Jan 9, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Courtney Upshaw (41) along with teammates defensive back Mark Barron (4) defensive lineman Jesse Williams (54) tackled LSU Tigers running back Michael Ford (42) during the BCS National Championship game at the Louisiana Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE

Michigan Football: Mailbag Question -- What can the Wolverines do to exploit Alabama's Defense?


Posted at 5:00am — 8/27/2012

Michigan Football: Mailbag Question — What can the Wolverines do to exploit Alabama’s Defense?

SeanG post: Since this site has a number of coaches on it, I wanted to know if it would be possible for the GBMWolverine staff to do a piece about how UM could exploit Bama’s defense. What are some of their weaknesses? If you were a coach, what types of plays would you use, etc etc?

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GBMWolverine Response:

The above inquiry has been on the minds of many people, not just our staff. One can be assured Coach Borges has been dissecting this for at least four months. A plan of attack is one prerequisite for success against a very talented defense. The other obvious prerequisite is the talent to execute the plan. Michigan has some talent on offense that goes beyond the obvious: Denard Robinson. Being able to run the ball makes the mission much more obtainable. Being able to take advantage of a few limited times in a game when the offense has obtained an advantage is critical. For example, the run is working and the play action fake draws the safety out of position. Now the big play must be hit.

The generalities are finished and now on to some specifics.

Alabama runs a balanced 3-4 defense. This enables a defense to put equal defenders on both sides of the ball.
 
The key to attacking this scheme/philosophy is to make the balanced defense adjust or play to an unbalanced offense. This can be accomplished in multiple ways.
 

Using a tight end, or even two tight ends, can give this type of defense some difficulty. Sticking with the theme of making a balanced defense react to an unbalanced offense, this idea works better if one tight end is used as an H-Back or wing. As one would expect using motion of the tight end can also cause problems. Line the tight ends up and tumble or trade them and see if this forces the defense to play a scheme that makes life easier.
 
By using a trade/tumble of the tight ends, favorable match ups may be achieved. The intent is to get the short-side OL’ber play the tight end, an assignment that is not typical.

Using the trips formation forces the OLB’ers to play in space and the ILb’ers have to cover more ground. This is something else that UM can look to exploit.
 
The last thing that can help an offense versus a 3-4 defense is pulling some offensive linemen. By pulling offensive linemen the offense can out man (outnumber) the defense at the point of attack and force smaller defenders to play versus larger players.

To make the above strategies work an offense must have at least one, and preferably two, high quality, versatile, tight ends. An offense also needs linemen very skilled and proficient in pulling. Michigan has been working on pulling linemen, but still will depend on zone blocking as well.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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