Showing posts from October, 2013

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

Inside the Playbook: The Power of the Spread Offense

Regardless of how much Michigan decides to spread the field, at the end of the day this is going to be a power running team. By that, I mean they are predominately going to use a power O blocking scheme to pick up yards in the run game. In this article we are going to look briefly at the traditional power O run play, and then look at how Michigan runs it to both sides of the formation out of the gun, as well as how this makes life difficult for defenses. Power O Here is a look at your typical Power O blocking scheme from an I-formation. The two keys are the kick out block by the first back (a U-back or a FB, here, a FB) and the pulling opposite ("O") guard to the playside hole. Inverted Veer Believe it or not, the inverted veer is really a Power O blocking play. Many know that you can run the same blocking scheme with the inverted veer up front, down to the pulling guard, but it works because the "kick out" block is accomplished by kicking out the DE by op

A Coach's POV - Michigan vs PSU - Overtime Play-by-Play

4th Quarter Link Michigan 1st Drive of OT 34-34 (PSU missed FG in first half of OT) Play 1 - 1st and 10 - A few things are important to note coming into this series. Gibbons missed a FG at the end of regulation, but the kick was dead on target. He also he a 42 yarder or so earlier in the game with plenty of leg to spare. So being at the 25 yard line, a 42 yard kick, is fine. Any extra is essentially icing on the cake giving what was known of Gibbons before this OT period. He is money inside of 40. Get inside 40 and get out with a win. Michigan lines up with the TE-wing to hash and two WRs to field. They are likely expecting PSU to go back to the 7 man front with a CB in the box as they did every down before the last 3 in which Michigan tried to kill the clock. But they stay in their 8 man front. The original call makes sense before Borges sees how the defense aligns. All evidence points to them going back to that and Michigan being able to run this. And remember, any additional y

A Coach's POV - Michigan vs PSU - 4Q Play-by-Play

Link to Quarter 3 Michigan drive 14 - 13:09 4th 27-24 Play 1 - 1st and 10 - Michigan stacks Funchess over Gallon and run the PA tunnel screen to Gallon. This is a play to take advantage of soft coverage on the outside, by forcing them to retreat and getting a block down field. Would have liked to have seen this a couple more times this game, but it's another way to stretch the box horizontally that isn't a bubble screen. Play 2 - 1st and 10 - Pro I from Michigan. The PA and the screen have effectively backed off PSU. There are no 7 defenders in the box. PSU in a standard 4-3 Over. Gardner checks to weakside Iso. Why? He's likely running power to the strong side here, or even stretch, but PSU has essentially stacked both LBs over their DL on the strong side, making it very difficult to get out on players. Meanwhile, on the weakside, its 3 blockers for three defenders. Good check by Gardner to attack the correct side of the formation for a nice first down pick u

A Coach's POV - Michigan vs PSU - 3Q Play-by-Play

Link to  1st Quarter and  2nd Quarter PSU Drive 10 - 15:00 3rd 10-21 Play 1 - 1st and 10 - Black is very quick to get penetration, gets a little too deep but realizes it and really squeezes the play. Ross, in the process of wrapping up (this is why you wrap up) rakes down right on the football and it kicks to Clark, who returns it for a TD. PSU Drive 11 - 14:44 3rd 17-21 Play 1 - 1st and 10 - PSU in a mirrored solo set and Michigan in a 4-3 Under with Clark standing up on the near side. Michigan runs a double A gap twist with their LBs, Heck scrambles and throws right at Clark, who almost makes an eerily similar INT as Zettel did on his zone blitz drop. This is a great job by Clark, who had originally started chasing the QB, seeing that someone was leaking behind him and regaining depth to get underneath the route and break it up. This play is a nice way of getting 7 guys in pretty much every gap and making the zone blocks difficult for the OL. The drops from SAM and WDE still

