Like most of you, I suspect, I haven’t seen much of Georgia’s upcoming CFP opponent, so I’ve been scouring the Internet looking for some prelim insight into what Michigan does, scheme-wise. Here’s one peek I found at the Georgia 247Sports site:
First, this (http://i.ibb.co/gdCyBVQ/baseD.png) is their base defense. Pretty standard stuff. They like to be the 4-2-5, 2-high structure that pretty much everyone is doing now. They’ll play with their nose at both a 1 and a 2i depending on what they want to do and what they want to stop, they’ll play their T as a 3T and two 5s. They’re a team that likes to set the edge with their defensive ends so when you get a TE, they’ll bump him out to a 9. Love to press with their corners and play their safeties pretty close. Their DC is a NFL guy, they run a NFL system and want to either man up or man-match everything. They’re not very blitz heavy, just some simple simulated pressure type stuff.
I thought it was very interesting that they really want their defensive ends to set the edge and they have them “Box” all pullers, that is hitting the puller on his outside shoulder and forcing everything to go inside like this (https://streamable.com/zlkx82). That’s a bit different than most teams we see in the SEC and the opposite of what we try to do on defense which is attack everything on the inside and force it outside. They do this to keep everything in an alley and hopefully contain everything inside and let their LBs and Safeties come downhill and tackle. The positive of this is you don’t let stuff get outside but the negative is that Safeties have to tackle downhill and one good block or one missed tackle and there’s not much room for anyone to catch the guy so if we play well, we could bust some big runs. Just thought this was interesting cause it’s a bit different than what we’re used to.
As far as coverage, they really want to play Man and they want to play Quarters Man Match. Here (https://streamable.com/chpbo8) is an example of them against Ohio State playing straight up 2 man, pressing, backer keying the back coming out. They will do this a lot, this is probably their #1 coverage (or the coverage they like the most, at least).
However, don’t confuse that with Man Match Quarters, like this (https://streamable.com/ubo36r). Here, they are playing Quarters/Cover 4 but matching the routes. In this matching, if the receiver goes vertical or outside, the defender ahead of him will carry him.If the defender goes inside, the defender over him will sink vertically and pass him off to the next guy. This is a great example because we see guys carry vertically and then the corner at the top passes the guy who goes inside to the safety who comes down to cover him. Again a standard 4 man rush by the DL. This and the 2-man stuff are going to be their main coverages by far.
However, they will get out of their Even front and they will go down into an Odd front and they’ll go 1-high like this https://streamable.com/3uyy04) especially when they want to stop the run and feel comfortable about manning up the receivers. Take a look at this against Iowa, both the side and endzone copy. They go into an odd front with a 0 and two 4is (the same alignment as our Mint front) with two 9s. With them playing this and 1-high, they can get guys in every gap and get an extra hat in the box to stop the run. I expect we’ll see a lot of this until we go over the top and make them get out of it into their base defense again.
Like I said, they don’t blitz much. They have really two or three main blitzes they like to do. This (https://streamable.com/zg51bk) is definitely the most popular blitz, just a super simple blitz where they bring two guys off the same edge. Sometimes one will go B and the other C, both off the edge, flip who’s going B-C, etc. but at the end of the day it’s two off the same edge. Here it’s a run play, but you see the alignment. Often times as well, they will drop the backside end into coverage so it’s still only a 4-man rush, like our simulated pressures.
This (https://streamable.com/ccle95) is essentially the same blitz. They bring their Star from the field, the backside end has the TE in man coverage, they get a nice deflection. Gotta be ready for this because it’s not something they use often but it is their most used blitz.
This (https://streamable.com/2mffmc) is a really good look at another blitz they use. They like to just hammer one of their linebackers inside and try to get through, nice and simple. They drop that backside end as well again in that Fire Zone coverage here to keep those 4 man rush and 7 man coverage principles. It bites them here as the Bucks shift to empty, get their back on the end and get a huge gain. But just a look at another simple blitz they like to bring a lot.
And honestly, that’s it for defense! They like to mix up their looks and disguise a little (not as much as we do really) but at the end of the day, they want to man you up and force you to win 1on1s down the field and then rally to the ball to prevent big plays with those deep safeties. Sometimes they’ll bring a simple blitz but they’re not going to bring everybody and give you a chance to beat em. It’s very much the style of “you gotta beat us, we won’t beat us”. Sometimes when they’re man-matching they can get confused like everybody else but you won’t see them getting burnt often. They don’t deviate much from who they are and they’re gonna do what they do on defense.
