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Space Coyote

Member since 03 June 2013 | Blog

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Comment 06 Nov 2014

Against MSU it's always about being able to adjust. MSU often comes out quite vanilla on their defense with a base gameplan and sees what you're doing. You'll note that in the last two seasons, most of the success against them has come in the first couple drives of the game. Then they see how the offense is attempting to attack, they make some small adjustments (switch a technique on their front, squeeze a LB more inside, play more MOD instead of MEG to the field, etc). So you have to be prepared for how you think they'll adjust to stop your first plan.

While I haven't rewatched for it, I'm still convinced MSU made a slight adjustment to their front toward the end of the 3rd Q last year and that's why you saw them go away from Hyde more. Obviously, I still think that's a mistake, but I'm not convinced they went away from him for no reason. So in a game like this it may come down to Plan A, Plan B, Half-time adjustments, Plan C. You must be ready to adjust off of your half-time adjustments. 

Comment 06 Nov 2014

I'm a little confused on what's being asked here. Do you mean keep the protection to set for a normal drop back but roll JT out?

I don't think you want to take those steps, as that gives free shots on the outside. But you can do some simple slide schemes where you essentially just run your outside zone blocking (without going down field) to try to scoop them back inside. I wouldn't be surprised with some of this on obvious passing downs, but remember that when you roll out you also constrict the field and play into MSU's coverage a bit, so you have to pick and choose when you do it.

There was an MSU blogger that called MSU's defense "Break but don't bend", and that's a pretty accurate statement. OSU has to be smart on when to take shots, because shots are there to be had. Third down situations are always dicey against MSU, so you just hope JT reads his keys quickly enough (C4, C0, 5, 6, etc) to put the ball in the right spot. Utilize some half rolls and slight pocket movement with PA and I think you're in a better situation.

Comment 06 Nov 2014

Exactly, get him off his landmark and you can have some success against Cook.

Cook is very good when he's clean in the pocket and his mechanics are sound. But when he's pushed off his landmark, especially on plays that aren't designed roll outs (but not limited to this), you see his mechanics start to struggle a bit and you see him make some bad decisions. He tends to fade backward in the pocket, and on the move he tends to force some throws. While he hasn't been sacked a lot this year, part of that is because of their run game, and part of that is them utilizing means for him to escape the pocket. They rolled him a lot in the Nebraska game, for instance, but he also had a really bad game that day (11/29 throwing)

Comment 06 Nov 2014

I'm going to half disagree. You are correct that those seams were open in the B1G championship. And you are right that there can be opening in coverage, particularly against the safeties that have a lot of run responsibilities as well. But those plays against Oregon were busted coverages. It was poor eye discipline that causes reckless "cheating" up to run and things like that. So, yes, you can catch them cheating on the run, but when they do so it is a busted coverage because of some mistake they are making.

Like all schemes, in theory, if you execute your assignments it is all covered. That's a harder aspect of the Cover 4 scheme, but it's still a busted coverage.

Comment 06 Nov 2014

MSU isn't as strong at the DT position as PSU, but I think their DEs are better against the run than PSUs. MSU's DTs tend to get a little more undisciplined. If Miller was back there I'd expect more midline, but that's been rarer (though not absent) with Barrett.

Comment 06 Nov 2014

I wouldn't be surprised if they did this and utilized the TE more than Oregon did. However, if MSU doesn't flip the CB, which I don't expect them to as regularly at least, they like to autocheck into a COBRA (Boundary CB) blitz on certain down and distance and against certain offensive formations and play the TE as they typically would the #2 in their C4 scheme. That makes it a bit more difficult to run to that side of the formation and really takes away the cutbacks on the Veer option runs and belly plays that OSU likes to run in those situations, and gives an extra defender if you're just running standard zone runs to that side.

If that's the case, look for some intermediate outs and out-and-ups and posts from the TE side of the formation to try to play with the safety a bit and force MSU away from that COBRA blitz a bit to adjust their coverage differently. Nebraska had success utilizing their slot in this way, but I think that was due to the fact that they had rarely utilized their slots in that manner this year outside the 2nd half of the MSU game. OSU throws to the slot quite a bit, so MSU will likely play their coverage a bit differently.

So if OSU goes to a trip set, be on the look out for that COBRA blitz, look for OSU to play some games on that SS with the TE, and look for OSU to attack the coverage with the #3 to the trips side with seams, corner routes, and bubbles inside the #1. It's hard to run crossing routes against MSU, they wall off as well as any team in the country, so while you'll likely see it tried, I don't see a lot of success coming from it. 

Comment 06 Nov 2014

With regards to the Oregon tape.

Other teams have had success on some similar concepts, but not necessarily the same play. MSU brought an adjustment to their Cover 4 into that game (Narduzzi typically has 5 adjustments installed for each Saturday, of over 20 that are in the playbook) that he rarely uses, and I've never seen him use as extensively. That's with how he flipped the CB over to the trips side of the field.

