Breaking Down Ondre Pipkins' Technique From 5-second "Michigan Drill" Practice Video

Submitted by Michael Scarn on March 29th, 2013 at 2:39 AM

[Ed-S: BumP!]

Yes, I have an addiction.  Yes, it's March.  Some choose to build tiny wooden ships in bottles, I intricately break down defensive lineman technique from spring practice videos frame by frame.

Here's the set-up, Pipkins vs. early enrollee Kyle Bosch and a running back who I don't even bother identifying because Pipkins plays this so well that it doesn't matter what the running back does.  Besides, his job is to just pick a side and hit it hard.  

Here, Pipkins has a pretty good stance, wide base, on the balls of his feet, athletic posture and good knee bend.  Low for a big man - that small human he shed this offseason seems to have helped with that some.  

Right after the snap, Pipkins has fired of his left foot and is already bringing his hands, preparing to make contact with Bosch.  At first glance he appears to come out a little high, but as we'll see, his hands, strength and quick feet help him overcome that.  The ideal first step (my understanding) is to be quick, low to the ground, forceful and almost a jab - generate force but reset to be able to drive off again.  

As he makes contact with Bosch, Pipkins has already driven off his right foot as well, generating more power and force into Bosch.  His hands have shot inside very quickly and, as we'll see, will allow him to control Bosch.  

Here, Pipkins has reset both feet and will again drive through them to push Bosch back.  They're pretty much at the line of scrimmage - Bosch has not fired off the ball nor has he moved his feet, except laterally.  I think he should be drive blocking here, but I could be mistaken.  Maybe his job is just to seal off Pipkins.  Regardless, the young buck won't win this battle.  Bosch has his hands in pretty poor position, as Pipkins has him basically by the collar and Bosch would need to hold to really have his left hand be any use to him at this point.  

This time as Pipkins generates more power into Bosch with his legs, he clearly has leverage.  Just compare the angles of their bodies to the ground - Pipkins is firing out and up, Bosch is sitting back down onto his heels.  His feet are again driving for power, and as we'll see in a second, he's about to explode upward with his feet and hips, while also extending his arms and pressing Bosch away from him.  

He's pushing off the ground hard enough that both feet are (minorly) airborn.  His hands are extended, they're even with his eyes.  Ideally they will end up above his eyes when he extends, but this a strong punch he delivers.  Keep in mind this has all happened in a few split seconds as we are just now seeing the ballcarrier enter the frame.

Here, Pipkins has his left arm free with his right fully controlling Bosch, further pushing him back on his heels.  The running back has already decided to go left, so that's where Pipkins will meet him with great haste.  

Contact is made with the ballcarrier at about the line of scrimmage, as Bosch is finally leaving his heels.  He's also managed to grab a little cloth with his lefth and, proving that Pipkins hands were far better on this occasion.  I'll give him credit for trying to finish the block and driving through Pipkins, but it's already over.  

Tackle made - 1 yard gain.  

Here's the video of the whole thing, starts at about 2:28.


If you start a second before you can see how much taller Devin is than Gallon which is both awesome and depressing at the same time.  Let me know if you see any mistakes or glaring oversights or crap I just made up.



March 29th, 2013 at 2:44 AM ^

This crazy on the eve of a sweet sixteen game vs Kansas but also the reason i love Michigan fans, glad I'm not alone in overanalyzing spring videos. Appreciate the insight also.


March 29th, 2013 at 3:04 AM ^

What would have happened had the back gone left instead? Was Peewee in good enough position to make the same play to the opposite side? (I'm assuming the answer is yes.)


March 29th, 2013 at 9:48 PM ^

His hands were inside and he had his man on his heels.  He could've easily controlled with his left and made the tackle with his right.  A dominating two-gap tackle won't actually make a lot of plays, but he'll have space on either side of him that the tailback knows he can't use.

DoubleLegTakedown isn't incorrect, but gap control won't always be perfect, so whenever a DT can control his man like that, it's a huge benefit.  It's a matchup issue to an extent (in this case the mismatch was a starting DT vs. a true freshman), but if he does that on any inside zone, the play's dead right there.

Bo Knows

March 29th, 2013 at 5:30 AM ^

My own brief thoughts,

Pipkins has improved indeed, but Bosch didn't really have a single good rep in that video, I think the calls for him to play in the fall should die down a bit.

