Michigan Red Zone Offense Analysis Video

Submitted by FanNamedOzzy on September 20th, 2017 at 3:51 AM

A good number of people have analyzed the red zone offense. I took a shot at it myself, but didn't want to use just text. So I made a video going through each play with my thoughts on each. Enjoy!

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September 20th, 2017 at 4:34 AM ^

That is really great work. Very jealous of your video editing skills.

The quality of the analysis on the run plays was really impressive.

I bet you came away with the same conclusion Harbaugh did: Air Force called some great defensive plays.


September 20th, 2017 at 1:20 PM ^

I became more and more frustrated but optimistic as I went along with the analysis. It seemed like there was always 1 thing wrong that prevented each play from working.

When Air Force DID call the perfect blitz or play, it more often than not happened to be a play in which Michigan executed pretty well.

When Air Force DIDN'T call the perfect blitz or play-call to defend the play, Michigan often missed a block or Speight just missed on a throw.

Nothing to do except move on. The Air Force DC did a hell of a job, plus got lucky a few times on his calls. They were well-disciplined and made the plays they had to. I'll admit that when I heard Harbaugh say that he felt good about the offense I initially rolled my eyes. After going through this I realized that it was a combo of quite a few things and were often really close on a good number of these plays.


September 20th, 2017 at 5:55 AM ^

A couple things pop out.  Michigan is so close to breaking loose. In most cases it is just a small detail that is the difference from a TD to a 1 yd gain.  AF had two weeks to prepare and was really well coached and discipline, which should surprise none of us. I am confident we will not see one team as well coached and disciplined.  We will see more talented teams, but not more disciplined.

Michigan will win comfortably in Purdue once the emotion is taken out of the crowd and Purdue.


September 20th, 2017 at 6:46 AM ^

Great analysis and the video is helpful. I think some of those early overthrows are throwaways. Speight has had a bunch of picks in his last 5 or so games, I think the coaches maybe telling him not to force anything and not to turn the ball over. Against AF, we should win with our defense, so Speight just needed not to turn the ball over in the red zone. Mission accomplished. We'd all be bitching if any of those had been sacks or interceptions. Sometimes the lack of a negative is a positive.

To me what stands out is how they RPS'd the shit out of us on some of those plays. The corner blitz on higdon's run was perfect, the zone coverage on the perry throw in the flat was perfect. I'm guessing the saw it on film and knew that was coming. Some of those were insane sellouts by the defense to cover a very specific type of play. If higdons run is play action, black is wide open or one on one with the safety. The blitz on Isaac's run up the middle is similar. Blitzing killed us, but they seemed like RPS wins because they were selling out.

On the second play, a shotgun where the RB takes a handoff up the middle, I think there's a screen option to perry, but it's well covered.

On the post route in the end zone where Speight throws it too far for the receiver (op suggested a dive), Speight throws this before the receiver makes his break and I think the receiver decides to alter his route to avoid the defender. A more experienced receiver might run through the defender and maybe get a PI or holding call? Regardless, I think it's a timing play and the receiver needs to be in his spot for it to work.


September 20th, 2017 at 6:57 AM ^

but speight misses perry wide open in the back corner of the EZ on the play where he scrambled and tried to loft the ball to crawford that was batted down. IMO, this is a combo of speight missing open guys and really bad RPS with drevno/hamilton/harbaugh playcalling

Hail Harbo

September 20th, 2017 at 10:48 PM ^

Speight's scrambling effectively made Perry a non-target.  There was just no way that Speight, or any other QB, could make that throw to Perry while running to the left.  Speight was ahead of Perry and would have had to stop and pivot 90 degrees to make that throw, and still his shoulders would have been wide open to the throw.  Nope, was never a good option.  The best option was to keep the ball and head for the EZ.  The Speight from this time last year would have, but I'm thinking he's gotten a bit gun shy since his shoulder injury.


