Picture Pages: Whoops, Nope, Totally Packaged Comment Count

Brian October 24th, 2013 at 11:59 AM

So yeah, I concluded yesterday that the quick fire throw to Gallon in the second quarter was a presnap read, not a true packaged play, and then about two plays into the remainder of the UFR, Michigan runs the same thing with the cornerback showing blitz presnap and M runs it after he backs out. Timing: I do not have it.

To the screenshots!

It's first and ten; Michigan's trying to respond to Indiana drawing to within one and has first and ten on their own 23. Same setup as the last play: 3 wide, Gallon alone to the boundary, IU in their nickel-ish package. This time the corner is indicating blitz.


On the snap, though, he backs out. Gardner's checking on Gallon, seeing if he's got the hitch.


When it become clear that the CB is not coming, he changes his plan. Taylor Lewan has the same idea, as his initial reaction was to pick up the corner. He's flared out to do so, and now has to frantically try to get back into the play and block someone who's trying to defend what's actually occurring.


Which is a handoff.

Now: Lewan's flare has borked a couple of things. See 98 below? He is being doubled and will end up three yards downfield, where it is ideal for him to go in the eyes of the offense.


The other DT, though, is being single blocked by Glasgow and if he chooses can decide to go upfield of him to the outside, which he does. Glasgow locks him out and pushes him past the play; Toussaint has one lane straight up the middle. Bosch deals with a DE well, but there's no one for an ILB.


That's unfortunate, since a guy dealing with him is a big gain with the other LB on a pass drop he's convinced to take by Funchess releasing into the slot LB. Even if he doesn't take this the backwards direction of the other DT would make it difficult for him to get to the hole.

Lewan tries to recover; can't quite; Toussaint makes the guy miss, which gets him a decent gain before the shuffling backside end comes down from behind to tackle.


Five yards.



Items of Interest

Nope, totally packaged. Gardner's first option is the hitch in the event of a CB blitz, and he decides that it's not there, so he hands off. Post snap read determining run or pass is the Smart Football-approved definition of a packaged play. Packaged.

An old bugaboo. This harkens back to some oddities Michigan had in their plays like this a couple years ago. When they ran the inverted veer in 2011, Michigan would often block the guy they were supposedly optioning with the pulling guard, leaving Denard to beat a guy if Michigan was going to pick up anything. This happened not infrequently, but it seemed pretty weird that you'd run an option and not option anyone.

This is a version of that old problem: Lewan flares out to block the corner when Michigan has a plan to deal with that. They're optioning him and they still block him, or would if he didn't back out into pass coverage. That leaves one of the ILBs free.

The rest of the line blocks it like they should if the corner blitz was coming; seems like someone on the OL made an adjustment to the blitz IU ostentatiously showed and backed out of.

A minor place. I don't want to make any grand conclusions from these two plays. A number of programs from the Okie State/WVU Hologorsen tree will build large chunks of their offense around packaged plays; Michigan has only dabbled in this department under Borges. They're still dabbling. The OL blocks this goofy because they are not on the same page as the play concept. If the guy making the line check understands that the corner is never a threat, this is a nice gain that doesn't require Toussaint to get his Hart on.

This isn't the first time they've tried these things—I remember pointing out a package to Smart Football a couple years ago. That didn't work, and it seemed like it got put on the shelf because the coaches weren't enthused with Denard's ability to read post-snap. Devin executed both of these; could they have been a test run for Michigan State?

Probably not, but here's hoping they've got something up their sleeve.

Bosch check. This was about par for Bosch's day. He got decent to good movement on his guys, probably better than Magnuson on average. Hopes were consistently tempered by the guy next to him, as when Lewan latched onto a dude he all but threw the dude into his teammates, ninjas-attacking-hero style. Indiana's terrible. He'll get a trial by fire next Saturday.

An accidental RPS. The other ILB's pass drop here is an interesting offshoot. He's reading Funchess and sees him release, and so goes to cover, as Funchess blocks (or attempts to block) IU's hybrid space player. That leaves the OL five on five in the box, which should be a profitable situation.

Every time a DE shuffles like this I want Gardner to pull, which is probably irrational. I don't think he should, but I have this visceral thing where it's like GO GIT EM, because is anyone in that position really keeping up with Gardner on the corner? I say no, especially when you've got Funchess bothering the slot LB. All DEs are shuffling and Gardner has beat them all around the edge. Sometimes there's help out there; that is the only thing that keeps these plays down.

Triple option? On this play it's asking a lot of him to read the corner and then come across the field to read the end, so the pull here is almost certainly not something that he has in the toolbox anyway. So, no, just a single option I think. The read option nature of the play does let you sort of option off two guys, though, except "optioning off" the corner is really just nerfing the corner blitz.


MI Expat NY

October 24th, 2013 at 12:09 PM ^

Intuitively, I've always thought of packaged plays as run plays with pass options off of them.  Just seems easier to me to have the QB set to make the handoff and if his read indicates the pass, he pulls and passes.  Are these types of pass first, run second, packaged plays common?  I'll admit to only having a cursory knowledge of standard packaged plays.  