The play right after was even better, Q-Wash had his way with Ben Braden.  

Erik Magnusson and Taco Charlton both ooze potential, both are just long, athletic guys.

LTT's single rep was darn good, and he looks HUGE... the kid just might end up being a good one for us

Gallon had a hell of a block on Ross Douglas, and let him know it

James Ross is quick as hell, RJS appeared to be as well.... but the guy he was going against (Dan Gibbs) was also slow




March 29th, 2013 at 6:40 AM ^

Short of a true freshmen QB, the only thing worse is a true freshmen lineman. Damn near every incoming lineman will redshirt and it is out of necessity. I started as a true freshmen in college and it took me about 3-4 games just to wrap my head around the speed and strength at the next level. By year 2 I feel the really good ones are ready, Miller is the only one of the bunch that I think will need a few games to gain confidence.


March 29th, 2013 at 11:40 AM ^

I disagree on the Bosch and LTT comments you have here.  Bosch looked good for basically a HS senior in some of those drills.  He was going against some good competition and held his own IMO.  I think LTT is a major project and his technique is pretty rough in that clip.  I agree on the Taco comment.  He basically has an NFL body already and I can't see the staff keeping him off the field this year.


April 12th, 2013 at 3:02 PM ^

Bosch and LTT are early enrollees, no?  So they should still be in high school....  in that regard, THEY LOOK FANTASTIC....    some people here need to put things in perspective...  I caught myself thinking that LTT 'looks top-heavy and sloppy' and then remembered, HE SHOULD STILL BE IN HIGH SCHOOL.....


March 29th, 2013 at 6:43 AM ^

Like, it's not just intense. It's adversarial. It's like they're not on the same team, and I can see why fights break out in practices sometimes. 


March 29th, 2013 at 7:47 AM ^

In addition to Gardner's size, if you pause the video during the Pipkins celebration (around 2:36), you can see Taco Charlton come into frame.  He's just enormous. 


March 29th, 2013 at 3:13 PM ^

Glad the roster is filling up with bigger players. I was on the field for warm ups for a game a couple years ago and as the skill position players went by I was shocked at how small they were even in pads. I looked across the field at the team they were about to play and knew that Michigan couldn't compete from a physical stand point. Fortunately those days are in the past. Brian can mock "man ball" all he wants but size matters in tackle football.


March 29th, 2013 at 8:18 AM ^

This was a great analysis - thanks for posting it.

Watching the whole thing does make me eager to see Pipkins out there, especially if he can take someone Bosch's size along for the ride to help him also nail the ball carrier on a given play. As someone mentioned, it doesn't seem like gap control will be a problem where Pipkins is lined up. 


March 29th, 2013 at 8:53 AM ^

Good work...nice to see some football analysis on a huge Wolverine bball day.

It's a good think they don't televise football  practices like they did for the scoreboard project.  I'd lose my job.


March 29th, 2013 at 9:10 AM ^

Hoke said PeeWee is strictly a NT, right? I think a few weeks ago we were supposing that QWash would be the starting NT and PeeWee would be the starting 3T. If he is indeed Q's 'backup' we can probably expect him to only get 30-40% of snaps (GMat wants the line to rotate a ton). Seems odd considering how much potential he has. Oh well, I'm sure Hoke knows what he's doing - but maybe he just wanted PeeWee in the position he personally coaches :) Perhaps this also alludes to Jibreel being a clear winner at 3T or one of the redshirt fresmen having tons of potential there.


March 29th, 2013 at 9:22 AM ^

These guys will be heartily sick of hitting each other by next fall, and will be champing at the bit to take it out on ND on Sept. 7.


March 29th, 2013 at 9:49 AM ^

Great analysis, front page this thing!  One thing that bothers me: the whole team is standing around watching these drills.  I know it can be a good thing because it shows the team's emphasis on good, physical line play, but it seems like a waste of very precious practice time to have all 110 guys standing around.


March 29th, 2013 at 11:16 AM ^

Only concern is the feet.  Video guy's camera is angled down the whole time, and Hoke is just staring at the feet (while I'm sure taking in the rest with his peripheral vision).  Fundamental attention to detail right there

Blue in Yarmouth

April 2nd, 2013 at 12:32 PM ^

As a guy who doesn't have a great knowledge of the inticacies of football I have to say I appreciate the time and effort those that do put into posts like this. Thanks for the information.