Showing posts from 2013

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

PREVIEW 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. *     *     *     *     *     *     * 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

State of the Blog - December 2013

TL;DR - Not enough pictures. I am sorry for that. This is a meta post. I tried to diagram that and failed. This will be an odd circumstance where a post doesn't have a diagram. Sorry. So I wanted to do a State of the Blog post for a while now, and now that the regular season has wrapped, this seems like a good time do have such a thing. There are lots of people I would like to thank, but I'll save that for the end just in case that's not something everyone wants to read. What I want to address here is what I see from this blog, other projects I'll be working on, and where we go from here. Breakdown Sports Readership has gradually increased since the start of this blog, which is great. Much of this is still Michigan based readership, which I expected, but I've been lucky enough to expand a little bit, mostly to the Michigan State and Ohio State fanbase. I'd like to expand more, as I really want the focus of this blog to be B1G-based more than just Michi

Know Your X's and O's - OSU vs MSU - B1G Championship

I've compiled a decent amount of work focused on these two teams this year. For those interested in some of the X's and O's and schematic things. Here's the links: Ohio State Thought I'd start a thread for those interested in what OSU runs, and that sort of thing. I should have two more posts come out today/tomorrow sometime, which I will link on here. I'll give a brief breakdown of each link so you know what you're clicking before you click it. Hopefully this is alright, and if you have any questions for me in regards to breaking things down, feel free to ask. Apologize as well for linking previews, but again, it helps me track readership better than I can on SBNation, and my goal is to start writing more non-Michigan-centric content and start getting further in depth with the other B1G teams. Here's a general look at OSU's Flood play, which is probably their favorite way to attack defenses deep, something like this will be a play OSU will like

Film Review: How to Attack OSU within MSU's Scheme - BDS Exclusive

Ohio State has been a solid defense this year, but not without its flaws. In this post we are going to point out some of those flaws and look at them in the context of MSU, and how MSU can run certain plays within their playbook to take advantage of these weaknesses. Power O to the Nub First, let’s define what the nnub is to get that out of the way. The nub is a side of a formation without a WR. A nub side can have a TE or a TE and wing, just as long as there is no one split out wide it is considered a nub. Generally, teams that run cover 4 will convert the nub side of their defense to a cover 2 while maintaining a cover 4 look to the other side. This is typically known as a cover 6 or a quarter-quarter-half coverage (this because of the deep defenders). OSU runs quite a bit of cover 4, but they don’t adjust their front a whole lot and instead just check into their cover 6 defense. This tends to put a DB, particularly a CB, as the outside leverage defender. As far a

Inside the Playbook: MSU's Jet Sweep Package

Preview Michigan State faces a very athletic defense on Saturday, when they meet Ohio State in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Title. For the past couple weeks, the Spartans have added several deviations of their base play calls, seemingly to set up and prepare them for the show down against the Buckeyes. In this post we are going to look at MSU's jet sweep package. *     *     *     *     *     *     * Jet Sweep Fake - Counter Trey So now you've forced the defense to flow both outside and upfield to protect against the jet sweep and the inside zone. Particularly when the inside zone looks to be going in the same direction as the jet sweep motion, it really pulls the defense in that direction and upfield. This really allows a defense to fairly easily get outside leverage and seal them inside as they get caught in the wash. This almost works similar to a reverse, in that you are heavily selling one direction and then getting outside on the back end. As defenses roll the

Inside the Playbook - OSU Passing Concepts to Take Advantage of MSU's Cover 4

PREVIEW  [I'm going to start putting this on top of posts that are simply previews and links to posts I've put elsewhere, just to make that clear from the jump] So it comes to this: one of the best defenses in the land against one of the top offenses in college football. Michigan State is well known for their cover 4 defense. This is a defense that allows the Spartans to match up on the edges and play with a quasi-9-man-box against any offense. Meanwhile, Meyer has brought his version of the spread offense to Columbus, and the Buckeyes are clicking on all cylinders. In my opinion, we know OSU's run game and what it pretty much consists of, and we understand MSU's run defense and how it plays. So the interesting matchup is what happens on the back end. It is these plays - set-up by the run threat - that can allow the Buckeye offense to get working up to their standard. We will look at some of the pass concepts within this offense that will force Michigan State's de

Film Review: How OSU Stopped Michigan's 2-pt Conversion

Last time we looked at the theory of the 2 point conversion, triangle concept. In this part we will go deeper and figure out why it wasn't successful and what were some other potential plays for Michigan to run out of the same formation. Video Recap How OSU Stopped It *     *     *     *     *     *     * Alright, now let's look at the coverage. This is your standard cover 2. A triangle concept should work perfectly. But, OSU does roll the backside safety. He takes the slant route. Open field is between levels for the Z-receiver, so he has to get upfield of the CB and then work outside. The CB though, does a nice job (in the context of this play, I'll explain more later), to get his arms out and really re-direct Gallon. This CB has outside leverage and inside help, his goal is to tighten that window by redirecting the receiver inside, and typically, if he does that, it will help him and the defense in coverage. This redirect shouldn't happen so easily

