Counter Argument - Picture Pages: Blowing Up The Inverted Veer

Submitted by Space Coyote on November 12th, 2013 at 9:08 PM


In the picture pages post today, I feel I noted something of some significance. This isn’t supposed to be a post to puff out my own chest, rather, I merely want to give the other side of the argument my side of the argument for what it really is.

As an aside, there have been numerous people that have constantly misconstrued my argument lately. I understand that by taking a particular unpopular stance so strongly, that I have opened myself up to criticism. But within this article I also want to make clear up some of my stance, so towards the end I will get into some of that. Much of these will be related to the comments I made earlier (if not copy and pasted), the major difference is that I now have the opportunity to add accompanying pictures and diagrams to go with it. This is of importance because football isn’t really a sport that is best described with words. You can try to be as descriptive as possible, but there will always be a certain amount of failure to accurately convey your thoughts through this medium. So the pictures/diagrams help in that regard. So let’s begin.


Set Up and Play Design

I’m going to copy and paste Brian’s set up to his post as he does a good job getting us there.

Michigan comes out with an H-back and two tailbacks in a twins formation, which necessarily means that the slot receiver is not an eligible receiver. Nebraska responds with 7.5 in the box, with the gray area defender just about splitting the difference between Funchess and the tackle.


I’ll get to the covered receiver part later, I want to start off with the basics here about what the intention of this play is. Let’s first start with the most fundamental concept of any run play: the blocking scheme.

Inverted veer works with a Power O blocking scheme. Power is a type of man/gap blocking scheme, while “O” indicates the pulling of the backside guard. A simple power play looks like this.


The inverted veer meanwhile, takes the fullback and erases him. It utilizes the option read to kick out the DE because the DE must commit to the QB or the RB. If the DE commits to the RB, the QB reads this and shoots through the lane inside of him. If the DE commits to the QB, the QB gives to the RB and the RB attacks the edge. Here’s how the inverted veer looks:


Now, let’s first act like there is no FB involved in the play so we can address the offensive line and TE first. As noted, this is a standard power blocking scheme. No one, from any of the offensive linemen, to the TE, do things differently than they would if this was a Power O run from under center. But the defense aligns in a way that makes running power difficult. This is an even front, stacked front, meaning the DL is aligned 5-2-2-5 as far as gaps. That’s outside shoulder of the OT and inside shoulder of the OG. The stack indicates that the OLBs are stacked over the DEs.

Well, to the front side this is similar to what a 4-3 Under will look like, but instead of the LB brought up on the LOS like Michigan often does with Jake Ryan, they’ve stacked him behind the DE.

This isn’t the exact defensive formation, but the blocking scheme is exactly the same (the only difference is the OC has one less shoulder to down block the backside DT and that the LB are shaded further from playside).


If you’re wondering what some of the things are in the diagram, the green boxes are the blocking calls that should be understood or made. As for the defensive formation, just for reference, the “G” means the NT that is usually lined up in a 1-tech slides out to the guards inside shoulder (often utilized to stop Iso) and the Loose is the SAM position loose from the LOS.

What you see is an adjustment in the blocking scheme. This is automatic and should be called and understood. Any team that runs power should make this adjustment. Why? Because that playside DE is very tight to the formation and becomes extremely difficult to kick out. His position pre-snap is already squeezing the hole that power is intended to go through, so rather than slam into that wall, it’s easier to down block him and seal the outside for the RB.

Now, here is how that applies to the inverted veer.


You see now that the person being optioned is that OLB (SAM) rather than the DE because of the defensive alignment.

Now let’s add the FB in the inverted veer. Power blocking makes another small adjustment when you have two lead blockers. If you remember back in the Tackle Over days, Michigan would utilize the U-back as a first lead blocker and a FB as a second. It was the U-back that was first through and responsible for the kick defender. The FB has some reads, but generally will try to get beyond the kick player and knock the first odd color jersey he sees.

More accurately, let’s look at it with an overhang defender. The way the FB is going to treat this is to go block that guy. If that guy tries to gain depth into the backfield, the FB will just carry him with his momentum. If he tries to go inside of him, he’ll simply arch block him. This is what that looks like:

Now let’s apply that to the inverted veer. It’s the same exact thing. The first lead blocker through takes the kick defender (here, that is the playside OLB). The fullback goes and finds the next off color jersey, typically to the outside. Generally, he will block this in a somewhat similar way, erring on the side of scooping the gray area defender. What that does is give a massive alley for Fitz to run through. It also forces that gray area defender to fight that block, regardless of if it blocks him from DG because he knows he must respect Fitz to run. That means if the blocking up front is done properly, DG has more than enough room and time to go straight up field and beyond that gray area defender before cutting out into the same lane that Fitz would run in.

So that’s how the play is designed to be run. Combined with the slot receiver taking the playside safety, everyone on the playside is blocked and a defined seam is established.


Why Run This Play?

