Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Missed blocks (Iowa edition)

After a poor 2009 season blocking for Tate Forcier, Mark Huyge proved himself a decent-to-good right tackle last year en route to Michigan's best offense in over a decade. Unfortunately, 2011 hasn't been quite as kind. Against MSU, Huyge opened SitB for suffering Spartan defensive ends. And against Iowa, he was responsible for the death of a play that was setup to go a long, long way.

The setup:
Michigan is down 6-7 with just over 13 minutes left in the second quarter and has the ball on their own 40 yard line. Michigan comes out in an I formation with stacked receivers to Denard's right. Initially, Kevin Koger is lined up as an H-back on the left side of the field...

He will motion across the formation and line up directly behind Mark Huyge:

This is a basic power play. On the snap, Michael Schofield begins to pull across the formation as the lead blocker. Huyge and David Molk down block. Patrick Omameh needs to get to the second level to seal Iowa's MLB. Koger is responsible to kick out the playside Iowa linebacker. They're creating a hole in the C gap (to the right of the right tackle, Huyge) for Schofield and Fitz Toussaint to run through.

Schofield continues to pull...

As Denard hands the ball off, Huyge is being thrown to the ground. So instead of creating a hole in the C gap for Schofield to run through, Iowa now has, essentially, an unblocked linebacker and defensive end for him to deal with.

Huyge continues to fall. Toussaint follows Schofield.

Since Huyge has missed his block, Toussaint is forced to cut back up the field into the help defense.

Tackled. Boo.

A few things:

Huyge has to hold this block. If he does, this play is set up to go a long way. If this play is blocked correctly, the only things between Toussaint and the endzone are two defenders and two blockers. Instead, the hole collapses and Toussaint is forced to cut back into the middle of the field and into the strength of Iowa's defense. Problems like these are why Michigan can't run the I formation this year.

This is not Mike DeBord's power running. Much harumphing has been done about the I formation, but pre-snap shifts like this act as a way to create mismatches to the playside. With Michigan's receivers blocking downfield and Schofield pulling across the formation, Michigan had seven blockers on the playside of the field where Iowa only had six defenders. The problem here is that Huyge doesn't hold his block, not the play design, which is mostly brilliant.

I think there's a misconception that I formation running is strictly helmet-on-helmet brute strength. In actuality, this is far more indicative of the theories used in power running: create mismatches at the point of attack and expect your blockers to do their job. (As a sidenote, the Philadelphia Eagles have the best running schemes in the NFL, even without Michael Vick. Watch how they use H-backs and shift players pre-snap to create these mismatches.)


Jack said...

Chris, really appreciate all of the Xs & Os breakdowns. I can see why Borges & Hoke don't want to completely abandon the Power play. It looked like it could've and should've worked against the undersized Hawkeyes front four on Saturday. As Borges said in his presser yesterday, in many instances, 10 players were doing their jobs but the one who didn't cost us opportunities for big plays.

Guest said...

great analysis. Really shows how true what the coaches were saying in terms of one guys blowing the whole play. keep up the good work.

Guest said...

btw, I don't always post but I check your blog daily and appreciate all the work.

Keith said...

Has Hyuge regressed this season or is that just my imagination. He seemed to be a good veteran tackle last year and this year he's just average. If we had OL depth and Barnum was healthy I'd be rooting for Schofield to play RT. I really think Hyuge's step backwards is killing our run success. We should just run exclusively to the left side like we did with Hart and Long.

Chris Gaerig said...

I don't think it's fair to say that he regressed necessarily, but I think the shift in offensive philosophy has exposed some of his weaknesses. Huyge was a huge problem in 2009 and one of the main reasons that Forcier had to be so scrambly. I think the Rodriguez zone blocking schemes better utilized his set of skills.

As for running left, MGoBlog has talked about this throughout the season, but it appears that one of the reasons the team won't run left is because Patrick Omameh struggles as a pulling lineman. Given the coaching staff's insistence on running power (which utilizes a pulling lineman, typically the backside guard), it is difficult to run left.

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