October 24th, 2013 at 12:13 PM ^

compared to our recent failures with power running plays? The oline still doesn't block perfectly and instead of losing 3 yards we gain 5. 

We are worse under center this year than we were last year. Stay in the shotgun AL!


October 24th, 2013 at 12:23 PM ^

So yesterday we had a nice, engaging discussion (and when I say "we," I mean I said something early and then had to go to work and disappeared) about whether or not the play PP'd yesterday was a true package.

I accept Brian's assertion that this is a genuine post-snap package read, because in this play you can see Devin staring down the corner before turning to hand off to Fitz. So it seems that this is a package read that is the counterpart to yesterday's play.

Problem: I went back and looked to make sure, but in the (otherwise seemingly identical) play yesterday, Devin did not look at the corner post-snap. His head was only barely in position to be viewing the corner as he was turning to fake the handoff to Fitz. In my opinion, there is no way someone could have made a proper read in their peripheral vision, after the snap, in yesterday's play.

I believe that on the first play, based on film study or what was happening in the game or whatever, Devin was intended to use the alignment of the defense to make the read pre-snap. On the second play, with the corner now conditioned to worry about Gallon's hitch, Devin was to make a read. You can see that on this play Devin takes a solid look in that direction, one that was not present in the previous play.

restive neb

October 24th, 2013 at 1:05 PM ^

I find it dangerous to disagree with you, because you clearly know football better than me, but the following is my interpretation:  On the play above, the pre-snap read shows corner blitz, so he was planning to pass unless the post-snap read was different.  After the snap, the corner backs off, so he turns to hand off.  On the first play, his pre-snap read was to hand off.  After the snap, he glances at the CB to make sure his pre-snap read was correct before handing off.  I think you can actually see him continue with his plan, turning to hand off, as his brain processes what he just saw in the brief glance:  the corner is coming!  He suddenly realizes the implications of the post-snap read, hence the awkward looking throw -- he has just realized that he is going to hand it off into a corner blitz, and suddenly turns to fire it to Gallon as quickly as possible.  The throw was a play that I rewound several times prior to seeing Brian write it up.  After seeing further evidence that it is a packaged play, I'm more confident that my take is the right one.

Space Coyote

October 24th, 2013 at 1:11 PM ^

I've come to about three or four different conclusions on this, because somewhat like Brian, I'm trying to figure out how thsi play is working because I don't really understand it either. So you very well could be correct.

My latest conclusion is that it's possible that it's always just a single option play. The hand single changes it to a hitch/give option because of the defensive alignement. No hand signal makes it a basic read option play. But like I said, I'm really not sure on this one. It still just seems like a difficult read to make. You tend to want to put your QB in a position that's natural to make the correct read, which this is not, which is why I hesitate to call it a true packaged play.


October 24th, 2013 at 1:25 PM ^

So we're discussing the play PP'd yesterday:

His glance was so fleeting that only the most uncommonly gifted eye-to-brain processing could grasp all the implications of what he saw if he saw it at all (I don't believe it would be possible to detect movement, for example). Given Devin's struggles to make even basic reads in past games, I don't think that is the case here, and frankly I doubt he saw the CB coming at all.

His throw in the play diagrammed yesterday was extremely fast, and he did not get so much as a look at his target prior to gunning it. I can only conclude that he threw the ball to a spot that he knew to be the right spot but never actually saw.

I understand what you are suggesting, but  would assert that the last thing that any coach wants is for the quarterback to be thinking and processing in the course of the play. The reaction must be instantaneous--THIS look means THIS reaction, automatically. It's the same reaction you have when, in your commute, you see a red light at a familiar intersection--you go to the brake without thinking about it. 

Devin's read was to his right. I believe the read in the prior play was made pre-snap. If he is changing his mind during the mesh with Fitz, while he is looking away, that means he is "thinking," and no coach wants a player "thinking" in that way. "Thinking" leads to slow play and disasters. The read was made, the action was pre-determined. 


October 24th, 2013 at 2:46 PM ^

Looking at the PP clip from yesterday, when DG is looking at the CB and making the hand gesture pre-snap, the CB is making a couple small steps toward JG, removing any cushion. That, to me, is the signal that DG is going off of, and when he looks over post-snap, it's just to confirm the prior tendency.  If the CB runs backwards, then he hands off. That's why he didn't have to make that difficult read that fast.

On this one, it reads blitz, so the read is the same, but when he looks over and sees the CB bailing out, he hands off.

restive neb

October 24th, 2013 at 3:26 PM ^

I think it was mentioned in yesterday's post that Indiana has a tendency to blitz the corner from the boundary, so it's likely that Devin was looking specifically for that, and with some subtle pre-snap tells, he only needs a glance post-snap to verify yes or no.  The corner is either screaming at him, or he hands off.

Space Coyote

October 24th, 2013 at 3:43 PM ^

But they tend to be from "Knob" formations (no WR, either just a TE or a TE and wing). Typically against a knob formation they'll convert their cover 4 to a cover 2 on that side because of how defenses can attack from that grouping, that makes it so that it isn't as obvious that they are coming on the blitz (they'll usually run cover 3 behind it, FWIW).

