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.
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.
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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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