Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Blocking issues on the inverted veer

Yesterday, I broke down Denard's long touchdown run against Ohio State but had trouble identifying who he was reading on the play. It was either the weakside linebacker or the middle linebacker, the latter of which seemed unlikely, and the former was blocked by pulling guard Patrick Omameh. Brian from MGoBlog clarified in the comments that Denard was reading the weakside linebacker who was mistakenly blocked.
He should be reading Shazier, #10, and he makes the right read. Omameh screwed up by blocking the guy the play options off.
Michigan used the same zone read play a number of times throughout the game, but interestingly, the pulling lineman (in the play below Michael Schofield) appeared to have the same problem identifying who he was supposed to block. This time, Denard could not Denard the unblocked defender and Michigan lost what could have been another huge gain.

Michigan comes out in a three-wide set with twins to Denard's right, and Kevin Koger lined up as an H-back. Fitz Toussaint is in the backfield with Denard. Ohio State is in a 4-3 nickel look.

As the ball is snapped, right tackle Mark Huyge leaves the strongside defensive end unblocked and releases to the second level. Koger is responsible for blocking the strongisde end. Schofield begins to pull across the formation. The rest of the defensive line down blocks.

At the mesh point, Denard is reading the playside linebacker (circled in red). Schofield is pulling across the formation and should ignore the playside linebacker and head upfield to block the Buckeye safety...

...but he doesn't, instead blocking the linebacker that Denard was optioning off of. The Buckeye safety (circled in red) who Schofield was supposed to block is now standing between Denard and Awesome.

Denard sees this and tries to cut outside.

He is unsuccessful.

Ten-man football etc etc. If Schofield blocks the proper defender here, Denard is running 91 yards for a touchdown. Instead, he's tackled for a two-yard gain. For me, this isn't quite as frustrating as when Michigan fails to run from under center. This seems like a repetition issue. Neither Omameh or Schofield have practiced this blocking scheme as much as they probably should, and pulling across the formation and finding the right defender to block is probably one of those things that just takes getting used to.

That said ARGHHH. Block the right guy. I wonder what goes through Denard's mind during a play like this. "Yes, yes, got'em. Remember, take a knee. Troll Tebow. Chest bump. Hoke Point." Tackled. If Al Borges starts integrating this play into the offense next year and the offensive line gets their blocking assignments in order, this will be a fierce rushing attack, possibly on par with the 2010 Rodriguez-led team. This kind of play is both encouraging and discouraging. I'll take it.

UPDATE. MGoBlog has video of this play that clarifies a question in the comments about whether or not Denard made the right read (he did).


Greenphoenix1189 said...

What makes you think this is player error? If it happened repeatedly, it suggests a coaching problem. I started to suspect around the Northwestern game that Borges doesn't really "get" the zone read, with its myriad assignments and variations. These plays reinforce that suspicion. I think he's telling his line to block the wrong guys.

Chris Gaerig said...

I see what you're saying, and while Borges might not have the depth of knowledge of say, Rich Rodriguez with regards to the spread, he certainly understands the basic principles of the zone read (that of reading an unblocked defender and optioning off of him). No OC will ever ask a lineman to block a player that the quarterback optioned off of.

NYC Blue said...

With the gigantic caveat of having no special football knowledge....

Is this really an option off the LB? If so, at the mesh, the LB is inside-- Denard should give to Fitz, right? So, perhaps a bad read. BUT, at the mesh, Koger has been pushed upfield enough that Fitz would have to bounce 2 yards backwards to get outside- so I think Denard pulled correctly. Look at the mesh shot again- if Schofield runs by the LB, Denard does not have much room to be Denard-like. I think it is less than 50-50 that he makes it by the LB tackling in a restricted space.

I have no idea how this is coached, but might it simply be that this was just well defended? Alternately, you could question the idea of using Koger in an H-back position rather than on the line as a TE which meant that his initial contact with the DE was already a yard in the backfield.

Chris Gaerig said...

They are definitely optioning off of the LB here. Video would clarify this, but Denard holds the mesh point for a long time, opening up space for him to run.

GeoTracker said...

Is it just me or does Schofield telegraph the pull by dropping his right shoulder in his stance?

GeoTracker said...

Oh and I'm referring to pre-snap. Look at how he's lined up.

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