Run-heavy offense

Submitted by BlueMk1690 on October 15th, 2017 at 10:14 AM

With the QB situation being what it is - and no real improvement in sight - the attention is turning toward the run game as far as salvaging the season is concerned. It became obvious down the stretch vs Indiana that the coaches shifted their approach to a 'let's avoid passing if at all possible' type of plan.

Now if you look at the numbers you will see that while Michigan has always featured a slight emphasis on the run game - we're still notably more pass-happy than teams like Wisconsin, Georgia or Alabama who feature the run heavily without being 'specialist' teams like Navy or Army.

The question is - can we do that? Can we reliably run the ball to set up the pass just often enough to keep them honest? The three teams in question also have *highly* efficient passing games, in other words, when they do pass the ball, they usually do a decent enough job at it. That is where we differ from them so far. But would it really be beyond possibility for O'Korn to actually make 2 or 3 good play action passes for chunk yardage a game IF we can run the ball reliably?

On the 'con' side - we have had too many runs stuffed for minimal gain or loss due to blown up blocks to do this. But maybe this is more easily fixed by focusing on what we do well with the O-Line than any other part of the offense. If we can fix this - and there were signs vs Indiana that we're improving here. Then this would open up a simplified passing game that perhaps we can pull off  We still wouldn't be high scoring but with 3 TDs we'd be in every game.

tl, dr - Is our future power running it 70% of the time?





October 15th, 2017 at 10:23 AM ^

I think you can run the ball 70% of the time and win against certain opponents. You won’t win every game and you won’t compete for championships, but you’ll win some games. There’s no way, outside of lucky breaks and turnovers, that Michigan will beat elite teams just running the ball. Penn State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State have good to great defenses with big d lineman and active linebackers.

However, you can “steal” a game from a better team if you get lucky and the bounces go your way. Hate to tear off the scab and rub salt in the wound, but that’s Michigan States thing. Force turnovers, get some bounces to go your way, buy a ref or two, and win with less sheer talent than the other team. It can work in the short term, but it’s not a recipe for prolonged success.

To your point, and in the very immediate future, can Michigan pull this off next Saturday against Penn State? Uh, if they get breaks and turnovers. This defense of Michigan’s is very good, but they haven’t forced a ton of turnovers. A punt is fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but turnovers are where it’s at when you know your offense can’t march down field.


October 15th, 2017 at 12:00 PM ^

Fuck that. You are settling for a 1-4 record in big games this year. While it could of course happen, it is a huge step back- even for rebuilding. If we finish 3-3 then I have doubts about next year based on the teams mentality.

Have to get another solid win of the remaining 3. And you have to win the 3 you should. If not, I’ll be expecting another 8-9 wins again next year


October 15th, 2017 at 11:32 AM ^

Yeah, stealing a game is the only way I think they finish better than 3-3. The best chance for Michigan to beat any of PSU, Wisconsin or OSU is to get some D/ST TD's, or super short fields (inside the 5). Possible but not likely. 

That said, my hope (and it is likely a long shot) is Harbaugh rolls with Peters at Rutgers and he isn't as bad as O'Korn and we have some semblance of a competent passing game going forward.. giving us a chance to beat OSU. For the record, I don't think that'll happen but it'd be nice to see what Peters can do. I saw it on another post but Rutgers really would be the perfect game to break him in. I mean, c'mon it's a great rivalry!


October 15th, 2017 at 10:24 AM ^

This just seems like a plan to get maybe 150 total yards against the Wisc and OSU D. Both strong front 7 and safeties can play extremely downhill if they can almost guarantee that their CBs will be on islands without much of a threat


October 15th, 2017 at 10:32 AM ^

you can absolutely win being a run heavy offense. But you have to have the pieces to do so. You have Jake Long on one end, Lewan on the other. Molk at Center, Baas and Hutch your guards. You could take our QB situation and an average RB and be able to run the ball and win. Obvioisly we dont have that. The better defense's and coaching (msu) will expoit are weakness and attack, attack, attack. Take away our strength. and it will be tough. Korn or whoever is back their is going to have to make plays. ala Gardner v's OSU senior year.

Perkis-Size Me

October 15th, 2017 at 10:39 AM ^

That’s not going to win us games against the better defenses in the conference. IU, Minnesota, Maryland, sure. But it’s not going to beat PSU, UW, or OSU. OSU has a DL rotation essentially as deep and talented (if not moreso) as what we had last year. Running into a stacked OSU box without having a Bama-esque OL is a wasted down.

If we want to win those games, we have to throw to keep the defense honest.

