Upon Further Review 2013: Offense vs Akron

Submitted by Brian on September 18th, 2013 at 2:06 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Discontent with trying to file plays on which a tight end motio`ns inside of the tackle box but does not line up as a pure fullback as either "ace" or "I-Form," I've created new lingo. This is "Ace H":


Welcome it. It will be your good friend for a long time.

As the coaches mentioned, Akron spent much of the day in bear fronts. That means they folded linebackers inside of their ends at the LOS like so:


I noted this as 6-2 bear. When only one Akron player was folded inside it was 5-3 bear. (On almost all plausible run snaps Akron showed an eight-man front.)

PERSONNEL NOTES: OL was the usual, with Magnuson making his regular goal-line cameo. AJ Williams didn't play and Funchess went out late, paving the way for a lot of Jake Butt and the debut of Jordan Paskorz, runnin' routes with a broken hand.

Green got two snaps, I think, and Justice Hayes was briefly featured as a second back in a shotgun 2-back formation; all he did was pass block. Wideouts were as usual. If you squint maybe you can perceive Chesson getting more time than he has in the past.

Oh: again there was a small Norfleet package. Hopefully as the season goes along "Norfleet is on the field" starts being less than 90% "Norfleet is getting the ball."

[After THE JUMP: wha happen]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Ace trips bunch 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Inside zone Toussaint -2
Butt in a two point stance with Houma also stacked over there along with Chesson. Akron shifts over with a NT shaded between Miller and Glasgow. Miller(-2) barely touches that nose as he moves to the second level and Glasgow has no prayer of getting a block. Akron did not cover a threatened Chesson end-around at all.
M23 2 12 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Slant Gallon 6
Quick pass with the Akron CB in excellent position to get a play on the ball; Gallon makes a tough-ish catch. Disturbing they can play this versus how we did. (CA, 2, protection 1/1)
M29 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Dig Funchess 17
Excellent protection; Gardner steps up and rifles a bullet to Funchess in between three guys in the zone. It's a little high, but this is to Funchess so it's not. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
M46 1 10 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Long handoff Reynolds 1
This is a sight adjust that's a check out of a running play. But Akron's corner is four yards off the LOS, so he tackles on the catch. A screen BR? Yup. (BR, 3, screen)
M47 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass Swing Norfleet 5
This is a called swing screen to Norfleet with Glasgow pulling around and trying to be useful. Dileo(-1) is out on the edge and sets up to block a safety coming down; he gets run over. He's falling backwards and doesn't make the DB pick a side; Norfleet tries to run outside since the corner looks wide open and gets ankle-tackled. (CA, 3, screen)
O48 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Hitch Funchess 48
An easy pitch and catch designed to move the chains goes much bigger as Funchess demonstrates great athleticism by turning it up and outrunning the Akron secondary. Zip safety biffed hard to open it up but Funchess took advantage. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 10 min 1st Q. And Akron immediately went away.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M10 1 10 Ace trips bunch 2 1 2 4-3 over Run End around Chesson 2
I'm not sure if you can expect Miller(-1) to make this judgment live, but I think by the positioning of the linebackers you can tell that this is man coverage, and in that case Miller should block the linebacker farther away from the play, who will be hauling after Houma, not the guy to the playside, who is going to check Toussaint. He picks the guy who checks Toussaint so Houma's guy is ripping through to follow. He cuts down on the space available as Houma moves to the safety, and Reynolds(-1) gets thrown away by a DB who started the play in press coverage. Not sure why you're blocking from the start here instead of trying to a get a release off the line.
M12 2 8 I-Form twins 2 1 2 6-3 bear Run Zone stretch Toussaint -2
Nine guys in the box for Akron. Michigan runs at it. Cumong man. Making matters worse, only the right half of the line has the snap count. Glasgow, Lewan, and Butt are all motionless for a beat after the snap. That makes all those guys give ground and then Toussaint gets buried instead of making a hard upfield cut behind that mess. A holistic failure. Glasgow -1, Lewan -1, Butt -1, Toussaint -1, Schofield +1 for a nice cut block.
M10 3 10 Shotgun trips bunch 1 1 3 Nickel over Pass Rollout throwaway N/A Inc
Bleah to rollouts in principle. This looks like their flood concept, FWIW. Toussaint gets a good cut on a hard charging DE, so the corner, but an Akron LB is flowing up hard to the outside and pressures. No idea what Gardner is seeing downfield because this is pore-o vision and the BTN's replays are nonexistent. He escapes the second attacker and then has to chuck it away. (TA, N/A, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 5 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M26 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 6-2 bear Pass PA Hitch Gallon 8
Eight in the box with LBs tucked inside both DEs. M goes PA and actually has Kerridge running up the middle of the field unmolested but Gardner just goes with the Gallon hitch. Gallon evades a tackle for some YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M34 2 2 Ace H 1 2 2 4-3 over Run Power O Toussaint 11
Funchess motions from a wing position to an H-back spot. M runs at the strong side, pulling Kalis to it. Lewan(+1) blows his guy off the ball. Funchess(+1) takes the playside end inside and pancakes him. Kalis(+0.5) kicks out a linebacker. Butt(+0.5) basically gets a free block as the other LB runs himself out of the play, but he does extend it a while. Glasgow(+0.5) gets out to the second level after bumping that LB and gets a block on a linebacker; Jackson(-1) whiffs on two separate guys in the secondary, potentially preventing a bounce to the sideline and forcing everything back to help. He did get a block coming back upfield, FWIW. Toussaint(+1) made a nice cut to get behind Glasgow's block.
M45 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 6-2 bear Run Zone stretch Toussaint 14
Gardner checks after seeing the front. Schofield(+1) escorts the playside LB upfield; Kalis(+1) rides the DT down the line and pancakes him. Miller(+1) figures he can't get a scoop on that guy and releases, getting a block on an ILB as he slows up in case of a cutback. Toussaint(+0.5) jumps through the narrow crease and picks up another first down. Kerridge(+1) got through that hole too and cut off a linebacker.
O41 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 6-3 bear Run Pitch sweep Toussaint -1
Another check as Akron has all 11 guys within six yards of the LOS. It's a check to... a pitch. Uh, okay. Schofield is supposed to pull around Funchess(-1) and Chesson; Funchess is supposed to block a DE lined up outside of him. If he's going to do that he needs to take stretch steps, giving ground to get around the guy. He instead just kind of goes upfield. Chesson(-1) was supposed to help him maybe? This is a pitch to the boundary against a nine man front that asks Funchess and Chesson to execute a scoop block. Dumb. Kalis(+1) buried his guy. RPS -2.
O42 2 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 5-2 bear Pass Tunnel screen Norfleet 15
Flare fake to Toussaint, hit Norfleet coming underneath. Akron's DL all bite, and the LBs are late to react. Norfleet(+1) does a good job of briefly threatening outside to get a couple of block hop-outs; Miller(-1) turns around despite having Kalis outside of him to handle one of those guys trying to get around. As a result he can't block a safety and Norfleet gets penned in. Funchess(-0.5) did get a LB, kind of, but he fights through to constrict and help tackle. RPS +2; a couple more blocks and this is a TD.
O27 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Zone stretch Toussaint -1
Akron ends up with a massive hole between the NT, who is shaded just over Miller, and the DE, who's outside of the TE Butt. They run at this... and get nowhere. Yeesh. Glasgow(-2) releases immediately, leaving Miller(-1) trying to block a guy playside with zero help. He has a tough task but could do better, getting driven back. With Lewan and a FB they can get the two playside LBs and then Glasgow can release after a double; instead Michigan's just asking their players to make reach blocks against guys slanting away from them all day. Toussaint(-1) should just continue playside since he does have a crease since Kerridge hit Miller's guy, but cuts back into doom. Picture-paged.
O28 2 11 Ace 1 2 2 6-2 bear Pass Waggle corner Jackson Inc
Flood concept. Gardner makes the right choice here as Jackson(!) has a step or two on this guy in the endzone and there is a large swath of area in which Jackson has a touchdown, but he leaves it short and to the inside, as he's being chased and can't set his feet. (IN, 0, protection N/A)