A Coach's POV - Michigan vs PSU - 2Q Play-by-Play

Link to  1st Quarter Post Michigan Drive 6 - 14:32 2nd 10-7 Play 1 - 1st and 10 - Michigan runs a 2 TE play action with 2 WRs to the top. PSU counters with 8 in the box, meaning one of the receivers to the top of the screen will get single coverage. They are in max protect, which means only 2 receivers are in routes. Bryant kind of watches a guy run around him when Fitz is expecting help, as he should. Because of that, Fitz is out of position to make the block, kind of reaches at the defender and misses, and he comes in a hits DG from the blind side. FWIW, DG is also very late in his read, or more accurately, doesn't trust his read as he turns. He should be able to turn, see coverage deep, and Gallon wide open on his snag route. But he sees him, then looks off of him again, and by the time he gets back to him he's close to the sideline and the pass is quite difficult to make. Gallon still catches it and does a nice job trying to make a play in space, but it turns out to be

A Coach's POV - Michigan vs PSU - 1Q Play-by-Play

This is note intended to serve the same purpose as Brian's UFR over at MGoBlog. This is intended to look at things from a coach's perspective, namely, the two Michigan coordinators and why they are doing what they're doing. I will have one for each quarter and OT. Michigan Drive 1 - 15:00 1st 0-0 Play 1 - 1st and 10 - Tackle over Power. Glasgow missed assignment and didn't down block (instead deciding to triple the playside DT when that wasn't his job against this front). Butt didn't hold block anyway. Absolutely no problem running this here. It's first play, you see what the defense is giving. CB 6 yards off. Only 8 in box from PSU. PSU was set up to give up yards on the run, missed assignments killed the play. But you see what PSU is giving you early and it should set up things for later. Need to be executed better. 3 on 1 eh? Welp, see ya later. Play 2 - 2nd and 14 - Designed QB Power off read option look. Kalis needs to do better in the hole on

Inside the Playbook: Indiana's Screen Package

Indiana heavily utilizes the screen game to act like a rushing attack. In fact, a lot of their success comes off of screen misdirection and screen action, both things that are commonly associated with the run game. By doing this, they create conditions exactly what the spread offenses was designed for: to stretch offenses laterally as well as vertically. For defenses, this means a couple things, they must be extremely disciplined with their eyes and they must tackle in space. Brief Screen Primer A brief background on screen blocking first. The lineman that release depend on who isn’t covered and which defenders present a risk to the ball in the air or the receiver. This means any defender that will try to get in an alley between the passer and receiver must be cut down or washed away. Preferably on any outside screen you’ll have at least one blocker sealing off the inside to outside pursuit, another acting as a lead blocker in the alley, and another acting as a support blocker, whic

ItP - PSU's Quick Underneath Passing Game (Breakdown Sports Exclusive)

With a true freshman QB, Penn State has really simplified their offense to help him adjust to the speed of defenses. With these adjustments he has looked like a very good QB for such a young player. PSU looks to rely more on the inside zone than they did a year ago , and they’ll throw a tunnel or bubble screen on almost any down and distance to keep the defense honest against them, but what I want to discuss today is how they attack the short zones, and then when they catch defenses peaking, how they attack with 4 vertical receivers to keep the defense on their heals. Hitches This is perhaps the easiest play schematically that there is. However, execution is key to its success. The key is for the receiver to run at the defender’s leverage point. This is to get into his body in an attempt to turn him or continue to maintain cushion on you. At about 6 yards the receiver plants on his outside foot and works back to the ball. The ball is placed away from the defender, so if the de

Inside the Playbook: Double Lead O from an Unbalanced Formation

Saturday, Michigan deployed an unbalanced time for the first time this year and found success with it. In theory, the run plays out of an unbalanced line aren't required to be any different that a balanced line. You can run Iso to strength and away from strength. You can run Power O to and away from strength. You can run your counters and  zones and sweeps. But, if you're going to line up your two best blockers on the same side of the formation, you might as well pull and lead so that you are completely dominating the point of attack. That's what Michigan did against Minnesota, when they pulled out the "Double Lead O" play to run between Lewan and Schofield and get consistently good yardage. Terminology Once upon a time there was a difference between "Lead" and "Iso". That difference pretty much summarizes the difference between "man" and "gap" blocking. The summary, in today's lingo, is often that there is no differ

