Three and a half minutes remain in the third quarter. After a big run by Michael Shaw, the Wolverines have the ball on Minnesota’s 11 yard line. Michigan leads Minnesota 19-3, and the team has dominated the run of play for the entire game. They currently have a 16-point lead, but another score of any kind would give them a three-possession margin. A touchdown would effectively end the game. The ball is on the left hash.
The Personnel and Formation
Justin Feagin is in at quarterback (this would warrant an exclamation point most of the time, but it’s like the hundredth time in this game he’s lined up at the position), flanked to his right by fullback Mark Moundros. Michigan has a two-TE set, with Mike Massey(!) on the left and Kevin Koger on the right. Martavious Odoms is in slot right, with LaTerryal Savoy the flanker. Minnesota initially lines up with a deep safety and man coverage on the two wideouts, but when they notice the play in at quarterback, they shift their personnel to remain manned up on the outside, but bringing nine guys into the box.
At the snap, Savoy goes downfield to block his defender, and Odoms starts on the standard bubble screen route. Feagin half-rolls towards that side, and cocks to throw to Odoms. He sees Odoms’s defender crash forward to take away the screen, and he tucks the ball and runs it off right tackle. He is hit almost immediately, but manages to squirm forward for three yards.
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Why it Didn’t Work
The run aspect of the play was obviously doomed from the beginning, as soon as the Gophers shifted nine defenders into the box. Odoms was actually provided a fairly robust cushion by his defender, and Savoy gets a pretty good block on his (Savoy is probably the team’s best blocker at the position, he just isn’t much of a huge receiving threat). However, Feagin is clearly not entirely comfortable with this throw, as he delays it a bit. This gives the Minnesota defender a chance to crash up on Odoms, taking away the throw. Feagin has no choice at this point but to run it for what he can.
This play is sorta-but-not-particularly interesting for what it is, but is far more intriguing because of what it can mean for the future. Obviously, the play does not have quite as much potential (as is), now that Feagin is etablished as a pasing threat, though not yet a credible one in any way. However, if he can throw the bubble screen well, it gives a pretty good option play. I expect to see him in during the Northwestern game for at least one attempt at this play (or the same concept from a slightly different formation). This sets up something for the Ohio State game, wherein he fakes the bubble screen, fakes the run, and throws it to one of the tight ends, who has released upfield (take a look at the video again, either could have gone into the endzone and likely been wide open).
Now you know what it was like Inside the Play… and maybe inside a future play as well.
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