by Mark Edwards
Truth be told, this weekly feature has been in the works for weeks. However, if I hadn’t planned on writing it and I watched the Florida game anyway, I’d still have ended up writing it because Michigan’s pressure was a HUGE factor in the game. Don Brown’s calling card is pressure and I have to assume that Florida knew that. It was interesting that the majority of Michigan’s defensive alignment stemmed from a 3-3 base and not the traditional 4-3 base. Why did Brown use the 3-man front? It’s a pretty easy answer…Florida was not going to press their run game into the A Gap (see diagram), therefore, he traded the standard one technique (Bryan Mone) for a linebacker that could run.
By trading the defensive lineman for a linebacker, it allowed Michigan the opportunity to be more unpredictable in their pressure package. Last season, Michigan almost never showed a 3-man line in part because of the NFL talent that they had up front. I would surmise that Michigan’s talent is just about as good but the athleticism of the front 7 (defensive line and linebackers) is just better than it was a year ago. That’s not a shot at Wormley, Glasgow, Taco and the gang. It’s analysis that was visually present on Saturday.
THIS WEEK’S PRESSURE
SITUATION: 3rd & 8, Florida ball on their own 27
TIME: 4:48 left in first quarter
WHY THIS SERIES: Michigan had just answered the Florida opening FG with a Quinn Nordin FG and the defense had Florida on the brink of their first punt.
OFFENSIVE FORMATION: Trio Right (Twins Wide with an H back and a Split End on the backside)
FLORIDA PERSONNEL: 11 (1 running back, 1 tight end and 3 wide receivers)
DEFENSIVE BASE: 3-3
MICHIGAN PERSONNEL NOTES: Michigan has Chase Winovich (#15) in a zero shade with both Maurice Hurst (#73) in a 5 shade and Rashan Gary (#3) in a 9 shade to the left of the defensive front. Devin Bush (#10) is a stand-up linebacker with Noah Furbush (#59) originally in a 4-shade with his hand on the ground. Mike McCray (#9) is a rush linebacker in a ghost 7 technique.
NOTE: Khaleke Hudson (#7) has split the difference between the H-back and the #2 WR. This allows Hudson the opportunity for an edge run if Gary stunts inside (WHICH HE DOESN’T) and he can get back into pass coverage if that is the call.
What is Florida doing here? The ball has just snapped. NOTE MICHIGAN ALREADY INTO THEIR MOVEMENTS AND FLORIDA (with exception of the center and right tackle) HASN’T MOVED YET.
What has changed: Hudson (#7) is bailing into pass coverage while Furbush (#59) is now standing up and Bush (#10) has vacated the line of scrimmage (LOS).
Michigan’s pressure: They are bringing a three-gap pressure all off of the offense’s right side. Notice that this is away from the running back. If Florida was a speed option team or one that ran the quarterback, Michigan would be super vulnerable to the offense’s left. But since Felipe Franks is in his first start AND not a design runner, Doug Nussmeier (Florida’s O-Coordinator) has very little that can go away from the designed pressure.
What is Florida doing here? After a token ball fake to RB Mark Thompson, Franks is dropping back. Both receivers on the Trio side have initiated vertical stems. The H-back, after a big collision by Rashan Gary, is attempting to run a bubble (this is very uncommon and most likely an adjustment to getting knocked into the backfield). Franks is looking left but the WR on the single-receiver side is being controlled by Michigan CB David Long (#22).
What has changed: Furbush is now in the middle of the field getting depth for a crossing route (WHICH WILL NOT SHOW). McCray is also gaining depth (AND WOULD’VE UNDERCUT any slant route by the backside WR.
Michigan’s pressure: Hurst and Winovich have ripped to the gap to their right (Notice the four Florida linemen sliding to their left). The guard and tackle are sliding to nobody, which is not a great idea. Bush has now established himself as a B gap blitzer and is already running downhill.
What is Florida doing here? Florida has two offensive lineman looking backwards. The center has failed to block Hurst while the right guard only now sees that Bush is unblocked. This is part communication and in part a failure of technique by the right guard. If you look back to Frame #3, his eyes are down while engaged with Hurst. By the time his eyes came back up, Bush was two yards behind him. NOTICE THE RIDICULOUS SPACIAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE QB AND THE H-BACK. That’s why you never see a bubble out of the H-back.
What has changed: Bush (with a free run) and Hurst (who has been pushed from behind which is legal in the trenches) have both infiltrated the Florida pocket and Franks now knows that he has to abort the pass and scramble. Long (top of screen) is still locked on his man.
Michigan’s Pressure: Notice that Winovich (25 yard line) has eyes in the backfield as he is the contain responsible rusher in this pressure. Gary is demonstrating the same technique on the bottom of the screen.
What is Florida doing here? It’s now a QB scramble at best and a sack at worst.
What has changed: Winovich has disengaged from the left side of the Gator line and is now running to his contain landmark (outside shoulder of Franks) while Devin Bush is two yards from Franks and accelerating to full speed.
Michigan’s Pressure: This is going to be over soon. Notice Mike McCray’s relationship as he is running to the ball in case Franks evades Winovich and Bush.
What is Florida doing here? This is a QB sack. Franks, not being fast enough or elusive enough to evade the pursuit, is in the middle of a Winovich-Bush sandwich.
What has changed: Winovich has been re-engaged by the LT to no avail.
Michigan’s Pressure: McCray is still in good position which is a good sign for the discipline of the defense.
PRESSURE OF THE WEEK DIAGRAM
FINAL THOUGHT: With Michigan’s activity in the Florida backfield, there were many options to choose from. How much will we see of the 3-3 base from Don Brown? That’s a question that we will get more answers to this Saturday when Cincinnati invades the Big House. I still think Michigan is a base 4-3 team but you can see after one game that the Don Brown attack has been diversified. This I do know…you will see pressure week in and week out from this defense.