Did we run a limited playbook against UCONN?

Submitted by Super J on September 7th, 2010 at 2:33 PM

Do you think we ran a limited playbook to not show our hand?  I know Coach Carr used to do this against the MAC warm ups we had to not give ND a lot of tape to watch.  I went back and watched the game again.  I really didn't look like we ran a huge variety of plays. I know the wind had a factor in going vertical several times and you keep feeding what is working but it seemed like the game plan was a little limited.  Granted when they cant stop the Denard Right play you keep running it til they do.  I also understand UCONN is a bowl winning team that needs respect over some MAC schools we have opened with in the past.  What if Denard did this in a game plan designed not to show to much?  That would make his performance even (if possible) greater.



September 7th, 2010 at 2:36 PM ^

it was limited in the sense that in one game you don't have time to use all plays.  i'm inclined to believe that if the situation dictated the need for different plays, we would've seen them.


September 7th, 2010 at 2:37 PM ^

There are all kinds of things that this offense can do that weren't shown on Saturday. More passing, more routes, more "trick" plays, etc. It's actually kinda scary when you think about it; the offense we saw is just the tip of the iceberg. (That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but still.)

Hopefully we can keep the really cool stuff hidden for ND, because there's no way we'll need it against Massachusetts or BG. Then we can unleash the holy fury of the offense fully once the Big Ten season rolls around.


September 7th, 2010 at 2:37 PM ^

We had 1 real passing play (pump fake bubble to the slant...and yes it was amazing) and the rest were just quick routes, bubble screens, the Zone Read and some QB Power (follow the RB through the hole). If 4 plays are as successful as these 4 were, why run anything else?

Save the other stuff for when you need it, not when you're already getting 7YPC


September 7th, 2010 at 3:31 PM ^

Although the passing game was limited, we ran more than one "real" passing play.  The first completion to Stonum was a typical pass play you would see from past Michigan teams (curl route).  Also, the pass play to Koger early on was about 12-15 yards down the field.  Denard also completed a pass down the seam (can't remember who the receiver was).  The other passes, I agree, were short quick-hitters meant to be easy completions that get the quick guys into space.

Blue in sec country

September 7th, 2010 at 2:37 PM ^

I agree that the o seemed like a caged animal. I think the fake screen was just a taste of what to look forward to. But it did seem like we only ran a handful of plays. No need to show more than we have to.


September 7th, 2010 at 2:38 PM ^

I don't think the coaches went into the game with the intention of running a limited playbook, but the success of the running game made it so they didn't have to open it up.

It seemed like they decided they were going to test UCONN's D with the running game and high percentage passing plays and when it became apparent that UCONN was not going to be able to slow down the running game, the coaches just decided to stick with it.

No need to show more than you have to.

spam and beans

September 7th, 2010 at 3:38 PM ^

Early in the year, you don't show more than you have to.  At some point in the schedule it becomes show more than you intend to.  Having teams practice against schemes you do not intend to use against them is a great way to have the opposing team waste practice time.  One sure thing about watching Michigan's limited play book this past game, it sure was fun!

oriental andrew

September 7th, 2010 at 2:39 PM ^


Brian Kelly's scheme - "There's a lot of similarities. Studying them and studying us, every spread has a little different emphasis at certain times." RR's spread is a bit more run nowadays. Cincy pass, now at ND looks like he'll mix it up a bit. They'll study last year's ND film for personnel, but coaching staff is new so have to see what those guys did at previous stops. Both teams will run a bit of stuff that they didn't last week. Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph are big weapons, but they have talented RBs and QB as well. Have to tackle well in space against ND. "If we can't get 'em on the ground, and we can't cover 'em..."

Six Zero

September 7th, 2010 at 2:40 PM ^

Doesn't seem like we had to dip too deep into the bag o' tricks.  The biggest thing is that we were able to convert all of those third downs with relative ease, all while protecting a lead.  At no point did we have to play desperate, which is when the playbook gets cracked open.

I'm sure we'll see more variety and creativity in the playcalling when things get dicier.