I’m not really going to get into why you run the inverted veer, as that’s just a play more or less that has some pretty clear positives as far as reading a defender and threatening a defense with the RB and QB. But why put in the FB?

A common way teams defend the inverted veer is similar to ways that defenses have adapted to defend the read option: they force the QB’s read to be wrong. Essentially, this is a scrape exchange.

In the instance of an inverted veer, they’ll bring a defender off the edge that the QB can’t read or see because the QB is busy reading his key. The key typically is the DE.

Here’s a give look:

Here’s a keep look:

And here’s how a scrape exchange looks:

See that the read is still the same player for the QB. The QB’s read is to give. What the QB doesn’t see is the guy that is coming right into Fitz at the handoff. The defense is making DG’s reads wrong and there is nothing he can do about it.

So, to counter this, you add a FB. This is similar to what Rich Rod did with a U-back to kick the backside on a read option. Essentially, it’s making the QB’s read right by blocking the exchange defender. This means the QB just has to read his key and is fine. This is an adjustment to take advantage of a defensive look and seal the defense inside. Effectively, it’s acting similar to a bubble screen would act as it’s sealing the defense inside and attack the edge and alley with the RB (rather than a slot receiver). It’s a horizontal constraint on top of the normal inverted veer play.




Full Speed:


Half Speed:


Why Doesn’t it Work?

I’ll save some time and copy and paste a bit:

So the problem is two-fold: Kerridge completely whiffs his block because he archs too wide. His goal is essentially to scoop that gray area defender like he's trying to do in the MSU clip, note in that clip how he passes off the read DE and tries to get to the second level where he blocks no one because the safety he wants to block shot the gap instead (in theory here, his eyes are in the wrong place, there should be some adjustment that allows for DG to read the safety crashing and for Kerridge to scoop the DE, and DG should give here in that instance, but was likely hoping that guy would just follow Fitz and he'd have a clear path to a TD by having the option essentially block two-defenders, but as expected, it doesn't). The second problem is the fact that two people (Schofield and the TE) aren't on the same page as to what the power blocking adjustment should be.


The Big Picture

So we see this is messed up here. It is an execution issue. Alright. So what’s the deal. Quasi-rant in copy and paste mode:

Now, I don't think as far as the missed communication that it's because the blocking scheme is too complex. Much and most of their run scheme settles around a power blocking scheme. That should be better. The play against Nebraska should be executed better, but there were two huge botched assignments. The play against MSU is tougher and something that clearly wasn't repped enough (on the coaches). The FB nor Gardner made the correct adjustment to a safety shooting a gap. They might have repped it a few times, but clearly it wasn't enough to be familiar with how to adjust it in game.

It's basic Power O blocking fundamentals with two lead blockers (here, the two lead blockers are the option read and then the FB rather than a U-back and then a FB).

This is the problem that I've had with the "too many things that they aren't good at anything" argument. Veer option is based on a running scheme they utilize anyway (essentially a down G) but you don't have to pull because your kick block is the option. Inverted veer is Power blocking all the way. It is their base run play with the same exact assignments and adjustements. Nebraska does absolutely nothing that shows this play is tipped, they don't play it any way other than how a standard defense would play it. But Michigan can't get out of it's own way.

And this is the argument that I've had since PSU. It is execution. This play should work. It is 100% execution. Borges has Nebraska exactly how he wants them. Michigan is missing assignments in their base blocking scheme that they've repped thousands of times from under center, from pistol, from ace, from shotgun. That's not just on the players. Why the hell isn't the coaching staff able to get the players to block their base scheme? Why is it taking so long? Youth is part of it, yes. But at this point they should be able to block the run they utilize 75% of the time, including on their counters. It's on the coaches but it's not because of the play call. The play call is perfect. Why the hell aren't the players able to execute? Part of that, a lot of that, is youth. And part and a lot of that is they aren't getting through to these kids. It's the argument that I've made that's been misinterpreted since the start of all this. It's the same thing over and over again. Why can't they block their most basic, most repetitively run play in the entire playbook?

It’s not that there is too much in the playbook, I don’t believe that. That seems like a plausible answer when you isolate inverted veer from the rest of the offense. But it's not isolated from the rest of the offense. It's a Power O play with Gardner making a read. Blocking is exactly the same as Power O. It's their most repped play in the entire playbook. 

So how can you make it easier? They've taken out most of the difficult things. 75+% of the runs are the same damn blocking scheme. Counter Power, Inverted Veer, Veer option, Power, that accounts for the vast majority of the plays and all those plays have their roots in the same blocking structure. They still can't get it done. It's not about reducing the playbook anymore, they literally can't without just running from the I formation or just inverted veer. They can literally only reduce it by having the same blocking scheme and the same run action behind it, and that would only make matters worse because blocking is the primary issue.

