Physical Michigan Offensive Line Dominates

By FirstDown PlayBook on Nov 28, 2022
All 22 Tuesday

Every now and then there is a game where one team is beginning to take control but the outcome is still in question. At some point that team makes a statement play that removes all doubt about the outcome. Todays All 22 play is that play (in our opinion) from from the Michigan vs Ohio State game on Saturday. The Michigan offensive line provided the statement play that put most questions to rest about the end result.

Let’s set the situation. As we mentioned, the Wolverines are leading 31-23 and beginning to show dominance. However, the game is very much still a game. It is 1st & 10 with 7:23 remaining in the football game. Michigan has the ball on their own 25 yard line. It is important to note that Michigan quarterback, JJ McCarthy was beginning to find his footing and making critical throws. However, not enough to scare Ohio State from overloading the run game box.

The Michigan Offensive Line Provided The “Statement” Play Saturday

Michigan lined up in eleven personnel and in a 3×1 formation to the field. The Buckeyes matched personnel and played man to man. The coverage looks to be man free, with the obvious goal being to stop the run. Ohio State loaded up with seven in the box vs Michigan’s six blockers. Keep in mind that Michigan QB is not a scary run threat. Can he run? Yes. Scary? No. You do have to respect him on a zone read play however.

This is how the numbers get evened up. The Buckeye defense has seven players for seven gaps. They even have a player dedicated to the QB bootleg run. As was pointed out by the announcers during the game, the defense still has to be gap sound. The Buckeyes dial up a pressure we like to call “2 Go Back” It is a common defensive pressure as well as a great NFL punt rush. The nose guard is stunting to the field and the two linebackers are looping back to the boundary.

Here in lies the beauty of zone blocking, if done well. It forces the defense to be gap perfect. As you will see, one of the linebackers on the pressure did not get back to the gap needed. The backside LB #35 needed to get to the far A gap and did not. This provided the crease needed to get to the second level. The second level was non existent because of the pressure, but that’s not all.

The FirstDown PlayBook Lineman View Shows The OSU Breakdown In Gap Control

The free safety was fooled and guessed wrong on the zone read. He was aggressive to the field and that put him in no position to help on the second level. Unfortunately for Ohio State he was the last line of defense. The fastest way between two points is a straight line. That’s pretty much the path that Donavan Edwards took on his way to the end zone. The boundary receiver #6 took the corner with him on his way to crack the free safety. Neither the corner or free safety had a chance.

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Before we sign off though, we want to get back to the original point. The Michigan offensive line executed their zone blocking fundamentals perfectly. As you watch the video, see the patience of the Michigan center #55 as he understands zone blocking principles. In an era when the only time you hear about the offensive line is when there is a holding penalty, they deserve a ton of credit for their performance ethics past Saturday. This is a group who will have to be respected all the way to January, if you ask us.

Mike Cross