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Inside the Play: Minnesota Defense

The Situation
Just under 12 minutes remain in the first half. Minnesota has reached Michigan's territory for the first time on the day, facing a 3rd & 7 from Michigan's 47. The Wolverine defense has dominated the game thus far, preventing Minnesota from gaining a single first down. Getting another stop here could solidify Michigan's momentum, and springboard the team to just their third victory of the year.

The Personnel and Formation
Minnesota is in a trips left spread formation. There is one receiver to the right of the line, and one far left with two slot players inside of him. Adam Weber is in the shotgun with DeLeon Eskridge flanking him to the right. Michigan responds with its Okie nickel package. The Wolverines are showing man-free coverage, with Donovan Warren lined up over the solo receiver, Morgan Trent over the trips split end, and Brandon Harrison and Charles Stewart (as a linebacker) over the slot receivers.

The Play
Weber drops back to pass. Michigan indeed comes after him, with man-free coverage, blitzing 6 (Eskridge does not go out on a passing route, so Michael Williams, as a linebacker, ignores him and goes after Weber). Weber has about a microsecond to react, and no time to throw. Obi Ezeh finds a big crease in the middle of the line and sacks Weber, along with Williams and Jonas Mouton.

The player will show in this paragraph



Why it Worked
Michigan managed to send 6 pass rushers against 6 blockers, but still get to Weber with relative ease. The Gophers' blocking assignments were confused by the use of the Okie Chaos, in addition to a twist pass-rush move by Brandon Graham. Even if the Maroon Sea had not parted for Ezeh, Williams and Mouton still would have had plenty of opportunity to sack Weber before he could get a pass off. The outside rush by Williams ran into the futile blocking attempt of Eskridge, and Mouton used his speed to get around the left tackle on the other flank. Had Eskridge gone out on a safety valve route, Williams would have had the responsibility of staying with him.



By the way, Michigan has been doing similar things all season - the players just haven't been executing, particularly in the "tackling" department. Not to harp on one point to much, but Scott Shafer knows what he is doing. If players are in position to make plays (it's what they do, after all), the blame goes on the kids for not finishing them, rather than on the guy cooking up the schemes.

Now you know what it was like Inside the Play.

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“Inside the Play: Minnesota Defense”

  1. Blogger UofMSnowboarder Says:

    Your tags are off.

  2. Blogger Griffin Fraley Says:

    I really like how Taylor and Graham took 3 blockers between the two of them. With Harrison drawing the RB, there was literally no blocker on Obi. Very nice play

  3. Blogger Griffin Fraley Says:

    Excuse me, i meant to say, with Williams drawing the RB

  4. Blogger UofMSnowboarder Says:

    I like it how (MyNameIs) Mouton decides to rip off Weber's helmet after he's down for no reason.

  5. Anonymous Benjamin Says:

    I love how the helmet rolls out of that mess.

    The Michigan defense was poised. Big hits (alla Trent, Harrison, Ezah, etc), great coverage, good stuff.

  6. Blogger Griffin Fraley Says:

    I got excited about the helmet at first, but then i realized the head gone done got scooped out :(

  7. Blogger gsimmons85 Says:

    hey guys,


    the graham move isnt a twist, its a long A-gap scoop, or long-scoop for short, the idea is to suck the tackle down with him, with the apache blitz comming off the edge leaving 2 to block one off the edge.., its my favorite blitz, in fact i think i have some clips of my defense running the apache...

  8. Blogger Griffin Fraley Says:

    gsimmons, at the end of the year, would you possibly be able to do a breakdown of the defense either on this site or on the diaries on MGoBlog offering letter grades, critique, and what it means for 2009 for each player/position group? That'd be a great read if you had the time to put it together.

  9. Blogger Tim Says:

    Griffin,

    For the record, Simmons does post on his own blog (occasionally) at gsimmons85.blogspot.com.

    Of course, if he wanted to help out on this site on a regular/substantive basis (even more than he already does), we'd gladly welcome him.

  10. Blogger Griffin Fraley Says:

    ahh, good call tim. i forgot about that blog actually.