And I know the execution thing rings of cliché as well, but it is absolutely true. This grab bag theory that all these plays are independent of one another isn't correct. They do have some tweaks. Zone stretch is now intended to be a constraint. Same with the counter. But the base of the run game comes back to power over 75% of the time I can promise that.

So it’s part youth. Certainly youth is a valid reason for some of these issues. But it’s also coaching. I can reiterate that until my face turns blue and some people won’t accept that I said it. But there is a fundamental flaw transferring the knowledge of this scheme to the players. This is not a difficult scheme. It’s a scheme taught to high schoolers all across the country. Sure, it gets a bit more complex at this level, and it gets a lot faster and you have to be much better at executing, but the basic, mental problems?


Why No Vertical Constraint?

Trust me when I say I would like a vertical constraint (pop pass) out of this look as much as anyone. My goal in this section is to try to explain why it may not be in the playbook right now with so many other issues in this offense.

But I seem to remember a pop pass off of it once or twice last year (I believe with Denard at QB). Honestly can't say why Borges hasn't run a false mesh, slide protection pop pass off of this look yet this year. I would like him too as well unless. My guess is that he's uncomfortable with DG making that read in traffic (he's worried about someone undercutting it or scrapping into it is my guess, and DG not processing it fast enough).

This is intended to argue one way or another if that play should be in there (I would personally like it), it's just trying to give perspective on if it's been run before and why an OC may shy away from it.


Why Cover Funchess?

Again, guesses for the most part, but realistically:

As I said, I hate covering receivers. It is a tip to the defense that it's likely run (where, they don't know). That said, you would be surprised how many defenses will still trot a DB out to cover that guy.

Anyway, the reason here is because Borges wanted a guy to block the playside safety. He wanted to form an alley on that side for Fitz. The FB takes the slot defender, Funchess takes the safety, and Gallon takes the CB. Everyone else is sealed inside. That's the only reason he did it, was to get the play completely blocked playside, which it should have been.

They need to cover the TE or Funchess because he wanted to run to strength and wanted that slot blocker. So the TE or Funchess had to be covered. Now, typically I'd say "alright, cover the TE, don't cover your 2nd biggest threat". But a couple things could have gone into the thinking here.

  1. But have the TE off the line you open up plays to the backside of the formation with the inverted veer look (including counter schemes and how the FB would leak out into the flat later). So in a way, it keeps the box defenders more honest, which they succeeded in doing (they didn't all crash playside on the snap before reading the play).
  2. They wanted to know what that slot defender was doing. They didn't want to run him off, they want a clear target for the FB. Funchess covered, that guy comes. Maybe that was something they saw on film and were trying to take advantage of. But there's a real possibility that they didn't want to force the FB to read "is that guy going with the WR, do I pick up the filling alley safety or does Funchess, so do I switch to his guy?" etc.

My guess is more #1 than #2, but it depends on what they saw on film.



So what’s the point in all this? Is it to blindly defend Borges? No. The intention isn’t to blindly defend the coaches. The intention is to look at what is happening and figure out where the issue is. Here is a very, very clear example of a bigger picture. It is execution. The coaches aren’t lying about that and it isn’t a copout answer. This is a play where Al Borges got everything he wanted and more from Nebraska. Nebraska, who had a player say they knew every play that was coming, did nothing to stop this play because of any tip or tendency. They stopped it because Michigan can’t get out of their own way. They can’t execute their most basic blocking scheme that they practice and rep more than any other. This points to youth, and this fails to a failure by the coaching staff to adequately teach these players to do one of their most fundamental plays. Both of those are under the execution umbrella.

And this goes beyond this play. This goes to the pass protection schemes. This goes to how I’ve seen veer option blocked. This goes to how every single run play pretty much ever this year is blocked. There are a few players that seem to “get it”, there are some that get it sometimes and not others, and then there are the young or inexperienced that clearly don’t. It’s a fundamental issue that isn’t play calling, it isn’t scheme, it isn’t about huddling or not huddling. It’s not about if you prefer certain screens (I’d like more screens), it’s not about play action or 3-step drops or hot routes. It is as simple as people continuing to fail at doing their jobs. That’s not just calling out the players; that’s also calling out the coaches for putting out a product, for not teaching their students, in a way that allows them to succeed. They are in positions to succeed, probably positions to the best of what they rep day in and day out in practice, but the mental aspect, the thought process, the confidence to know what they are doing without questioning it or doing it wrong is not there. And that is the major failure in this offense right now. This play only exemplifies that.



November 13th, 2013 at 2:11 PM ^

And he just threw Daryl Funk under the bus!!!    /s

But seriously, I really appreciate what Space Coyote has done here.

Also, Borges seems like the kind of guy who would come on here and attempt to eductate us unwashed masses - and troll us on occasion.

So that would mean Space Coyote cannot be Al Borges since he joined before the Freep launched the Stretchgate assault in 2009. Unless: ZOMG AL BORGES KNEW BRADY HOKE WAS COMING TO MICHIGAN BEFORE STRETCHGATE: total conspiracy -- calling Section 1!