Inside the Playbook: Michigan's 2-pt Conversion and the Triangle Concept

There has been much consternation about the 2-point conversion play call by Borges last Saturday. In this article, I want to at least get a basis behind the theory of the formation and the playcall. In part II we will go deeper and figure out why it wasn't successful and what were some other potential plays for Michigan to run out of the same formation. *     *     *     *     *     *     * Triangle Concept Go to any football website, and most likely you'll find something about the triangle passing concept . Chris Brown (Smart Football) describes the concept very well (though, when he gets into specifics, he discusses a different play that utilizes the triangle scheme). The insight behind the triangle is that the horizontal and the vertical stretch are combined to create a single straightforward read for the quarterback that provides answers no matter what the defense presents. All of the major "new" (in relative terms) passing concepts are based on a tri

Inside the Playbook: OSU's Inverted Veer Package

Ohio State does some interesting things within their offense that make it difficult for defenses to key them correctly. For one, they effectively mix up zone blocking and man blocking schemes, especially power blocking as of lately. In this post we are going to look at 4+ different plays which all utilize and inverted veer look, and explain why it is so difficult to stop them on offense. *     *     *     *     *     *     * Counter Inverted Veer As I described the inverted veer as power blocking from an option look, let's first look at how "counter trey" is blocked. "Trey" is a bit of a misnomer, as there often isn't a trey block, but it is the most common type of double team that comes from this blocking scheme and thus it is called trey. To note: Trey is a combo block from the playside PSE (playside TE) and the PST (playside OT) to the MIKE or backside LB. Deuce is a combo block from the PST and the PSG (playside OG) to the MIKE or backsi

Inside the Playbook: Meshing Spread and Single Wing Concepts

Introduction Ohio State and Urban Meyer are best known for their spread offense. Meyer though, has taken the run-based spread and brought it full circle. Today what I want to do is compare Ohio State's offense to Michigan's offense. No, not to Al Borges's offense. No, not even to Rich Rodriguez's offense. I want to compare Ohio State to Fritz Crisler's 1947 Single Wing offense. In this article we're going show you one of the most innovative offenses of the day, by comparing it to one of the most explosive offenses of yesteryear. It will be light on words, but heavy on diagrams and old timey video. Getting the Differences Out of the Way Let's start by getting the differences out of the way. No offense to Crisler, but his passing concepts wouldn't cut it in today's game. While Meyer has a relatively simply passing playbook, it's vastly more advanced than the single wing playbook. Well, besides the jump pass; that's straight from the single

Let's Speak Technique: Offensive Line Pass Protection

Last time we discussed pass protection schemes , but that's only a part of actually protecting the QB. The other vital part is technique, which many players lack coming out of high school. Pass protection is difficult, it's difficult for simply what it is, but it becomes especially difficult as defenses become more complex, defensive linemen grow bigger and faster, and defenders know they can pin their ears back and test your mettle. In this second part looking at pass protection we will focus on the technique that is involved in a standard pass protection scheme. Protecting the Pocket The pocket, also known as the passing area, changes depending on drop and set from the QB. In general terms, it is the area the QB needs to effectively move and step into any throw that he may make. It does differ, as I said, with various types of drops. For instance, on a 3-step drop your interior OL will try not to lose any ground. On a 7-step drop the interior OL can drop about 3 yards. Fo

Inside the Playbook: Pass Protection Schemes

One of the big issues Michigan has been having is in pass protection. If I went into all the complexities and calls of all the different pass protections, you would quickly realize why young players have trouble with this part of the game (to go along with the vast complexities of the run game). There is a reason that offensive linemen are often considered the smartest guys on the field. Well, we're going to go over the basics just to try to get you up to speed a little bit. For briefing sake, there are three different types of blocking schemes: man, gap (zone), and combination. Man Blocking BOB. Big on Big; Back on Backer. This is a man blocking scheme that is optimal for many teams because of its ability to get a hat on a hat, an offensive lineman on a defensive lineman, and a back on a preferred LB (if a back is in to block). First let's look at a world where 5 person blocks exist. Whoever is the uncovered lineman is will be the "double read" blocker. The OL al

Power Football Links

I realized the other day that I now have a fairly healthy dose of Power Run breakdowns and how they can be utilized from different looks. At some point I'll get to the open side looks, but for now, he's a collection of the resources I've written about Power blocking. Primer Closed Power O Power from the Spread Unbalanced Double Lead Inverted Veer, Power Blocking Schemes, 2nd Lead Adjustement

