Picture Pages: Nose Penetration Allowed Comment Count

Brian September 17th, 2013 at 11:57 AM

Michigan's running game wasn't quite as bad as it looks in the stats, as they had some good gains wiped out by phantom holding penalties, but it warn't good. One of Michigan's main issues was not getting the Akron nose tackle blocked, but when this happened the guy in the backfield seemed only partially at fault, because Michigan was asking him to do something very tough.

Here's a play at the end of the first quarter. Michigan has just shifted various players around and gotten Akron to do this in response:


That is a massive gap between their nose tackle, who's "shaded"* over Miller, and their end, who's outside of Jake Butt. Michigan decides to run at this, which seemed like a good idea at the time.

*[ie, lined up between the center and guard, closer to the center.]

Michigan's going to run a stretch to the wide side of the field, and get a loss out of this. I know. So. Akron's got about seven guys in the box. Michigan has two uncovered OL to the playside plus Kerridge. This should be easy.

[After the jump, it's not going to be]

It isn't, and this is basically why:



The nose tackle gets into Miller immediately and starts driving him back into the play. This is not good. But Michigan has a choice here: double that guy. Glasgow released immediately in an attempt to cut a linebacker instead of hitting that DT, allowing Miller to step around him.

In the wider shot, you can see 1) Glasgow cutting that linebacker as 2) Miller continues to give ground and give ground:


But notice something about the Akron linebackers? Their hair is not on fire. They are not yelling war whoops and plunging at the line of scrimmage, screaming yo ho ho. Neither ILB type is trying to shoot a gap; the weakside guy is just trying to get to the play. This is not playing Notre Dame.

Too late to consider that though. Kerridge ends up banging into that DT a couple yards into the backfield:


Toussaint is presented with a couple of not-great opportunities; he tries to cut back behind Miller and gets nailed by that weakside linebacker, as he flows up behind Kalis. This isn't Kalis's fault; the cutback changes the blocking angle without his knowledge.


"When you rush the football, you don't want to take loss yardage plays" –Chuck Long

Michigan managed to turn that massive gap into second and twelve.



Items of Interest

This seems like an obvious error but it was consistent. Earlier in the game it was Miller who released immediately and gave Glasgow the near-impossible assignment:

Slow version:

Why is this going on? I'm guessing it's a reaction to Notre Dame's linebacking style, which is to run hard up any gaps in zone plays. Michigan had problems recognizing that and getting to the second level. After a week of getting coached up on that, it seems like anybody who didn't perceive a lineman directly over them just went to the second level, with results like those above.

The weird thing is that seems in opposition to their often-frustrating approach to inverted veers and the like where Michigan would block the guy who's supposed to be optioned. When they do that it seems like their priority is to assure themselves a moderate gain at the expensive of explosive plays. Here they're betting on a very difficult first-level block to get back to the line of scrimmage.

The alternative is Miller and Glasgow are misreading both these plays and they should double. Once I see that happen on the first snap and two drives later, I lean towards this being a play on which the assignments are executed—or at least attempted—correctly. Akron just slanted into the play and got Michigan RPSed.

I don't see how Miller is going to have anything but a bad time here. Not even David Molk could take a lineman shaded playside slanting away from him and do anything but slightly harass him as he beasted his way into the backfield. Yeah, he ends up in the backfield on the wrong side of the guy, but how the hell is this supposed to end any differently?

In this game most Akron penetration was a result of asking guys to do things that I don't think it's easy to do. You know that ostentatiously bad block by Funchess on a pitch? He was in a two-point stance trying to deal with a defensive end lined up outside of him.


That is not how that is supposed to go. He's even aligned with his inside foot back—also a gameplan thing, Michigan did it for a big chunk of the game—so if he's going to step outside of that defensive end he has to turn his body outside.

Akron ran a ton of bear fronts—linebackers tight to the line between DT and DE in this game, often showing an eight man front with six guys at or near the line of scrimmage. This really threw Michigan off; in that still above you can see that Akron has a linebacker near the LOS at the bottom of the screen, allowing them to flare that DE.