Perkis-Size Me

October 15th, 2017 at 10:42 AM ^

Or I suppose what I should say is that this will not work with the personnel we currently have. If you have an OL littered with all conference types and All Americans, then you can win those types of games. Tressel did it over and over and it won OSU a lot of games. But he had the right personnel and coached it as well as anyone in the country.


October 15th, 2017 at 4:27 PM ^

I think Michigan needs to get the ball in the hands of playmakers, like DPJ or McDoom on jet sweeps or bubble screens, etc. Something safer than throwing downfield to receivers who can't get open or suffer occasional drops. The recent MGoFilm analysis commented how slow the receivers were to get into their routes. Traditional downfield passing will not be Michigan's consistent means to getting the ball in the hands of an athlete in open space.

Does anyone else think they would be better to focus on short dink & dunk stuff hoping an athlete (DPJ?) occasionally breaks off a big chunk, rather than trying to get all their passing yards by throwning downfield?


October 15th, 2017 at 10:40 AM ^

Tressel Ball for the rest of the year. 

We can and will beat Rutgers, Minnesota and Maryland. 

We can beat Wisconsin, and we have a good enough defense to beat Penn State.

OSU is tough, but if our D can hold them to 20 or less we have a shot.

I expect this team to get to 9-3. 8-4 is the floor, 10-2 would be amazing. I think we can achieve this playing Tressel Ball, obviously on the backs of our defense. If we can win the must wins straight up, and turn the 3 big games into rock fights then we have a chance. Purdue should have beat Wisconsin this weekend. They will make mistakes, and if we can shut down the run they don't have much. Penn State's OL is a sieve, they are worst in conference in TFL given up. We can win a field goal battle in Happy Valley and Madison.


October 15th, 2017 at 11:45 AM ^

Yeah, I think that's fair. But we need a lot to fall into line there.. OL needs to keep whatever they did yesterday up, Higdon needs to keep rolling and not cough up the ball. O'Korn needs to hit at least one or two deep balls to make PA a remote possibility.

Personally, I think a dink and dunk passing offense would work for them. There were plenty of open guys yesterday but JOK forced it to go deep more often than not. Keep it all short and quick passes to the OPEN guys, not pre-determined reads, and I think we can get to 9 wins.


October 15th, 2017 at 11:55 AM ^

He often has a guy or two open on any given passing play. If his throw to DPJ was accurate yesterday and he checks to Gentry instead of throwing to Crawford in double coverage, he would actually have had a pretty good passing line. His throw to Perry on 3rd down of the opening drive was a tad high but Perry got both hands on it. 


He's not playing well, obviously. However, he's only a couple plays a game from being serviceable, if our running game and defense hold. 


October 15th, 2017 at 10:42 AM ^

is not "run heavy", its "run only" and you cannot win that way against good teams. If that is how little faith the coaches have in JOK, you gotta sit him.


October 15th, 2017 at 10:57 AM ^

Run heavy won't win championships unless you've got Alabama level talent, which we do not have yet.

However, it CAN possibly get us to a 8-4 or 9-3 season which is what we predicted at the start of the year. We always knew this was a rebuilding year with a young team.

It's not unreasonable to take what the offense has shown--a flashes of strength in the run game--and build in it this year, relying on our defense and special teams to win games and maybe pull off an upset against PSU or OSU.

Then you come back best year with the run game largely installed/developed and have the ability to put more focus on the passing game during spring ball and fall camp with the hope that by the start if the season, run game is humming along at 85-90% capacity and the passing game is now at least a threat/average.

Matte Kudasai

October 15th, 2017 at 11:03 AM ^

Why can’t we devise a passing scheme that benefits JOK? We need to get him outside of the pocket. As others have stated we can’t beat the good teams with a run heavy game plan and no pass. We need to devise the game plan and show some confidence in him like the Purdue game. I would rather see us go down swinging than losing because we went ultra conservative.

Not all is doom and gloom, as we did find our RB.


October 15th, 2017 at 11:20 AM ^

think Harbaugh wants to win, but I think he has a vision and is not willing to sacrifice what he wants to do for a couple of wins with a QB he never planned on playing. We are in a spot of trouble this year. He knows that. One thing is certain, our offensive line is going to learn how to run block.


October 15th, 2017 at 12:37 PM ^

We as fans only care about right now. Harbaugh and Co are in the middle of building something for long term success. The qb situation will work itself out. Hopefully sooner than later!


