Thursday, December 19, 2013

Film Review: How Michigan Can Use Their Base Offense to Attack KSU's Tendencies and Weaknesses


By most measures, the Wildcats appear to have a pretty good defense. According to advanced statistics they fall back into the average range. After watching them on film, I tend to lean toward the latter mark. While they can force offenses into so unfortunate down and distances, there appear to be some good ways for Michigan to get preferred match ups if they continue to execute in a manner similar to the OSU game. In this article, we will look at how Kansas State plays their defense and how Michigan can take advantage of some of KSU's weaknesses.

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3x1 Formations
When KSU goes to their nickel package, they line up against 3x1 formations (3 receivers to one side; 1 to the other) in a distinct way that isolates their CBs.


The OLB will carry the #3 up to the FS. He will also try to prevent any crossing route underneath. But this opens up everything to the outside and puts those DBs on islands. With Michigan having the quicker Gallon, who can work over the top on the fade, can work back shoulder fades, and is great at coming back to the ball, as well as Funchess on post routes and over the seam, this makes for a difficult match up on the outside.
Here is a double post by the #2 and #3, while the #1 runs a fade:

Here's Michigan running a double post. Note that this is a 3x1 formation with the TE staying in to block. This would likely suck the OLB in and leave leave the WRs with isolated match ups.

It also draws the coverage outside and gets them playing the receivers, both the CBs and safety. This means if RBs can burst through the first and second level, they will have ample room to eat up yards before the DBs converge. On top of that, if Michigan's QB is still a run threat, this puts the OLB in a position where he is likely uncomfortable handling the run QB run. Roll outs with the #3 in the flat become even more difficult to maintain outside leverage and cover the receiver.

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To read more about how Michigan can work within KSU's tendencies and weaknesses, follow the link to Maize n Brew


  1. would be interested to hear how you would approach a game plan with Devin and then Shane at QB. How would you modify the passing game with Shane in versus DG.

    1. Well, I think you really simplify it, similar to what Michigan did during the regular season last year when DG had to come in. Simple route concepts to give easier reads, etc. Probably keep things more to the sideline.

      One thing that it would require is more emphasis on the run game from the RB. Things like waggles are more likely to work with Morris because he isn't as much of the run threat, so the backside DE will be more likely to crash down. But most of the PA is going to be either off of Iso looks (which are typically weak PA's so his eyes can get down field and read quickly) or long developing routes to allow him to see things develop clearer.

      You probably lose some of the incremental improvements that have been made with some of the quick passing game, and obviously the plays that are based on some of the run plays leave the playbook. At the end of the day, the goal was to emphasize though that Michigan can really use their base plays to attack this defense, it will really come down to how the interior continues to improve and how Michigan runs the football.