Michigan doesn't have a response to this. They still have no counter play. They have a few different run plays that don't seem to fit together in any reasonable way. I see what Michigan is trying to do with their pass game (eg, a bunch of TE outs in the first half lead to an out and up that would have been first and goal but Gardner threw it behind Funchess). I don't see any kind of punishment for cheaters.

Sometimes Michigan gets a defense by running power when they expect zone, but they don't have a run play designed to look like another play until it's too late.

Toussaint probably should have followed his fullback. Kerridge may get him a crease and once he cuts behind that DT there's no help. I don't blame him for what he decided, but Michigan still had something here if he can pick his way through on the frontside.



September 17th, 2013 at 1:07 PM ^

Seems to me like this could very well be the plan and that if the backs execute properly it is a big play both times.  On the first play the nose gets into the backfield but Kerridge is there to cut him off.  If Fitz trusts that block, Butt looks to have kicked out the play effectively, Glasgow has put his guy at least momentarily on the ground, Lewan has his guy pinned inside, Kalis is there to seal any backside pursuit, and the WR looks to have his guy pinned outside.  If Fitz can use Kerridge's block and avoid the nose, it looks to me like a big run is possible.  Not familiar with the play design, but it really looks to me like Kerridge is supposed to be the guy to help/chip on the nose (I don't see anyone else on screen for Kerridge to block), not Glasgow, and he seems to do so effectively if Fitz just follows his block.

On the second play, Houma is in at fullback, he completely avoids the nose who has pushed past Glasgow and runs around to block a guy who can't really impact the play. If Houma helps Glasgow and prevents that guy from tackling Fitz, there is a huge hole opening up with Miller and Lewan in position to make downfield blocks.

Indiana Blue

September 17th, 2013 at 1:22 PM ^

this is literally "disection GOLD".

The truth is there is NO reason in the universe that the NT doesn't get doubled in this set.  Their other tackle is OUTSIDE Kalis and the left DE is meaningless.  The running game MUST acount for the IMMEDIATE threat which is the D line.  LB make bad reads all the time and take themselves out the play.  If Glascow removes the NT - Fitz is at the second level automatically.  So WTF is going on here .... ????

Go Blue!


September 17th, 2013 at 1:22 PM ^

Perhaps someone could enlighten me on that second play.  First of all, it seemed like Fitz tried to go upfield with it too fast. Additionally, Houma's coming down to block that backside end, he can see that DT getting the push, would it be inappropriate for him to abandon his additional assignment and hit that DT?

One thing we focused a lot on in our WR blocking drills was identifying the best possible target downfield after the snap, sort of a zone blocking scheme we called our "smash reads."  Obviously a better block on the DT on that play opens it up a bit more, but it seems like there's a design flaw in that play anyway.  Is the goal here to get 2 or 3 or have a huge cut-back lane?



One Inch Woody…

September 17th, 2013 at 1:54 PM ^

Recall what Hoke said from his presser!

He said their D line was lining up in formations and then executing "incorrect" D-line movement which happened to work out for them. You gotta think this is one of those cases. If Akron had no knowledge of the ND game, that 3 tech would not be shooting through Miller because he would expect to be (at least) chipped by Glasgow. Then their linebackers would flow to stop the inside zone. That is what theoretically should be done by the defense. Here we take advantage of the defensive formation by unexpectedly ignoring the 3 tech and jumping to the LBs. Except! Akrons coaches knew that this would be our ND-related adjustment and as a result baited us into running inside zone left... Then they told the 3 tech to ignore his gap responsibility and shoot straight up the middle.


September 17th, 2013 at 2:12 PM ^

Watching the game it felt like both lines were gameplanned for completely different opponents than they saw.  On offense it did seem like they were worried about second-level defenders but did nothing to mitigate the first-level tackles getting deep into the backfield.  And toward the end of the game it seemed like they figured it out a bit, or at least decided that running behind Taylor Lewan come hell or high water was a better idea than whatever they had decided previously.