Inside the Playbook: Simplified Pass Concepts for Young QBs

Cook has been maligned as not being able to "hit the broad side of a barn" or "the ocean from a boat". Surely, there are other, more colorful phrases that have been painted on the young QB, some of them, at times, fairly accurate because of his inaccuracies. But, to Cook's credit, he has made improvement each week, as have the coaches in understanding simple passing concepts and reads to give him. It's become increasingly clear that, as the route concepts have simplified and his reps have multiplied, he has become more comfortable throwing the ball. In this post we'll look at a couple of the simple pass concepts that Michigan State deployed on Saturday, and why they are good plays for a young QB who has struggled at times putting the ball where it needs to be. Smash Concept Perhaps one of the most basic pass concepts in modern football, the smash concept was initially developed to take advantage of cover 2 defenses (or really any two high safety defe

Week 6: Coaching Points Round Up

Iowa Lots of people will complain about that Iowa playcall (deep pass on 3rd and short), but you won't run into the mouth of an 8 man MSU front. Even w/ INC it makes MSU respect pass in future Iowa LBs doing a good job meeting MSU's pulling OL in the hole. MSU needs to do better taking LBs out with their momentum The lead blocker on that roll needs to peak inside earlier. As soon as you find no one up-field, you become lead blocker playing inside/out. Blocked air for too long and forced QB to throw it away. Iowa CB too high on that tackle. Wrap and drive the player OOB if you don't want to tackle, but never go high there. (On MSU 3rd down conversion on catch short of the sticks) Iowa has been very disruptive with DL, preventing MSU from getting to LBs, and LBs on meeting blockers on inside runs, MSU trying to get outside now but not getting into Iowa defenders well. That's the area to attack MSU's cover 4. Short/intermediate out. That's a realyl tough

Film Review: Adjusting Routes to Coverage

Because Wisconsin has such run game prowess, many of its passing concepts attack the sidelines, away from the box area. In this area, the Badgers will often run "route adjustments" depending on the coverage. These adjustments rely on the quarterback and receiver seeing the same thing, and if they don't, it often leads to bad things. In this post, I'm going to try to piece together where these issues were made and talk about why you have these adjustments within your offense. Not adjusting to Cover 2 I'm starting on this play, where there is clear miscommunication, because it provides me evidence on the next play. After the play, the tight ends points to himself, saying, "my bad," because he sat down in the hook zone rather than taking the route to the corner. This is a defense that is in Cover 2 (you see because Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby is rolled up underneath before attempting to gain depth since no one threatens the flat). This nee

Inside the Playbook: Iso Blocking Primer

With the move of Glasgow to center and the insertion of Bryant into the lineup at LG, it means a few changes may be in order. Bryant, less the fleet of foot and more the very large, squatty man that is more of a hitter and less of a reacher, probably indicates that Michigan will go to more of a traditional man blocking scheme. Add on that Glasgow isn't the quickest of players for the center position in a stretch run team, and it's likely that Michigan will be running less zone stretch and more gap blocking type activities (with the occasional inside zone mixed in). Because of that, it seems a good time to add onto Power O blocking piece and look at how Iso is blocked and what the RB is looking at. Diagram Video Note here that this is a strongside Iso. The center comes off his combo block almost instantly because of the aggressive nature of Notre Dame's LBs. He is letting the LB take himself out of the play, essentially combo blocking to him without doubling

