there."

Here Butt and the SAM compromise in a way very detrimental to Minnesota's chances, but that's mostly on the SAM. If he sets up better, Butt walls him off and the hole is narrower. He rarely has to actually deal with the guy trying to beat him, because if that guy succeeds he may have just given up the corner.

Minnesota saw this and was like NOOOOPE. This is almost the only under front the Gophers ran all game. After this play, Minnesota shifted their line towards Lewan, which meant that Lewan would kick the DE. This started a parade of plus-half-points for him as he shoved guys to create large holes, but did remove him from the kind of facecrushing blocks he executed on this play. This under front gives Lewan a hard-ish job he does really well; the over gives Lewan an easy job he does really well, shifting the hard-ish bits to other players.

Identifying guys to block: issue. Neither Kalis nor Bryant was particularly good at figuring out what they're supposed to do when they reach the hole. (This is at least better than the situation last year, which was "OL cannot reach hole.") Here Michigan has an opportunity to bust a big play because one of the Minnesota linebackers goes under a block and eliminates himself; Bryant can go all the way to the safety, whereupon Toussaint probably scores a touchdown. Instead he doubles a guy that Lewan is blocking, which… cumong man. Of all the people to block a second time you pick the one Taylor Lewan has.

As discussed previously, that's one error that costs Michigan 30 yards.



October 9th, 2013 at 12:49 PM ^

Lewan is the one that blocks the wrong guy here. His double team with Schofield is working to the WILL linebacker not the MIKE. The ONLY way their double picks up the MIKE is if he runs underneath their combo block. The MIKE going over top is to be left alone. Leave 2 for the pullers. When I first saw this I wasnt sure if maybe they wanted him to block it like that, but the rest of the powers in the game show the playside combo looking to pick up the WILL as is normal. The MIKE is for the backside guard who is pulling unless he shoots underneath the double team.  So the WILL goes unaccounted for here and he nearly makes the play. Schofield had to stay on the end because Lewan left.  When you have 3 "pullers" like Michigan did all day with the H-back you also have the force player (SS) accounted for.  Great play to run if you need to establish the run against an 8 man box or a safety coming up hard.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:01 PM ^

But Lewan can't work to the WILL because the WILL shot inside for no good reason. Lewan would have to peel back under Schofield to get to the WILL (something that no one would advise), who has already taken himself out of the play. Lewan is much better served to release to the MIKE, thereby allowing Bryant to pick up the guy who would otherwise be the free hitter (the SS). So Bryant finds the guy he was originally supposed to find (the MIKE), just in a situation in which he probably wasn't needed there.

If this wasn't Bryant's first live snap in ever, maybe he makes that read and there are 6 on the board. But for now, I'll take that kind of mistake.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:06 PM ^

No this is wrong. The WILL isnt just Lewan's guy its Lewan/Schofield's guy. The WILL shooting the way he did is exactly what he supposed to do, he's just a step late. Schofield should slide off the end to cut him off and Lewan finishes off the end by himself.

The WILL is a much bigger danger to this play than the unblocked safety. The WILL can make a TFL, the safety is making it at 4 yards.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:29 PM ^

You know, them more I'm looking at it, I'm thinking that it unfolded really the only way it could have, with the exception of Bryant blocking the correct, but uneccsary guy at this point.

Right at the snap, the END slants right to the inside of Schofield's.  When watch it in motion, I honestly don't think it's even possible for Schofield to get across the END to get to the WILL.  That would be asking a crazy ton of agility/and or strength to get across a slanting DE, and have enough strength to pass him along to Lewan ans Schofield peels off to the WILL. 

Could it be that the key both Lewan and Schofield are making is the END slanting?  I.e. if the END slants inside, then there's no way to expect Schofield to get across him without him blowing everything up, thus Lewan makes the on the fly adjustment to peel off quickly to the playside linebacker?  Basically, Lewan/Schofield are getting RPS'ed out of the 'ideal' blocking scheme, and thus say 'welp, let's hope the backside LB gets caught up', and then make playside adjustments instead of chasing defenders into the backfield?


October 9th, 2013 at 1:59 PM ^

I get that the Will shooting that gap succesfully results in a play destroying TFL.  Ideally they want someone to block him.  Whether the End slanted hard or not, either way, almost immediately after Schofield engages him, the End is across Schofield's face.  It think from that point, it's nearly impossible to expect Schofield to get across the end and block the Will.  The best play I think Schofield could do is just crush him inside at that point (which he does).  As for Lewan, again it seems like asking anyone, including someone of Lewan's caliber, to be able to block that shooting Will before he gets to the hole.  He would have to loop around, or go under, Schofield and the End, and I think the Will would already be at or beyond the LOS before Lewan could get to him.  Essentially, I think Lewan attempting that block would result in him blocking nobody.  After looking at this more, I agree that I think the way you describe the combo block is how they would ideally like it blocked, but I think as soon as the DE got across Schofield's face, that plan was dead.  Thus I think they both made an adjustment playside as best they could.  But who knows for sure?  I would like to hear the coaches' assessment of the blocking that play. 