O28 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Throwaway N/A Inc
Glasgow(-2) does not read a stunt and lets an end directly upfield. Gardner should just run to the field, where he's got space, but instead does his turn around thing, gets in lots of trouble, and heaves it up OOB. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(45), 7-3, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M27 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 6-2 bear Run Inside zone Toussaint -1
Schofield(-2) gets burned around the corner by the defensive end; Miller(-1) gives a bunch of ground and allows the DT playside of him in the backfield. The bear front meant that Kalis had to go to the LB right away, so no double possible.
M26 2 11 I-Form 2 1 2 6-2 bear Penalty False Start Gardner -5
Gardner has the wrong snap count, rocks back.
M21 2 16 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass Swing Toussaint 27
Replay of the swing against ND, with the TE the only player to the boundary. Linebacker to that side goes with him, no one on the swing. RPS +2. (CA, 3, protection N/A) Funchess(+1) gets a crunching downfield block to allow Toussaint(+1) to cut in smartly.
M48 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass PA Scramble Gardner 11
All day; Gardner decides to throw and then pulls it down at the last second. That out of the question, he tucks and takes off. (SCR, N/A, protection 3/3, Gardner run plus)
O42 1 10 Ace H 2 1 2 6-2 bear Pass TE Hitch Butt 14
Miscommunication for Akron as one LB bugs out for Funchess and no one slides over to deal with Butt. Routes would have been difficult to deal with given Akron's posture. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
O28 1 10 Ace H twins 1 2 2 6-2 bear Run Power O Green 2
Playside end dives inside as the bear LB to that side appears to have contain. He gets under Funchess(+0.5) a bit but Funchess does hit him and seem to have him under control; Kalis(-1) does not adjust, hitting the same guy. Stripped of his lead blocker Green is probably dead either way; he goes straight upfield and gets a couple thanks to a good seal from Miller(+0.5).
O26 2 8 Ace H 2 1 2 6-2 bear Pass PA FB Flat Houma 10
Houma gets wide open as man coverage sees Butt's seam route incidentally pick off the LB trying to get to Houma. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
O16 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 6-2 bear Run Power O Toussaint 15 (pen -10)
This gets called back for a nonexistent hold on Butt. Seriously: there is no penalty here. Refs -3. Playside end is diving inside hoping to get a two for one and spill it to an unblocked guy, but there isn't one. Just the ILB, who isn't anywhere close enough to upfield to contain Toussaint, who cuts outside and has lots of daylight. He goes down at the two. Lewan(+1) and Glasgow(+1) buried the playside tackle; Butt(+1) did likewise with playside LB. Toussaint's(+1) bounce is a good one.  Kalis(-1) got caught up in the playside end that Houma blocked inside.
O26 1 20 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Throwback screen Gallon 16
Always works, works. Chesson(+1) occupies a corner until the end of the play; Lewan(+1) gets out to get the playside LB; Gallon(+1) breaks a tackle to pick up extra yards. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)
O10 2 4 Pistol trips bunch 2 1 2 4-4 even Run Speed option Gardner -12
If Gardner(-4) pitches, an easy touchdown. RPS +2. Miller(-1) had totally whiffed on a guy behind the play; Lewan(+0.5) and Glasgow(+0.5) sealed the playside end in, but that was pretty easy.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-3, 8 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 5-2 bear Pass Slant Gallon Inc
Press cover on Gallon works well. Gallon sells fade, breaks inside, has just a yard of space on a three yard slant that will be an immediate tackle, and may be thrown off by all of this as he lets one go right through his hands. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS -1)
O20 2 10 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 5-2 bear Pass Out and up Funchess Inc
Funchess breaks open inside the ten and Gardner finds and fires, but well behind his target. This still clangs off of Funchess's hands, but it was humming and is a pretty easy throw over the middle. (IN, 2, protection 1/1)
O20 3 10 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Skinny post Gallon INT
Terrible read as the corner going with Gallon should be an automatic throw to Funchess dragging underneath. (BRX, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-3, 5 min 2nd Q. M has 44 seconds when the next drive starts.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M28 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-2-6 dime Pass Drag Dileo Inc
Three man rush; Miller(-1) sort of beat up the middle by it. Gross. Gardner, off balance, turfs a throw to Dileo. Should have hit the uncovered swing to Toussaint. (IN, 0, protection 0/1, Miller -1)
M28 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-2-6 dime Pass Seam Funchess INT
This is a dart that goes through Funchess's hands and off his helmet before the Zip makes contact with him. Funchess was definitely seeing that guy come at him and heard footsteps, but this was there for 20 yards. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-3, 30 sec 2nd Q. M's last snap of the half is a kneel.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M27 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Belly Gardner 2
This is a tight keep or give situation as the backside end is moving down pretty quick. He redirects well once Gardner pulls and forces him outside, but Gardner does get the corner. Gallon(-1) loses his corner, though, and he's here to clean up. Michigan had blocked the other part of this really well, FWIW. Glasgow(+1) and Kalis(+1) had locked out their guys and it looks like the entire second level is blocked.
M29 2 8 Ace H 1 2 2 6-2 bear Pass Dig? Chesson Inc
All day as M is running max protect with just the WRs, Gardner pumps once and then fires in the direction of Chesson, but it's to Tacopants. No replay so can't see what the deal is with the pump. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M29 3 8 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even Pass In Gallon Inc
Hayes in as a second RB. Gardner has Gallon for the first down and throws the ball way late and behind. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 14 min 3rd Q. Woof.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M43 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 ??? Run Iso Toussaint 25 (Pen -10)
M caves in the backside and an end has to contain Gardner, so Fitz has a cutback lane as Kalis(+1) and Schofield(+1) blow guys off the ball. Fitz shoots past the backside linebacker and then has a ton of space with just Gallon(-1) and his guy in it. Gallon's set up outside and he can go straight upfield for at least a first down; Toussaint(-2) inexplicably tries to go outside and turns a block that doesn't get flagged into a holding call.
M33 1 20 Ace H 1 2 2 6-2 bear Run Power O Toussaint 27
Lewan(+2) blows up the playside DT. Glasgow(+1) momentarily helps and then pops off on a linebacker trying to shoot a gap. Funchess(+1) drives a LB trying to get a two for one inside and allows Kalis(+0.5) to get out on a linebacker who is the force player. Crease. Butt(+1) engaged the playside LB for a long time and Toussaint can just jet off LT for a nice gain. Chesson(+1) buries a safety so Toussaint probably scores here if he just runs by the last desperate Akron player instead of trying a stiffarm; Akron guy grabs the arm and manages to drag him down.
O40 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-4 over Run Iso Toussaint 4
Glasgow(+1) escorts an Akron DT well upfield and out of the hole. Kalis(+0.5) and Miller(+0.5) actually double the NT and drive him back; Miller is about to pop out on the WLB. Kerridge(+1) puts the MLB on the ground; Toussaint... cuts away from all this great blocking. WTF. -2.
O36 2 6 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 6-2 bear Run Inverted veer keeper Gardner 36
Kalis(+1) blasts the playside DT inside. End contains, pull for Gardner. Toussaint blocks the contain guy because he's right in the way. Funchess(+2) pounds the playside LB about six yards off the LOS and seals him to one side. Schofield(+1) blows up another LB, shoving him to yet another guy, who Glasgow(+1) IDs and crushes from behind, which is legal since it's in the tackle box. Got there fast, too. Gardner(+1) picks through his blocks well, then hits the jets; Jackson(+1) initially loses his corner but is able to peel back and get him on a second attempt to make it easy sailing.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-10, 8 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M14 1 10 I-Form twins 1 2 2 4-4 over Run Yakety snap N/A -6
Gardner holds the ball out for Toussaint; Kerridge knocks it out as he passes.
M8 2 16 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Inverted veer keeper Gardner 35
Odd play. Playside end flies up, keep, Toussaint blocks him out. Schofield(-0.5) gets pushed back by the playside tackle; Glasgow(+2), the puller, puts him on his ass and then heads to the second level inside of Schofield. Miller(+1) seals the NT; Kalis momentarily doubles and then releases himself; Gardner(+2) reads that the hole is directly up the middle and shoots upfield, then hits a cutback lane. No angles for second level blocks for Glasgow and Kalis but there's so much room on the backside that it doesn't matter. He takes off for a huge gain.
