Yesterday, MGoBlog Picture Paged how Purdue was loading the box against Michigan and leaving man-to-man coverage with no safety help for much of the game. Despite this, Michigan just kept running into a wall of defenders to middling effect. Michigan did very little to counteract this until the final drive of the game in which they went exclusively to their heavy package (with both Martell Webb and Kevin Koger on the field in the H-back positions). In response to Michigan's added blockers, Purdue committed yet another defender to the box (nine in total) and left the cornerbacks on an island against Michigan's two wide receivers. After seeing how unflinchingly Purdue had committed to stopping the run, Rich Rodriguez finally called a play to burn Purdue on a third and six that helped ice the game.
This is the play that set up the rest of Michigan's drive. Despite the fact that Michigan kept the exact same personnel on the field, Purdue's box alignment looked like this:
You might be asking yourself, "Why didn't we do this earlier?" And really, I don't know. I was hoping to see more of the QB draw play action pass that's been so effective this year, but Michigan didn't run the play once this game. That might have been because of the weather, but it feels a little more systemic than that. It took too long, but eventually, Rodriguez caught Purdue cheating the run, which they had been doing all game.
I'm also OK with the duck that Denard threw on this play. Given the way he was sailing passes, throwing the ball short to a wide open receiver is far preferrable than missing the third down conversion because of an errant throw. If Michigan had been behind at this point, I might've complained about the pass; if he had hit Koger in stride, he probably rumbles in for a touchdown and removes much of the drama. But the fact that Michigan could basically run out the clock if they needed to meant making the sure pass was much preferable to making the perfect pass.