Picture Pages: Pitch Sweep

Submitted by Brian on October 16th, 2008 at 10:27 AM

It might be silly to highlight a play that worked in a game where your offense scores three net points but I thought this was an interesting play, and it's one we haven't seen this year. It's third and one on Michigan's second drive of the game; Threet's about to throw the disaster interception.

But first we have to get that first down. Michigan comes out in an I-formation(secondary offense what!) with twin receivers to the bottom of the screen. Also, note the position of TE Kevin Koger: he's covered up by the outside receiver and can't go downfield.*

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This next frame is taken right at the snap and exists to show you the presnap motion of the fullback: he took two quick steps to his right the instant before the snap. Michigan used to do this all the time under Debord and it drove me crazy; in this instance the fullback shuffle is 1) much quicker and 2) followed immediately by the snap. It's still a tipoff, but less of one.

The DL didn't pick up on it, obviously: they're slanting inside.

pitch-sweep-2

The Rockets are in trouble at this point: check Molk out: he's got a complete seal on the playside DT. This leaves six Michigan blockers (WR, RG, RT, TE, LG attempting to cut the MLB, as you can see) in an area with four Toledo defenders. Five of them can get excellent angles on their players; only the LG has something of a difficult job.

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This hole is truly gaping as Grady approaches the LOS, but the LG has failed to chop that linebacker, leaving him to Moosman, and Moundros is kind of running aimlessly outside.

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Our final frame shows Moosman having whiffed on the MLB, Grady past the first down marker, and backside pursuit encroaching. Moundros is still looking for someone to block.

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So: a great playcall that caught Toledo's defense, particularly the playside DT, in a play they weren't prepared to defend. Good execution by Molk and Schilling creates a cavernous hole in the line with plenty of blockers heading downfield, but poor execution by those downfield blockers held this gain down to about six; club that MLB and he's probably down to the two or three and Michigan grinds in a touchdown.

*(This bugs me way less than the formation where Greg Mathews is split out and covered up because if Michigan passes they can still use Koger as a blocker; the Mathews thing is basically playing 10-on-11 if you pass.)

Comments

jamiemac

October 16th, 2008 at 11:02 AM ^

Overall, Grady seems to be struggling to find the right hole, do you think he could have run this paly better?

I am glad to see him playing, but in other plays on Saturday, I noticed he hit the wrong hole a few times.....just wondering if that was a factor here as well?

 

LJ

October 16th, 2008 at 11:06 AM ^

Could someone explain  the exact rule for covering up a normally elligible receiver?  I understand in the earlier case where both recievers are lined up on the line, but I didn't realize that if you have a slot and a wide receiver on the tight end side, with the reciever on the line, that the TE becomes inelligible...is there a simple rule that clarifies?

chitownblue (not verified)

October 16th, 2008 at 11:18 AM ^

Simply, the last person on the line of scrimmage to each side is eligible, Everyone else is not. So, the farthest person to the left of the formation and the right of the formation that are on the line of scrimmage are eligible. Normally, you will see the WR lined up on the same side as the TE actually lined up about a yard behind the LOS - this keeps the TE eligible, because he is the last person to that side of the formation on the LOS. In this case, the outside WR is on the LOS, which means that Koger is the 2nd to last person to that side - not the last. Make sense?

GCS

October 16th, 2008 at 11:22 AM ^

Pretty much, it doesn't matter how close or far from the center you are, if you are on the line and there is another player outside of you who is on the line, you are not an eligible receiver. So, lining up as a wide receiver or a tight end doesn't make a difference, the presence of an outside receiver on the line does.

 EDIT: Man, shouldn't spend so much time editing my post.

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 16th, 2008 at 11:14 AM ^

This is similar to a play earlier in the game where Grady cut back and fell over his own blocker, instead of following striaght ahead into an open hole.  Why he feels the need to cut back into the pursuit is a mystery.

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 16th, 2008 at 11:22 AM ^

In my own words: The only eligible receivers are: The most-outside player who is on the line, and anyone "off the line."

 Specifically, this means that the outside receiver who is on the line is "covering up" anyone inside him. So, if you have a WR on the line, then the TE on that side is "covered up" and thus ineligible. If you want the TE to be eligible, then you have to move the WR off the line. Now the TE is not "covered up," and thus eligible. Conversely, you could move the TE off the line.

Think of it this way: There will always be 7 men on the line, and 4 men off the line (one of them is the QB, duh). The left-most, and right-most men on the line are elligible receivers. The 5 "middle line men" are not elligible. Additionally, anyone who is not on the line is elligible (i.e. slot receivers, RBs, FBs, etc.) 

 Make sense? 

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 16th, 2008 at 11:24 AM ^

In my own words: The only eligible receivers are: The most-outside player who is on the line, and anyone "off the line."

Specifically, this means that the outside receiver who is on the line is "covering up" anyone inside him. So, if you have a WR on the line, then the TE on that side is "covered up" and thus ineligible. If you want the TE to be eligible, then you have to move the WR off the line. Now the TE is not "covered up," and thus eligible. Conversely, you could move the TE off the line.

Think of it this way: There will always be 7 men on the line, and 4 men off the line (one of them is the QB, duh). The left-most, and right-most men on the line are elligible receivers. The 5 "middle line men" are not elligible. Additionally, anyone who is not on the line is elligible (i.e. slot receivers, RBs, FBs, etc.) 

