Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Zone reading Manti Te'o pt. 2

As shown earlier, against Notre Dame, Al Borges was able to get quality carries for Denard by optioning off of Irish linebacker Manti Te'o rather than a defensive end. Because of this unorthodox zone read, Te'o was never able to recognize the play in time and Denard ran for 65 yards on the three zone read carries. While two of those instances featured two tight-end sets, Borges also used essentially the same play and blocking scheme from a three-wide set with an H-back in the backfield.

Whereas before Notre Dame was in a 4-3 defensive front, here they're lined up in a 3-4 package. Te'o is the inside linebacker shaded over Michigan's left guard.

As the ball is snapped, the offensive line zone blocks to the right. The difference from the play we saw earlier today is Kevin Koger, who is lined up as an H-back rather than a tight end. Previously, Koger was the strongside tight end and blocked Notre Dame's playside linebacker. Here, he will pull across the formation to engaged the same linebacker while Denard once again reads Te'o.

At the mesh point, you can see Te'o crashing down on the handoff. He shows discipline by staying above the offensive and defensive lines. You can see Koger continuing to pull across the formation.

At this point, left tackle Taylor Lewan has pushed the playside defensive end two yards back and into Te'o. Denard sees Te'o trapped in the B gap and pulls the ball. Koger is running to kick block an unsuspecting Notre Dame linebacker.

Lewan continues to truck Notre Dame's defensive end downfield, carrying Te'o with him. Koger has blocked the Irish linebacker and Shaw is following Denard to try and block downfield.

...but Denard is faster than everyone and outruns Shaw. He'll be tackled 13 yards downfield.

In an offense that's not likely to optimize Denard's running abilities, plays like this one and its variants will be important. With Denard taking less carries, it will be crucial that those carries are more effective than running him between the tackles. Even more encouraging is Borges' ability to play around with the traditional zone read. By optioning off of Te'o (a linebacker) rather than a defensive end, Borges was able to isolate and attack Notre Dame's best defender. If Borges can continue to draw up variations on the zone read to pinpoint weaknesses in a specific defense, Denard will be able to carry the ball more frequently and find more running room to boot.


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