Picture Pages: Spring Game

Submitted by Michael Scarn on April 15th, 2013 at 2:03 PM

This started out as a focus on a great play that James Ross made en route to 8 tackles and several TFL in less than a full games snaps.  Safe to say this kid might be pretty good.  Anyways, it somewhat evolved into realizing that however talented and large our interior offensive line may be, they're still developing and gelling this spring.  Usual caveats apply, I am not a football coach, just an educated fan and former high school player - let me know if you disagree with any assesments.  

Link, thanks to mgovideo, one of the biggest free perks for Michigan fans.  Play starts at 1:11

Michigan comes out in what Al Borges would probably draw on the first page of his autobiography: offset I with a tight end (the size of a small tackle) and a full back with his hand on the ground.  All that's missing is Funchess lined up next to Lewan with Jake Butt in motion and this would turn into what Al Borges probably dreams about at night.  The tight camera angle doesn't show the wide receiver personnel or formation, but I'd bet it's some combo of Gallon/Darboh/Jackson/Chesson based on my memory.  Lewan appears to be trying to make a check of some kind, but that's just my hope based on the breakdown that happens on the interior.  It was not uncommon for him to make line calls last year apparently, so it wouldn't surprise me if he's still encouraged to do so, if not moreso.   

The defense, meanwhile is lined up in basically its base 4-3 under, with Beyer and Ross only slightly outside of their normal positions.  Ojemudia is offsides, too.  Get onsides there, terminator eyes. Your D-lineman are Ojemudia, Willie Henry (who played a lot), Pipkins and Godin (I think). 

As the ball is snapped, it's apparent why James Ross was a half a yard closer to the line of scrimmage than Desmond Morgan - he was real excited about his A-gap blitz.  Coach Mattison probably was too.  We already see that Kalis is pulling: he's opened up his hips well and his first step is directly for the spot Devin Gardner is vacating.  Everyone save Kalis and Williams will down block.  Kerridge is headed for Godin.  Notice that Miller has his sights set on double teaming Henry despite James Ross and his reckless abandon for the A gap.  I think this is the first breakdown, and Miller ends up being a non-factor when he probably could have picked up Ross and turned this into a gain. I think he could be good, this is just a growing pain of a young center in the spring.

As Devin reverse pivots and prepares to hand off to Drake Johnson, most of the offensive lineman have done their road grating jobs.  Lewan has joined Braden on Pipkins, and Peewee doesn't have a shot against the All-American and his young giant friend.  AJ williams has left Ojemudia for Willie Henry and Schofield is prepared to help see him off.  Miller, in hopes of sealing off the back side, has now taken himself completely out of the play as I mentioned.  Desmond Morgan has read run as well, but I think he heads for the wrong gap.  James Ross is already going to be in Kalis' hip-pocket shortly - that's his guard read anyways.  Guard pulls, you run right through where he left straight to the ball carrier.  Meanwhile, Morgan should be scraping playside as fast as possible until he sees daylight and or Drake Johnson with the ball.  

Kalis has his sights for Brennan Beyer.  Schofield has Henry sealed and Williams has left him to chip Ojemudia and keep ole laser eyes away from flying down the line.  Ross continues his plan to arrive early for his scheduled meeting with Johnson.  

Kerridge has stalemated Godin, Kalis is headed upfield ready to for either Beyer, a hypothetical Desmond Morgan or a safety.  But, James Ross is not only deadly, but apparently silent.  Kalis needs his head on a swivel here - I have a feeling he got a little excited for 5 yards of momentum and a one-one matchup in the open field. Then again, he thinks the backside should have been handled.  Anyways, at this point it's pretty clear to Drake Johnson that things are not going to end positively.  Could Braden have left Pipkins earlier and found Ross? Possibly, but I'm pretty sure his job is to donkey the guy who is head up on him until there can be no more donkeying and then find someone else.

Drake Johnson, I have a Mr. James Ross here to see you.  Again we see Morgan could've taken a better angle, and if Ross were picked up, there is a lane and a freight train named Kyle Kalis headed downfield.

Two yard loss.

P.S. Devin please calm down when celebrating and wrap yourself in bubble wrap.  



April 15th, 2013 at 2:41 PM ^

you are allowed to be a yard offsides, right mario?

beyer looks to gangly in that much space. in the various pics he is just stop start stop turn stop start-ing.

Michael Scarn

April 15th, 2013 at 3:55 PM ^

I agree that I don't like Beyer in space, but let's keep in mind we're comparing him to Jake Ryan.  On this play he actually does a decent job of definitively setting the edge, and is changing direction so frequently because he's trying to see if Drake will bounce outside or follow Kalis.  Just trying to make a play.


April 15th, 2013 at 9:03 PM ^

I absolutely love posts like these. Thank you for putting this together. I was at the game and I remember that play, and I remember thinking, "Somebody messed up there." Still, live it's next to impossible to pick out who. This is points out perfectly that Miller made a poor play and that our linebackers are unreal. So excited to watch this defence come fall. :-)


April 17th, 2013 at 11:28 AM ^

Very minimal but I'm pretty sure the first pic shows our defensive line in a 4-3 OVER front not under. The shade is away from the tight end and the 3 tech is towards the tight end. 


April 17th, 2013 at 3:45 AM ^

This play is one of the reasons I am so down on Braden's performance. He simply must come off the double team and block the Will. Mistakes like these are precisely why our line was sub-par last year. Unfortunately, experience is the only thing that fixes this. Determining when to come off of a double team is a tough thing to do, as almost every instinct you have is to bury the guy you're on. But this is what makes a good line. This is what is meant by terms like "cohesion" and "gelling".

Braden is supposed to come off and block the Will. Kalis is targeting the Mike, but lost him underneath. This is an RPS deal. Miller is blocking back on the 3, but he ends up on no one as the 3 loops out into Schofield. Ideally, he gets his head on a swivel and gets a piece of the Will, but that is a lot to ask.

Also, Mattison is lying. This is a blitz. What gives it away is the 3 and the E looping out backside. This is exactly what they'd do on a double-a blitz. Either that or the 3 has just played this awfully. He is supposed to crash down hard to where the guard he is covering pulls. A lot of great 3's actually either blow the play up (as its a long way for the C to go without giving up some penetration) or actually hold the pulling guard, disrupting his timing.