November 12th, 2013 at 9:43 PM ^

Rushing offense from anyone other than Denard was generally unimpressive last year, even with an experienced line.  We were 41st in rushing nationally, with Denard single-handedly accounting for half of it.


The inability to block goes beyond the offensive line.  It seems no one at any position can block properly.  I don't have much confidence that more experience is going to make much of a difference.

Space Coyote

November 12th, 2013 at 9:46 PM ^

Once they gain depth and experience. Remember that they work as a unit (not individually) and have been tasked with Funchess being more route runner, Williams more blocker (to the degree he can block), and Butt a bit of both. They have to know all the blocking schemes, all the pass route combinations, and a lot of other things. It's a very tough position to be in for young players.

So I do expect the TEs to get better blocking. The WRs for the most part have been good at blocking as well. Now, as someone brought up in another thread, why was V. Smith so good at pass pro? His technique was great despite being small. So Jackson is far removed from teaching it well. So what's going on there? Decent question as well.


November 13th, 2013 at 9:45 AM ^

You didn't really address TennBlue's main point.  If the inexperience of the interior of the 2013 OL is key reason why the "execution" or blocking is so bad, why was there the same problem in 2012 when we had a VERY experienced OL?

I also concur with TennBlue's observation that the blocking is unacceptable at other positions .  The RB position (running, pass blocking) is weak.  I don't understand how Touissant has regressed so much from 2011 to 2013, unless he really never mentally healed from that broken leg. 

Space Coyote

November 13th, 2013 at 10:12 AM ^

First, I'll say I was first critical of the OL coaching in 2011, when the players weren't picking up how to pull nearly as fast as I thought they should. So my criticism of that isn't new.

But to address the 2012 vs 2013 issue, the 2012 group was actually very assignment sound. They were very good at the mental part of the game and almost always got to their assignments. Their pass protection was great for the vast majority of the year. They typically got to their targets appropriately. So the issue was much different.

The issue wasn't mental lapses, the issue was what they did when they got there, which isn't a whole lot. Now, that can partially be blamed on teaching technique, but can also be blamed for on things that were used at the time: players not designed for the system, players that wouldn't have otherwise seen the field, etc. But it did show what experience gave them, which is a strong mental backing to get into position to make the blocks.

My feeling is that if these young players were at that point, you would see a big improvement from the 2012 OL. I say that because I think these players are better once they get to the position (Kalis for instance is quite strong once he gets on blocks, but makes so many mental mistakes). So that gets back to youth and the other things.

It's frustrating going to different excuses year to year, but I'm not just trying to twist things to shed blame. I honestly think that's part of it and the difference you're seeing between the two OLs. 


November 13th, 2013 at 8:34 PM ^

95% of people on her that bitch about coaching know very little if anything about football technique and coaching. They are just pissed that we are not winning right now and want to blame someone. Big Al, I have no doubt, knows his shit, a bit hand-cuffed at the moment.

Time will tell. I'd be surprised if anyone, including funk, gets fired this year


November 13th, 2013 at 9:12 PM ^

Thank you for takingthe  time to directly address this.

You say that in 2012 "the issue wasn't mental lapses, the issue was what they did when they got there, which isn't a whole lot".

Simply stated, that means the 2012 OLs problems were physical while 2013's problems are mental, correct?

 You might be right, but I don't agree.   I believe one of the three interior 2012 linemen is now playing in the NFL and the other two, while not great, were serviceable. 

Have you considered the common denominator for the two seasons?  It's the coaches.  To me, that means they're the problem.  The players changed but the results did not. 

My expectation is that if retain the same coaches (OC, OL, and RB), we'll see the same poor results in 2014. 


November 12th, 2013 at 9:56 PM ^

I appreciate your time in writing this. One question I have is why everybody seems to be giving Fitz a free pass. By the time he comes up on the defender, he knows he isn't getting the ball, but rather than putting a hat on him he stops and the play is blown up. It seems if he could lay a block on the defender, Gardner could follow off tackle.
By the by, that Nebraska defender takes out 2 1/2 guys (I'll count Gardner tripping as 1/2) without touching anybody. That is some serious Jedi stuff there.

Space Coyote

November 12th, 2013 at 10:00 PM ^

I think it was indecision. He wasn't expected to see that guy at that point remember, that guy was fairly easily supposed to be blocked. When he finished the mesh point, the defender was pretty much on him and I don't think he made up his mind whether to try to carry out the fake to take the defender away or to just try to run over the guy. So I think that's why he kind of hesitated and took the hit.


November 12th, 2013 at 10:11 PM ^

I really enjoy and respect your posting SC, but I feel like you are not addressing the bigger issue many of us have with Al Borges.

We all agree there is an execution issue with the above play, no disagreement here certainly.  The question is, why can't Michigan execute a fairly straight forward inverted veer?  Something they should have mastered long ago if it really is one of their "base plays."