Dark Blue

September 7th, 2010 at 2:40 PM ^

From watching the game, we ran a variation of about 6 different plays. There is all kinds of stuff in that playbook that has yet to be unveiled. I think ND will se a lot of things they were not prepared for.


September 7th, 2010 at 4:27 PM ^

I do expect to see Forcier this Saturday. Robinson will start, but with Forcier's experience against ND and on this game being on the road, I think he will be an asset. Of course, I am assuming he works his ass off this week and doesn't sulk. But if we struggle with Denard or if he gets dinged, I expect Forcier to come in before Gardner and to do well.


September 7th, 2010 at 2:42 PM ^

Denard right for 6 yards...Denard left for a first down....Denard for the td.  If that isnt the easiest playbook imaginable I don't know what is.  Now for Notre Dame and its very unpredictable defense.  Go Blue.

Steve Lorenz

September 7th, 2010 at 2:48 PM ^

My guess is that we were seeing so much success early that they decided to hold off on opening up the playbook. Makes sense because we were moving the ball at will. 

Sac Fly

September 7th, 2010 at 2:50 PM ^

... the zone read and draws, alot of things like the triple option look were not used. I guess since the draw worked so good, why show the irish what our other plays look like?


September 7th, 2010 at 2:55 PM ^

IIRC, RR said at the postgame presser that after the first drive the coaches knew UCONN would have trouble with our athletes in space.  I kind of take that to mean that yes, we kept a lot of the O stuff we had installed for this game in the back pocket and went with what worked on the opening drive and since UCONN never stopped it we just kept right on with it.  So i would imagine there are plenty of plays that were installed but not used.


September 7th, 2010 at 3:03 PM ^

It was like RR was using this millenium's offense with an "old school" mentality: keep running until they prove they can stop it.  UConn never proved they could stop what Michigan was doing.  Maybe ND won't be able to, either.  That's part of what makes this week's matchup so compelling.


September 7th, 2010 at 3:04 PM ^

We ran a limited playbook because RR found out early on that UConn could not defend the QB draw amongst other simple running plays in are arsenal.  There is so much more to our playbook and we should see some of that unleashed against Notre Dame.


September 7th, 2010 at 3:13 PM ^

As has been mentioned, the first drive showed the coaches all they needed and they stuck with it all game. I think UCONN made some adjustements at the half and we slowed down a little bit, but at that point it didn't really matter. We we crusing, why show ND or any other team on the schedule something new when it isn't necessary to win.


September 7th, 2010 at 3:17 PM ^

Did you see every play in the book yesterday? No.

Did you see basically what our offense this year is gonna be? Yes.

And you saw the same offense at Clemson and Tulane and West Virginia and Michigan 08-09. There is a big new crease I think is coming sometime this year that wasn't brought out for UConn but you saw the base offense in its entirety. If every variation wasn't seen, it was at least imaginable. E.g. there seems to be a 4-part package that was run four times yesterday in which the options are:

  1. Hand off to Shaw down the middle (run twice on Saturday)
  2. Fake the handoff to Shaw, roll out and hit a WR on a stop, sit, or comeback route (run once on 3rd down pass to Odoms)
  3. Fake the handoff to Shaw and throw a quick jailbreak screen to the right side (this was faked near the goal line while Shaw was already running down the gut)
  4. Fake the handoff to Shaw, roll out, and hand off a reverse to the slot (the one Grady got nothing then fumbled out of bounds)

The wrinkle that cometh, I believe, is a verticle game. This was faked a few times with Stonum, and when Jackson was in, but when it's Dorothy and the Lollipop Guild (T.Rob, Grady and Odoms) at the four receiver spots, it's obvious RR isn't going downfield. By the end of the game, UConn had 8 or 9 in the box, and this was exploited all of once (the fake screen/T.Rob pass when both 8 and 22 were hand-wavingly open).

Once Hemingway is back and the wind is something other than gale-force, I think we will see RR run at least one of Jackson, Stonum, Junior (Now a Junior, We're from Junior!) and Stokes downfield on almost every play, rotating them in more often to keep them fresh. This should wear down ND's good but not deep CB depth chart more quickly, and also hopefully keep the safeties a bit further back and out of Denard's holes.


