Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Miami (FL) designed cutbacks

All 2012 Sugar Bowl coverage can be found on the Bowl Game page.

As I mentioned in the Miami Impressions post, Virginia Tech's linebackers are not very good. This also explains why only one of them shows up in the team's top five tacklers, supplanted instead by four members of the team's secondary. Miami took note of the linebackers' susceptibility and aggressiveness throughout the game. This is just one example.

Miami comes out in a heavy I-form set with a tight end and H-back. Virginia Tech shows the 4-4 run stopping front that they used throughout the game. This will be a counter iso run, a designed cutback to attack the Hokie linebackers.

As the ball is snapped, Jacory Harris turns to his right. The Virginia Tech linebackers immediately react and start moving to their left. Notice, however, that the Miami offensive line is creating a hole in the B-gap on the left side of the line (top of the screen).

As Harris hands the ball off, you can see the huge hole opened by the Miami offensive line. However, all three of the Hokies linebackers have run past the gap. The Miami center is releasing upfield to block the only linebacker capable of making the tackle.

A moment later and the Miami center has reached the VT linebacker. You can see the Miami running back Mike James sees the hole and is headed for it. This was not a great read/cutback by the running back. This was designed.

James is now running through the enormous gap created by the overpursuit of the VT linebackers with only a safety between him and the endzone.

He's partially obscured behind the referee here, but that safety makes the tackle. The play results in a six-yard gain.

Though Virginia Tech's linebackers have almost surely improved from the middle of the season when these teams played, this was a consistent trend in this game. And if the team's tackling leaders are to be believed, this probably happens more often than not. These linebackers are aggressive heading downhill and frequently bite on play action/counters like this. They don't appear to key on pulling linemen very quickly, and as is the case here, they're suspect in run fills.

It'll be interesting to see what Michigan can do with this. Plays like the counter draw (which VT actually used in this game) and counter draw play action might be really effective against linebackers prone to overpursuing. Regardless, this was indicative of the team's play all game: overly aggressive reaction to the run opening lanes for both running backs and Jacory Harris. If the Hokies aren't more disciplined than this against Michigan, Denard and Co. should have no problem putting up gaudy numbers.


reader71 said...

I disagree with your contention that this was an intended cutback play. It looks like a standard Iso to me. The key is in the combination blocks.

If it were a designed cutback with an iso fake, you would see the C/LG combo work left through the nose and get the LG on the LB. This would provide the proper angle on the backer for the cutback, namely, the blocker would be on the right shoulder of the LB, walling him off from the back cutting behind.. Because they work playside (right) and the C gets off to the LB ( essentially blocking the LB into the cutback lane), I doubt this was intended. That is, I'm certain this call was exactly the same as any iso to the right.
The line gashed a hole left and the back hit it, but if you look at how the line got to their eventual positions, you can tease out the design of the play.

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