ItP: Power O, Inverted Veer, and the FB Adjustment to Scrape Exchange

Introduction In the picture pages post today , I feel I noted something of some significance. This isn’t supposed to be a post to puff out my own chest, rather, I merely want to give the other side of the argument my side of the argument for what it really is. As an aside, there have been numerous people that have constantly misconstrued my argument lately. I understand that by taking a particular unpopular stance so strongly, that I have opened myself up to criticism. But within this article I also want to make clear up some of my stance, so towards the end I will get into some of that. Much of these will be related to the comments I made earlier (if not copy and pasted), the major difference is that I now have the opportunity to add accompanying pictures and diagrams to go with it. This is of importance because football isn’t really a sport that is best described with words. You can try to be as descriptive as possible, but there will always be a certain amount of failure to accu

Film Review - Cleaning up Coverage

For the most part Michigan played pretty solid in coverage against MSU, but also had some significant busts that lead to big gains for the Spartans. There have been some questions about a few of the ways that Michigan has worked in coverage, and I'll briefly discuss how Michigan plays man coverage to help clear that up as well. At the end of the day, what you see from this exercise though, is that you can be very good most of the day, but if just a few mistakes get exploited, the opposing team can put up points. Man Coverage People have been wondering about if Michigan is doing this right. Namely, the common complaint is not turning back and looking for the ball. In man coverage, once you flip your hips, you have two basic techniques you will play: in-phase (in-sync, in-step, in-line, even) and trail. In-phase means that you have your hip on the front side of their hip and your shoulder on the front side of their shoulder, and you're using your body to gradually defl

Film Review: Wisconsin's 3-4 Against Iowa's 2 TE Offense

This year Wisconsin has switched to a 3-4 defense, and one of the benefits is the benefits it gives verse defenses that try to spread them out horizontally. This can mean how it adapts to spread concepts, but also, how it adapts to many 2-TE personnel groupings that try to gain an advantage by creating more gaps for the defense to fill. The 3-4 puts 5 people on the LOS, it provides outside leverage, it provides strength at the point of attack, and makes it relatively easy for the ILBs to scrape to the ball. Basically, if defenses read their keys, the 3-4 is the perfect defense to handle a 12 personnel offense. The 3-4 Against Iowa’s 2-TE Set First, here is how Iowa will want to block this: Wisconsin’s two DEs (DE and DT) are lined heads up on the OTs in a 4-tech. The ILBs are lined up in a 20 technique, which is heads up on the guards, about 3-4 yards off the LOS. The NT is lined above the center, and both OLBs are lined up in a 9-technique with their inside shoulder j

Inside the Playbook - MSU's Nickel Seam MIKE 3

For how basic much of MSU’s defense is, on third downs when the offense is behind the sticks, the Spartan’s defense is anything but. Much of the focus is on Narduzzi’s blitz package, and often rightfully so. But what I took away from Saturday’s game against Michigan was a very interesting coverage on the back end. In this post we’ll look at how Narduzzi pulled out a very unique Cover 3 look (some have called it an inverted Tampa 2 defense, which it kind of is, but I honestly think it’s closer to a cover 3) and we’ll discuss why this is such an effective context within the scheme that MSU often runs. MSU’s Cover 4 I’ll briefly discuss the Cover 4 just to give a primer of what it looks like. Basically, the cover 4 will look like a flat back. Two safeties will be even about 10 yards off the LOS and will not retreat on the snap. They have responsibility for the #2 receiver, while the CBs on the outside will essentially be playing man coverage on the #1 receivers. Tampa 2

Inside the Playbook - Ways of Dictating MSU's Defense

In this post we are going to look at a few different options that Michigan's offense has to get MSU a bit out of their comfort zone and to try to take advantage with favorable match-ups. In this instance, the run game would just be simpler to explain, so we'll focus more on how Michigan can do some things to present favorable match-ups for Michigan's passing attack. Stack/Bunch Formations Michigan under Borges helm has not shied away from stack or bunch formations. While they don't run them as often as I would like them to be run, they are quite prevalent within the offense. Against MSU's press coverage it makes sense to run them more. Why you may ask. Well here's MSU's coverage normally. Here is how they adjust Stack Bunch The big difference is that they no longer press the outside, instead preferring to play and in/out release against the stack and an in/out high/low against bunch. What this allows is for the Michigan receiver

Inside the Playbook - MSU Defense Primer

Michigan faces off against one of the nation's top defenses on Saturday, and moving the ball through the air will be no small task. Michigan State's defense is legit, so let's not mince words there. Still, every defense has weaknesses or tendencies that can be exploited. Now, the Spartans have minimized these weaknesses, and when they do make mistakes they are often fundamentally sound enough to keep gains relatively low, which is what makes them one of the better defenses in college football. The goal of this article will be to look at some of the ways that Michigan can attack some of MSU's tendencies from a schematic point of view to get relatively favorable match-ups on their end. MSU Primer Over the summer I wrote two preview pieces about Michigan State's defense. One was about their  4-3 Over front , the other was about their  Cover 4 . For the vast majority of the snaps they will be in this set up. They will run some man under, they will run  cover 3 behind