Wednesday, September 19, 2012

QB Oh Noes: The Return (also, illegal man downfield)

Another fun trick that Al Borges brought back from the Rodriguez regime is the ever-deadly QB Oh Noes. Denard and Roy Roundtree rode this play to become one of the most dynamic QB-WR duos in the Big Ten in 2010. Once this was excised from the playbook, Roundtree's numbers fell off a cliff. So did Denard's, for what it's worth.

It's the first drive of the game and Michigan coems out in a two-TE set with two receivers split out to Denard's left. Fitz Toussaint is lined up in the backfield next to Denard.

As the ball is snapped, Michigan's two receivers as well as Devin Funchess (TE on the top of the screen) release. Denard immediately looks out to the nickelback lined up over Michigan's slot receiver. Toussaint will come across Denard's face for a handoff.

At this point, Denard sees what he wants: UMass' secondary hasn't moved and more importantly, the linebackers are staring into the backfield and ignoring Devin Funchess (arrow) who has a clear lane through the center of the field.

Denard is pulling back to throw to Funchess who is wide open. There's only one problem: Patrick Omameh (highlighted) who is an ineligible receiver, is already two yards beyond the line of scrimmage. This, as you might already know, is a penalty.

As Denard lets go of the ball, Omameh is already four yards downfield run blocking. This is still illegal.

Ball in the air, Omameh blocking downfield...

...touchdown. No flags. Wheeee.


The Takeaway
This is super illegal. Michigan should have been flagged and the touchdown should have been taken away. If the UMass linebackers were keying on Michigan's guards for run/pass clues, having one of the guards release 5 yards downfield on the snap is a pretty clear sign that this is a running play. Look at the offensive line on the first QB Oh Noes of 2010:

The line of scrimmage here is the 31 yard line. The furthest any of Michigan's linemen get upfield before the throw is the 30 yard line. That's a tough call for the refs to make. Omameh scampering downfield is not.

The positive sign from this play, however, is that Borges appears to be learning how to use the threat of Denard's legs as a way to set up easy completions. The one tweak here is the use of Devin Funchess to catch the seam route rather than a slot receiver. One of the concerns with this personnel is that if Funchess can't develop into a reliable run-blocker, defenses will start keying in on him as a receiver and disregard the play action. But that's a worry for another time. Right now, Funchess is a problem for just about every defense and it's nice to see Borges utilizing his skillset.


Tim Sullivan said...

It's not "super illegal." Omameh is right about four yards downfield, when the threshold is 3 yards beyond the neutral zone (which is the length of the football, so 3 1/3 yards downfield). When he's just two yards down field, this is not, as I know, a penalty.

When the ball is released and he's four yards downfield, it's illegal, but a close enough call that you will almost never see it made unless he gets a block on that safety before the pass is thrown.

Chris Gaerig said...

I don't think that's correct. If Omameh had engaged in a block at the LOS and pushed the man 3 yards downfield, it's legal, but I don't believe you're allowed a free release downfield (up to 3 yards) on a passing play.

Ryan said...

I actually wonder if this is a 'packaged play,' employed by spread offenses like WVU, Oklahoma St and Oregon. Chris Brown has a write up about it here:

It appears that the offensive linemen are run blocking and the quarterback has the option to hand it off or throw based off of what a read does... watching clips of the other schools running this concept shows their offensive lineman get a little downfield as well

Nick said...

Chris I actually just looked up the rule and it makes no mention of blocking. It simply states "three yards beyond the neutral zone". If Denard lets go of the ball in the frame where you highlighted Omameh, it looks like he is only about 3 yards downfield in the next frame he is 4. Don't think it's nearly as clear cut as you make it to be. Appreciate the picture pages by the way.

Tim Sullivan said...

That's not the case. Three yards is the rule.

Owen Rosen said...

This isn't "QB Oh Noes." QB Oh Noes refers to QB Play Action. This is simply a standard play action pass with a mesh point to simulate the look of a typical read option handoff. Borges has been running this since Western last year.

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