October 9th, 2013 at 1:35 PM ^

And he's a high-first-round NFL talent. But there's no way in hell he can get across that DE on this play enough to let Schofield release, even if that was what was supposed to happen.

Besides, there's no way that WILL gets more than an arm on Fitz. On the risk scale, Unfettered DE >>>>> Off-balance re-directing WILL


October 9th, 2013 at 1:48 PM ^

If he can't get on the end because the guy slanted so hard across Schofield's face (which I don't believe he did if they keep working it) then Lewan still has the WILL. You don't just decide to pick up whoever you want because the end slanted. Lewan/Schofield have the END/WILL.

The WILL can make this play and he is more of a danger. There is no way they are leaving him unaccounted for by design.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:58 PM ^

If the WILL hits the right hole, he's Lewan's guy. But if at the snap the WILL realizes the transient nature of life and jogs off the field, Lewan doesn't have to chase him. Instead, he says to himself, "gee, maybe I should hit the dude in front of me."

They had a plan for the WILL. The WILL's banzai charge toward the backfield made that plan (a) impossible to execute, and (b) completely unneccesary.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:18 PM ^

But that probably isn't the type of read that Lewan/Schofield would be making on the fly based on the WILL's actions. Who releases is based on a pre-snap read and the actions of the DE.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:20 PM ^

Its just like who comes off the double team on inside zone. Same thing. They both know that they have the END on the first level. Who comes off to get the WILL is usually decided but what path the WILL takes. But yes, it could be determined by the END if the END slanted hard one way.

But the MIKE is not their guy unless he comes under. And in that case its Schofield's guy still, not Lewan.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:19 PM ^

I think it's asking a lot for Schofield to get across the lineman's face to get to the WILL. What if the WILL blitzes from the LOS at the snap? No way does Schofield make that play.

That's why I think it's a combo where Lewan goes to backer whether it be #9 scraping over the top or the man outside of him.

If the WILL can knife like that underneath and stop the play before Fitz is by him, then tip of the cap to him.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:23 PM ^

If Lewan stays hip to hip with Schofield, then Schofield can have no problem picking up the WILL. If the WILL blitzed its tough but Schofield has to try to knock him off his path. This is not a case where the WILL is unaccounted for and if he makes the play tip your hat. The WILL is reading the backside guard in most cases. If he sees the guard pull he is going to shoot the playside A gap. The WILL is Lewan/Schofield's guy. Go watch the rest of the powers they run in this game.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:05 PM ^

Are you saying Lewan should have blocked Minnesota #9? I see no way Lewan had an angle on that guy given that he shot upfield immediately, aiming inside of Schofield's block. Yeah he almost makes a play, but at best he would get a shot at an arm tackle.

Regardless, if Bryant hits the only unblocked guy left in the hole when he gets there, this play is a probable touchdown.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:08 PM ^

See what i said above to BiSB. The WILL isn't Lewan's guy. Its Lewan/Schofield's guy. If the WILL goes underneath its Schofield that leaves the combo. If the WILL goes over its Lewan who leaves. The only way they block the MIKE is if the MIKE goes underneath their combo.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:16 PM ^

That makes more sense. The way you originally stated it, it was not as clear that you meant Lewan should have stayed on the end.

In any case, I don't think it exonerates Bryant - yeah he might be assigned to the MIKE, but as the puller he should see "hey, there's an unblocked guy in the lane and my assignment is already dead to rights - maybe I should hit the unblocked guy".


October 9th, 2013 at 1:27 PM ^

That's not accurate.  Watch the play again.  Lewan comes off almost immediately because the DE A) angles slightly inside and B) Scholfield owns him.  There's no way in hell Lewan was supposed to stick and Schofield is supposed peel inside to get #9.  Also, if they did it the way you claim, #5 and the Safety are still two defenders for one pullig guard. 

This play isn't a touchdown for one simple reason, Bryant tagged up with Lewan rather than getting the safety.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:31 PM ^

You can't block everyone. The safety is going to be the unblocked guy here. But thats becasuse the corner is rolled up and thats who Butt has to take.

What I am saying is accurate. I see why everyone thinks what they do but thats not the way this play is designed. The WILL is a major threat to this play. He is ALWAYS accounted for in the scheme. If the DE slanted so hard across Schofields face (which he didn't) its still Lewans job to stay on it and work to the WILL. The playside combo NEVER gets the MIKE unless he shoots underneath them. Period.

Take advise from your user name and think about what that WILL is going to do when he reads his guard....


October 9th, 2013 at 2:17 PM ^

If the Will scraped over the top like he should, he'd get picked up by Lewan. The Will tried to make an athletic play, not a common play.

The Double Team is job 1. When the DE angled, Lewan comes off to look for that Will, who has disappeared. Taylor takes the next guy on his track, not wearing a winged helmet.

Unless you have inside info with intimate knowledge of Michigan running this play different than anyone else I've ever heard of, we're just gonna disagree.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:11 PM ^

I believe with this defensive alignment, Lewan did what he was coached. He's supposed to double team on his way to the backer and he takes the first guy that showed.