To me, there are two options, 1. Michigan's players collectively are one of the least coachable group of players in D-1 football or 2. Michigan's coaches aren't coaching these simple concepts very well.

Now, obviously that question is harder to answer, but the staggering consistency with which Michigan has failed to execute coupled with the seeming regression over the course of the season suggests to me that it is a coaching issue rather than a player issue.

I just don't see how constant failure to execute is not the coaches fault?  Obviously a young team will make a lot of mistakes, but I think it is pretty obvious at this point that the issue goes beyond the players.


November 13th, 2013 at 6:47 AM ^

This is wild speculation, but they're probably not used to getting burned.

Hoke took over some losing programs filled with overlooked recruits with nothing to lose.  He took over a very frustrated RichRod squad that was willing to do anything to go out on top.

Young guys are young, but I don't think guys like Kalis or Bosch are used to getting PWND on the field, and going up against scout teams isn't going to change that.  As a result in their first year they'd have trouble playing HS schemes at college speed, let alone college schemes.  This has more to do with immaturity than inexperience.  The one thing I'd like to see is some indication that these kids are bothered by the mounting losses, because frustration will be what motivates them to learn it.


November 15th, 2013 at 1:39 PM ^

I've wondered that too.  Does the learning take a little longer with these 4-star and 5-star OL recruits because they were probably able to get by without paying much attention to the intricacies of the position when in HS where they are much bigger and stronger than most defensive players they faced.

In a way, they have just started to really learn this stuff and work at it.

At least that's what my optimistic side is hoping.

If not, then there may need to be some coaching changes.


November 12th, 2013 at 10:12 PM ^

to the guy he's supposed to put a hat on?  (is that #44 who seemed to repeatedly bein the backfield last week?).  it almost seems like the tight end may have been able to block that guy.   REgardless, based on the tape, it looked like Kerridge should be blocking 44.   Is it a lack of quickness on his part ?


Thanks for this in depth post.   It made me realize how bad the execution is and how could they could be if they just executed better.   The way that play starts, it looked like it should have been a huge gainer if DG hands the ball off to FT and everyone pulls their weight.  

Space Coyote

November 12th, 2013 at 10:44 PM ^

Perhaps he didn't think the guy was blitzing at the angle he did or something. But his first few steps leave him dead in the water. He can take his first lateral step (as he should, but then he's got to correct his path to the slot defender immediately after that, and he doesn't. His eyes could have been in the wrong place too (pure speculation).


November 15th, 2013 at 1:48 PM ^

It really is amazing to see how one slight mistake can lead the play to fail miserably. 

It also amazes me how one small mistake at just the right moment (such as a critical third down) can change the entire outcome of a game. 

  • Convert the third down and your offense starts to build confidence and create a rhythm. 
  • Fail to convert and the offense loses confidence and can't get in rhythm.

I felt like we saw that a lot with Coach Rodriguez's offense.  In their losses, they just couldn't stay on the field and develop a rhythm.  Again, it seemed like a little mistake here or there, but when they happened at critical moments it had a compounding effect.

It seems that consistency can be such a critical trait for a successful team.  You don't have to be spectacular; instead, just minimize mistakes. 

With the above example, Toussaint doesn't have to be spectacular.  If Kerridge makes that block, he can be below average and still gain 5 yards.  Then do the same on the next play, and the next play, and your offense if moving.


November 12th, 2013 at 10:12 PM ^

to the guy he's supposed to put a hat on?  (is that #44 who seemed to repeatedly bein the backfield last week?).  it almost seems like the tight end may have been able to block that guy.   REgardless, based on the tape, it looked like Kerridge should be blocking 44.   Is it a lack of quickness on his part ?


Thanks for this in depth post.   It made me realize how bad the execution is and how could they could be if they just executed better.   The way that play starts, it looked like it should have been a huge gainer if DG hands the ball off to FT and everyone pulls their weight.  

Cranky Dave

November 12th, 2013 at 10:12 PM ^

Has to be under serious scrutiny. I its bad enough to have poor blocking technique or not be strong or fast enough to finish a block. Its quite different to conti ue seeing guys not know who to block or totally whiff on blocks. I would be very interested to know what type of offenses the interior lineman, TEs, FB played in HS since as you point out this is taught to HS p,ayers all the time. if they could pick up the offense in high school they should be able to in college better than they seem to even allowing for inexperience and youth

As one of my OL Ccoaches used to say "that makes my ass crave barbed wire"

Keep up the good work!

Deep Under Cover

November 12th, 2013 at 11:21 PM ^

What could be the result when the defense anticipates this play, exactly?

I am not trying to imply I believe the Nebraska players, necessarily, when they say they knew what was coming, but looking at the play live, the playside linebacker IMMEDIATELY moves toward the play (quicker, I would say, than a LB can read a play... he stutters toward the play before the ball is snapped), and the DE shoots inside like he knows the FB is trying to get him (right at the mesh point), totally disrupting the play (even Touss looks surprised by the guy being there).