Offensively, they’re actually very similar to us. They want to run the ball and take their deep shots off play action. They also are heavily invested in RPOs and the RB Swing game. They do a lot more quick game than us whereas we are more comfortable attacking the intermediate areas of the field. But it’s no secret they want to run the ball and they’re pretty creative on how they do it.
Their number one run concept is Iso (https://streamable.com/ycu4yy). Just a simple gap scheme play, get a TE inserting on a Linebacker and trying to run to the races. It’s a very tough physical run and it requires your LBs to come down hill and thump that TE that’s inserting. They run this more than any other play so the Backers better be ready to headbutt some guys.
Their second run concept is another Gap Scheme run, Counter (https://streamable.com/6aznbq). Counter is just two pullers, most often the Guard and the Tight end/H Back (it’s actually a common misconception that Counter involves some kind of trickery like a reverse! It’s *just* two pullers). They’ll run this a ton of different ways from different formations and different kinds of motions, this is the play they really want to get going to get some big gashes, they’ll come to this from tempo as well. We run counter just as often and it’s all about getting a good hit on that first pulling guard and squeezing everything back down so there’s no space inside.
This (https://streamable.com/f3io14) is really the most creative run they have. They love the Pin-Pull series. Basically on this, if you’re an offensive lineman and someone is “touching” you (lined up over you or your back shoulder), you block them. If not, you pull around. Most of the time you’ll get two pullers here and you’re trying to get all the way outside — like an old school Buck Sweep if you’re familiar. Here OSU actually blows it up but it gives you a great idea of what they’re trying to do. This one is so interesting because they’ll do so much different stuff off of it — RPOs, QB reads and keeps, jet sweeps to the backside, you name it and they’ve done it. This is where they get really creative and can hurt you.
They really want to avoid throwing the ball, but when they do, they try to make it as easy as possible for the QB. This (https://streamable.com/weo36x) is something they do often, just like us, the little RB Flair. They get to a bunch of different ways, motions, formations, etc but really they just toss it out to the back in space and let him work. Here they do it to the field out of a Bunch, very similar to something we’d do or our Toss play we run out of the Bunch. They’ll also RPO this — Flair the QB out and read a linebacker, if the LB runs, the QB will actually keep it. They also will pump fake it and throw it a guy who was pretending to block. This is really the staple of their passing game.
One thing that makes them a lot different than us is their investment in the quick game. This (https://streamable.com/yuxzdy) is just a little Spacing concept. A 3 man concept to the field, it should be an easy completion. But something they do on all of their quick game is they look at their 1on1 matchup, and if the QB likes it, he takes it. This is actually how they get a lot of their vertical passing game — a lot of times that guy is running a Post or a Go route or something. Here it’s a hitch he likes, not a completion, but make no mistake they do this often with a ton of different routes (technically, they could tag anything!). If we want to man them up a lot, they’re not afraid to challenge us.
And finally, one thing to note is that on a lot of their quick game, they want to get easy completions but they also are not afraid to try to stretch the field when it’s there, like this Hitch Seam concept (https://streamable.com/wwwtp5). This is a very simple read for the QB, he has mirrored concepts (both sides of the field are running the same thing) so he can pre-determine which side of the field he wants to look at and then it’s just one read. If he gets the read he wants he can throw to the Seam route downfield and if not, he throws the hitch or tucks it and runs. Here they actually catch him good with the Firezone and confuse him a bit, make him throw into coverage instead of to the field where it’d be a bigger gain, but you see the concept play out. They love these concepts where they combine a vertical and horizontal shot and have hit a few of these for big gains.
Not clipped are three things that are key — play action for one. They love to play action off of pulling guards and take shots so it’s going to take a lot of discipline on those. They also love to Jet Sweep, give it to the guy, throw swings to him, play action, so again a lot of eye discipline. And finally, the Flea Flicker. It sounds stupid but they’ve tried a Flea Flicker in at least 3 of their past 4 games and have hit big shots twice on those. We’ve definitely got to be prepared to see it.
There’s a lot there, but, generally speaking, this is a different team than Alabama, especially on offense. That’s not to say they won’t present a challenge — in particular, their offensive line has played much more consistently this season than has Alabama’s — but one big difference is that Cade McNamara is no Bryce Young, either passing or running.
On defense, I expect they’ll try to do what everyone else has and scheme to make Stetson Bennett beat them. That’s a much easier task if they can jump out to a lead and force Georgia to chase. Only one team so far has had success with that approach.