Picture Pages: Stunting The Veer

Submitted by Brian on November 1st, 2011 at 3:03 PM

Michigan pull out the inverted veer for the first time in the Hoke era over the weekend and got a couple of nice gains off of it.

I suspect that this was an effect of playing Purdue, which has made the veer a staple of its offense ever since Perry the ACLephant started striking down their quarterbacks left and right. When Michigan ran the veer in the Rodriguez era it was invariably against Illinois, which was veer-mad at that point. The theory behind that is Michigan's practicing against it as a defense, it works a bit, it moves from the scout team to the first team, and hey—this thing kinda works good. Let's use it.

But that's another post. This is this post. This post is about the opponent running the veer (sort of, anyway) and Michigan scheming it to death.

It's third and five on Purdue's second drive, and Purdue screams both "run" and "doom doom doom" by lining up Justin Siller at quarterback.


aaaiieeeeee aaaaarrrrgghghgh

Michigan is in its nickel package with Ryan as a DE and Avery hanging out over the slot. You'll note the odd positioning of the DEs: Roh is standing up and Ryan is a yard or so behind Martin. BWS has pointed this out before. It's a tip as to what Michigan will do. They're going to drop Roh and stunt Ryan.

On the snap they… drop Roh and stunt Ryan, except Roh is reading the mesh point and flying out on the edge. Morgan blitzes from the backside:


At the mesh point Siller makes his read, which is keep.


Why does he keep? It looks like he's reading Demens, who is bugging out for the tailback. With no other linebacker to read and two guys headed out for the tailback Purdue should have numbers to head up the middle.

But Purdue has problems. Van Bergen is in a spot where he ends up taking two guys and Demens is not going to get blocked so that spot inside the playside DE that the veer attacks is not open. Ryan is now stunting through the gap. So you've got two guys getting doubled and one guy blocking air.


When that happens you can option off a guy and still find another in your face. Van Bergen helps out by beating a block. Roh reads the pull and forms up.


One block beaten plus one RPS+2 playcall results in a zillion unblocked guys in the backfield.


That is all she wrote.



Items of Interest

I might lack a name for this or it might be a screwup, but probably the former. So usually on this veer play you see a pulling lineman get outside the playside DT and block whoever shows up. Here the guard pulls and ends up inside of the playside tackle, which is not how things are supposed to work normally. This could be a variant, a screwup, or an improvisation once the G sees the center release into air.

If I had to guess I would say variant intended to hit it up inside of the tackle. Siller appears to be looking at Demens to make his decision, not the playside end.

This is the ideal result from a stunt/slant. So we talked about a slant Michigan ran against Eastern Michigan on which Hawthorne did not get the message and ended up getting blocked by a guy. Here the center ends up blocking air and the pulling G ends up doubling a guy because of Michigan's playcall.

The difference in the linebackers is in the reaction and angle. Hawthorne vs Demens fight:


Hawthorne doesn't know where to go and sits until he's blocked; Demens moves out decisively. This puts him in a position where no one can block him. That is the kind of instant movement that defenses like this depend on to remain gap sound.

Ryan is also unblocked but that's just an effect of the stunt call that was inevitable once Purdue failed to pick up on it pre-snap. Speaking of failing to pick up on it pre-snap…

I wonder if this alignment is coached or a freshman mistake. As noted above, BWS has previously caught Michigan defensive ends lining up well off the LOS, thereby tipping pass drops. Here Roh isn't even in a three-point stance and Ryan is a full yard behind Martin.


Purdue is advertising run. Michigan is advertising a zone blitz paired with a stunt. Purdue does not recognize this and gets it in the face.

If random bloggers are catching it, opposing offensive coordinators are catching it. If Michigan does this in the future and gets stoned after extensive pointing by the QB or OL, you'll know this has migrated from the brain of the coaches to the field. These things are subtle, but not subtle enough to go unnoticed, I think.

Some player did some things well. RVB beats a block to provide a not-strictly-necessary third guy in the backfield and Ryan tackles. This is a rock-paper-scissors win, mostly, but you still have to execute.

Michigan did several things like this over the course of the day. Purdue's run game was basically nonexistent (just over 70 yards at less than three yards a carry, sacks removed) until Frank Clark came in and busted a zone read huge. Whatever Purdue tried they got nowhere with thanks in part to Martin dominating but also thanks to excellent edge play(!) from Ryan and Mattison putting his players in positions to succeed. After the screen touchdown Mattison pushed all the right buttons.



November 1st, 2011 at 3:22 PM ^

I haven't gone back and watched for it, but could the lining up further back explain the frequent  runs for 15 yards when ND ran right as Martin was dropping into coverage?

Deep Under Cover

November 1st, 2011 at 3:47 PM ^

Roh ends up getting in a three point stance, he is just slow to do so, so I don't think that tips a pass drop necessarily...

