Changes to check down options in our passing game?

Submitted by iawolve on October 5th, 2012 at 1:45 PM

I have read a number of different stories over the bye week about how we will be providing more check down options for Denard. Since I am not at practice, I have no idea if this actually will be the case or just some aspirational thinking coming after a disasterous passing performance.

This made me wonder about our check down options in the first place. It just seems like another route combination for Denard's reads. We do seem to have short routes already which I would consider a check down. What else should we add? The only thing we don't seem to do is regularly swing out the RB as an option, my guess is that is due to the need for addiitonal pass protection or confidence in their ability to catch the ball. 

Just wondering if anyone had any insight regarding an actual change to our route combinations in this regard.



October 5th, 2012 at 1:49 PM ^

I got the feeling only certain receivers were live on certain plays. The others were blockers to give Denard more running options.

However I could be wrong.


October 5th, 2012 at 2:22 PM ^

At first I thought you were talking about checks at the line, ie audibles.  I was going to say, I've seen about as many Denard checks as Denard throwaways.

I doubt we'll see a lot of check downs.  Even though you might think that would be a staple of a West Coast offense, with Denard's running capability, that should be the check down.  Also, with Denard's struggles with throwing to the defense in the face of pressure, I would think the RB will most likely be blocking instead of running a check down route.


October 5th, 2012 at 2:27 PM ^

I think if Denard had "gotten away" with some of the back foot throws against Notre Dame, and Michigan would have won (as they really should have), the Purdue game would probably be a trap game.

However, we lost and Denard's decisions are going to be highly influenced by his Notre Dame performance.  I don't think we're going to see Denard go all gunslinger unless we can't get the running game going.  The tight ends are going to be his best friends if he is getting pressure, that should be his check down, especially with Purdue's semi-bad linebackers/safeties.


October 5th, 2012 at 2:33 PM ^

I really think I think they should just make the automatic 'check-down' be a run.  Give him two reads, then run.  Until they then start rushing three with a spy at the LOS, that should be the plan.  And if the D then tries to do a passive rush with a spy, that gives Denard time and no one in his face, and he's usually actually pretty good then.  That's when you let him read third or fourth routes.


October 5th, 2012 at 2:36 PM ^

I think the best checkdown to add would be Jack Kennedy.  Just put him 2 yards past the first down marker, 5 yards out of bounds, and tell Denard to "check down" to him if nobody is open and he can't scramble.  


October 5th, 2012 at 2:40 PM ^

I know this is different from a checkdown, but what about "hot receivers."  I know in the NFL they always talk about the hot route when the blitz gets to the QB.  Do we have that kind of system in our offense?


October 5th, 2012 at 2:54 PM ^

I believe we do.  On one occasion in the ND game, and LB blitzed and left the short middle wide open.   Roundtree immediately slanted to the open space and Denard was on the same page hitting him in the open zone for a nice gain.  When they're not on the same page, you get the WR running one route, and the QB expecting a different one, which may then result in the pick-6 in last year's MSU game.  Denard threw into the blitz, probably expecting the WR to go straight to the vacated zone, but the WR went a different way, and the ball went right to an MSU player.  Don't know who was 'wrong' on that play, but they both have to be on the same page for it to work.

Blue boy johnson

October 5th, 2012 at 3:25 PM ^


I have read a number of different stories over the bye week about how we will be providing more check down options for Denard.

Links to articles? I haven't seen any of this stuff. Thanks 


October 5th, 2012 at 3:41 PM ^

There are check downs currently...  

Denard only has 2 reads currently...

Denard is told to tuck it and run after his first 2 reads or throw it away

Not sure if something has changed since this fall practice, but the last 2 spring practices, these concepts were being preached.  Maybe they thought he could handle 3 reads this year?  

My guess is after the ND game, they took that 3rd read away and it's back to 2 reads.

Still, Denard refuses to throw the ball away, and I doubt that changes anytime soon.  



October 5th, 2012 at 4:47 PM ^

Changing checkdowns won't do anything. Denard's checkdown is often supposed to be "run really fast downfield," something he has quite a talent for, and he almost never uses it. The poster above got painted as a troll, but he is basically accurate--Denard's nature is to make the throw.


October 5th, 2012 at 9:21 PM ^

Splitting hairs here, but

Denard is a gambler he will still throw terrible passes in a effort to get the ball down field.... Its in his nature

is a lot different to a reader than

Denard's nature is to make the throw.

The way you said it is much more eloquent, and a lot less offensive. There are truths in both statements, but one reads "he sucks" and the other reads "he tries."


October 6th, 2012 at 12:28 AM ^

I think our entire coaching staff should have been aware of how ND would attempt to defend us and probably true for most of their opponents. They knew we were going to try to pick on their inexperienced corners because that is the perceived weakness of their defense.

This was proven to be true within the first couple offensive series. Our passing game should have changed immediately to pop passes and screen passes with Mante and his lbing friends would have been good for oh, about 35 to 40 yards, if not all day.  Don't think Al will make this mistake again. I think instead of more checkdowns, simply watching how their defense is going to defend us, much like Mattison does watching their offensive plan unfurl w/in first two series should result in change in playcalling and don't put additional pressure on players where its not needed. Simply changing playcalling should prove adequate after defense shows its strategy, which in ND's case was early and lasting.