September 20th, 2017 at 7:10 AM ^

It sure seems like AF had the perfect D calls in the red zone almost every play. Would also really like to see Wilton give our athletic receivers a chance to make a play!


September 20th, 2017 at 8:25 AM ^

...must have been intoxicated on whole milk yet again. 

I recall the Lions a couple of years back were very predictable by their alignments. Defenses would know what was coming. I'm not sure if our playbook is telegraphing plays, but it certainly seems more than coincidental that AF seemed to dial up the correct defensive play call on virtually all of our red zone plays. 

We'll see if we introduce more flavors to the offense's recipe book this weekend. 

Of course, this alignment doesn't give anything away, at least until just before the snap...



September 20th, 2017 at 7:31 AM ^

Great editing.

As far as the actual llay, I'm fearful that Air Force just provided the road map to stuffing our offense: Don Brown the hell out of us. That, and disguise the coverages with late shifts.

We can counter with receivers communicating with the QB better, and altered snap counts.

Wallaby Court

September 20th, 2017 at 10:11 AM ^

I have had similar concerns, but I think they may be overblown. Air Force, like Michigan, runs a particular and complex defensive scheme. It did not beat Michigan with just blitzes, but with disguised, faked, and delayed blitzes. Based on Don Brown's defensive history, teaching such a system takes time and expertise. If every team could run a Don Brown or Air Force defense, it would. But most teams do not have the time, coaches, or personnel to do so. Installing a disguised blitz package in one week is just unlikely to happen. Teams that try it are more likely to end up in chaos and breakdowns for the offense to exploit.

Plus, Michigan may have a counterpunch available. TaiStreetsMyHero's recent analysis suggested that Michigan tried to defeat Air Force's blitzes by keeping the TE and RB in to block and trying to hit on long developing routes. However, Air Force got clever and turned them in to wasted blockers. The solution to the blitz problem may be to get the TE and RB into quick routes instead of leaving them to block air.


September 20th, 2017 at 7:45 AM ^

One thing that i think really hampered us is the 5-7 step pass game in the red zone vs AF blitz. On the 2nd RZ trip on 1st down. It's basically the same play as the 1st down on the previous drive. Perry is running a bench route(Deep outt), Crawford a vertical route. So they are running a flood concept without a 3rd underneath flat route. On the first drive Black ran a drag this time he is running what looks like a post.  It's play action so you are going to get some sort of deeper route combinations.  This is a sound RZ concept but usually you have a 3rd short flood right to the 2 WR side. That route would have come open right away or the Blitzing LB may have been coached to cover it which would have given Speight more time to hit Black who was coming open on the Post.  Also simply calling off the play action and just having Black run a slant would have been a good play IMO.  Michigan was calling alot of deep routes in the RZ and AF was blitzing like crazy.  It was mostly Cover 1 or 0 by AF so some quick slants/flats would have def been open and allowed Speight to get rid of the ball quickly.  Again this is AF calling some good def plays and Michigan early on looking like they weren't expecting the blitz as much.  And for the second drive we are at 2nd and 10 because of an incomplete pass on 1st down. Tough way to start in the RZ.  But i wouldn't say these first two attempts are bad play by Speight. He has very little time. On the 3rd down play where Perry came open, yes he could have saw him but he saw green and was looking to run. If Crawford runs to the corner of the EZ Speight either scores or gets down inside the 5, or throws a TD to Crawford. On the 3rd RZ opportunity Michigan coaches seem to try to adjust to what they've seen earlier. They call a 1st down run to try to get to a managable 2nd down. AF just blows this up. On 2nd down they motion Perry and run double slants with a flat route from Perry.  A great call vs the heavy blitzing they have seen from AF the first 2 attempts. But AF doesn't blitz they show man with the defender following Perry but then run a combo coverage and pass Perry off to the slot defender.  That is just great defense. If AF was blitzing they would have stll probably been in Cover 0 or 1 and the slant or flat should have been open. But they rushed 4 and covered everything. And then on 3rd down AF blitzes and plays cover 0 again. And we run right into a wall of AF defenders. THis was a greatly disguised blitz and as the video pointed out it was too late to check out.  That's 3 drives where AF is just winning the battle in the RZ with great play calls and great discipline and open field tackling by the defense.  Honestly i don't feel like Purdue is coached as well or plays as well on defense. I think we will see a much better offensive output this Saturday.  