Also, I think Siller is making two reads, the tackle and Roh.  I could be wrong about this, but its how it looked to me, like the stunt was designed to cause the wrong read.  On a keep, Siller heads straight upfield, so he reads where the tackle is (looks like Martin is getting kicked out, really he has contain) and he sees Roh (who is unblocked, further making me believe he is a key) making a move with the the RB, so he keeps.  He doesn't have time to see Ryan crashing inside on the stunt, so he read his keys right, but those were keys we set up to be read that way.

It looks to me like the playside guard is shooting upfield kick the backside linebacker out of the play (who isn't there) and the pulling guard is either supposed to head outside or simply find the first man inside he can (kind of like you said).

Like I said, I could be wrong but I really think Siller was keyed on the backside tackle and playside end.

Deep Under Cover

November 1st, 2011 at 3:59 PM ^

I was thinking the same thing, but the way Morgan beelines it for the quarterback suggests to me it is a straight up blitz.  What made me believe Martin had contain was that he got about one and a half to two yards up field and sort of planted as the play developed (it just didn't seem to me like he was getting pushed out of there).  Who knows how it was drawn up though, but I am sure Martin was expected to get block by the center as well or else this stunt doesn't work.

Greg McMurtry

November 1st, 2011 at 4:03 PM ^

The right guard pulls so Michigan has 3 men vs 2 blockers.  So if this play goes right or middle Purdue is dead.  Like Deep Under Cover said, the play can only succeed if it goes left, but an unblocked Roh playing the handoff to the RB tells Siller to keep.


November 1st, 2011 at 4:16 PM ^

...does drop to a three-point just before the ball is snapped.  In the still photo, you see Roh in the process of dropping into a stance; putting his left hand on the ground.  Ryan being aligned a half a yard off the ball may or may be noticeable by a QB at the LOS, I am not a QB and have not had a view from that position. 

Also, was Roh dropping into a zone, or was he responsible for the back out of the backfield?  It seemed to me like he was drifting with the FB as he led out.  But it is certain that he was not rushing aggressively despite the three-point stance.  Thoughts?

[EDIT]: Beaten to the punch by a minute or two.  Darn it, work!


November 1st, 2011 at 4:26 PM ^

Is part of Demens' decisiveness due to the fact that he knows Ryan will stunt to the middle? I am wondering what his pre- and post-snap progressions are on this play.

Blue in Seattle

November 1st, 2011 at 5:23 PM ^

...but uneeded because the QB pulls.  If you watch the Guard pulling he initially goes after Demens, probably because the play expects the Mike to flow, but the WLB to try and fill, and now you have a guard on a WILL which is what happens to Hawthorne in the comparison play.  Guard on WILL is a big miss-match, but mostly the MIKE is expected to deal with a pulling guard.  BUT, because of the stunt, there is no need for the WILL to fill the gap from 5 yards away, which is probably why the WILL is blitzing to assist in edge contain backside.  I think this defensive playcall is massive RPS, and plays on the fact that the offense is sensitive to Martin and willing to spend two blockers on him.  I think there is some lack of execution on Purdue in that the full back isn't even trying to Block Roh, and RVB is beating a pretty sloppy double team.  This play call is putting most of the eggs in the Ryan basket, because if Purdue executes well, Ryan is the only unblocked man, one on one with the QB.  If Ryan misses then the QB is into the secondary running in space, because Demens is flowing to the RB, the WILL is blitzing and the edges are containing.

I think this play call is an indication of how much faith Mattison is putting into Ryan.  And that makes me very excited for the defense for the rest of the year, since it seems like the athletic freshman are starting to understand this defense.  There will still be some freshmen derps, but when there isn't, there is going to be some very aggresive key plays.  Just like this one.

Ryan pretty much completes the solo tackle.  Siller may have been affected by the addition of Roh and RVB behind him, but Ryan has the QB down before anyone else shows up, and it's almost a late hit pile on.

This stunt reminds me of the Ryan stunt that caused the 80+ yard pick six against WMU.


Space Coyote

November 1st, 2011 at 4:47 PM ^

Is easy to pick up from the booth/camera, but much more difficult on the field.  Remember when Michigan used to tip all their run and pass plays by lining up the tailback +/- 1 yard, but no one ever seemed to pick up on it even though almost all Michigan fans knew about it.  It's because from the point of view on the field you can't easily count a half a yard here or there, especially when you have 6'5" linemen in front of you.


November 1st, 2011 at 8:32 PM ^

Is demens bugging out because the stunt is on? Is he being irresponsible? Would this be spectacular fail if not for the stunt or given the stunt Demens has outside responsibilities?


November 2nd, 2011 at 1:27 AM ^

I think Demens knows the playcall and knows his assignment is to get outside on the RB. So not irresponsible. Here he's made useless by the pull and Siller loses five yards. So... yeah, he's good.