M43 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Iso Toussaint 3
M runs at the overload side of the Akron line. Miller(-0.5) and Glasgow(-0.5) can't get the nose sealed away on a double and he plus the MLB mean no gaps on where there are supposed to be gaps. Miller comes around and does get a block on a linebacker. Sort of. Tough angle because of the no NT seal. Toussaint does take it N/S this time, hitting it up behind that nose and getting a few. We'll take it.
M46 2 7 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass Waggle drag Chesson Inc
Chesson coming across the formation, Gardner turns around and is almost immediately hit. He throws, dangerously, and the pass hits the turf. Atari 2600 play. (PR, 0, protection N/A, RPS -2)
M46 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Hitch Gallon 8
Pitch and catch rhythm throw that Akron defends pretty well, getting a hit on the catch. Still unable to break it up. (CA, 2, protection 1/1)
O46 1 10 Pistol trips TE 1 1 3 4-4 under Run Inside zone read Toussaint 1
DE holds up, give. M is running towards the stacked side of the line and has Funchess away from the play, so he never has a shot at blocking anyone who matters. It's possible he's supposed to hit the backside end? Glasgow(+1) kicks out a DT effectively. Lewan(+0.5) gets a good kickout. Miller releases immediately and gets on the MLB, putting him to one side. Kalis(-0.5) and Schofield(-0.5) double the backside tackle and don't get him sealed; Kalis pops off on a LB but doesn't really have an angle to seal him either. Toussaint tries to pop outside into the large amounts of space Glasgow bought him but the MLB tackles. RPS –1.
O45 2 9 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass TE Hitch Butt 14
Probably an option route; Butt reads zone and sits down; Gardner hits him in rhythm, allowing Butt to turn up for some YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1). Thought about DO.
O31 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Power O Toussaint -2
Akron slants, causing chaos. It's clear M is now trying not to turn around and pass guys off; here they blow it and get buried. I think this is Kalis(-1) not IDing the slant and coming off to block the nose who is coming into his gap. Schofield(-1) also loses his guy, who goes upfield, picks off Glasgow, and gets a two for one as Schofield chases. RPS -1.
O33 2 12 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass Hitch Chesson 33
Finally! This is an iso fake into a pass with Toussaint blocking the edge guy. Two guys go after Houma. Chesson comes open for a hitch for about eight, goes around one guy, runs through an ankle tackle attempt from a second guy, and then is gently pushed towards the endzone by a third. He takes the invitation. +2 run. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-10, 3 min 3rd Q. Hold onto your butts.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 6-2 bear Run Iso Toussaint 1
With an LB over him Glasgow cannot help Miller(-1), who gets blasted back again in a poor fashion. Fitz tries to cut back, and this time he has to. Kalis(-1) had a free release and ends up letting a LB upfield of him to tackle.
M30 2 9 Ace 1 2 2 5-3 bear Pass PA skinny post Gallon Inc
Four verts for M with man free. This means both inside guys have an S coming with them and the outside guys are one on one. Instead of trying Funchess on an LB, a skinny post to Gallon against double coverage is Gardner's pick. It is well behind Gallon and that's probably good, since otherwise it's intercepted. (BRX, 0, protection 2/2).
M30 3 9 Shotgun trips bunch 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Screen Toussaint INT
MLB sent on a blitz. Doesn't tip it at all; Miller(-2) looks to a DT immediately, which lets that guy through clean. Even a bump throws him off. Gardner drops, throws the screen, guy makes an awesome play to undercut and intercept for six. Gardner is looking at this the whole way and can loft the ball or turf it, so not good, but first and foremost I don't think you expect a linebacker to come under this like this guy does. (BR, 0, protection N/A, RPS -3)
Drive Notes: Defensive touchdown, 21-17, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 5-3 bear Run Inverted veer keeper Gardner 3
Playside end is playing this better, shading down as the LB to the outside contains. Playside NT shoots into the backfield immediately. Glasgow gets him, but gets him such that he takes out Miller's legs in a dangerous way. Miller goes down, NT keeps his feet and starts flowing, free of Miller. Funchess(-2) again turns entirely around chasing the contain guy, leaving a MLB totally free. He and the tackle freed up by the Glasgow/Miller thing combine to tackle. Glasgow(+1) pounded his guy, FWIW, and Lewan(+0.5) got out and sealed off a linebacker.
M28 2 7 Ace H 1 2 2 5-3 bear Pass Sack Gardner -10
Sympathize with Toussaint(-2) here, as he seems to be expecting a waggle and ends up outside of the DE, but Gardner is setting up in the pocket. DE gets in, Gardner evades, delayed LB sees it and shoots up to sack. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, Toussaint -2)
M18 3 17 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-2-6 dime Pass Scramble Gardner 10
Three man rush, lots of time, Gardner decides he doesn't have anything and takes off. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-17, 13 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 5-4 bear Run Iso Toussaint 16
Okay, Fitz, this is a cutback to make. Akron has three guys shaded to the playside and while the blocking is okay, Kalis had to block a guy playside of him without help and that threatens to eat Toussaint. But backside end is containing Gardner, Schofield(+2) blows up the bear LB enormously; Funchess(+1) gets a great extended kick on a backside LB and Toussaint(+2) slams it up between them after the smart cutback. Glasgow(+0.5) got a good frontside block, but it becomes irrelevant. Kalis(+0.5) did drive his guy somewhat, giving Fitz more room.
M36 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 5-4 bear Run Iso Toussaint 2
Same play. Fitz should try the same thing on the same play but the backside end is coming down more and he decides to slam it up into an unblocked LB as an Akron guy cuts Kerridge in the backfield. Schofield(+1) got good drive on the backside guy and Funchess appears to get a kick; this is just Akron loading up and selling out and Toussaint(-0.5) not expecting to get the same thing he got the last play. RPS –1.
M38 2 8 Ace H 1 2 2 5-3 bear Run Power O Toussaint -1
Ludicrously bad from Toussaint(-3) as he immediately cuts away from a well-blocked playside. Funchess(+1) had banged the end inside, Kalis had gotten clear of that attempt to spill, and Toussaint runs straight into the backside of the play for a loss that is entirely his fault.
M37 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Comeback Gallon 8
Protection is okay, but only just, as Gardner gets some heat as he throws. Gallon is open, but only just, and gets tackled immediately. That's life on third and nine when your RB ignores the playcall. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-17, 9 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M30 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 6-2 bear Pass Wheel Funchess Inc
This is batted at the line. Not a great read since Butt is leaking out by himself on the other side of the field, but it's Funchess so you can throw it up and he might catch it. Miller(-1) allowed the pressure. (BA, 0, protection ½, Miller -1)
M30 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 5-2 bear Run QB draw Gardner 35
When in doubt, run the QB. Glasgow(+1) hits a LB, opening up a crease, and then Gardner(+3) hits it, cuts back inside, dodging two guys trying to fill, and bursts upfield.
O35 1 10 Ace 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass PA out and up Gallon 21
Akron in zone; Gardner kind of stares this down but Gallon does come open in between levels and sits down; Gardner hits him in rhythm, and Gallon spins upfield to shake a tackler and pick up some YAC. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1.)
O14 1 10 I-Form twins tight stack 2 1 2 4-4 even Pass TE Dig Butt Inc (Pen +12)
Blitz right up the middle taken care of by Kerridge with aplomb. Glasgow(-1) can't prevent his guy from coming inside of him and then Toussaint(-1) gives him a weak shoulder block instead of cutting a guy much bigger than him, so Gardner has pressure in his face as he throws. Ball is inch perfect; DB wraps his hand around Butt in an attempt to get a PBU and gets an obvious PI flag. (DO, 0, protection 1/3)
O2 1 G Goal line 3 2 0 Goal line Run Down G Toussaint 2
Magnuson in, Lewan and Schofield buddy cop comedy time. Lewan(+1) caves in the playside end; Schofield(+1) puts his guy on the ground. Glasgow(+1), pulling outside of those two, also puts his guy on the ground. Toussaint has acres of space for a play from the two, and scores.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-24, 3 min 4th Q. Michigan doesn't get the ball back.


