by Mark Edwards
This column has been highlighting blitz pressures from the Michigan Defense all season. However, I think most of the fan base would’ve hoped that with the front four, pressure could be applied at times without having to involve the back seven. Well, after the initial “blitz” by Penn State, Don Brown had to adjust and mix in far more of the 4-3 base and four-man pressure than we’ve seen this season,
THIS WEEK’S PRESSURE
SITUATION: 1st & 10, State ball on Penn State’s 25 yard line
TIME: 12:53 left in the second quarter
WHY THIS SERIES: This series is the first shot the defense had after Michigan scored their first touchdown to bring the score to 14-6 (Yes, Quinn Nordin is human). You got the sense watching the game that this was a crucial series for the defense.
OFFENSIVE FORMATION: Empty Left (it is a 3×2 formation with three receivers to the field and the RB split wide into the boundary)
PENN STATE PERSONNEL: 11 (1 running back, 1 tight end)
DEFENSIVE BASE: 4-3
MICHIGAN PERSONNEL NOTES: Freshman DE Kwity Paye (#19) is in a speed rush alignment to the bottom of the screen. DT Bryan Mone (#90) is in a 1 technique with Maurice Hurst (#73) is in his customary 3 technique to the strength of the formation while Rashan Gary (#3) is in a 5 technique (outside shoulder of tackle). Viper Khaleke Hudson (#7) is lined up over the #2 receiver while LBs Mike McCray (#9) and Devin Bush Jr. (#10) are inside the box. McCray is shaded to the #2 boundary receiver. Cornerbacks David Long (#22) and Lavert Hill (#24) are in their normal press alignment.
What is Penn State doing here? Penn State is setting up for a five man route with the H-back releasing vertically as well. They are in a man protection, which is going to help Michigan (keep reading).
What has changed: Hudson (#7) has moved into the split the difference between the #2 and #3 receivers. Bush (#10) has dropped into coverage as well as McCray (#9) has down to the bottom of the screen.
Michigan’s pressure: The pressure is a simple “TAT” stunt between Mone (#90) and Hurst (#73). Hurst’s job is to drive into the A-gap (remember he is lined up in the B-gap) while Mone loops around and becomes the B-Gap rusher to the field. Paye (#19) and Gary (#3) are rushing through the outside shoulder of the offensive tackles.
What is Penn State doing here? They are running both outside receivers on vertical routes while both the #2 and #3 receivers are running outs and the #2 receiver to the bottom of the screen is running a shallow cross. The big problem for Penn State here is the pass protection. They have recognized the TAT stunt but have poorly traded off their protection responsibilities (#66 is the center and he should take Hurst while the left guard #74 should take Mone).
What has changed: Hurst is unabated to the QB right here while Paye and Gary have kept McSorely in the pocket.
Michigan’s pressure: This is as well of an executed TAT pressure as you can see.
What is Penn State doing here? They are getting sacked.
What has changed: The QB has pressed the pocket forward which is right into the rush of Hurst. Why would he do that? Look at Paye (#19) and Gary (#3). There’s no escape outside.
Michigan’s pressure: Hurst has gotten home while Mone is not squeezing his side of the pocket inside.
FINAL THOUGHT: It is a good sign anytime a defense can get home with four rushers. Do I think it will continue to be the “pressure of the week?” No. Penn State had something to do with the fact that we needed the back seven to do something that is outside of our norm. With Hurst and Mone leaving, the development of the next set of interior linemen is paramount as the season continues.