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Film Review: Struggles to Hold Up to Doubles

Today we are going to look at why Michigan had trouble against the Notre Dame’s inside run plays. Much of the time, Michigan was in nickel personnel with two 3 techs with an over front.

Gregory Shamus


After Brian at MGoBlog apparently hacked into my computer and stole the idea for my article, unfortunately, you will now need to purchase the Maize n Brew decoder ring to read future posts. If you think I'm just joking... Be sure to drink your Ovaltine. Yes, I'm going to make some money off of this if I'm doing it. We'll call it the Stephen M. Ross Maize n Brew Decoder Ring presented by Stephen M. Ross and "Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut, Sometimes You Don't" Almond Joy and Mounds. This is the future.

Anyway, today we are going to look at why Michigan had trouble against the Notre Dame's inside run plays. Much of the time, Michigan was in nickel personnel with two 3 techs with an over front. Let's take a closer look.

Play One:

Notre Dame runs Power O without a FB. Essentially, the playside TE will block the DE instead of a FB. The backside OG is still pulling up through the hole and out onto the LB. Michigan, in an over front, means they are leaving Black open to be doubled. Black gets doubled and driven out of the hole with relative ease. His initial attack is good, as he attacks a single blocker, but he can't split and the doubling OT is able to get his shoulders turned. Once the shoulders are turned he can't hold up and is actually driven all the way back into Morgan, essentially putting three blockers on Morgan. Morgan could do a better job getting over the top, but he can't go too lateral as he has to fill as Ross is forcing the play back into him. Ross does a good job of meeting the pulling OG in the hole, but he dips his eyes and loses the runner. You can tell he's attack with outside arm free, trying to force the play back inside where it doesn't want to go (he's not letting the pulling blocker to seal him inside as he wants). He tries to fight across the blocker, but by the time the RB is on him he can't shed off the blocker well enough to slow the ball carrier.

In the end, what it comes down to is that Black cannot get turned. Once he's turned he's done. What you'd like to see him do once he gets turned is to essentially drop and cause a pile at the point of attack. Instead he tries to regain leverage and just gets shoved further down field and into the LB.

Play Two:

Michigan in an under front and Notre Dame runs a veer option. Rees isn't really reading anyone, this is a designed belly. Washington shows how to take on a double team. He attacks the OG and latches on, staying fairly square with him and only getting marginally moved on the double. Here, the bust is as simple as Morgan making the wrong read. He's playing inside zone on the backside instead of attacking front side. He reads this because ND is down blocking, they are not zone blocking but straight up base blocking the play (note Ross false steps as well, but doesn't commit as Morgan does). Morgan runs into the wash, getting on the wrong side of Washington (who is still at the LOS) and can't get back across to make the play. This, unfortunately, is not an isolated misread.

Play Three:

From the gun now, the Fighting Irish run an inside zone. Michigan starts in an over front with two 3-techs in the game. Right away Black squares his shoulders on the OG and swims around him, making both blockers look foolish in their attempt to block him. Immediately, the RB is forced to cut to backside A-gap. LBs have done a nice job flowing, but Wormley gets killed. He once again tries to split a double team and somehow gets turned without the backside OG even trying to double on him (he's just trying to skip by Wormley and out onto Ross). Once Wormley gets turned, he acts like a matador for the backside OG to get out onto the LB rather than slowing him at all. On top of that, because he has no leverage now, he gets shoved back into Ross, and as Ross fights back across the face of his blocker to shed and attack the ball, Wormley gets pushed into him. This will happen again.

Play Four:

Here, Michigan is in an even front with both DTs in the B gap. In an effort to shoot the B gap with the WILL, James Ross, the 3 tech, Chris Wormley, stunts inside to the A gap. What he is trying to do is pull the OG to him in pass protection or force the OG to hesitate in his run block assignment so that Ross gets a free run into the backfield. Unfortunately, this play is going right into a trap, a perfect play call for Michigan's defense.

Wormley's problem is when he stunts inside he again turns his shoulders and loses any base power. He essentially needs to hold up to a down blocking O-lineman on one leg in the ground while his momentum is taking it off that leg. He has no base strength at the point of attack and easily gets washed down the line by the playside OG. On top of that, Ross blitzes right into a trap. When he realizes what's going on he tries to hold up, but his forward momentum prevents him from squaring up the trapper and pinching the gap. Morgan tries to crash down, but because the OT can immediately pass on Wormley and move straight to MIKE, Morgan is sealed off and there is a huge gap.

This play amounts to ND calling the perfect play for the Michigan defense and Wormley turning his shoulder and appear lateral to the OG.

Play Five:

Michigan continues to play an over front in their nickel package with Wormley lined up at the 3 tech and Black at the 1 tech again. The Irish motion into a pistol set and again run power to Wormley's side. And again Wormley is doubled and again Wormley is turned immediately to the point that he gets turned 180 degree and his back is facing the RB. He does better holding up, but again his technique is poor. On top of that, Morgan again gets caught making an incorrect read and getting caught up in the wash rather than fighting playside. So the two recurring problems result in another big gain.


In the 2nd Half, Notre Dame decided they were going to force Michigan out of their nickel front by attacking Wormley with double teams. Wormley struggled mightily to hold up because of poor technique, often getting turned and shoved out. To top it off, Morgan struggled to properly read several plays, the second of which is inexcusable. This is something that needs to improve or someone else needs to get put in for Wormley. If anytime Michigan goes nickel, an offense knows they can easily block two people by shoving Wormley into the LBs, Michigan will get gashed going forward if they keep their nickel package the same.