You know, change some parameters here and Michigan is fine.


The biggest parameter is admittedly "starting QB doesn't make the large mistakes that now seem baked into his game."


Oh and some stuff about the line and Toussaint. But we should look at the main man first. Here is a—



Devin Gardner 2012

Minnesota 3 7(1) 4 2(1) 2* 2 - 3 4 72%
Northwestern 4 16(2) 2 1 3* 2(1) 2(1) 2 5 79%
Iowa 3 16(4) - 2(1) 2 1 - 1 4 83%
Ohio State 3 11(1) 2 5* 2 1 - 3 2 65%
South Carolina 4 16(2) 2 8 3 4 - 2 2 57%

Devin Gardner 2013

Central Michigan 2 10(1)+ 1 1 2* - - 1 3 82%
Notre Dame 7+ 16(1)++ 4(1) 2 3* - 1 4 4 82%
Akron 3 14(2) - 5 3** 2 1 3 1 59%

Shane Morris

Central Michigan - 4 - 1 1* 1 - - - N/A

Dammit. One week after a superlative performance with rushers all up in his face, Gardner gets all wobbly.

Gardner made three mistakes that had a huge impact on the game: not pitching on the speed option and the two interceptions that weren't rifled off of Funchess's head. The first INT was just a terrible read. It's the same play Michigan scored on at the end of the Outback bowl, a route that sees Gallon head inside to a seam area and then break in or out to a corner or post. This is the post, but it doesn't matter which Gallon is breaking to, when that corner sinks with Gallon he should immediately come off and hit Funchess on the crossing route:

I'm torn on the pick six, which is at least half Akron getting a good playcall in and the linebacker making an awesome play. I don't know if you can expect Gardner to see that guy when he's got defensive linemen in his face. He may have had his vision blocked.

The frustrating and crazy thing about the option play is that Gardner saw Akron didn't have a force player to the boundary, checked into the speed option, and then didn't make the obvious pitch he'd seen presnap. Akron's end played it well, backing off and waiting, but there's a moment he commits and Gardner don't curr.

I filed that as a BRX, a BR, and a –4 on the ground for Gardner (mistake plus fumble), FWIW.

Gardner got rattled after the first couple mistakes, pump-faking on a throw to Chesson and then shooting it way over his head, then throwing way late and thus behind an open Gallon to force a Michigan punt.

On the other hand, hey, Devin Gardner can do this:

That was one of three separate 35-yard runs he had. Even with a 12-yard loss for the fumble in there, Gardner ripped off 111 yards on nine carries. (He was sacked once for a ten yard loss). That was the difference between victory and death when everything else was going wrong. Also, Gardner's YPA of 8.2 remained in the excellent range.

But let's move on to the hot line takes.


Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Lewan 7.5 1 6.5 Pancake factory on power.
Glasgow 12.5 3.5 9 Apparently I agree with the coaches.
Miller 3 8.5 -5.5 Oof.
Kalis 7 4.5 2.5 Not as consistent as the other G.
Schofield 8 4 4 Got push, push got used by Toussaint cutbacks.
Williams - - - DNP
Funchess 7.5 3.5 4 Turned around once, but otherwise a nice day.
Butt 2.5 1 1.5 Pretty good for a freshman.
Magnuson - - - DNC
TOTAL 48 26 65% Not what you want against Akron but better than it seemed after initial shakiness.
Player + - T Notes
Gardner 7 4 3 Fast; argh option.
Morris - - - DNP
Toussaint 5.5 9.5 -4 Much more on this later.
Green - - - One carry.
Smith - - - DNP
Hayes - - - DNC
Rawls - - - DNP
Houma - - - DNC
Kerridge 2 - 2 Blocks got cut away from.
TOTAL 14.5 13.5 1 Toussaint YPC his own doing.
Player + - T Notes
Gallon 1 2 -1  
Jackson 1 1 0  
Chesson 4 1 3 Two for his catch and run.
Reynolds - 1 -1  
Dileo - 1 -1  
Norfleet 1 - 1 Followed blocks on screen.
York - - - DNP
TOTAL 7 6 1 Note on blocking press stuff in WR chart section.
Player + - T Notes
Protection 36 8 82% Glasgow –3, Miller –2, Toussaint –3
RPS 10 11 -1 We love him this week

--wait. What?

Toussaint's day looks a lot better statistically if a phantom holding call on Jake Butt doesn't bring back a 15-yarder and he doesn't nerf a long run himself by running outside of Jeremy Gallon. Oh, and occasionally follows good blocks by his teammates. After the initial issues with zone, Michigan blocked well enough to see their tailback crack 100 yards at an excellent YPC; the tailback just didn't cooperate. Why in just a bit.

