Picture Pages: Inverted Veer FTW Comment Count

Brian December 7th, 2011 at 12:35 PM

This will not be a surprise to BWS readers, but dangit I also have my veer package and I'm going to run it. Because so there.

NOMENCLATURE NOTE. This from Chris Brown on nomenclature complaints:

Also I saw your note on whether the play should be labeled an "inverted veer." Others may disagree, but to me the fact that there's a guard pull doesn't make it not a "veer" -- you can have a veer play with all kinds of block schemes ("down" schemes, inside zone schemes but leaving a guy unblocked). The regular veer is just where the RB and QB go to the same side and you leave a defender unblocked. I may be responsible for the "inverted veer" name from naming it that a couple of years ago but I hear coaches call it that all the time now. "Dash read" is the other way to call it but that's not all that descriptive.

I put up a post on the scheme from this year. I note in there that you can run the play with either power blocking and a guard pull or zone blocking; I know teams that do both. Just depends how you want to deal with the second level.

I've been calling it inverted veer for a long time and it's not wrong-wrong—"veer" generally means leaving a playside DE unblocked, which the play does. I'll keep calling it that and note when it does not feature a pulling G.


Show show. Michigan finally—finally—made the inverted veer a primary part of their offense, fulfilling a desire I've had ever since Smart Football posted on the thing way back when. It worked really well, from Denard's 41 yard touchdown to open the scoring to Denard's six yard touchdown to continue the scoring, to… yeah. You get it.

The veer was perhaps the core play of an offense that did this to Ohio State:

  1. three and out
  2. 47-yard touchdown drive
  3. 52-yard touchdown drive
  4. three and out
  5. Michigan gets a first down, whereupon Denard fumbles
  6. 80-yard touchdown drive
  7. 80-yard touchdown drive
  8. 40-yard drive from own nine followed by punt disaster
  9. 75-yard touchdown drive
  10. 80-yard touchdown drive that morphs into 54-yard field goal drive thanks to replay incompetence and penaltyfest

Without looking it up I guarantee you that is Michigan's best-ever offensive performance against the Great Satan in the modern era. That is a short game and 38 legitimately acquired points. Ten real drives, six touchdowns, four of them 75 yards or longer, two three and outs. An average of 46 yards a drive. As weird and disappointing as Michigan's defensive performance was, the offense made up for it in spades.

And the thing is, I'm not sure Michigan is even running the veer that well. You know how Denard had to juke that guy on his 41-yard touchdown? He shouldn't have had to. Omameh blocked the guy the play options off:


With a lead blocker taking the corner you can see the read is Shazier here. Shazier indicates he's flaring out (or Denard just pulls because that seems to be the default on the veer). The pull is a good default since Shazier has a nasty tendency to have no idea where the ball is on plays like this, a major reason Penn State tore up the Buckeye run D. (It's worth noting that for all the panting about Shazier once Sweat went out OSU opponents ran for 6.1 (PSU) and 6.2 YPC (Michigan).)

Here the mesh has already transpired, Denard has pulled, Shazier is still charging at Toussaint, and Denard is going to get a bunch of yards once Omameh blocks MLB Sabino.


SPOILER ALERT: Omameh is not going to block Sabino.




Now, Omameh does latch on to Shazier. And Shazier has no momentum since he held up and started going backwards; Omameh Te'o's the dude back into a safety with a little help from an improvising Toussaint. I'm a ol' softie so I gave him a plus one despite a missed assignment.


Denard sees grass. Denard runs. Some dude waves a pompom in front of his kneel, which is frustrating but apropos.


This is what pom poms are for: to block vision.


The replay:

Items of Interest

That is not how they draw it up. They draw it up with Omameh blocking Sabino and Denard jetting past Shazier directly upfield. Here it works out well, but the other play I hate BWS for beating me to had a sadface outcome:


Schofield did the exact same thing Omameh did on this play, blocking the guy who the play options off. The guy way behind the LOS who isn't John Simon? Dude ran himself there because he had no idea who had the ball. Schofield should be moving to the second level to pick off S Orhian Johnson.


This time Denard makes the wrong cut and gets two yards.

As BWS says:

For me, this isn't quite as frustrating as when Michigan fails to run from under center. This seems like a repetition issue. Neither Omameh or Schofield have practiced this blocking scheme as much as they probably should, and pulling across the formation and finding the right defender to block is probably one of those things that just takes getting used to.

That said ARGHHH. Block the right guy. I wonder what goes through Denard's mind during a play like this. "Yes, yes, got'em. Remember, take a knee. Troll Tebow. Chest bump. Hoke Point." Tackled.

