As with many of these snapshot plays, I'm limited with my time - and these take a while - so I apologize for not going into more depth.
In the second quarter with the Wolverines down 7-0 to Rutgers, Michigan had a 2nd-and-1 play with Blake Corum in the backfield in 11 personnel (1 running back, 1 tight end).
Pre-snap, the setup looks like this:
That's Corum to the right of the QB, and it sets up perfectly (at least in my mind) for power read. One unblocked playside defender is the field safety at 10 yards, and if the receivers block, Corum has to make a guy miss in the open field. The other unblocked playside defender is the end, because the call would put him in conflict, forcing him to either chase Corum or keep an eye on the 6'5", 243 lb. QB with the 4.62 forty.
Hit the jump for more.
The angles are perfect for the offensive line, but there's just one problem:
Michigan doesn't run power read.
Optioning defensive ends, a staple in Penn State's offenses ever since they rid themselves of Christian Hackenberg, has become an afterthought. And power read just doesn't exist in Ann Arbor.
There are other things you can do off of power read, too, such as shovel passes, play action passes, etc. The whole package exists to do a few things:
- Put a defender in conflict (hooray!)
- Get a downhill run threat from a physical running QB (Milton)
- Get a speedy player in open space (#speedinspace)
Instead, Michigan flipped Corum to the left and ran pin and pull into the boundary . . . with no reads, no defenders put into conflict.
Freshman right guard Zak Zinter is the first puller, and he gets stoned by a cornerback. Redshirt junior left guard Chuck Filiaga is the left guard, and you can see he's two gaps away from Rutgers linebacker Tyshon Fogg.
I'll give you three guesses as to whether the 6'6", 345 lb. guard Filiaga was fast enough to deal with Fogg.
Further maddening me was the fact that there were no reads built into this play. You could run an RPO here using the TE to put Fogg into conflict. You could run an RPO to put one (or both) of the backside linebackers into conflict.
But instead, it's just a straight handoff behind a struggling offensive line missing three starters.
The result: -1 yard for Corum.
- Michigan is running RPO-type plays with no RPO attached. It wasn't just that Milton didn't read it correctly. No receivers ran routes.
- Michigan is not using the 6'5", 243 lb. guy with 4.62 speed as a running threat.
- Michigan is not helping out its weakened offensive line. A defense that has to worry about RPOs might be less aggressive, less downhill, and more passive, potentially opening up holes for the running backs.