Film Review: How Ohio State's Pressure Affected Wisconsin

One of the questions stemming from last Saturday's Ohio State victory over Wisconsin  – especially after the first half – was why wasn't OSU consistently getting pressure on Wisconsin's quarterback, Joel Stave. With a team so loaded in the front four with pure pass rushers, it was expected that they would force Stave's hand a bit. Indeed, they did, even when they didn't necessarily get pressure. We'll look at a few ways that Wisconsin attempted to mitigate pressure, and how, eventually, the Buckeyes still overcame it to hurry the opposing QB for much of the game. Max Protect After Wisconsin got over the initial terror of the first few drives, they went back to the drawing board in a way. Rather than attacking Ohio State horizontally, they started going more straight ahead. Combined with that, they were able to start incorporating some of their max protection package, where they only send two or three receivers out in routes. What this means is that OSU's

Inside the Playbook - A Look at MSU's Unique Cover 3 Package Part 2

Introduction Last time I showed how MSU played a cover 3 look on 3rd and long against ND. This time, we'll look at how they can give that same look, still play cover 3, but manage to confuse the offense nonetheless. The Set Up Just a reminder of the set-up: it's third and long and here is the defensive formation. Same Coverage, Different Look This is something that MSU didn't run, but may in the future. The initial look is the same and it will still be a cover 3. However, now MSU will only bring 5 man pressure and will adjust the coverage behind the play to take away any routes. Now MSU has built in the adjustment to any route concepts into their coverage. Both defenders are playing soft near the first down marker. If the #2 receiver decides to attack the seam on a vertical route, the seam defender will check #1 and have time to determine if he needs to carry the #2 deep or break off to his sideline curl/hook underneath zone. This allows, theoretically, for

Film Review: Wisconsin's young cornerbacks make young cornerback mistakes

If you followed along Saturday, you know I had some issues with the way Wisconsin's cornerbacks were playing. Much of it is being young, but there are things that you need to learn or else you'll eventually die by fire, which was the case Saturday. It's not they aren't good enough athletes; it's that their technique is still raw and they aren't doing the little things to help themselves out. Let's take a look. The short stuff Wisconsin played a lot of Over 4 and mixed in some Cover 3 against Ohio State. That's fine. Cover 4 is a great defense against the spread that allows the safeties to get involved in run support. Seriously, it's not a passive defense , but the Badgers didn't necessarily run it like some other teams do. That's fine, too. There's more than one way to skin a cat, as they say. But it does tend to put a tall task on your outside linebackers, who have to defend against the run and also cover the entire hook/curl/flat

Inside the Playbook - A Look at MSU's Unique Cover 3 Package Part 1

Introduction On normal downs and distances, it’s safe to say that MSU isn’t the most creative defense. While they are obviously still very good, they typically do a limited amount of things and do those things extremely well. But once you get behind the chains, well, that’s a different matter. Against Notre Dame, Narduzzi and Co pulled out an interesting formation and scheme. We are going to look at it briefly and how it is supposed to be run and why. Formation Here, the Spartans clearly line up in a single high look, and with the depth of the defenders in the slot, it’s almost surely going to be a 3 high type of defense. The question for the QB is: “Are the CBs going to drop into deep thirds?” or “Are the seam defenders going to drop into deep thirds?” Coverage Turns out that it is a basic cover 3 zone but with a few tweaks with the way that it looks. And the underneath coverage follows the eyes of the QB. Video Concept and Theory The scenario is third an

Week 5: Coaching Points Round-Up

For more detailed and live coaching points, follow me @SpaceCoyoteBDS as I send live tweets during the game. Ohio State LINK Purdue Purdue - like many teams - ran a mesh concept. Nice, easy read for a QB that is struggling to find a rhythm Purdue had some success on the ground. They ran Power O nicely a few times where their combo block really crushed NIU's interior DL. LBs didn't do a good job of "reading hats" of NIU. If helmet gets high, it's pass. If low, it's run. Purdue heavily bit on PA. Part of this is because of the amount of man coverage from Purdue Interior OL needs to be better with feet and hands in pass pro. Got beat once because RG reached, causing his feet to plant, and he was unable to get hands or body into DT. Henry needed to do a better job of putting his receivers in a position to succeed. Against zone coverage he lead his TE into a hit. He needs to stop the TE in zone with the pass, even if the TE doesn't do it himself.