This wasn't an issue on the six-yard Denard TD, on which the optioned guy was the way-upfield DE and Hopkins ran outside, taking Shazier with him before blocking him. Denard ended up cutting behind Huyge, who released downfield; Schofield pulled and got a block on Johnson.

BTW, the above-picture play was part of Michigan's second (and last!) three and out. Borges uber alles.

Even with that! Okay, the above is frustrating, but, God, look at all that space. How many times do you think Denard gets corralled there? And what is the payoff when he isn't?

Borges's wonky little adjustment from earlier in the season here is using a lead blocker for the sweep action, which pulls a second defender outside—one evidently unprepared to make this read since nobody ever thinks Denard has it—and makes the pull even more dangerous because of hockey power play analogy*. The veer forces that safety into the box and still works.

[You have a bigger advantage 4 on 3 than 5 on 4; here equal numbers with Denard in space is basically a power play.]

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: MOUNTAIN GOAT. Where is the safety? Jeremy Gallon turned him into a smoking heap of scrap metal.


And he knows it.



I don't know what it is about five-eight guys from Florida. Their agility helps them in open space, for one, and their height means they are unusually able to get into the chests of opposing defensive backs. And there's some mountain goat in those boys somewhere.

Rep that, rep that, rep that. There are things other than "pulling guard doesn't block the optioned guy" that seemed like they could be coached up: on one play that ended up a give John Simon split the difference between the two potential ballcarriers and managed to spin Toussaint around at the LOS.

Denard could/should be riding the mesh point a little longer to force that DE to commit when it's not obvious. Maybe not; that is a great play by a great player and sometimes that's just going to happen. I just remember Juice Williams holding that thing forever, until the DE freaked out and took off for the tailback, and then being a 500-foot-tall robot.

Play action lack frustrating. Michigan went to a play action look off of this that turned into a five yard scramble instead of a potentially huge play because there were two unblocked guys on the edge and one blocker (who didn't block anyone). This has been a consistent frustration going back to the last couple years of the Rodriguez era: Michigan struggles to effectively run deep play action because the nature of their shotgun run game often leaves players unblocked and forces quick throws.

Rodriguez avoided this with QB Oh Noes pop passes on which Denard faked his iso and then dropped to pass. No pulling linemen, no edge issues, no guys who must be left alone for the play to seem convincing. I'm hoping Borges works something out to get big plays off counters to this over the offseason.



December 7th, 2011 at 12:55 PM ^

On the Denard TD run, both Hopkins and Fitz deserve credit too.

Hopkins literally blocks the blitzing CB so far upfield that he disappears from the TV shot, ensuring that he can't come off and make the tackle on Denard from behind when Denard makes his cut toward the sideline (JT Floyd style on Miller's run at the end of the third quarter).

Fitz continues to run downfield and obstructs the LB or Nickleback (!) who's running into Omameh's block ensuring that there's no way that guy makes a diving ankle tackle. He's probably not going to be able to get out there to do anything, since Denard's a full stride by then, but good effort by Fitz nonetheless.

oriental andrew

December 7th, 2011 at 1:59 PM ^

and for people wondering why he's calling it the jet read:



MGoQuestion: There’s a play that a lot of people are calling the 'inverted veer.' First of all, what do you call that play?

That was a jet read.”

MGoQuestion: Looking at Ohio State’s defense, what made you feel like that play was going to be so effective?

We ran it the last couple of week. We’ve run the same -- if we’re talking about the same play -- we’ve run it the last couple of weeks.”


December 7th, 2011 at 1:12 PM ^

Speaking of the QB Oh Noes, why were those not a part of our offense this year?  Have defenses learned to account for it, or have we just moved in a different direction?

I do remember a few RB play action fakes and quick throws over the middle to Koger and Dileo.  They were usually pretty open, but not nearly as effective as the QB Oh Noes last season.


December 7th, 2011 at 1:36 PM ^

The play that was so successful a year ago is really a triple option play.  Denard is in a position where he can run it, throw the screen to the outside, and if teams try to defend both of those things he could dump it over the middle to a slot receiver or tight end for a free TD.

Since we never threw the bubble this year, teams weren't forced to react to defend it.  As such, the play became a double option.  Successful for a nice gain when Denard can complete the pass, but safeties and linebackers are sitting in coverage rather than running past the slot receiver to tackle Denard and/or defend the bubble.


