Don Brown’s “Pressure of the Week” – Michigan State

by Mark Edwards

Ouch!  That one not only left you feeling like you were punched in the gut but it also left you soaked if you were in Michigan Stadium.  Michigan State beat Michigan and they did it by and large by taking what Don Brown threw at them because of the increasing anemic Michigan offense was not a threat.  Years ago, Mark Dantonio asked, “Where’s the threat?”  Well, it certainly wasn’t on the Michigan offense last night.


SITUATION:  2nd & 10, State ball on Michigan State’s 25 yard line

TIME:  7:59 left in the first quarter

WHY THIS SERIES: This was MSU’s first chance at Don Brown’s defense.  After a long incompletion, Michigan State tried to test their power run game against the Michigan defense.  This is what most of the game looked like when MSU want to run their base run game.

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OFFENSIVE FORMATION: Pro Right Wing (the wing back is going to motion into the backfield as a displaced fullback)

MICHIGAN STATE  PERSONNEL: 12 (1 running back, 2 tight ends)


MICHIGAN PERSONNEL NOTES:  In what we were led to believe was the base defensive front going into the season, you see Gary (#3), Mone (#90), Hurst (#73) and Winovich (#15).  Winovich is a ghost 9 technique while Mone is in his trademark 1 technique.  Hurst, at the top of the screen, is in a 3 technique while Gary is in a 5 technique.  Noah Furbush (#59) is the over linebacker at the top of the screen.  Michigan safety Tyree Kinnel (#23) is rolled down over the wing.  Michigan cornerbacks David Long (#22) and Lavert Hill (#24) are in bump coverage.  Michigan safety Josh Metellus (#14) is the sing-high safety and not on the screen.

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What is Michigan State doing here?  They have motioned the wing to the bottom of the screen back into the back field in an offset fullback alignment.  This is necessary if you are going to run a power run scheme or if you are going to run an inside zone with the “fullback” kicking the backside end.

What has changed:  Because of the motion, Kinnel (#23) has rotated back to the middle while we see Metellus (#14) appear to roll down to the tight end side.  Mike McCray (#9) has stepped into a 4I (inside eye of the tackle) alignment on the line of scrimmage.

Michigan’s pressure: This pre-snap alignment change is attempting to dictate that Michigan State will be force to run to the tight end side of the formation.

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What is Michigan State doing here?  They are attempting to false pull the right tackle in order to get Devin Bush Jr. (#10) to redirect his path to the weak side of the formation.  The fullback (motioned from wing) is going into the B gap to replace the right tackle.  It has the look of an isolation (commonly called an ISO play) schemed run with some window dressing.  However, it’s really a zone kick play.

What has changed:  McCray has stunted into the B gap while Winvich (#15) is squeezing the edge as his tackle has blocked down.

Michigan’s pressure:  Really, McCray is the pressure.  Everything else is a reaction to the play not a pre-determined pressure.  Bush has not yet reacted to the pulling tackle.  Metellus is not on the dead run down hill and would be the unaccounted for defender on the playside.

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What is Michigan State doing here?  They are attempting to run a zone scheme wherein the running back should cut it all the way back to the C gap.

What has changed:  Winovich has squeeze the edge so effectively that the pulling tackle is going to miss him.  The RB sees that the designed path of the run is not going to work.  Notice that Devin Bush Jr. is in position to play over the top if the RB bounces it to the edge on the bottom of the screen.

Michigan’s pressure: McCray has done a nice job making a pile but Maurice Hurst has driven the right guard into the backfield, which makes the RB see nothing but a wall of humanity.

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What is Michigan State doing here?  They have their first negative rushing play of the game.

What has changed:  Winovich has joined Hurst at the point of attack with  Gary and Metellus also converging to secure the tackle.

Michigan’s pressure: Michigan defeated every block except Bryan Mone, who did his job by forcing a pile.

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FINAL THOUGHT: This was a really big play of the game because I think the Michigan State offensive staff figured out that the base run game is ineffective.  They adjusted to more misdirection stuff that was window-dressed with motion.  State did just enough to win the game and I don’t think that Don Brown’s defense played poorly.  They were given a task of having to be perfect and almost pulled it off.


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