The other thing that jumps out is the noobs on the interior…


People have been mad about guys on the line in the aftermath of Saturday's game and have been demanding change. Since the tackles are obviously sacrosanct and Kyle Kalis is guru-approved, most of the vitriol has fallen on Miller and Glasgow. The fact that both have been dumped into the backfield periodically doesn't help.

Unfortunately, the issues here are more complicated than sending one or two guys to the unemployment line. As noted in the picture pages, some of the things they're doing don't make sense, and it's hard to tell why. The one about Michigan leaving first-level defenders un-doubled spawned a triple-digit comment thread featuring a lot of infighting about whether this was terrible on the part of Miller and Glasgow or terrible on the part of the coaches/Gardner for not checking away from the doomed play. I don't know.

I do know that if M does double those guys at the line, they are far less exposed to the kinds of TFLs they experienced in the first half of that game until Akron starts shooting gaps, and that not doubling guys on inside zone—which was Michigan's first play of the game—is very bizarre.

But why is Glasgow in the game? Because he executes his assignments more consistently than his competitors. Miller, too. Yes, even if he's badly negative in this one. Maybe Chris Bryant will be a revelation at some point, but every snap those guys take and every one in practice Bryant misses because of nagging injury du jour distances the current starters from their backups. Their issues are serious, but not fixable by anything but time.

In this edition of "here is a subtle thing I think an experienced offensive line might pull off," Miller releases on the Chesson end around and blocks the linebacker nearest to the play:

That turns out to be the wrong guy to block, because Akron's in man coverage and the guy further outside is the one shooting to the backside of the play while the guy Miller blocks is checking Toussaint. Miller looks at both of these dudes and picks the superficially logical one; a deeper understanding of what he's looking at when the playside LB is stepping away from him might get him to block the guy booking for where the play's actually going. (Coaching types, feel free to tell me this is crazy to expect.)

That kind of stuff is the thing holding back the running game against Akron and CMU. It's turning around in space, or not getting the right double. It's no coincidence that when Michigan's running game turned into see-man-smash-man power plays it (largely) took off. It may turn out that Miller can't hold up against Big Ten linemen and gets replaced, but so much of offensive line play is quick decisions aided by reps and chemistry. A midseason shift brings its own problems.

If you want a little hope in this department, watch Glasgow on one of Gardner's two big inverted veer gains:

Schofield gets pushed back, cutting off Glasgow's route to where the play design is, so Glasgow decides to end that guy and go get him a linebacker. That is one huge crease up the middle all of a sudden and Gardner's off to the races. That's the kind of thing I'm talking about. That kind of instinct under fire is a long-developing thing.

I actually think Michigan has a problem elsewhere…

Fire Toussaint? Surely you can't be serious.

Not exactly Fire Toussaint, but he's really starting to frustrate me. He all but refuses to follow his fullback (again, as noted in the recent Picture Pages) and has turned into Michael Shaw when it comes to any and all options. Here he's already cut to the back side of the line on an iso. Unlike many times he's done this, it works out for him because the guys on the backside have blown their guys back and he evades a tackle attempt—#5 on the ground there.


He takes this ball outside of Gallon. Yup. Instead of cutting right upfield on the M and maybe juking a safety for six points he goes east/west, bringing the sideline into play and turning an irrelevant block by Gallon into a holding call as he blows up that blocking angle. Gallon's blocking an iso to the other side of the field—he can't expect the running back to go behind him.

Meanwhile, this was another iso on that drive:


That is a huge freaking hole. Every one of his offensive lineman has executed his assignment and Kerridge is about to cut the MLB to the ground. Toussaint cuts this to the backside like he did on the frame above; this time he gets tackled by that linebacker hanging out back there, turning a potential big gain into four yards.

We've been trying to figure out why the run game sucks so much basically since the season started, and every time I try to explain this I talk about the offensive line mostly and then go "oh by the way, Toussaint probably should have done something different." Those add up. He's turning 2 yards into –2 yards and 10 yards into 4 yards too often and not making up for it much. He's got a nice 14-yarder against ND and then yet another cutback into trouble when he had a gaping hole that he managed to turn into 22 yards by breaking a tackle and juking. That's it.

Meanwhile on play after play he's killing blocking angles to everyone's detriment. For every play on which the opponent actually overplays the playside enough for the cutback to be the best choice there are three on which he's setting yards on fire. This was the capper, a power play on Michigan's penultimate drive that he cuts back into blood and doom for no earthly reason:

That is a healthy gain if he follows his lead blocker turned into a loss. Michigan would complete a tough eight yard pass on the ensuing third and nine. I know he had a nice day against Notre Dame in the run charting, but if he doesn't break that Day arm tackle he's right around zero for that game with negatives in the two MAC games—you know, the ones in which there were actually holes for him to hit because the line wasn't getting spanked by NFLers.

I don't know if the guy is totally borked after last year's slasher flick, but I sincerely hope Fred Jackson spends the next three weeks screaming at him to follow his lead blocker. Kerridge is wrecking people to no purpose. Fitz needs to stop playing heroball.

FWIW, Green's only carry was a power play on which Kalis made a mistake and got caught up by the playside end crashing inside. He burrowed straight upfield for a few yards instead of heading to the intended gap, which I can understand but do not prefer.


[Passes are rated by how tough they are to catch. 0 == impossible. 1 == wow he caught that, 2 == moderate difficulty, 3 == routine. The 0/X in all passes marked zero is implied.]

Player 0 1 2 3   0 1 2 3
Gallon 3   3/3 3/4   8   8/9 11/12
Jackson 1         2     3/3
Reynolds       1/1     0/1 1/1 2/2
Chesson 2     1/1   3     1/1
Dileo           1 1/1   4/4
Norfleet       1/1   1     3/3
Funchess 1   0/2 2/2   2 1/2 0/3 6/6
Butt 1     2/2   1 0/1 0/1 5/5
Toussaint 1     1/1   1     3/3
Houma       1/1         1/1

This week in Jeremy Gallon is good at football:

Lock-on syndrome does appear to be a thing, and it hurt Michigan on one of the interceptions.

I don't have a table for this, but with Akron in press coverage for big chunks of this game it was strange to see Michigan try to block guys. It turned an otherwise open Chesson end around into two yards when running the DB off* is usually the preferred option. Michigan did that on the doomed option play…

…to good effect, so not seeing it a couple other places was odd. You know they use it.

Speaking of Chesson, welcome to the party. Good to see a few targets his way, especially when he's such a nice guy that opponents actively try to get him touchdowns.

*[IE, immediately releasing outside and running a fly pattern, which will turn the DB's back to the LOS away from the play. By the time the DB realizes it's a run, he's 20 yards downfield.]

Funchess blocked some dudes?

Yeah, he was considerably better in this game. When Michigan ran power Akron was shooting the end inside (playing to "spill"), hoping to get penetration on Funchess and pick off the pulling G. Funchess got the guy inside and held his ground enough to allow the guard around, and Toussaint picked up some nice runs when that happened since Lewan and company were pounding their guys inside. Example:

Watch the H-back.

Funchess also got some nice kicks on iso plays that cut back to him and was the key block on Gardner's inverted veer touchdown. He may have gotten away with a hold, but I'll take Funchess driving a guy six yards off the LOS any way that he can do it. I don't even really blame him for the one ugly block he seemed responsible for, as he was given a tough assignment, trying to seal a DE lined up outside of him on a pitch to the boundary. That's tough for anyone.