One thing that I'm interested in is if Michigan comes out in a lot of stack formations. MSU showed how they adjust to ND's stack formations: they drop the CB off the LOS and no longer press. In my opinion, this takes them out of their comfort zone and allows Gallon to work behind Funchess, who can get off the LOS cleanly. In my opinion, you'll see stacked formations because that seems to be the best way that Michigan can attack MSU's weaknesses and possibly more importantly, away from their strengths.


October 24th, 2013 at 5:54 PM ^

Interesting point. This is why I appreciate your presence on here, SC--another nugget to watch for.

Personally, I really like the stacked formations, as it gives you the ability to semi-pick the db in a semi-legal way, and to this untrained eye, it plays well into our skill sets, with players like Funchess and Chesson (tall, with speed) and a primary receiver and slot ninjas who don't always have blazing speed but run very precise routes and possess a good sense of where they are on the field and where the holes are.


October 24th, 2013 at 7:55 PM ^

This reminds me a bit of the discussion on blocking responsibilities when running power. Would it be inconceivable to get someone in the program with knowledge of the situation to address what was really happening? Even if it were after the season. Or would this be information considered to vital and secret to ever discuss with someone who doesn't have double secret security clearance?


October 24th, 2013 at 1:27 PM ^

I agree on both points. I believe that Gardner and Gallon were coached to assume blitz out of a certain look, either based on film study or on what they had seen in the game. It would be interesting to see if there were similar plays earlier in the game that triggered a similar corner blitz, thus the need for more data.


October 24th, 2013 at 12:26 PM ^

I know this isn't related but it's something I thought about when reading this. With exception to their oki package, Michigan must be the only team in the NCAA that doesn't show blitz and back out of it. Our blitzing players try to time the snap and often get caught by the type of offense that looks at the sideline and checks into an optimal play. Once they get caught creeping to the line of scrimmage, they still blitz right where they were caught showing it.

Why don't they have the ability to check out of a blitz? A good OC is going to see the man coming and check into a hot read that send a WR on a slant or something to take advantage of the defender coming.


October 24th, 2013 at 12:28 PM ^


For a team that seems to be allergic to quick presnap reads for its quarterback this is some advanced stuff.

(Yay Borges!)


The OL blocks this goofy because they are not on the same page as the play concept. If the guy making the line check understands that the corner is never a threat, this is a nice gain that doesn't require Toussaint to get his Hart on.


It was a good day while it lasted.

The FannMan

October 24th, 2013 at 12:32 PM ^

I don't think the pull works here.  Fuchess doesn't block anyone and No. 4 (the nickel?) would have outside contain with a LB ready to clean up.  Maybe Devin can beat both of them, but asking him to juke two guys in space seems a bit much.

(I am assuming that the universe where Fuchess successfully executes a block does not exist in 2013.)

Space Coyote

October 24th, 2013 at 1:08 PM ^

If this is a packaged play (I still don't know for reasons I stated above) I really don't see how it can have three options. You can't get a clean enough read on all the things with how Gardner has to move his eyes around.

One thing that could be the case: the hand motion is a check to the CB read (hitch/give read) and away from the zone read (give/keep read). It may be a simple way of giving Gardner two plays at the LOS and then a single read post-snap with the rest of the team simply running zone read. At that point, it's similar to an extended hand off. You could make a case that the fake bubble is the same thing potentially.


October 24th, 2013 at 1:31 PM ^

Strongly disagree with this premise. One of the problems with the running game, especially early in the season, was Fitz bouncing outside of his blocks prematurely rather than just taking the gap that was presented to him. He has significantly improved this in the last few games, as judged both by the eye test (I see him hitting holes better and faster) and by Brian's UFR analysis.

So bouncing outside to get the "big play" is not something we want him to start trying again, even if this is the unusually bad defense that would allow that to work. It will not work in East Lansing, and we don't want him to do it. This was exactly what we want him to do.


October 24th, 2013 at 1:20 PM ^

I dont think so because if you look at the point when Fitz takes the handoff the DT that is being blocked by Glasgow looks like he would be able to make the play if he shoots outside, its not until he turns upfield that Glasgow is able to pancake him so its really the only option Fitz had at the time.

EQ RC Blue

October 24th, 2013 at 1:23 PM ^

...without sufficient data.  As Sherlock Holmes will you tell you old chap, "it is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.  Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theores, instead of theories to suit facts."



October 24th, 2013 at 2:21 PM ^

They are expecting CB blitz and call a run directed at hiim with Lewan picking him up. They just were wrong about the blitz. It makes absolutely no sense that they are optioning off the CB and sending a run blocker out there for him who then doesn't block him when he doesn't blitz.


October 24th, 2013 at 3:13 PM ^

My thoughts exactly. The action of the play is read-option. But since Gardner glances at the corner he can't also look back and option the backside DE. It's a throw to Gallon or a give to Fitz.