October 15th, 2017 at 11:00 AM ^

Run the ball well, hit short passes occasionally to the tight ends or Perry, and connect with DPJ on a long one here or there when the defense forgets about him. If Michigan does that they can win a lot of games with as good a defense as they play.

Also don't have 15-20 penalties.

I'm a little worried at the boo boos I saw yesterday. Kinnel and Gary specifically. I wonder if the team getting wore down physically with such little rotation and no garbage time? It's probably nothing but could be something.


October 15th, 2017 at 11:18 AM ^

This is the gameplan that Lloyd kept trying to execute for the last few years of his career, and it became a thorn in our side. He played like he had the world's best defense and all he had to do was play field position football to win, and it caused us to lose a lot of games. Now we are pining for this very strategy to come back, and for whatever reason the coaches seem to coach as though we need to score 30-40 to win.


October 15th, 2017 at 12:03 PM ^

The difference is that Lloyd had a bunch of NFL first rounders on offense.

He did not have to play that way, he chose to play that way.

The 2007 season Cap One Bowl demonstrates that.

We don't have the same choice in 2017.  We have to play Lloyd ball to survive.

I'm just not sure we can do it.

I'd kill for that "game manager" 1997 offense right about now.



October 15th, 2017 at 12:16 PM ^

Lloyd had more talent than most teams in the country and still played conservative.  He had all big ten QBs and NFL receivers everywhere and still did it. It's not a choice in this situation, we pretty much have to. 

And we have a better defense than any year under Lloyd besides 1997. So let's make it work.


October 15th, 2017 at 11:18 AM ^

We're Les Miles LSU right now.  Great defense, infuriating offense.  Except we don't have an all world running back making the medicre Offensive line look good.


October 15th, 2017 at 11:31 AM ^

I think there's a little too much cynicism surrounding our passing game and too much optimism around our run game. Given context of previous run success, an inconsistent (but flashes of decent) O'Korn, AND considering IU runs a 4-2-5 "take the sky from them" defense, youll see a more balanced attack against PSU. O'Korn can make things happen intermittently, and so can our run game. Just gotta get turnovers and short fields


October 15th, 2017 at 11:32 AM ^

I'm stunned. Not a signle "hire Fisch" to cure the offensive problems because he and UCLA laid another egg with one of the nation's best QBs (UM would be unbeaten and ranked #2 with Rosen). I have very low hopes for Saturday (remembering I was in the stands for the PSU-UM game in 97 when both teams were unbeaten).


October 15th, 2017 at 11:39 AM ^

With the way JOK looked yesterday, I honestly would rather run the triple option like GT. Have Evans play QB, Issac in back of him, flanked by Higdon & McDoom. I’m not being totally serious but that has as much chance of working as O’korn dropping back to pass 30 times in Happy Valley.

Mr. Yost

October 15th, 2017 at 11:57 AM ^

Clearly you've never played NCAA Football '14.

You just go into User Settings and go to "Change Playbook" and find Georgia Tech (or Air Force or Navy).

Then you go to Depth Chart and put Evans at QB...then go to Formation Substitutions and sub Higdon, McDoom and Isaac where you want them.

...then you're done!

Mr. Yost

October 15th, 2017 at 11:53 AM ^

We can and should run more...but we don't have any diversity in our run game. It's the same 4-5 plays.

We have to run more of that short pitch counter stuff like we did to Evans against Purdue.

Run that shovel pass play we ran yesterday to Khalid Hill.

Run some read option and have O'Korn actually keep it.

Run more counters and misdirection.

What happened to the jet sweep w/ McDoom?

What happened to the fake jet sweep w/ McDoom then pitch back to the RB going the other way?

What happened to the fake jet sweep w/ McDoom,  then stop behind the QB and sprint back to where you started...snap the ball and hit McDoom on the swing pass?

Have we every run a "Pop Pass?" Why not run one with DPJ?

O'Korn can run...why not run a speed option for a short yardage pickup?


...why can I come up with my creativity in 30 seconds on my fucking couch than our offensive minds getting paid millions of dollars?


October 15th, 2017 at 11:59 AM ^

Because it's possible they have, and in practice the execution is terrible so they don't call the offense plays come game time.

Harbaugh knows what he's doing. He's insanely competitive. This is not a man who is out of his depth or who is lazy.

I agree with that overhauling the offense just for JOK doesn't make sense. If he's got a 2-3 year overhaul plan, you don't scrap that just to salvage a game or two with your back up 5th year senior QB.

Maybe develop one or two wrinkles for JOK, but doing a mid season total overhaul and killing any traction that the OL and WRs are starting to get would be shortsighted.