Caveat: I do think Akron Isn't Notre Dame is a big factor in his improvement. There's Prince Shembo and then there's a 230-pound defensive end you have to catch because he turned his back to you for no reason.

Funchess also was more involved with the gameplan, catching a 17-yarder and of course turning upfield for a long catch and run on the first drive. An encouraging game that may not mean much against stiffer competition.

Do you have a preview of Khalid Hill's life at Michigan?



Glasgow and Kalis consistently bashed in the Akron line. Gardner's legs were hugely important. Gallon was as good as he usually is.

Maybe not so heroic?

Gardner's huge mistakes cost Michigan ten points and depending on your POV of the pick-six maybe another seven. Toussaint gave away a ton of yards by not trusting his blocking. Miller had a rough day.

What does it mean for UConn and the future?

The offensive line wasn't as bad as it looked. They had some identification issues early that hampered things, but they also get credit for blocking the inverted veers and once they adjusted to what Akron was doing they were blowing them up, for the most part. Protection was good, as well. Glasgow had a good game after a tough outing against Nix. If there is a change it will be sliding him to center so Bryant can come in.

Glasgow is ahead of Kalis. That's right, I said it.

Toussaint has PTSD. Poor Damn Toussaint is only a thing still because he assumes the blocking will die and makes bad decisions both when it does (bouncing hopelessly) and doesn't (cutting away from big creases). Not to sound like a low-rent color commentator, but go north/south, and stop pussyfooting around like a pinko. RUN LIKE 'MERICA: INTO THE TEETH OF UNNECESSARY DANGER.

Gardner is a danger to himself and others. If he stops making the big mistakes, look out. If he continues making the big mistakes, look out. He can get wobbly and fall apart; when he's on, he's really f-ing on.

Michigan needs some counters. Passing off the veer or running that counter trey right or something. Need it.

THROW IT TO DILEO. No targets. Cumong man.



September 18th, 2013 at 3:03 PM ^

I just get the feeling that soooooo many yards were left on the field. One of those days of Murphy's law I guess. 

I rewatched the gardner option play...it doesn't even look like he considers pitching, even though it's about as obvious of a pitch as it can be on that play. Maybe he needs to stop playing heroball too, no? Rely on your teammates, guy.



September 18th, 2013 at 3:08 PM ^

Agreed. This shows us that we were way better than Akron, we just made a ton of mental mistakes. Obviously no kind of mistake of good, but all of this is correctable, even if it's difficult to correct in certain instances. It's better than saying, "our guys just can't do that."


September 18th, 2013 at 5:18 PM ^

I once had a buddy tell me that there are two types of failures in sports:  mental and physical.  With respect to the latter, there is not much that coaches can do - an athlete simply has physical limitations.  With respect to the former, there is nothing more frustrating to coaches, especially if it relates to things that are everyday practice points or lessons.  Mental errors are, in his opinion, inexcusable but, your words, correctable (if the athlete is willing to work on them).


September 18th, 2013 at 5:34 PM ^

Yeah - you don't want either kind of mistake, but if a player isn't big or strong or fast enough - nothing is going to change over the course of one season. A mental error, on the other hand, can be corrected in as little as one week, or in more extreme cases, over the course of the season.  Even experienced players make a number of mental corrections over the course of the season. 


September 18th, 2013 at 4:09 PM ^

I don't recall that being done much at all, and being able to pitch when you are 1) on the move and 2) about to be blown up is a real skill. How good can Gardner be at it?

I don't like that call from the standpoint we can't have practiced it that much and it's not easy. Gardner still messed it up, but it was a high risk play.


September 18th, 2013 at 5:51 PM ^

I seem to recall Denard putting one of those on the turf last year and failing to pitch when he probably should have one or two other times.  I really think there is an issue with those pitches.  I agree--either practice it so you can execute it, or take it out of the playbook. 


September 18th, 2013 at 3:13 PM ^

FWIW, Hoke said that the pick six wasn't on Gardner.  That is what I thought watching on TV.  He had pressure in his face way too quickly and couldn't see the LB there to make the play.  


September 19th, 2013 at 10:57 AM ^

I'll be honest - whenever I've been a play caller and had a screen intercepted, I've taken the blame myself. If the defense isn't in a mode to get beaten by a screen, then that's on the play caller. Sure, it would be great for the QB to throw it into the ground, scramble, etc., but that's a tough, tough play to make up for when it's defended well.

Space Coyote

September 19th, 2013 at 11:01 AM ^

OL has to pick up that LB though. Akron was coming on the blitz and in man coverage, it's a nice set up for a screen. Fitz should probably also do a better job feeling the LB in coverage and work back to the ball a bit, but that's difficult in that situation as well.

It certainly isn't Gardner's fault though. He's retreating with guys in his face and trying to get the ball out without being able to see through all the wash.


September 18th, 2013 at 3:20 PM ^

Is it just me, or does it seem like we've completely abandoned a deep passing game. I can think of all of two deep passes this season-the long completion to Reynolds and the interception where Devin was hit trying to throw to Gallon. Both of those were against CMU. Brian said we ran a four-verts once against Akron, so that's three I guess. But I'm surprised it hasn't been brought up, especially with all the "chicks dig the long ball" jokes.

It may be that are receivers are too slow to get open, but this puzzles me. ND and Akron stacked the box like whoa, and why not if we're not going to throw a pass longer than 15-20 yards. While Brian's wondering about a running counter, I can't help but think that stretching the field vertically would do wonders for opening up our running game...


September 18th, 2013 at 5:21 PM ^

Along those lines, I can remember at least 2 occassions during the ND game when I jumped up and down about a receiver having several yards of separation deep down the middle but Gardner not targeting them.  Interesting, I think it was Reynolds on both occassions.

I am of the opinion that the what-people-considered-to-be-great connection with Gallon is actually hurting Michigan's passing attack a bit.  You can see this in the lack of Dileo targets, for example.


September 18th, 2013 at 3:21 PM ^

I just got through reading in the roundtable comments how the whole offensive staff was going to get fired over the line play because they couldn't open holes for our string of super running backs. Now you're telling me that the line is doing pretty okay and the running back is not playing optimally?  So does this mean Borges/Funk not polishing up their resume in 2015 is a good bet to take?

Ron Utah

September 18th, 2013 at 3:21 PM ^

I have to agree on the O-line: it's not great, but it's not that bad.  Lots of little, dumb, fixable mistakes that you'd expect out of first-time starters.

FWIW, I don't think it's fair to compare the Kalis +/- to the Glasgow, since we run left about 99% of the time (that is a made-up stat).

I agree on Fitz, and think we need to look at one of our other RBs if he can't get it going this week.  All I can figure is that no one else is very good at protection yet, so they aren't seeing the field.  That will happen when your #2 and #3 RBs are true freshmen.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: this O-line is not great, but I think they'll be good enough.  I'm much more worried about our pass rush.


September 18th, 2013 at 3:22 PM ^

A. "Holy sshhi.....Goddammit Devin!!!.....uh, er... good play Devin...*shrug*"

B. "Holy sshhi.....Goddammit Devin!.......awwww Devin!"....*shrug*


C. "They should've sent a poet...so...beautifff...."

I'm thinking more A and C.