They'll done it on occasion against other opponents, but not as regularly and every down-to-down as they did against Oregon. The 4th picture shown of the MSU-Oregon game is likely the most applicable to OSU, and the method that most teams have had success since (and a similar method that OSU used to score a TD against them last year). Oddly, teams have attacked Drummond more this year, who has been prone to try to jump things underneath and get more involved in run support. PA to the seam to pick on the safeties will likely be a go-to for OSU on early downs when MSU is looking run.

Barrett has handled pressure better since the VT game, but you're going to see some similar fronts post-snap with MSU (where they'll shoot the A-gaps and such to put pressure right up the gut). MSU is very well schooled in peeling off to cover RBs flaring outside, it'll be interesting the wrinkles OSU utilizes to attack over the middle against this scheme (note: VT utilized mostly C1 or C0 behind their Eagle fronts, MSU will use a 5 coverage (3 deep; 2 underneath) or 6 (3 deep; 3 underneath) as depicted above and read QB's eyes and flow). Also note that MSU likes to bring in their nickel personnel (take off a LB and add a Safety) and play flat across the back 5 to switch up who moves forward in coverage and who drops and sometimes bring delayed blitzes from the safety level.

Comment 30 Jul 2014

Theoretically the pulling guard would pass up the crashing DE and still work to the LB. As the poster above said, the DE is "blocked" by the read. You block everything else straight up and make the correct read and it should work for big yards.

Comment 30 Jul 2014

OSU ran a package play quite often from this same look. Typically, if the corner is in tight man, the WR will simply run him off. If the CB is playing off, OSU WRs will run a quick hitch and Miller has the option to throw it out to him in those cases.

Comment 29 Jul 2014

As Ross and Jim Light explain, it's by design to prevent a scrape exchange call (most likely a straight check from the H motion into the backfield) from making Miller's read wrong. By cracking the LB, it seals that player inside. If Michigan here is running a scrape exchange, Hyde cannot get to the LB before the LB gets to his spot in the exchange; if the exchange is coming from the CB instead of the LB to make Miller's read wrong, the WR has a difficult time adjusting quick enough to pick up that block. The Y-crack gives both Hyde and the slot an easier assignment on their blocks and counters and scrape exchange call, essentially making it so that Michigan can't make Miller's read wrong.

The reason this isn't automatic is because Michigan could eventually make an adjustment with their front side safety. If they see that crack come inside and not release vertical, the frontside safety should "crack exchange" and essentially take that WR out of the play (he is now not in a good position for play action, and has forced OSU to lose their numbers advantage playside). So that's the chess game going on in this situation.

Comment 29 Jul 2014

I'll add (if I can figure out how to post it here), that OSU utilized a slightly different adjustment vs MSU's cover 4. I prefer video, so hopefully this works.

Anyway, MSU's method of defending this play is to crash the frontside safety down to take away the H-back, and stay at home in the box to defend the QB (OLB will also crash immediately outside, not allowing Hyde to block both defenders). In addition, they will rotate their backside safety over the top to help with the #2 receiver playside.

To take advantage of this immediate movement from MSU, OSU called a standard two high defeating playcall, that includes a post, streak, and wheel behind it. In this case, the post is flattened into a streak to get over the top of the backside safety quickly and not allow him to rotate over the top. It also doesn't give the frontside safety time to recover. This results in a TD.

Comment 12 Dec 2013

A lot of this is due to MSU's scheme and how they are set up to stop short and intermediate routes, particularly to the middle of the field. I've written about this a couple times, and trust me, the OSU fan base is far from the first and won't be the last to leave fans wondering "why didn't we attack the short middle with quick throws like slants?"

The way MSU plays with their OLBs, they pretty literally catch any receiver trying to cross and wall off the middle of the field. So any release off the LOS that is initially inside will get caught. On the outside the tend to press with an inside technique. My impression from the game was that MSU's technique was on a different level, and in that instance it really helps because it forces any inside release to initially work parallel to the LOS. On top of that, it makes things like bubble screens extremely difficult, especially with the way MSU plays their safeties over the #2 about 8 yards off the ball and flashing down on first movement.

What this means is that there are really two open areas of the field, you have the short/intermediate out from the #2 or #3 receiver, which is still a long pass that will be contested by a DB (how MSU has been playing the coverage lately) and you have the one on one match-ups deep.

Now, someone was talking about the TE/WR seam from the #2 that was working all day. I haven't watched the 2nd half again but I'm certain MSU made an adjustment to make this throw more difficult. Likely they went to a cage or jam shade (this means the DE lines heads up on the TE or OT) to the initial RB side. This does two things: 1) it puts another DL in the belly run play; 2) it allows the OLB to go out further over the #2 and carry his route (therefore slowing him down). The second point is allowed to happen because the OLB now has outside leverage as his assignment, it also allows the safety more free will to play run and recover on that seam, which wasn't the case in the 1st half and start of the 2nd half when MSU was simply splitting the difference with the OLB or giving a free release to the #2. My guess is this is also why you started seeing more of Miller running than giving to Hyde, as the OLB was initially occupied by the #2 allowing Miller to work in space.

Again, I haven't watched the 2nd half film, but this is a common way for MSU and Narduzzi to adjust within their cover 4 scheme to take away some of the things OSU wanted to do on offense. 