Make sense? 

caup

October 16th, 2008 at 11:28 AM ^

Thanks, Brian. This actually illustrates one of the infuriating things I saw numerous times during my own UFR of the game: RBs missing holes or cutting INTO the defense. If Grady follows Moundros outside and goes for the corner, at 235 pounds, he almost certainly barrels down to the 2 yard line and maybe even scores. What does he do? Cuts it INSIDE right into the pursuit.  GAHHHH!

caup

October 16th, 2008 at 12:22 PM ^

M had 29 first-down plays. They ran on 18 and passed on 11. Their 18 first-down run plays averaged + 5.17 yds, with a long of 9 yards.  One of these 18 runs was stopped for 0 yds (note: this was the 1st play of the game). The other 17 went for positive yardage.

Walking out of the stadium, I was convinced playcalling was a big factor in the loss.  What I saw after watching the game on tape was lots of execution errors and Sheridan really, really sucks. 

One playcalling critique, though: that little pass to either the SB or RB in the flat?  That play needs to go away. Defenses, including Toledo, have sniffed that out AND our guys simply cannot block for it AT ALL.  We ran that play 5 times: 5 yard gain, 2 yard loss, no gain, 5 yard loss, and 3 yard loss. Throw that fucking play away.

jamiemac

October 16th, 2008 at 12:35 PM ^

Yes, I know Sam scored on that play---a whole month ago---but it has been amazing, in an awful way, how teams are just teeing off on that play. When they see Sam flare out, its like a jail break towards him and he has no chance unless he can figure out how to hurdle multiple defenders without a running start.

I actually thought the Offense looked ok against Toledo. Its been getting better the last month or so.....in the eight quarters from 2H Wisco through 1H vs Toledo, they had 7 legit TD drives and a few other drives that moved the chains enough to let Zoltan pin the opposition in poor field position.

RR and McGee were hampered in the 2H on Sautrday because of the Sheridan situation......they still ran the ball well that half, but had no chance passing vertically without disaster.

papabear16

October 16th, 2008 at 12:24 PM ^

Gsimmons, can't they alert the official and the other team that, say, #77 is eligible on this play?  I believe that is correct, and thus, a tackle-eligible could be run here (assuming that was done), but I could be mistaken.

 Anyway, I actually like using the unbalanced line on occasion, which is essentially what you have here.

gsimmons85

October 16th, 2008 at 12:38 PM ^

that is an NFL rule....

 

college rule

Rule 7, Section 3, Article 3 [1] . The determining factors are the player's position on the field at the snap and their jersey number. Specifically, any players on offense wearing numbers between 50 and 79 are always ineligible. All defensive players are eligible receivers and offensive players who are not wearing an ineligible number are eligible receivers if they meet one of the following three criteria:

Player is at either end of the group of players on the line of scrimmage

Player is lined up at least one yard behind the line of scrimmage

Player is positioned to receive a hand-to-hand snap from the center 

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 16th, 2008 at 1:58 PM ^

If you look @ the pre-snap you see Toledo way overloads the offensive left.  They have a LB and a S positioned to stop a tackle (maybe) eligble and play contain.  I'm sure future opponents will imediately flop one or the other to the strong side.

GCS

October 16th, 2008 at 2:31 PM ^

I think the big issue that's causing the confusion is an assumption that I was also making right up until the first time you stated this: I always thought that eligible to catch a pass (or, be the first person to touch a forward pass) == eligible to cross the LOS on a pass. Either that's not the case, or I'm going to be very confused.

gsimmons85

October 16th, 2008 at 2:38 PM ^

   i orginally felt like Long was going to be ineligible unless he got behind henne, and made it into a lateral...  but long didnt get back far enough, and it was a forward pass.  Long didnt touch the ball, and i think if he did, it problaby would have been a penalty.  But the announcer at the time was saying that as long as its behind the los he could receive a pass.  So the college rule is a bit confusing.  But for sure, you have to be eligible by number and formation to go down field...

The Squid

October 16th, 2008 at 7:54 PM ^

I'm pretty sure that the announcer was wrong in that case. The rules are pretty clear that no one wearing a numbers 50 through 79 can be an eligible receiver of a forward pass. The definition of a forward pass doesn't involve crossing the line of scrimmage, so even if both Henne and Long were behind the LOS, Long is still an ineligible receiver.

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 16th, 2008 at 6:00 PM ^

For good yardage, as I recall, nearly every time.  They used Moundros direct from his stance and from the waggle.  This actually is one of the oldest Michigan plays -- Bo used this as a short pitch to Billy Taylor in which they either blocked down with the tight end to go for the boundary outside, or kicked out with tight end and pulled the playside guard for the lead block.  The toss sweep from the I is one of my favorite plays, especially with prior action out of the formation either going inside or pass to the x-guy, leaving the slot run support soft.

Blue in Seattle

October 16th, 2008 at 7:46 PM ^

Here's the link to the description in Wikipedia,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eligible_receiver

As was stated, for College you need the correct number, and be behind the line, or the last person on the side at the LOS,

The rule only deals with Forward Pass, anyone can catch a lateral, it is not a forward pass, thus also why it's a fumble instead of incomplete,

It is a good thing Jake Long did not touch the forward pass, as it would have been "illegal touching" which is the penalty for an ineligible player touching a forward pass.

If Jake Long had passed the line of scrimmage and the forward pass was just thrown, whether touched or not, then it would have been penalized as "ineligible receiver downfield"

I noticed that on running plays in the Illinois game the WR was covering up the tight end, and sometimes the slot back (although maybe my memory is wrong on that formation)

So either some fundamentals have been lost during the force feeding of spread tactics, or the coaches want to telegraph that the play is a run before the snap.

I have only seen one penalty on Michigan for "ineligible receiver downfield" but it was the Illinois game and on Koger.