Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The inverted veer: blocking still an issue

One of the most frustrating aspects of Michigan's running game since Brady Hoke arrived has been the non-option option. Hoke's tendency to run power schemes with a pulling lineman and helmet-on-helmet blocking has led to Denard running read option plays where no defender is actually optioned. One of the things I noticed immediately against UMass was that Michigan was actually optioning defenders again.

It is early in Michigan's first drive of the game. Here, they will run an inverted veer option. This play is intended to get Denard running vertically, or the running back horizontally depending on how it's defended. Denard will read the weakside defensive end (highlighted).

As the ball is snapped, Michael Schofield and Patrick Omameh double team the weakside defensive tackle. The weakside defensive end was left unblocked. Notice also that Michigan's left guard Ricky Barnum is pulling across the formation to the weakside.

Denard is now reading the weakside defensive end (highlighted). Barnum (arrow) is pulling across the formation. Last year, Michigan used this play a lot against Ohio State, but the pulling guard would often engage the unblocked defensive end (more about this later). In this instance, he runs by him to get to the second level.

Denard continues to read the defensive end. Barnum continues to the second level.

The defensive end gets too far upfield (probably; you'll see Denard just barely slips by him) so Denard pulls the ball and begins running upfield.

Denard is running by the weakside defensive end. Barnum (highlighted) is looking for someone to block downfield. He'll eventually block the man in front of him that Michael Schofield is currently engaged with.

Denard just barely sneaks by the defensive end. Schofield is losing his block (highlighted), and Barnum is moving to double downfield. Despite Schofield being unable to maintain his block any longer, it probably doesn't matter on this play. It would have been more beneficial if Barnum got downfield and blocked one of the UMass safeties.

Since Barnum didn't get to a free defender upfield, the UMass safety (highlighted) is left unblocked and able to eventually make the tackle on Denard.


The Takeaway
Michigan ran the same play against Ohio State last year, but there were either different blocking assignments (which seems likely given Hoke's option blocking tendencies) or Michigan's personnel struggled with their assignments in real time. Last year, Schofield (#75) was at left guard and pulling across this formation. Denard should be optioning the highlighted Buckeye defender, but Schofield will actually block him leaving Ohio State's safety unblocked...


The way Michigan ran this play last year wasn't really an option at all. If you're blocking the player that you're supposed to be optioning, your QB is just taking longer to hand the ball off/run. This schematic tweak against UMass hopefully signals a change in philosophy where the offense will block defenders by optioning them.

However, it still wasn't run perfectly. Like against Ohio State, Michigan's pulling lineman eventually blocked the wrong defender, negating the numbers advantage that the option gives an offense. In both instances, the opposing safety was left completely unblocked and was able to make the tackle. However, last year, I had this reaction,
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.
We'll see if this really is a repetition issue; it seems like it. With a new left guard, it may take time for Barnum to be able to quickly pick out his proper assignment. I'm just encouraged that Hoke and Borges have decided to actually option defenders.


JV coach said...

Could it have been the game plan to block the OSU DE (presumably a better athlete than UMass' DE)? I understand the veer is supposed to leave 1 man unblocked and force that man to make a choice. But OSU is better coached and has better athletes. Maybe Hoke/Borges felt like blocking the OSU DE assures us 5-10+ yards per play, while against UMass, Denard should be able to pick up 10+ yards by virtue of talent discrepancy alone.

Chris Gaerig said...

It's possible that was the reasoning behind Hoke's/Borges' decision, but it's not really sound reasoning. Cam Newton ran this play to a Heisman and national title against the likes of Alabama, LSU, and Oklahoma in the title game. They all have athletes on par with OSU and there were no issues running the play.

The problem with running an option play and then not actually optioning a defender is that it gives the rest of the defense time to react to what's happening. If you're going to option a player, you need to leave them unblock or else you're just wasting time and probably not optimizing the numbers advantage you would otherwise gain.

Ace Smith said...

Well we dont think that the wolverines have a chance against the red hot Irish and we are so sure that we wrote an article about it right here! http://ncaaplay.com/2012/09/another-michigan-test-for-the-fighting-irish/

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