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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Irregular new feature: Picture Pages, in which pictures of things are explained for my benefit and yours. I had an example of good stuff happening but my computer crashed and I lost it, unfortunately. Next time.

I really should have gotten one of those endzone shots that shows the line from head on and clearly shows the positioning of each player, but I didn't think of it so this is what you get. Also next time.

It's first and ten early in the second quarter of the Wisconsin game. Michigan lines Brandon Minor up behind Mallett and runs a zone stretch. Here's the presnap alignment:

The key thing to note on this play is Alex Mitchell, who is the right guard, and defensive tackle #54 Mike Newkirk. At 265 pounds Newkirk is small for a defensive tackle, pressed into service when Jason Chapman was lost for the year. Alex Mitchell is fricking huge, probably around 350 pounds after falling off the conditioning wagon early this year. It's difficult to tell from this angle, but Newkirk is lined up between Mitchell and center Adam Kraus; this is generally called a one technique. (Technique primer.) Also, Wisconsin has seven guys in the box against six blockers.

The ball snaps; Michigan runs a zone stretch to the left side of the line:

Over the past couple years I've come to understand that "zone" blocking can mean damn near anything. Here, our zone blocking is much like zone coverage: everyone fires off to the left, looking for someone to block. When you have someone lined up to the playside of you and you are attempting to block them, you are performing a "reach block," which is a terribly difficult thing to do. (Bryant McKinnie is proud of his; OL jargon explained.)

Adam Kraus has no one to his left and immediately heads out to the second level. Mitchell, as you can see, is trying to reach block Newkirk, who lined up a step inside of him at the snap. He looks lumbering and hasn't "gotten his helmet across" the defender's chest. Newkirk has beaten him.

Reach block? FAIL.

Newkirk is sort of where Minor would like to go, and the seventh guy in the box is totally unblocked. This would not be relevant if Minor had a lane on the frontside of the play. Obvs, he does not.

Minor cuts past Newkirk...

...and eats turf. Second and eleven.

This is a schematic disadvantage Weis-ian in its apparent nonsensicality. Which is so not a word. We have a lumbering 350 pound right guard with conditioning and mobility issues. We are asking him to use his conditioning and mobility to get around a smaller, quicker player. It is FAIL, and thus goes our run game against a team completely incapable of slowing any non-Iowa rush attack it's faced this year.

Update: A lot of commenters suggest this is a designed cutback; personally I still don't see it given the LB shift, but I suggest you read the comments for an alternate take.