UFR review shows pass protection in Shotgun Empty formation is stellar

Submitted by taistreetsmyhero on October 2nd, 2017 at 4:27 PM

With Brian's latest UFR out showing the tire-fire that is our pass protection, I thought I'd point out a glowing light amidst the darkness:

Michigan's pass pro out of the shotgun empty formation has been nearly flawless!

Coming into the game, Michigan ran the Shotgun empty formation on 12/77 passing attempts. Brian charted them with perfect protection on 11 out of those 12 attempts. The only 0/2 was on a redzone play against Air Force, where a zero blitz defensive call RPS -1 was the main culprit.

In this formation, Speight was 9/12 for 11.5 yards/attempt (with 1 INT on the play where he TacoPantsed a wide-open Perry against Florida).

In the Purdue game, O'Korn had 4/38 pass attempts out of the shotgun empty formation. Brian charted the protection at 7/7.

O'Korn was 3/4 for 15.5 yards/attempt. The sole incompletion came on the play where Brian notes, "If he can catch and run here he’s getting 20 yards. JOK wings it wide and Perry can’t bring in a difficult diving fingertip catch...RPS +2."

We were all excited about the prospects of the 5 wide coming into the season, and early returns have been extremely promising. Based on a rewatch of those specific passing plays, it seems like the OL communication issues are mitigated by the easier reads. They don't have to worry about whether or not they are getting help from another OL, TE, or RB; it is simply mano-a-mano, and so far the OL has thrived in that situation. When the defense sends a blitz, the QBs are 1 for 2 on attempts to stand up to the rush and make them pay (O'Korn's loft to Gentry for the targeting And-1).

Small sample sizes apply (16/115 passing plays), but hopefully we see more of this formation moving forward.

Edit, for reference compared to another formation: Michigan lined up in some variation of shotgun (not including empty) on 48% of passing plays. I slightly modified the UFR scoring system such that a 0/3 protection is -3, 1/2 is -1, 1/1 is +1, 3/3 is +3, etc.

Using that scoring system, Michigan's pass pro averaged 0.26 out of the Shotgun, compared to 1.9 out of the Shotgun Empty set.



October 2nd, 2017 at 4:32 PM ^

Harbaugh wants to control the game by running the ball. That allows our defense to be ultra-aggressive because the other team gets fewer posessions when things work. I think the line is doing a good job on it because it puts the defense on their heels, since it's so different to what they're expecting it. 


October 2nd, 2017 at 5:27 PM ^

Weird, I thought your biggest fear was losing all your fake life points from this site or having someone expose your real name so you couldn't make snarky comments to other Michigan fans anymore. 

I PRAY the new site makes facebook login mandatory in the message board and comment section of this blog going forward. 

a different Jason

October 3rd, 2017 at 9:23 AM ^

There are tons of businesses that only operate through Facebook. As far as people from your past contacting you, if your wife or sibling has an account, they will find a way to get to you. I would rather any ex-girlfriends Facebook message me than call me. On Facebook my wife will see it first and I will get some jealousy sex. But if they get my phone number, it will look like I am hiding it and that won't be good.


October 3rd, 2017 at 9:30 AM ^

Dear *diety of choice*, I know I don't ask for much, world peace seems out of reach and a cure for cancer seems hard, but could you please make MGoBlog boards require Facebook login? I just want to fight them all so bad! Oh, and please give Coach Beilein the ability to recruit. He only seems capable of landing two and three stars. Amen.

Ecky Pting

October 2nd, 2017 at 6:34 PM ^

Sure - Harbaugh wants to control the ball, and that may be part of the problem. At this point M is running the ball on over 60% of all its plays. Once M gets ahead by more than a TD, the rush attempt rate goes up to 70%, and 85% when ahead by more than 14. OK, that's fine, but...

Perhaps this tendency to run is due to a lack of confidence in the passing game in general (and certainly reasons abound for that), but it's killing the running game as result. Teams simply load the box with impunity because there's no respect for the passing game, and from there it's a bloody downward spiral. To elaborate...