September 20th, 2017 at 9:55 AM ^

Lol yeah me too.  The offense def needs work all over. But the coaches have been very vanilla in the red zone so far. They called the same flood concept on 1st down 3 of the first 4 RZ opportunities. On the 4th attempt Speight should have hit Perry for an easy 12 yard completion, that's on Speight.  It looks like they clearly thought they could win with that concept in the RZ vs AF. I assume we will see a more diverse plan this week. But again we have to remember these are all new WRs and they may not trust them as much as they did Darboh/Chesson last year. Both very good WRs who are in the NFL right now.  I would like to see DPJ used in more creative ways in the RZ, Peppers was a big RZ threat early on in the year last year. DPJ could provide that same kind of spark


September 20th, 2017 at 7:59 AM ^

I can't tell if this makes me feel better or worse. Seems like correctable mistakes but also feels like Hoke all over again. Arrrghh!

This is great editing nonetheless and really interesting to watch. I'm sure this took an insane amount of time but would love to see more of this type of stuff! Great job, OP!


September 20th, 2017 at 7:59 AM ^

the defensive schemes with concept blitzes forces a QB to audible, but it did not look like Speight was allowed to do that or failed to do that. I don't believe this spread offense stuff suits our personnel. Best receivers are Perry and TEs, so we should run more power and play action plus some screens. AF often brought the house of 7, so a well timed screen would have gashed them. Speight just looks much better under center and timed up out of play action. Our WRs are really young and not experienced at effective route running right now. Losing Black is really going to hurt. Crawford has to step up bigtime.


September 20th, 2017 at 8:04 AM ^

I imagine Crawford saw the play was blowing up and thought Speight was tucking the ball and running.  Crawford may have been trying to block the DB to give Speight a running lane.

South TX MFan

September 20th, 2017 at 10:19 AM ^

He was definitely trying to block for Speight. No other reason for him to be chasing the defender there. When I was watching it live I thought Speight was going to pump fake the defender to get around him. The defender sold out with his jump but Speight let it go.


September 20th, 2017 at 9:23 AM ^

Iv'e been a long time lurker around here. I literally just made an account to tell you what an awesome job you did on this video. Good stuff man! It really shows that we are so close, yet there are a few things we need to tighten up on in the redzone. Obviously inexperience shows with some of the younger guys. I think we will be fine going forward. (I hope) Great work!


September 20th, 2017 at 9:33 AM ^

of a play at the line of scrimmage?  Pretty easy read when you see 11 guys in the box to check into a play action and hit a TE leaking into the flat. You don't run the ball into that front.  It's not just play calling by AF, it's lack of execution on our part and still plenty of missed plays out there.

Watching From Afar

September 20th, 2017 at 2:04 PM ^

There's a stillframe on of the posts from yesterday or Monday that shows Black's injury. It happened late when he caught a curl, broke a tackle, and ran down the east sideline a few yards until 3 guys took him down. He didn't immediately get up after the tackle and he looked down at his foot after the 3 guys got off of him.


September 20th, 2017 at 9:42 AM ^

Truth be told, I've spent years researching the best way to capture games (http://www.dealdatabase.com/forum/showthread.php?52620-Series-3-PROM-Hack). My hope was that someone would take this video and run with it (this video is special, MPEG-2 - you can advance frame by frame because there are a higher number of 'B' frames vs. recording with HDMI capture/Hauppauge H.264)

It was always my intention that someone would develop the same system the coaches use (http://www.xosdigital.com/) minus the Digitam Media Asset components and the two end zone shots which we just don't have.

You did it! Keep up the great work - this is the smartest/most talented fan community in the country.