Lastly, to fit some of the offensive playcalling complaints: there is a triangle that is set up when looking how to call plays. One point is taking what the defense gives you (spread teams tend to lean in this direction); another point is doing what you do best (this is more a pro-style philosophy); another point is sticking with your intended game plan that you worked to draw up for a week. Now, this isn't an isosceles triangle, but still, you walk a fine line with how you call the next play. Lean too much one way and the play still has perfectly good logic, but isn't the right call. And so you work within that triangle trying to find the right balance of each. IMO, they went too far away from what was working (feeding Hyde) regardless of MSU's adjustments.

Comment 04 Dec 2013

On the jet sweep, I don't think the initial alignment is much of an issue. Gardner isn't going to run a QB sweep and with the DTs inside in their front, it makes it difficult for Michigan's OL to reach the playside LB. That means you have 3 players for 3 fill lanes (CB, Safety, playside LB).

The problem, instead, is the lack of adjustment, or the fail to roll coverage, once the jet sweep motion begins. At that point, yes, you are completely out leveraged. You can either assist this by rolling the playside safety down and switch to a cover 1 type look or by shuttling the LBs a gap over (likely bringing the backside safety up to defend any sort of fake jet sweep and run to the backside). Both of these leave you a little bit exposed on the back end as far as coverage help, but as OSU did against Wisconsins 2-RB, jet sweep package, they leveraged the outside playside, played straight up on the DL, and understood that there are only a limited number of concepts behind that can expose your CBs.

So, in my opinion, it's the lack of adjustment to the jet sweep that did them in.

Comment 26 Sep 2013

Looks to me - and you may be referencing this when you say "jumped the route" - but it looks to me that the WR was running either a slugo or a post-corner type route. Knowing that he had safety help over the top, he probably jumped that, fell into a trail position, and then looked back when the receiver looked back.

FWIW, the QB is also extremely late on his throw, so my guess is the WR looked back early, giving Roby time to read and see the throw develop.

Sure would be nice if the B1G did was the SEC does and allowed fans to see all-22 footage though. Coverage is hard enough to read even when you can see it, let alone when you have to make assumptions based on a snippet of it.

Comment 26 Sep 2013

I think I watched the first couple drives with OSU's defense and they may have left cover 1 once, maybe. In my opinion, it was more in line of just keeping things vanilla rather than prepping for Wisconsin, as the offenses are very different. However, I do very much agree that OSU will be in cover 1 the majority of the time against Wisconsin. OSU's athletes can match up well enough with Wisconsin on the outside that they shouldn't need the help of zones. Meanwhile, you want LB's eyes in the backfield to help support the run as much as you can.

Don't want to get in trouble, but that "creative way" that Wisconsin is using two RBs is something I described in a post on another OSU blog. Again, don't want to get in trouble as I don't know the feelings between blogs and if that's something that's allowed, but they ran quite a few looks with White doing the jet motion, and out of several different formations as well.

By the way, I always really like this feature here. You do a good job finding things to breakdown week to week.

Comment 26 Sep 2013

While I certainly agree with what you're saying, one of the big issues with the run game has also been Gardner's inconsistency. Teams have really stacked the box the last two weeks. It's kind of chasing your own tail, though. To put it nicely, Michigan has a lot of room for improvement.

Comment 26 Sep 2013

I'll add to it, as I wrote the article. I don't think Gardner is the same as Denard, completely different players. I do think Gardner is capable of being a very good QB. He has shown proper mechanics and footwork and an ability to step into the pocket despite pressure and complete passes, on top of his ability to run. His problem still is, he isn't good enough (call it reps, call it natural ability, call it comfort) to not have confidence and still be good. He resorts back to things that made him a project at the QB position coming out of high school.

I guess the basic premise is that I think he will get better because I think eventually he'll bounce back. But, it's clear that he isn't to the point yet where he can do some things wrong and still make plays outside of with his feet (which he has reasons to be confident in). That's a big step for any player, let alone a QB. I think it's something you've seen in Miller before, where when he gets hit a few times sometimes he's started taking off too quickly, or staring down receivers too long as he really tries to force himself to make the correct read and pass. Big learning curve, big upside, but it could be a wild ride.

And yes, @Fitz above me, it is a lot of "ifs".

Comment 05 Sep 2013

There are more than a few ways that you can mix up cover 4 to give the offense some different looks, as you point out.

One thing a team like MSU does almost all the time is to press with their field side corner. This makes the screen game to that side more difficult. If teams are running quick outs with their slot receiver, there are calls that can be made where the field CB will leave his man and undercut underneath, basically converting that side of the field to cover 2. Simply running some cover 6 (cover 4 to field side, cover 2 to boundary) can also give the QB the impression that the defense is running a different defense than it actually is. If this is a new package for OSU, expect those things to start getting installed and more practice reps before seeing the field in situations where they're actually need.

Good write up by the way.

Comment 08 Jun 2013

White is a threat, because BM is going to get his, but at the end of the day I think OSU runs a bit more up-tempo and has a slightly better defense, giving OSU more snaps and chances at TDs. I think defenses keep a player or two to spy Miller, and Hyde will benefit a lot of he remains healthy. I picked Hyde here.