Picture Pages: Two-Way Hopkins II Comment Count

Brian October 4th, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Last time on Picture Pages we looked at a 35-yard iso on Michigan's first drive against Minnesota. A 35 yard iso means someone did something terrible on defense or your tailback did something ridiculous; Michigan was playing Minnesota so it was the former.

So Michigan scores a touchdown and gets the ball back and opens up with the same set. Minnesota again has both safeties rolled up.


On the snap the line pass blocks but the backfield executes a historical reenactment of The Battle Of Minnesota Sucks At Isos.


There's a gap in the line that Hopkins is thundering towards again and by the time it's clear Denard has the ball the three LB type substances have started moving towards the LOS:


When Hopkins hits the LOS the two guys who could hypothetically cover him are four yards from the LOS and stationary.


This is what it sounds like when doves cry.



Items of Interest

Constraint theory right here. Minnesota just got hit with a big iso and got chewed out on the sideline about it. They are hyped up to stop it, so when Michigan shows it again the LB and S suck way up and leave Hopkins open for a big gain over the top. This works not only because Minnesota overreacts to it but because of the omnipresent Denard threat posed in the shotgun. That means the Gophers are operating with essentially zero deep safeties.

This is what happens when you can force the defense to cheat. An actual opponent playing this way probably would have given up five, not 35, on the first iso, but that's enough to force them to cheat to it, whereupon bang.

This isn't unique or new. Literally every program in the country except Ohio State* tries to do this. Michigan's old-school waggle is an example. The hope with Borges is that he'll use them frequently to score lots of points instead of occasionally as part of a bler offense run by 70s thinking. Denard is a hell of a thing to try to stop without cheating, much more threatening than Michigan's four-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust running game was in the late 90s and early aughts.

This is the stuff you get in the shotgun even when Denard is not running because the zone read demands attention at all times. Under center Denard's legs mean waggle or Incredibly Surprising QB Draw, neither of which forces safeties into the box.

We saw a bucket of constraint against the Gophers. This is in part because the Gophers are so bad they have to cheat every play in the hopes of stopping the opposition.

I think it's also in part because Borges is finding his legs in this strange environment where your quarterback is one of the most threatening rushers in the country. Michigan tried the waggle a bunch earlier this year (and in spring) and got little out of it; against the Gophers that was ditched in favor of plays that use fear of Denard's legs as a major component of their success.

Hey man, nice touch. Denard floated a nice catchable ball to Hopkins about 18 yards downfield. He could do that because there were no safeties, so I've got no problem with the throw.

Let's see if Shaw can block this. Because this is a 75 yard touchdown if a fullback isn't running it. Also Hopkins almost dropped this.





October 4th, 2011 at 2:38 PM ^

As I watched that play unfold I actually thought Denard had overthrown him when he released it, and I was getting ready to be pissed, but Drob laid it out there beautifully.   Well executed, well played.


October 4th, 2011 at 3:25 PM ^

After watching it a few times it didn't really seem like Hopkins slowed down that much.  I think him turning around was more a result of  the spot where Denard was throwing from and the direction that Hopkins was running.


[Edit: On second thought, I think he threw it a little too inside, had he hit him on his outside shoulder then Hopkins might have been off to the races.  However,  I am nit picking a great pass.  I'm just happy to see Denard throwing accurately again.]


October 4th, 2011 at 3:19 PM ^

My initial thought was that Denard lofted it too high and that a (good) safety would come over and break it up (at best) or pick it off (at worst). However, it was the Lolphers and neither happened, much to my relief.


October 4th, 2011 at 3:53 PM ^

also, denard has all day in the pocket.  he could've read gatsby while waiting for hopkins to get open and no minnesota defender would have been near him.


October 4th, 2011 at 4:02 PM ^

Hopefully he can hold onto the football the rest of the year.  Having a fullback who is a solid blocker, runner and receiver is a great asset - something most teams only dream about having. 


October 4th, 2011 at 4:53 PM ^

Very minor issue/question here.  Does Denard play it safe and wait for Hopkins to turn his head to the LOS before throwing it or should he throw it sooner?  Hopkins turns his head at around the 27 yard mark, the ball isn't released until he reaches the 31.  Just thinking the sooner it gets to Stephen, the more he can possibly gain with YAC.


October 4th, 2011 at 7:21 PM ^

Does everybody agree that this is the worst B1G team ever? I've been thinking about it since about 12 minutes into the game, and i've never seen a team that completley and uttlerly clueless. I hear people say Jerry Kill is a good coach with a bad team, a good coach would teach them how to not look like fools until the reinforcements get there.