Am I wrong thinking that it looks like this play was called by the defense?  Am I wrong to think that, while a well designed and intentioned play, it had really, actually, been anticipated by the defense by some voodoo/film study?  Its an honest question, because I have spent much of the past few weeks watching the game in a stuper and have not paid much attention to the exact play calls, only noticing that they tend to not work, generally, really...Tho.

Space Coyote

November 12th, 2013 at 11:37 PM ^

The defensive playcall was a blitz. SAM was to blitz C gap, CB (slot defender) D gap. That's likely why you see the DE pinch in at the snap, to get into the B gap to allow a more clear path for the blitzer.

Now, maybe this was an auto-check, but I tend to doubt it because Michigan doesn't give a whole lot of time to communicate that and also left them wide open to be attacked if this play is done correctly. But, there is the possibility that they saw this type of formation they would automatically blitz those two guys (SAM and first CB depending on how the offense was alligned) in which case they theoretically played right into Borges's hand (which, if they did eventually back off this check, assuming it's a check, could be explained by that).


November 12th, 2013 at 11:56 PM ^

If they knew the play that was coming they would have line up differently, not had a deep safety and not left a massive, massive hole on the right side of the field. Their whole d-line would be slanting to their left (playside) but that doesn't seem to be happening there. 

I think the gray area corner is just blitzing, or going for outside contain and diagnoses it quickly. It doesn't look to me like he makes any super fast reads, he starts straight up field and realizes no one is coming at home so he diverts towards the mesh point. I mean, go look at the slow mo version and pause at 8 or 9 seconds; see all that space up there? It definitely doesn't look like they know what's coming to me at the least because if Fitz doesn't bump Devin then Devin's got acres to run. All this play requires is Kerridge make that block and it's a huge gain. 


November 12th, 2013 at 11:41 PM ^

firing Funk and Borges in the off-season, I learned a great deal from this diary. Thanks for the post.

I have stayed away from dogging Borges' playcalling, because Borges can only call the plays that the team has repped. That being said, it's been discouraging to say the least when the offense can't execute much of anything against Nebraska, an opponent whose defense has proven to be vulnerable. So it's been easier to believe "Borges isn't gameplanning to the strengths of this team and the weaknesses of the opponent" than "Michigan can't execute anything on offense despite beating Notre Dame, a team that beat MSU, primarily with offense". 

If your diary is closer to the truth than my perception, then we're stuck guessing whether the position coaches are failing or were just dealt bad players. Given what we now know about the 2010 defensive secondary, history is not on their side.

Space Coyote

November 12th, 2013 at 11:47 PM ^

That makes it very hard as a fan, because there is no way to tell. We aren't there every day in practice. We aren't seeing what's going on in the film room. All those sorts of things. So the best we can do is guess, and that's uncomfortable for many because it's even less in their control because now there isn't a single thing or entity to point to that any of us have even a decent feel for.


November 15th, 2013 at 3:41 PM ^

Also, I would argue that a lot of the result of a play is talent/mental and randomness.  Maybe much of what we think determines the outcome of any particular play has very little impact on the outcome when you get to this level (and even more so at the professional level). 

Fans can see the most "obvious" things, like coaching, but they can't see the talent/mental and randomness variables because they are simply less tangible.  Thus, when a team is struggling it is an age-old reaction to say "fire the coaches." 

But it seems that most every "hot" coach eventually isn't so "hot" anymore.  Regression to the mean is an effect of randomness that can explain a lot of performance related issues.  That's why the whole Madden Curse and the Sports Illustrated Cover Curse both exist.  Many times, the players that end up on the cover are playing very well one year and then end up on the cover.  But their performance is an extreme performance, and thus the next time you measure them (the next season), the regress to the mean.  And thus it looks like being on the cover caused them to perform worse.

Strings of good games and strings of bad games can happen... randomly. 

It's often not the coach.

So if a team does something that is tangible, such as making adjustments from the sideline after the defense sets their alignment, fans can see that.  It's obvious.  "Look!  There are players all looking at the sideline and then moving!  They're doing something!"

Then if the team performs well the fan will assume that it was the sideline adjustments that caused the peformance.  Thus, perhaps you get the resultant obsession with the lack of pre-snap adjustments from our team.

Now, it is possible that pre-snap adjustments are an actual advantage.  That is quite possible.

To determine that, though, you need to look at ALL the teams that use them (not just the successful teams).  And you also need to look at all the teams that don't use them (not just the unsuccessful teams).  By looking at ALL of the data, then you can accurately judge the utility of pre-snap adjustments. 

Until then, it is too easy to be fooled by our own cognitive biases.