#9 could have been his responsibility had he not have tried to knife underneath. If #9 scrapes over the top then Lewan and Bryant take him and the other backer and the unblocked safety isn't discussed.

If #9 makes that tackle, you just have to tip your hat to him and line them up and try again.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:16 PM ^

The WIL (#9) is one of the biggest threats to the this play. So no, you don't just tip your hat to him. I understand thinking it makes sense to pick up the MIKE whos right there. But that's not how this works. The playside double team needs to account for the WILL. The ONLY way they take the MIKE is if he comes underneath. The MIKE is exactly where you want him to be for Bryant. If Lewan leaves to pickup the MIKE, Schofield doesn't have the option to pickup the WILL. In this case the unblocked guy is the safety because the corner rolled up. The unblocked safety can only make the play at 4 yards. The WILL can make this in the backfield.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:54 PM ^

the MIKE is on a straight line between Lewan and the WILL. Lewan would literally have to fight through the MIKE to get to the WILL, and by the time he got there, the play would have been over.


October 9th, 2013 at 2:09 PM ^

If the end crosses Schofield's face and Lewan's responsibility is the backside backer, he doesn't even sniff him. 

Why would the two end lineman be responsible for the DT shaded inside of Schofield and the BACKSIDE backer?


October 9th, 2013 at 1:08 PM ^

I don't know shit about this.

WILL is #9 right? If he follows the play over the top, it would make sense for Lewan to have that assignment, but the way he attacks the line of scrimmage I don't think there's any way Lewan could possible get there.

When he hits the gap instead of going over the top toward where the play ends up, wouldn't the assignment change on the fly? If he's already effectively blocked himself by shooting into a gap and hitting air, wouldn't Lewan want to block somebody with a chance of the play instead of chasing a guy who's out of it? And then should Bryant  see that and find the next unblocked guy? Or are O-line assingments not so much dependent on what actually happens during the play?

I'll hang up and listen.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:12 PM ^

If I'm understanding you correctly, you think Lewan should peel off and block #9 instead of #5?  But since #9 shot the gap so fast, would Lewan even be able to block him?  He would end up having to run back toward the LOS, which is one of those 'rules' that you don't do when blocking.  #9 takes himself out of the play because he gets caught up in the wash of Schofield's block, so perhaps he could make a play on Fitz in the backfield if he got a completly free run.  But in this case, since by the time Lewan is releasing from the combo, #9 is so far upfield, the correct play would be release into #5 wouldn't it?  Since #9 took himself out of the play, the offense now has everybody on the D accounted for which usually doesn't happen in the traditional RB hand-off.  So if Bryant blocks the safety, then it's basically a TD.  But if Lewan has to block #9, then Bryant picks up #5, and then the safety is free to hit Fitz like he did in this play.  I think Lewan made the correct read on the fly, and Bryant failed to capitalize on the mistake by #9. But whatever.  At least the pulling gaurd got to the hole in position to block someone.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:27 PM ^

No I am not saying Lewan himself should get #9. Schofield should, but can't because Lewan left the double. The way the play worked out, yes Bryant could have picked up the safety and it would have been a big play. But not picking up the WILL is a big time risk.

I see what all you guys are saying but thats not the way it works. You dont just decide on the fly that someone else is more important to you. The MIKE would have been blocked by Bryant, the safety can only make the play at 4 yards. The WILL is the danger.


October 9th, 2013 at 1:48 PM ^

On reconsideration, I don't agree. That's not a reasonable thing to expect either tackle to read so quickly; by the time they pound the guy inside that LB is already shooting the gap and Lewan has moved to the second level.

They are not reading the LB. The DL dictates who comes off the combo block, and since he gets mashed inside it's Lewan, and he blocks whoever shows. The WLB is a danger mostly to his own team because for every play he makes behind the LOS by doing this he risks giving up a long touchdown. Here he doesn't even touch the back. 

I do still expect Bryant to see the field in front of him and adjust, but it is mitigated by the fact that he got a weird look. 


October 9th, 2013 at 2:00 PM ^

You can disagree but thats not the way the gap scheme works. The DL doesn't always dictate who comes off and when the guy comes off he doesn't just block whoever shows. If the WILL or MIKE slice underneath the combo they just dictated who is coming off the block and thats Schofield or whoever the inside guy in the combo may be.  If the MIKE plays overtop the play he is left for the puller.

From watching this clip I don't feel that end made it too difficult for Lewan and Schofield to keeping working him and one of them pick up the WILL. You can argue that Schofield had to stay with him because he slanted but that doesn't mean Lewan now takes the MIKE.

The WILL is taught to shoot the opposite A gap when his guard pulls and thats what he's doing. Someone has to pick him up. He didn't make the play here but I bet you and MSU linebacker does. You ALWAYS account for the WILL here and leave the safety unblocked.


October 9th, 2013 at 2:04 PM ^

That's the main point. the LB knives underneath and doesn't even touch him. If you're going to do that, you better make damn sure you make that play.

If Bryant takes the safety this is absolutely a touchdown. The LB is lucky that didn't happen while he was off trying to play hero-ball.