On defense, and I'm sure Brian will dig into this, they didn't try to overwhelm a side or disguise their plans at all.  They signal blitz and the opposition counters, but then nothing else happens.  And when they rush 4, it is the most vanilla plan you can see.  Sure, they tried to stunt every once and a while, but the reason that works with smaller linemen is, in theory, you surprise a side with a guy they didn't expect to be there.  When you have a 3-Tech lining up a yard off the line, you aren't going to surprise anyone.

Initially I thoght many of the problems we saw were from a lack of execution by the players, but the more I've seen clips and thought about it, it felt like a gameplan issue as much as talent.  Because I don't care how talented you are, if you are playing checkers and your opponent is playing chess, that's not a good combination.

Zone Left

September 17th, 2013 at 2:30 PM ^

Michigan's line is just not fundamentally sound. Classic zone technique would have the center and guard double the nose initially and then have the guard release to the second level after the center was, well, centered on the nose. 

It's one thing when the line doesn't execute, but their technique as a unit is just bad. They all run block and pass block at least pretty well, but they don't do anything well together. I don't know if that's youth or chemistry or coaching, but they need to come together and execute.

I actually really like Kalis so far. He looks like he'll be a monster on the inside. I'm less sold on Glasgow and Miller. Glasgow is a step slow and Miller is a step small. If Bryant is ready to play, I would consider giving him some run against UConn.


September 17th, 2013 at 2:44 PM ^

I've posted this before on here but I though now would be a good time to do it again.

If anyone is really interested in actually knowing what they are talking about when they criticize Borges, Funk, and o-lineman and not just talk out of your a**, you should check out the following dvd's that offer a wealth of knowledge on the power/counter play and the inside and outside zone play by some of the best in the business in the NFL.

The Counter Play by Joe Bugel - http://store.nexternal.com/gilmangear/counter-play-p279.aspx

The Power Play by Russ Grimm (2000 dvd 7) - http://www.thecoolclinic.com/2013_DVD_form.pdf

Organizing The Run Game by Russ Grimm (2005 dvd 3) - http://www.thecoolclinic.com/2013_DVD_form.pdf

Inside Zone by Alex Gibbs - http://store.nexternal.com/gilmangear/inside-zone-p322.aspx

Outside Zone by Alex Gibbs - http://store.nexternal.com/gilmangear/outside-zone-p342.aspx

These aren't very expensive but you dont want to spend the money I also advise googling a guy named Bill Mountjoy and study all his posts on sites like Jerry Campbell football. This is another guy you can learn a lot from.

These will explain in detail the counter play, power play, inside and outside zone and how to organize the running game. Shows how to block them out of mutiple formations and against several fronts.

Its safe to assume that a good 85% of the people on this board never played or coached offensive line in this scheme at the varsity level or higher. Thats all fine and dandy, but if your going to post critcizing how things should or shouldn't be done you might want to educate yourself a bit.

This is not meant to be a jab at anyone here. I just see a lot of passionate posters here and thought I would pass along some great information for those interested.

Space Coyote

September 17th, 2013 at 2:57 PM ^

Sometimes initially speaking out of your ass is how you learn. That's fine. Complain and have someone correct you. Or you can go the route described above. The problem is that people complain, ignore people that are trying to explain what is really happening, and then complain again about the same thing later on.

I don't want to come across as a "know it all", because there is a ton about football I don't know. But I do try to explain what I do know in ways that people can understand it by pointing out the theory, concept, and execution of plays. A lot of people have been great at listening/reading these, and I'm thankful for that because it gives me an opportunity to "coach" when I otherwise don't have that opportunity. But like with coaching, some people don't want to listen anyway, and that gets annoying.


September 17th, 2013 at 3:07 PM ^

Space Coyote, You without a doubt fall into the 15%. I enjoy reading your posts on this blog and other sites as well. Very informative and well explained.