When M is leading by less than a score, tied or trailing, it's still running on 55-60% of downs, but it's only making 35% of its yardage then as YPC drops from 6.1 (when ahead by 14) to 3.5 (when behind by 7). On the other side, YPA is consistently in the 7.0 to 10.0 range whether ahead or behind, which is not terrible, actually.

It seems that M could definitely stand to throw the ball a bit more, maybe 25% more (i.e. move the balance from 40% passing to 50% passing). Assuming a similar YPA, it would help keep ahead of the chains, matriculate the ball down the field and score points, so as to build a sufficient lead and then shift to running ball.

The name of the game is not Run-to-Win, it's Win-to-Run.


October 2nd, 2017 at 4:33 PM ^

Good find. I wonder if this is because we are most likely to go empty on obvious passing downs and the defense rushes 3 or 4, throwing everyone else back in coverage, and thereby not creating a lot of pressure?


October 2nd, 2017 at 5:10 PM ^

Here's the breakdown...

Against Florida:

3rd & 8. Defense in Nickel w/ 5 in the box.

3rd & 7. Defense in Nickel w/ 6 in the box.

Against Cincy:

3rd & 9. Defense in 5-1 split w/ 6 in the box.

2nd & 12. Defense in Dime w/ 5 in the box.

2nd & 16. Defense in Nickel w/ 6 in the box.

2nd & 10. Defense in Nickel w/ 5.5 in the box.

2nd & 10. Defense in Dime w/ 5 in the box.

2nd & 10. Defense in Dime w/ 5.5 in the box.

2nd & 10. Defense in Dime w/ 5.5 in the box.

4th & 8. Defense in Dime w/ 5 in the box.

Against Air Force:

3rd & 9. Defense in Okie zero w/ 6 in the box.

Against Purdue:

3rd & 5. Defense in 3-4 w/ 6 in the box.

3rd & 6. Defense in Exotic w/ 5 in the box.

3rd & 8. Defense in Exotic w/ 6 in the box.

1st & 25. Defense in Nickel w/ 6 in the box.


So yes, exclusively on passing downs. Seems like a smart way to keep pressure off the OL in obvious passing situations, especially since the extra defenders in coverage haven't been helping the opposing defenses against this formation...


October 2nd, 2017 at 6:25 PM ^

id think thats partially responsible but havent checked the stats.

bottom line - spreading D out typically allows for fewer #s in the box, less clutter, less versatile pressure, etc and that can be hugely beneficial for OL (and O in general).  if O struggles to consistently identify, engage and properly execute blocking assignments, it may be smart to reduce overall #s in the box / around the LOS and attack a more spread-out D accordingly.  obviously doesnt erase mental errors and poor execution but its a start.  wild notion though

Big Boutros

October 2nd, 2017 at 4:34 PM ^

On one hand you're right about small sample size. But on the other this is why people were excited by the Pep Hamilton hire in the first place. We have superior skill position athletes and a weak OL. Accentuate the positive, hide the negative. These plays do just that and it works.

It's unrealistic to hope that we have been saving this look as a higher percentage of the offense for the meat of the B1G schedule, but it's not too late to adjust.

With O'Korn's mobility the value goes up. 


October 2nd, 2017 at 4:35 PM ^

Can only bring so many rushers when you have to cover the peremiter of the field. That said our WR's have been underwhelming thus far. Good analysis though.


October 2nd, 2017 at 4:47 PM ^

You mean running what half the CF teams run? Yes. 

I think we are trying too hard to run a complicated NFL scheme. Forget it - these kids aren't getting it. Clemson runs shotgun all game, making kelly bryant look like Tom brady. Run simple stuff and let athletes do their thing. 

I wish we could do complicated stuff, but OL is just not getting it. 


October 2nd, 2017 at 5:02 PM ^

This made me laugh out loud at work and get some weird looks. With that said me and the wife made some headway in this department this weekend. There is hope, just have to keep practicing.


October 2nd, 2017 at 5:12 PM ^

Michigan lined up in some variation of shotgun (not including empty) on 48% of passing plays.

I slightly modified the UFR scoring system such that a 0/3 protection is -3, 1/2 is -1, 1/1 is +1, 3/3 is +3, etc.

Using that scoring, Michigan's pass pro averaged 0.26 out of the Shotgun, compared to 1.9 out of the empty set.

Major difference.