December 7th, 2011 at 1:46 PM ^

Bubble screen really doesn't have much to do with the QB Oh Noes. QB Oh Noes is just a PA Read play, but instead of pretending to hand it off, Denard would take 2 steps forward. He would look to see if the safeties stayed back or came down for run support. If they came down, he would dump it over their heads to the seam route who would be gone for a TD. Later it became a post route as they would leave one safety back at all times to cover that receiver. The post would put the receiver underneath the safety and behind the safety that crashed down for run support.

The bubble screen would actually be counter productive to this effort as it would put a guy in man over the slot receiver, or at least in a tight zone until the safety could get down to cover him. Plus, the tunnel screen our replacement for the bubble screen and it's working well enough now, that I can at least understand why Borges doesn't want a bubble screen in his system.


December 7th, 2011 at 1:55 PM ^

As a layperson, the tunnel screen scares the hell out of me everytime I watch it live.  It looks so disorganized, almost to the point that the play is a bust.  And then the ball hits Gallon and there's a ton of open space.  Anyone else feel your stomach in your throat as the play develops?



December 7th, 2011 at 1:14 PM ^

Not trying to take away from his mountain goatness, but could/should have Gallon been called for holding there?  The first block was great but when the safety tried to release it looked like Gallon latched on to drag him to the ground.  I don't know enough about downfield play to know if the rules are different for blocking wide receivers than for play around the LOS.  I know if the safety tackled Gallon that way we'd be screaming for defensive holding.


December 7th, 2011 at 1:19 PM ^

I thank you for these breakdowns cuz it helps me look at stuff more critically.  But can you take a look at how this successfully run play set up the counter that sprung Touissant on that 40+ yard scamper?  I really love the movement that the O line has had this year, and I have, like you, appreciated the downfield blocking this year.  Love the vision these guys have had when the run is successful.  That counter play seemed to be the absolute right call given how set up the opposing D was with the veer.

M Wolve

December 7th, 2011 at 1:46 PM ^

The long run that Fitz had isn't a counter from this play.  His long run was on a counter draw, which is a constraint play off of QB power/zone (depending on blocking scheme).  We didn't sell the QB power too hard, but we hadn't run the counter draw in a while and one of the defenders fell down on the play.  Constraint plays off of the inverted veer that we are running are plays like the frustrating PA passes that Brian mentioned, or something inventive like the TD QB to RB to other RB option play that Nebraska ran on us.

Blue in Seattle

December 7th, 2011 at 1:32 PM ^

Is it possible that with this play being added to the offense later in the year, that Denard wasn't as comfortable running it against Nebraska, and thus handed off more than he should have? Also running it in the Nebraska game would have provided the video from battle conditions that was the critical learning that Borges needed to coach Denard how to read the keys better?
<br>And to stretch the point a bit farther, is it possible the game plan against Nebraska was to hand it off more so that the film Ohio prepared from told them that Denard always hands off?

Mr. Yost

December 7th, 2011 at 1:37 PM ^

It's another play in which he can keep the ball other than a QB Iso which is being read too often and the Zone-Read, which we still run.

They tried to mix in some speed option, but Denard is horrible at running the option - he predetermines his read, can't pitch with his left hand and doesn't have proper footwork.

This is why he keeps it WAY more often than not on the speed option.

THIS play however is similar to the zone read. And if he keeps, the RB can still be used as a blocker...were as in the speed option it's a wasted man if the defense keys on Denard because he's not going to pitch the ball.


One thing I would like to see is a fricking shuffle pass to Koger (or Funchess next year) in this offense.


December 7th, 2011 at 1:35 PM ^

First of all, I think Toussaint needs to improve a great deal on his blocking and his playfakes.  If he's not running the ball, he doesn't offer much.  That's the problem, though, with not having a backup who can steal his carries.  Vincent Smith can do those things well, but he's not a huge threat as an every-down guy.  I guess you have to pick your "poison" (although neither guy is exactly poisonous).

Secondly, I thought OSU's linebackers played the 41-yard TD run tentatively.  If they attack downhill rather than scraping across, then they make Denard decide quicker (which he doesn't do well) and they also constrict the alley he has to run.  By waiting for blockers and Denard to come to them, they allow everyone else to get blocked downfield and they kind of get cut off by the wash.  In the defense OSU was playing, they need to get downhill NOW...and they didn't.


December 7th, 2011 at 9:03 PM ^

Does anyone else have broken content from the point Brian first embeds a video? Looks like the embed tags are getting escaped, which causes a cascade of stuff after. The most obvious thing is that all the text is blue.