by Mark Edwards
I wasn’t around much last week but can anybody tell me if Purdue HC Jeff Brohm was discussed much? Oh, he was. Did they mention that he uses RPOs, misdirection movements and tempo to move the football? No way…they did? Okay, this column is dedicated weekly to Dr. Blitz, Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown. Purdue got off to a quick start using skullduggery to move the ball on their first drive. So, it’s only natural that our “pressure of the week” would come from the first drive (NOTE: Although, I’m sure the carnage of the fourth quarter would have been a good choice.).
THIS WEEK’S PRESSURE
SITUATION: 3rd & 9, Purdue ball on Michigan’s 39 yard line
TIME: 13:29 left in the first quarter
WHY THIS SERIES: Purdue had opened quickly and was on the verge of scoring range as they faced a 3rd and nine. This was Michigan’s first third-down snap of the game and you knew that Dr. Blitz wasn’t going to play coverage. Also, this was Purdue’s first chance to show their hand on a 3rd & long in the face of an almost certain pressure call by Michigan.
OFFENSIVE FORMATION: Packers Right (Green Bay does this a lot with a stand up, number #3 receiver flexed off of the right tackle).
PURDUE PERSONNEL: 11 (1 running back, 1 tight end)
DEFENSIVE BASE: 3-3
MICHIGAN PERSONNEL NOTES: In what is becoming Michigan’s base alignment vs. Spread formations, you have Rashan Gary #3, Maurice Hurst #73 and Chase Winovich #15 with their hands on the ground. Gary is in a 5 technique (to the bottom of the screen) while Winovich is in a 4I technique which is inside shade of the left tackle (top of the screen). The linebackers are shifted to the field with Noah Furbush (#59) showing a bump alignment over the #3 receiver (which is a TE). Viper Khaleke Hudson (#7) has split the difference between #2 and #3 with his eyes in the backfield. Inside linebackers Mike McCray (#9) and Devin Bush (#10) are aligned over the guards. In the secondary, Michigan is showing a cover 2 shell (2 high safeties) and their corner bump alignment.
What is Purdue doing here? A couple classic offensive movements are taking place here. The three wide receivers are releasing vertically down the field. The #3 receiver for Purdue is setting the edge while making it look like a shallow cross (his job is to block the first inside linebacker that shows) Purdue QB David Blough is taking a deep drop to entice the already aggressive pass rush. The running back is fitting into the pass protection in the A gap.
What has changed: Michigan is in man coverage underneath and what Blough thought he was going to get in his pre-snap read is no longer what his eyes tell him is happening.
Michigan’s pressure: Now that he ball has snapped, the Michigan defensive line has ripped to the boundary (their right) while Furbush (#59) is blitzing off of the edge. Also, Bush is on a B gap blitz to the field. It is a classic five-man pressure, which we are seeing frequently with the 3-3 base alignment. McCray is in the middle of the field looking for #3 to come back to him, which he will.
What is Purdue doing here? SCREEN! They are releasing their guards and center in front of the running back to run a screen pass to the right. Actually, it’s not a bad call by Purdue if you are expecting pressure. Purdue has McCray blocked (or he soon will be) while the receivers are running off the corners.
What has changed: The only change from Frame #2 is that Devin Bush has diagnosed that it’s a screen. He has aborted his pressure to defend the screen.
Michigan’s pressure: Hurst (#73), Gary (#3) and Furbush (#59) are all unblocked on their path to the QB. Bush, as stated previously, he is the screen stopper.
What is Purdue doing here? It’s time to throw the screen.
What has changed: Bush has been engaged by a blocker and the running back, led by the three Purdue offensive linemen, is not moving to the field.
Michigan’s pressure: Michigan actually is not in great shape here. If Bush doesn’t make a play, the only defender left is Hudson (#7), who is on the 31 yard line AND severly outnumbered. It’s time for an athlete to make a play.
What is Purdue doing here? They have thrown the screen and all looks good.
What has changed: Michigan’s pressure on Blough forces a “less than ideal” throw. Bush saw the football and has jumped to attempt to pick off a woefully short throw.
Michigan’s pressure: The defensive front got to Blough. If they hadn’t, Purdue most certainly would’ve completed this pass and picked up a first down.
What is Purdue doing here? They have shown that pressure can bother their quarterback.
What has changed: Michigan’s pressure took a good offensive call and made it a rushed throw.
Michigan’s pressure: The difference.
FINAL THOUGHT: Some will see this play and say that Michigan got lucky. Others will say that Michigan made the play by executing the defensive call. For me, this is always the line that Michigan is going to live on because of the heavy pressure approach. If quarterbacks are less than 100% accurate under pressure like this, that bodes well for Michigan and is a part of Don Brown’s core philosophy.