September 7th, 2010 at 3:17 PM ^

... we will even open the entire playbook for Notre Dame.

The amazing thing about this offense--when it has the right players who know what to do--is that the Defense knows what is coming.  And maybe still can't stop it.

In the second half, when Denard looked off the bubble screen to the left and then caught the receiver streaking over the middle, we had a glimpse of things to come.  He locked on many receivers earlier in the game.  When he gets more confidence in his arm (and his receivers): watch out.


September 7th, 2010 at 3:25 PM ^

I could be wrong here but I counted 8-10 plays on Saturday.  From memory:

1.) Zone read

2.) QB draw

3.) Basic curl routes from the shotgun

4.) I-Form HB Dive (with one being a fake end-around)

5.) I-Form Playaction Bootleg

6.) End-around from shotgun

7.) RB swing

8.) Bubble screen off the zone read

9.) Jailbreak screen

10.)  Off tackle from shotgun


September 7th, 2010 at 9:19 PM ^

That sounds about right. There were only maybe five or six basic sets we came out of (basic spread 4WR, a loaded spread with 3WR on the strong side with a TE, two or three more similair looks, and then a few variations on the "I"). It seemed like we only used the previously mentioned plays with some load, speed, flip, and read options. Saturday should be interesting to see what we bring out.

ND Sux

September 7th, 2010 at 3:56 PM ^

RRod apparently decided to use ONLY those plays that would result in more than six yards. 

Seriously though, I see vertical coming against ND as they stack the box against Denard.  We will need more balance to win this game, but I bet we'll hit some big plays over the top. 


September 7th, 2010 at 4:36 PM ^

One thing to note is that many of our plays involve multiple reads and give the QB a number of options.  RR alluded to this in the presser when he mentioned that Denard didn't look to go downfield very often.  I don't know if we'll see a huge number of new plays down the road so much as we'll see defenses scheme to take away those first options (which usually worked like a charm against UConn) and Denard go to the next ones.


September 7th, 2010 at 4:48 PM ^

Not to look too far ahead, but I hope they can wait until the Sparty game to "open up" the playbook. Seeing an ill-prepared green & white defense running around with a red-faced Dantonio stomping the sidelines would make my last three years.

That being said, I hope Rodriguez does whatever it takes to beat the Irish.


September 7th, 2010 at 8:38 PM ^

I don't think they planned on "limiting" it. RR needs EVERY win he can get. However, when we went up 21-0 i bet he decided to "limit" it a little more than he first thought. With that said, we did see the basic offense we will be running, just not all the little things.


September 7th, 2010 at 9:18 PM ^

look at the plays we ran, you know instantly that we ran a VERY limited offense.  Not because they dont know how to run it all, but i think because the plays worked so well.

Had they not been quite as successful i am sure you would have seen a more varied playlist on display.


We will see more against ND this week. Much more.


September 7th, 2010 at 9:25 PM ^

Using a large percentage of the playbook is overrated, especially when repeatedly diling up the dilithium play gets you 6-9 yards minimum.  That won't work all year, but if you can win convincingly while not giving up much of your playbook it's a win-win.


September 7th, 2010 at 9:53 PM ^

Do you run the counters to defensive plays like the scrape to show them early to push the d-coordinator to call more vanilla or do you save them hoping they can be used to spring the big one?   I assume, for instance, that the QB-draws that we saw a lot of are in fact scrape counters, but please correct me if I'm wrong.   As one who has been geeked over the praise out of camp for Stonum I was watching for an opportunity to go deep, but UConn was pretty discipliend until late.  DC's have played this game before, so as is often the case in generic game theory problems, the equilibrium/solution is probably to mix it up.


September 8th, 2010 at 8:47 AM ^

I was thinking the same thing about the limited playbook.  I think we only ran one read option bubble screen all day, and that was the play where Denard almost got sacked and then he overthrew Roundtree down the middle.  We also didn't run any traditional option (Pat White ran this at WVU).  I assume that this is just a "because we didn't need to" thing and not indiciative of how much variety we have in the playbook right now.  At least that's what I hope. We had a certain element of surprise Saturday that we won't have in future games.