September 18th, 2013 at 6:51 PM ^

2 of the 4 turnovers were in the redzone and one of the two that wasn't was a pick 6.  Gibbons also missed a FG, which to be fair was at about the max of his range.  They had 450 yds of offense - maybe not super dominant but it's not like Akron shut them down. 

The Geek

September 18th, 2013 at 6:23 PM ^

If Michigan doesn't turn the ball over, we easily beat Akron and destroy Notre Dame. I feel on Sunday much of this discussion will be moot.

After the game, we may kidnap the Chancellor and rename the school Mich-Conn. 

Seriously, I'm curious if Connecticut will run the Bear front on defense. If the same thing happens against UConn as Akron, I'll change my tune.


September 18th, 2013 at 3:44 PM ^


It may turn out that Miller can't hold up against Big Ten linemen


I contend that there's some mounting evidence he can't hold up to MAC linemen, which doesn't bode well for Big Ten play. His positive plays are almost always with help. When left alone, he at best stalemates his guy and often gets deposited into the QB or RB's lap. When it happens against ND, fine, but against Akron, that's pretty alarming.


Maybe Chris Bryant will be a revelation at some point, but every snap those guys take and every one in practice Bryant misses because of nagging injury du jour distances the current starters from their backups. Their issues are serious, but not fixable by anything but time.


I agree with this but if anything, that's more the reason to change now. The 3 starts are invaluable, but on the other hand, we're not that pot committed yet. Assuming Bryant and other candidates are still getting meaningful reps in practice, and there's no reason to think they aren't, they aren't that far behind. If you're going to make a midseason change, now is the time to do it, prior to a bye and prior to the meat of the schedule. If they might have the higher upside, there's still time to make up the deficit in game experience. We stuck to our guns last year (mostly due to lack of alternatives) and it cost us. As much as we desperately need a convincing win against UConn, on the road no less, it seems it's now or never to explore the alternatives we do have this year.


September 18th, 2013 at 3:51 PM ^

I watched the game and there were only 2 things that were completely obvious to me...one was the pass rush (easy pickens) and second was Fitz. I talked to everyone the next day and bitched like crazy about Fitz and they looked at me like I had AIDS or something. FITZ is NOT a power runner...,.he has no idea how to follow a fullback lead and/or cut off of it. We need a power runner....from what I have seen so far we have 3 on the roster Rawls, Green and Smith...Rawls looked too tenative to be the man...therefore I suggest a heavy dose of green and smith...and Please spare me the blocking stuff....run the ball correctly and on 3rd (if needed) you can replace those guys with the guys who can block (see Wisconson)....


September 19th, 2013 at 11:00 AM ^

Perhaps he's poor at running behind a fullback, but he was recruited to play in a zone system. This comes back to the question of whether Borges should be running a zone system or a power/iso system. If you run zone, you have to be almost all zone (in my opinion). If you run power/iso (aka man) blocking, then you have to commit to it.

I think we're somewhere in the murky purgatory between those worlds.


September 18th, 2013 at 4:00 PM ^

I say we run the wildcat with Toussaint. Cause apparently when Gardner has the ball on designed runs the holes are large and the decisions come easy.

Seriously, bench Toussaint. Just for a bit. With Gardner we're getting some atrocious mistakes, but you play the man cause he also makes plays and can win you a game on his own. Toussaint has been making mistakes, but unlike Gardner, he has not shown anything in two years that makes you think he can help win you a football game. His greatest credit to this point has been the case that he won't LOSE you one, and the evidence for that isn't exactly abundant. Mostly a fear of "whatifs" about younger players.


September 18th, 2013 at 4:21 PM ^

That's a bit unfair. Fitz had a huge 22 yarder in ND to stop the bleeding and recapture the momentum. He juked a safety out of his shoes to break that run. Now, you can argue he put himself in a bad spot by not going to the obvious hole on the backside, but just the same he made the play. The guy has tons of physical ability, he just needs to get his head straight and start trusting his blocks.


September 18th, 2013 at 4:43 PM ^

I could argue that. He gained 22 yards on a play that he really made overly difficult and its importance is inflated because of the game situation. That one bright spot, which already has a smudge on it, is not enough IMO. It's one thing if this is his third game ever, its another when he's supposed to be a senior leader who is instead out there making sophomore type mistakes.

I still think Toussaint should be the starter. I just want to sit him for a bit. Just a bit. Let him watch someone else run in a game situation. People say it could hurt his psyche, but I really feel like it would give him a new perspective on what's happening out there.


September 18th, 2013 at 4:44 PM ^

Anyone competing for playing time has lots of ability.  Getting your head right is most of the battle.  And if Fitz as a 5th year senior still lacks vision or makes bad decisions, that matters a lot more than his potential as someone with lots of ability.  If another RB is slower than him but goes to the right hole, picking up 4-6 yards, that matters more than Fitz's great potential.  (His speed is nullified by getting tackled because he can't see space.)


September 18th, 2013 at 4:18 PM ^

I'd rather have Green falling forward for three yards than Fitz going east to west and losing yards.  It's frustrating because it seems as if Fitz has the moves and speed but lacks vision.


September 18th, 2013 at 4:22 PM ^

Toussaint's eyes are on the backside of the play as soon as he gets the ball. He's looking for a highlight reel cut back that takes him to the house on every play. It's not all bad to ram your face into the back of the linemen for 6 yards on a play. I'm beginning to think his cutbacks are just luck instead of instinct. 


September 18th, 2013 at 4:49 PM ^

So after reading that my question for AL and Funk....are we a road grading line or are we a zone blocking line? 

it seems at times the OL can't get into a rhythym when they are constantly going from pulling OL to Zone block on back to back plays. If this was an OL with a lot of stars I could understand, but this is a young OL on the inside and I would hope they establish themselves one way before we intergate other stuff for them to figure out.


September 18th, 2013 at 5:15 PM ^

There is no reason a zone blocking offensive line can't be a "road grading" offensive line at the same time. Many people think that zone scheme is a finese scheme because its associated with the spread. Zone can be a very physcial running play when run with the right mentality. Most all NFL teams and college teams running a "pro style" run zone scheme (inside/outside) and a gap scheme (power/counter). Zone is the base running play.  Asking an offensive line to run zone schemes and gap schemes is not asking too much.  High School and even well run youth teams can handle doing both.


September 18th, 2013 at 4:50 PM ^

Brian, I’ve seen you use the term “counter trey” quite a bit recently. I know a lot people use this to refer to the classic counter play used by the Redskins in the 80’s. I used to think it was just the name of the play as well.  But for those who may be interested  I thought I would inform you and the rest posters that technically “counter trey” is not the play.

The play is counter (or power) and “trey” refers to the playside combo block (I prefer the term combo block over double team because one of these guys is actually moving on to a LB).  In a GAP scheme (which is used in power and counter) there is typically 1 combo block on the playside. 95% of the time you are going to get either a “trey” call or a “deuce” call. This call is normally made by the playside tackle but could be made by the center too I guess. When the playside tackle is covered is when you’re going to get a “trey” call.  This means the TE and the T are going to combo block the defender covering the T and work to the backside LB. You will see this against a 4-3 Under team and 3-4 team.  When you’re going against a 4-3 Over and 4-3 Base team it’s the guard that’s covered by a 3 tech.  This is where you would use the “deuce” call. This means the T and the G are going to combo block the 3 tech and work to the backside LB. The TE will release straight to the MLB. Now I guess if you knew going in that you were always going to get a trey call you might call the play counter trey in the huddle or counter deuce in the huddle but with so many teams playing multiple fronts more often than not your going to just call it 26 counter or whatever terminology you use and make the trey or deuce call at the line when you see what you getting.

