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Inside the Play: Miami

The format of this feature is a work-in-progress. If you have any suggestions, let me know. The video quality problem from last week should be resolved..

For this week's Inside the Play, we're going to look at something that should be familiar to regular readers of this blog by now: the zone read option.

However, we'll take a look this time at a specific instance of Michigan having success on this play against Miami.

The Situation
It's 1st and 10 for the Wolverines, and they have the ball dead-center on their own 30 yard line. With a 10-point lead in the middle of the first quarter, another touchdown could start to open the floodgates.

The Personnel and Formation
Steven Threet is the quarterback, with Michael Shaw joining him in the backfield, to his right. Junior Hemingway and Carson Butler are wide left and slot left, respectively. Darryl Stonum and Martavious Odoms are wide right and slot right, respectively.

Miami is in a base 4-3, with the outside linebackers shaded slightly outside. Neither is as wide as the slot players. The two safeties are both high, indicating a straight cover-2 zone.

The Play

At the snap, Threet and Shaw reach the mesh point, and Threet makes the give. Shaw runs through a cavernous gaping hole between the center and left guard, and his speed gets him to the second level quickly. The receivers to the playside run of their defenders downfield, then stalk block them. On the weakside, Odoms fakes a bubble screen route and Stonum works downfield to block. By the time he is finally tackled by the playside corner and a linebacker, Shaw has picked up 30 yards.

Why it Happened Like it Did
The key to this play was exceptional blocking by the offensive line(!), and good awareness by Carson Butler(!!). The weakside DE looks to be flowing down the line of scrimmage, but he hasn't quite committed, so threet hands off. Ortmann and Molk own the playside DE and DT, leaving McAvoy available to take out the playside linebacker. On the backside of the play, Schilling manages to seal the DT (no easy task from his position) and Dave Moosman wrecks the MLB.

Another thing that made this play successful was the succesful running by Threet when he kept the ball on zone-reads. The danger of the QB picking up yardage if he doesn't hand off the ball gave the backside DE just enough pause to allow Shaw to escape the backfield.

Now you know what it was like Inside the Play.

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“Inside the Play: Miami”

  1. Anonymous Anonymous Says:

    Suggestion: I don't know how much more effort this would be so feel free to shoot it down. I think it would be interesting to see a good play and a bad play from each week. You've got the 'good play' down, for a bad play try to pick one that is representative of what you see as the main problem for the offense that week, and discuss what went wrong... Just an idea. Love the "inside the play" idea overall.

  2. Anonymous formerlyanonymous Says:

    That DE in the second video made an epic fail.

  3. Blogger Dex Says:

    When I read this, I imagine you sound like Ron Jaworski and I hum the Edge NFL Matchup background music.

  4. Anonymous Anonymous Says:

    As a former football player/offensive lineman, the blocking by the Right Guard and Schilling make this play. Blocking a middle Linebacker, who starts the play lined up over the center and flows away from you within a half second after the ball is snapped, from the right guard position is very difficult. Those two blocks, along with Threet providing a half second of the defense thinking he may go the other way, are key to this play being sucessful. All season, if the O Line can seal off the D line and the 1 flowing linebacker just long enough for our quick shifty backs to get the second level, then our running came can be dominant.

  5. Blogger Tim Says:


    I might not have made this clear enough in the post itself, but I totally agree with you. The right side of the line (almost) perfectly executes a pair of really tough blocks.