Mpfnfu Ford

November 12th, 2013 at 11:51 PM ^

If Borges was the sole guy removed from this staff, I am convinced the next OC would fail too due to the inability of the offensive line to do anything correctly. Maybe a super brilliant genius bro could improve the offense marginally, but when you have a failure on this level, there's nothing that can be done to suddenly turn you into the Lombardi Packers. This has been a consistent problem since this staff came on board, and it's only gotten worse as the line has gotten less experienced. This is their 3rd year. Their system is supposed to be in place by now. 

You can win games in football running any damn X's and O's you want if you have talent and can teach them what you want them to do. We can argue that certain philosophies might give you an edge over others, but if Michigan taught the Delaware Wing T properly and ran that it would work. But if you can't teach guys how to run POWER O of all things and you can't handle a blitz up the middle, you're dead. 

The FannMan

November 13th, 2013 at 12:26 AM ^

SC - thank you for your post.  Can't imagine how much time went into that.

From my limited knowlege, it seemed that the coaches ran a different offense in 2011 and the first half of 2012 until Denard got hurt.  (They were wisely letting Denard be Denard.)  They then ran a grab bag in 2012 after he got hurt.  So, they have only really done the full power O thing this year.  Do you think this is correct, or am I off base here?  (And I may be wrong.)  If I am correct, would the coaches have had enough time to teach the power blocking schemes to the point where these mistakes shouldn't be happening?  Can you really get kids to internalize this stuff in one year?  (I honestly don't know if that is reasonable or not.)

Basically, I am wondering if these mistakes are the price for adapting to Denard in '11 and '12, or are they the result of coaches who aren't teaching well?  Or both?

It does seem like the law of averages has to catch up to us sooner or later and we'd do something right, even if by accident.

Thanks again.

Space Coyote

November 13th, 2013 at 8:52 AM ^

So the offense with Denard was still heavily based on a power blocking scheme. The two favorite plays were inverted veer and literally QB Power. So the mistakes in the run game aren't from a lack of it being coached previously.

That doesn't mean some of the mistakes are because of a lack of experience. After all, some have only been around two years or one year, so that still does play a role.

Ron Utah

November 13th, 2013 at 12:54 AM ^

I did a similar post after last year's MSU game showing how we got exactly what we wanted and didn't execute.

I completely agree with every single word of your post, and endorse you for President.

I wish so much that more people would look for the cause of the problem rather than just blaming someone.

I was serious about the President thing.


November 13th, 2013 at 4:30 AM ^

Thanks for the post.  It helps illustrate why teams are so successful blitzing against us.  All it takes is one missed block, whether it be from the interior Oline, the tackles, the TE, or the RB/FB to blow a play up, and almost every play Michigan runs, it seems there's a breakdown somewhere. That's where having so many young players is an issue. It's not just one guy missing plays.  Even when the much maligned interior Oline does their job well, the play is not going to succeed if other players are missing blocks so badly.

SC, I would like your opinion on something else, too.  I'm no expert, but it seems like teams are neutralizing Lewan to a bit by rarely putting one of their better players against him.  I s this something you've noticed? IOW, they are playing around him, assuming he's going to get his block, but rarely taking him on directly.  I'm thinking here partly about a response to a question he made about how he fared in blocking the MSU player who had several TFL, and his response was something along the lines that there were hardly any plays where the two engaged.


November 13th, 2013 at 6:08 AM ^

Great content but I think you greatly de-emphasized my major takeaway, which is:


I put the blame on coaching, and part of that is changing/not understanding what schemes to rep, changing positions, not allowing easy reads/audibles which include short passes, etc.

This is coaching.  And part of that incluedes the team's poor execution.

Dude, that isn't hard to grasp.  You explained so well this play, the blocking scheme, and what went wrong.  But I see it and I know that if your team is doing this, at this level, something is majorly wrong.

-49 YPC

-21 YPC

Space Coyote

November 13th, 2013 at 8:34 AM ^

"Michigan is missing assignments in their base blocking scheme that they've repped thousands of times from under center, from pistol, from ace, from shotgun. That's not just on the players. Why the hell isn't the coaching staff able to get the players to block their base scheme? Why is it taking so long? Youth is part of it, yes. But at this point they should be able to block the run they utilize 75% of the time, including on their counters. It's on the coaches but it's not because of the play call. The play call is perfect. Why the hell aren't the players able to execute? Part of that, a lot of that, is youth. And part and a lot of that is they aren't getting through to these kids. It's the argument that I've made that's been misinterpreted since the start of all this."

"But it’s also coaching. I can reiterate that until my face turns blue and some people won’t accept that I said it. But there is a fundamental flaw transferring the knowledge of this scheme to the players. This is not a difficult scheme. It’s a scheme taught to high schoolers all across the country. Sure, it gets a bit more complex at this level, and it gets a lot faster and you have to be much better at executing, but the basic, mental problems?"

That was a pretty big take away of the post


November 13th, 2013 at 12:23 PM ^

Dude, you are a great asset to MGoBlog

This line is my problem, "Why the hell aren't the players able to execute? Part of that, a lot of that, is youth."