Now the play you’ve been talking about where the tackle pulls by himself (Lewan against CMU and Schofield against ND) is not a counter trey or power. We used to call it Dart and I think other teams use that term too. This is more of a base blocking scheme similar to ISO but you’re trying to get the backside tackle on the playside linebacker. Its not a gap scheme. Everyone else is based up maybe with a backside combo with the center and guard to the backside LB, same as you see on ISO. If you want run a power off tackle play and the LB’s are keying your guards and blowing it up this is a nice change up.

Sorry for being so long winded. Not trying to sound petty or preachy. I’ve just seen the term counter trey thrown out there the past couple weeks and being an o-line nerd I don’t get many (or any) chances to talk about the gap scheme with people that might actually care.


September 18th, 2013 at 4:56 PM ^

Talk about it more.  The comments section needs more steady input from people who have knowledge instead of opinions and anecdote.  I'm not being a jerk.  I mean I learn a lot from the folks who are able to actually diagnose what's happening instead of immediately calling for a coach to be fired because...who knows.

Ron Utah

September 18th, 2013 at 6:54 PM ^

I care.  Thanks for the insightful post.  Lots of good stuff there.

However, any play where the RB takes a counter step is technically a counter, and usually involves a pulling lineman.  The play where Lewan pulls most definitely is a counter, though you are right and I agree with you about the "trey" thing.


September 19th, 2013 at 8:56 AM ^

True, a counter step by the back and using a puller is a "counter" play or "misdirection" play.  But the counter trey really refers to the GAP scheme counter with the guard being the kick out blocker and either the backside tackle, fullback, or h-back being the lead through blocker.  Power uses the same exact GAP scheme but the kickout blocker is now the fullback or the h-back on the playside and the backside guard is the lead through blocker. The gap scheme counter was actually  used first and the power o was an adjustment off of that to make it a more quick hitting power play. Having both pullers coming from the backside made the counter a slow developing play. Putting the kick out blocker on the playside made it a quicker hitting play.  So far I haven't seen Borges use a true gap scheme counter but we have seen a ton of gap scheme power.

Space Coyote

September 19th, 2013 at 9:05 AM ^

Here's a link 


FWIW, I've always called the play "Counter Power" if kickout block isn't coming from a OL, which Michigan ran against CMU. Power indicates that the BSG is not pulling.

On a normal Power O play you'll pull the BSG because he needs to get there faster. On Counter Power you pull the BST and kick with an H-back or FB. You can do this, as MVictors said, to switch up defensive keys. It also serves as misdirection, because it is a counter look, and it also gives you the ability to get your two best blockers on the same side of the formation. Then there is your normal counter, which uses the BSG as the kick person and the BST as the lead blocker. All three attack the same gap and same point of the field, but give different looks and different amount of numbers at the point of attack.


September 19th, 2013 at 9:55 AM ^

Just different ways to do this. Here is how I distinguish counter vs. power:

Counter - backside guard kickout and the lead through either coming from backside tackle, backside h-back or fullback lined up on the backside.

Power - playside fullback or h-back kicks out and backside guard leads through.

Besides the the pullers responsiblity switching everything else is exactly the same. Gap scheme. Combo at the point of attack, either trey or deuce. Then everyone else blocking down.

There are also many variations off of these same base plays, still using the gap scheme. Weakside counter and power. Power Load out of a jumbo set with 2-3 TE's. Counter and Power vs the nickel with only 1 puller. Etc.

I have not seen Borges use the counter I describe but have seen the power a lot in all three seasons.

Space Coyote

September 19th, 2013 at 10:25 AM ^

Is in the playbook, or at least it has been in Borges's playbook in the past. My guess is they aren't running it because they fear what is going to happen with a slow developing play with a large gap on the backside. Young OL that is still learning a lot isn't necessarily the best personnel to run that type of play.


September 19th, 2013 at 11:00 AM ^

Im sure it is in the playbook.  When they get to the point where they feel comfortable with running the counter play it really opens up a lot of options out of the same formation.  If you are in a Pro Set with 2 backs and a TE you can line up the fullback to the weakside. From this same formation you can run zone strong (w/ fullback sealing backside end) and weak (with fullback leading on backside LB), counter strong, power strong (with fullback in motion to kick out) and power weak.  Same thing with a 2 TE set having the backside TE in a flex position. Really forces the defense to not overplay to the strength. This also opens up all sorts of playaction with the FB/HB leaking into the flat. Can't wait to see this offense really running on all cylinders.


September 19th, 2013 at 8:47 AM ^

Here is a link to a .pdf made by Bill Mountjoy. Starts off with some of the rules for the actual techniques and there are some diagrams that show the deuce and trey.  Not really a good example that shows the whole line but this should get the point across.


Also, I should note that the my post above is based off of the rules and terminolgy used by Joe Bugel and Joe Gibbs with the Redskins and later Russ Grimm with the Steelers.  I don't want to act like this is the only way to do it.  But no doubt these guys were the best.

Space Coyote

September 19th, 2013 at 9:08 AM ^

Is there is no such source. Football is so scattered and terminology so different depending on scheme, coach, etc., that you really have to pick up on things as you go in bits and pieces and often piece it together on your own.

There have been people, and I was actually at one time part of a site, that tried to do something to give people a source. But it's extremely difficult. It takes a ton of time and work. And there is no easy solution.


September 19th, 2013 at 9:38 AM ^

Here is actually a great link to a word doc.


Like you say, so many ways to do this and different terminology. But here is the Counter/Power series I am talking about. To me Gibbs/Bugel/Grimm were the best at this.

los barcos

September 18th, 2013 at 4:56 PM ^

Hmm…3 days ago it was funk’s o-line that was root of all our problems and after today’s UFR everyone has shifted their angst towards fitz. I’m no savant when it comes to the nuances of football – which is why I devour brains’ UFR – but I find it particularly baffling that the same people now calling out Fitz were calling out the o-line only 72 hours ago.

I’d like to get Magnus’ take on this, as one of the football gurus here he called Fitz the MVP of the game on his blog:

MVP of the game . . . Fitzgerald Toussaint. Gardner put up 248 passing yards and 103 rushing yards, but he also turned over the ball four times. Toussaint looked like the running back of old on his way to 19 carries for 71 yards and 1 touchdown, along with 1 reception for 27 yards. His numbers would have been better if a couple runs wouldn't have been called back for holding (probably closer to 21 carries for 120 yards). One thing I have also noticed with Toussaint is an improvement in pass protection. He did noticeably whiff on a blitzing linebacker, but he's much more physical than he used to be.


September 18th, 2013 at 5:16 PM ^

from Magnus too and was baffled considering I respect his opinion....look, anybody can see the difference a good RB makes on an OLine...simply go down the street to the Detroit Lions. When Reggie Bush plays, GREAT OLINE!!!, when he doesn't....Not so much. Fitz has got decent moves, but lacks vision and top end speed let alone being a "power" runner....BTW, I never complained about Oline, I saw the game totally as FITZ not doing what he should have (and Dline and Gardner's Turnovers)...