Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Film Review: 2017 OSU vs Indiana - Fade, Back Shoulder, and a Coverage Adjustment

AP Photo/ Darron Cummings

For nearly a half of play, the Indiana Hoosiers looked poised to make the Buckeyes sweat out a potential early season massive upset. It wouldn't be the first time a team came out with a great gameplan earlier in the year and caught an opponent looking ahead to the supposed bigger challenge.

With the Ohio State on defense, the Buckeyes wanted to come out in a lot of single-high defensive looks, predominately Cover 1, put bodies near the LOS, and out athlete Indiana. In the battle of the DL vs OL, OSU dominated. But on the outside, despite relatively good position from defensive backs, Indiana executed nearly perfectly. One could argue that the execution was bound to wane, but repeatedly throwing one of two throws - a fade or a back shoulder fade to the boundary - allowed IU QB Richard Lagow to find an easily repeatable rhythm, particularly with big bodied and sure-handed WR Simmie Cobbs.

In this article (and the next) we will look at the basic gameplans going into the game and how the Buckeyes made adjustments to turn a close fought game into a 2nd half blowout.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Inside the Playbook: Michigan State Pin and Pull

Coming off of one of the least productive years for the MSU OL in some time, the Spartans have largely retooled the unit and are planning to press quite a bit of youth into the starting lineup. Their current starting line up and key rotational players look like this:

PlayerC. ChewinsT. HigbyB. AllenD. BeedleL. CampbellD. FinleyK. JarvisM. AllenJ. Reid

I would argue some of these weights are likely getting a "college roster" bump as well. This is not the beefiest of beef units to set foot in Spartan Stadium. Not that long ago though, Michigan State featured one of the most diverse run blocking playbooks in the league, right up there with Harbaugh's Michigan teams. They ran Power, Counter, Sweeps, Traps, Inside Zone, Outside Zone, and yes, Pin and Pull. But as the skill diminished, so did the playbook, and the settled into mostly an inside zone team with some Power to balance things out last year. This year, they feature that undersized but mobile unit listed above, and the emphasis should move away from "let's push people off the ball" and focus more on "let's force the defense to move with us and let's rely on angles to get run gaps". This should lead to more outside zone and Pin and Pull, which will be the topic of this article.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Inside the Playbook: Michigan's Bounce Draw

Jim Harbaugh and Tim Drevno must have been watching their Barry Sanders highlights when they decided to add the bounce draw to the playbook it to the playbook. Or, at least, they were catching up on their Run and Shoot Mouse Davis offense. It’s commonly stated that, at heart, Harbaugh runs a west-coast offense (WCO). More or less that is true, but he has also – like most great offensive minds – borrowed pieces from a variety of other offenses. In that past we’ve seen forays into the spread attack with Colin Kaepernick and some T-offense randomly against Maryland that one time. In this instance, he borrowed from a Run and Shoot offense and integrated it relatively seamlessly into how he utilization trips formations to the field within his nominal WCO (a short, quick, spacing passing attack to the trips side and G Lead sweeps run plays to the trips side) and downfield attack. In this article, we are going to look at how this play functions and why it works within the Harbaugh framework.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Inside the Playbook: The Pin and Fold Inside Zone Scheme

In an MGoBlog piece "Fee Fi Foe Film: Illinois Offense", Ace pointed out an interesting wrinkle that Illinois utilizes on the backside of their inside zone, which I call "Pin and Fold". I had seen this wrinkle previous in an article from Ian Boyd at least partially about current Iowa St. coach Matt Campbell, and I've also written briefly about it on my own. Now that it has appeared again, this time in the Big Ten, I have the opportunity to write a little more about it.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Football Fundamentals: Cover 2 Defense

Cover 2 is often one of the first zone defenses taught in football. This is because it requires minimal movement, allowing defenders to focus on the “zone” aspect of the coverage. Just as important, because of the minimal movement and design of the coverage, it lends naturally to being a great run defense as all eyes are often focused on the backfield. Once seen as the go-to defense in football, it has fallen out of favor in the past few decades with the development of more advanced and complicated vertical passing attacks. However, recently it has seen somewhat of a resurgence with the “trap” concept, and it remains a favorite near the goal line.

For completeness, man under will be treated in a different article.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Inside the Playbook: Iowa's Lead Stretch Zone

Iowa football has been utilizing the base stretch run scheme that made the likes of the Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos dominant in the 90s and into the new century. I’ve discussed outside zone quite a bit before, as have many other places; rather than continue along the same lines, I’m now going to make a distinction and a further distinction with regards to Iowa football. There is Outside Zone – also known as wide zone – where the intent is to out flank the defense and get to the edge; this is most commonly seen from spread teams. Then there is zone stretch, where the ball can bounce to the outside, but more often than not will be cut inside the EMOL, this is the classic Joe Gibbs and Shanahan offense. Both can be called stretch or wide or outside zone, it’s more of a philosophical difference (though in Gibb's case, he had a play called "bounce" and a play called "Outside", that were just that very distinction). Iowa also adds in the lead blocker (Gibbs often did as well, it isn't a new invention), and that’s what I want to focus on today.