You say a lot of things, almost all of which are true, but some of what you say is at times confusting to me.  This sentence implies that YES, coaches are correct when they imply that youth is the reason that the offense sucks.  I disagree from the bottom of my blue and maize heart.  Yes, youth contributes, but that isn't *THE* major problem.  

Everyone knows this.  But when you say the sentence above, it leads me to believe that you don't feel the coaches are to blame as much as I think they are to blame.  And we can disagree on this, that's OK.  But that is why I commented above.

And while it might seem unfair/unbalanced to you that I take such a small part of your great post and argue that point.  I understand.  But that is *THE* point that I feel is up for debate.  I've said this post is great also, and it is, but that likely isn't your takeaway from my comment, and it probably shouldn't be.

Lastly, you were discussing that the play call was OK, and that is an important debate as well.  While some of the play calls *SHOULD* be justified, it does not mean they are in practice.  When the plays haven't worked, and they are repeatedly called, and in certain situations, it just makes no sense.  When other options are not added such as audibles, it just doesn't make sense with the execution that is happening.  The fact that Borges is calling thes plays which the world now knows will not succeed because he, like you, are certain they are good plays (just not executed well), then damn it, fire that coach.  Because while this OL should be able to block, they can not.  I want a coach that will put our kids in a postion to win and succeed and improve.  This OC has not done that nearly enough as should be demanded at a program like UM.  He can not adjust apparently, and that is not acceptable.

- 49
- 21

What you say is very, very true.  But what I'm saying is even more true.

Dude, you are a great asset to MGoBlog


November 13th, 2013 at 1:16 PM ^

SC on a few occasions has said that youth is a part of the blocking issue, never did he say it was THE problem as you just suggested he did. He on multiple times pointed out that those problems were on coaching still. You can argue that you think youth is a minor factor and disagree fine, but that doesn't make your point more true like you said. It's pretty clear SC thinks something is going very wrong on the coaching side, there's no point in pretending he's blaming it all on the players. 

"When other options are not added such as audibles, it just doesn't make sense with the execution that is happening."

While not a true audible, how does this address the fact that on multiple times in the last 2 games Gardner has called a line shift away from a rusher and left his RB alone on an island to blow a block. How does this address the dozens of bad initial reads Gardner has made at a QB and the many times he's completely ignored a LB until he threw the ball right to him? I think you guys are forgetting that Gardner is the most turnover prone QB in the nation, and you want to to give him more control to change more plays and do what he wants when he has often failed to read a simple cover 3?


"The fact that Borges is calling thes plays which the world now knows will not succeed because he, like you, are certain they are good plays (just not executed well), then damn it, fire that coach."

Again sticking with what's above already. We have a massively turnover prone QB. We have a pretty awful offensive line that can't execute literally the most basic concepts. We have RBs that can't block 1 guy to save DG's life. What more is he supposed to do? If you know everything, offer a solution besides saying firing the OC because we can't block! He can't win; simplify the offense so that mistakes are minimalized and we're too predictable, add plays and tricks to cover for them and it's his fault for over complicating things and changing it up too much midseason. That play PP'ed did work. Gardner had a mile to run if Fitz doesn't run into him. Why on earth is that Borges's fault? He called a play that worked great and got a huge running lane and 2 missed blocks (1 really) ruined it. Yes he has a hand in making sure players know who to block and when, but it's asinine to say he's not putting them in places to succeed when he's keeping it as simple as possible and his playcall had opportunity to go for big yards if the FB just blocks the guy he knows he's supposed to block.


"I want a coach that will put our kids in a postion to win and succeed and improve."

And what is that? Do you know or have any opinions on the matters besides FIRE BORGES BECAUSE I SAID SO?


November 13th, 2013 at 7:06 AM ^

To me, the play of that slot LB is insane defense.  Kerridge expects him to play sane defense and be the force.  We he comes screaming in directly at the play, it blows every thing up.

Butt may or may not have taken the wrong guy.  What he does  seems to make sense in the context of how Michigan has blocked the last few years, as they have almost always chosen to block the option guy.  Here it almost works, as a good Kerridge block give Toussaint loads of space and the linebackers are likely caught up in the wash as they move down the line.

So ultimately this hinges on Kerridge not being able to get a block on a defender who makes an unexpected (for good reason) play.  That leads me to three possibilities.

1)  Nebraska got really lucky with the blitz call.  Prior to MSU and Nebraska basically "getting lucky" with almost every single defensive call they made, I would chalk this up to luck.  Now, that would just be too many coincidences.

2)  Nebraska called the blitz pre-snap with a good idea of what was coming.

3)  That slot linebacker had been coached up to undercut Kerridge when reading the inverted veer because Borges/Kerridge had put that tendency to run wide on the block on tape.

My guess is three.

Does this sound reasonable?