And again I wasn't trying to alienate anyone else just passing along these resources because I have all 5 of those dvds and they taught me a great deal about the running game.

Even by watching the dvd's that still doesn't mean I have the answers or anyone else will becasue we aren't at practice and arent in the meeting rooms and don't know exactly what Borges and Funk are asking of them on certain plays and against certain fronts.  But these will give you the fundemental knowledge to begin to anaylize what is going and on what might be going wrong.


Space Coyote

September 17th, 2013 at 3:13 PM ^

And I'm guessing those are helpful links and sources, of which there are many. I guess the issue is that the people that are willing to learn and listen, which as I said, is a great many, will take those links and use them maybe or at least listen to what others have to say. The problem is that most of the really outspoken people won't utilize the information that is presented to them. Guess that's the long winded point I was trying to make.


September 17th, 2013 at 8:45 PM ^

While I have found this blog incredibly informative, your comments and insights into the nuts and bolts of of football have taught me far more than any other source. From the things you have said it is clear that you are a very busy man. I am grateful that you are willing to answer so many questions from those of us that are ignorant, and reveal to us the complexity of college football.

Thanks again.

Brewers Yost

September 17th, 2013 at 2:45 PM ^

First play Fitz needs to follow his FB. This is a recurring problem. For example go back to his 22 yard run against ND. He makes a sick cut and gets the yards but if he follows his FB he has a huge hole. I think Fitz needs to trust the FB more.

Second play almost looks like an inside trap on the NT where the trap block isn't picked up. Even though it is most likely not a trap it is clear that the player who misses the block does not understand where the play is going. Again looks like a good gain if that guy is kicked out.


Finally, the slow motion is awesome.

Space Coyote

September 17th, 2013 at 2:52 PM ^

Fitz is reading his keys, the FB is never intended to pick up the NT and does only because he gets in so cleanly. On top of that, he can't press the edge because, while Butt seals, he gets shoved back into the play so the EMOL can set the edge deep. So he must cut back because of his keys. It's simply that Borges got out schemed on one of the early plays.

On the second play it's inside zone. The cut back to the backside A-gap is in the play design, but Glasgow gets beat too cleanly because of poor fundamentals with his first inside zone step and so Fitz doesn't have room to make the cutback.

It's explained in more detail above.

Cranky Dave

September 17th, 2013 at 10:52 PM ^

I enjoy all of your posts and espevially the comments on footwork. Having played OL 30 yrs ago i struggled the most with footwork. Without a goodfirst step you dont get your hat in the right place and the rest of you wont follow. I'm not committed enough to break down film and am curious to know what you think the strenghts and weaknesses are of Kalis, Miller and Glasgow?

Space Coyote

September 18th, 2013 at 8:27 AM ^

I know I've seen Glasgow struggle with footwork a few times, be that first step or foot quickness. Center is just a hell of a position. I don't know how anyone plays center. I think teams have just adjusted to the zone blocking scheme and Miller is having a tough time scooping people and getting leverage. When you're a smaller OL your technique just has to be perfect, and I think that's difficult for him to block zone and then man. Kalis has probably been just the mental aspect. Who to attack, who is your responsibility in pass pro.

These are kind of guesses based on a few things, they aren't really set in stone.


September 17th, 2013 at 3:49 PM ^

There is no denying the fact that Michigan’s play against Akron was sub-par, but some people are acting like it is the end of the world. Everyone was so high on this team after the win VS ND and seems to be jumping ship after this week.  Sometimes teams play bad games. It happens.  Was I happy? No, but I am not bashing the players or coaches. I am going to wait and see how they handle this adversity.  I do not think we should judge this team from one bad game.   


September 17th, 2013 at 5:54 PM ^

Seems like the same problem we have had for a long time on the Oline. Guys not recognizing defenders that are clearly going to be a problem and either completely ignoring or not helping long enough before moving to the second level.


More of a spacial awareness issue than a physical one.