Michigan Football: Illinois at Michigan — What May Happen — Homecoming Final Preview
Coach Borges retreated somewhat last week from the unpredictable and called a game that took advantage of Denard’s skills to pile up plenty of points to win the day. In short, he bet on the favorite horse. Coach Borges attempted to get the inside read option going, with very minimal success. But the line pulls by the guards and tackles sprang Denard for well over 200 yards rushing. Denard sit in the pocket and hit a few key passes to the usual suspects.
This week Michigan’s offense will not face a 3-4 but instead the 4-2-5 that is in vogue due in part to the success of TCU. The offense that Coach Mattison faces this week is another spread directed by a talented quarterback, Nathan Scheelhaase.
The 4-2-5 is a little bit of a strange bird, but can be a carnivore if the safety, known in Texas Christian lingo as the robber is allowed to play a big role. This safety can be used in tight run coverage and in either 2 deep or 4 deep coverage. One way to attack the safety is to make him move all over the place, back, forward, and side-to-side. The idea is to put some doubt in his mind and freeze him for at least a small amount of time.
The robber safety usually is responsible for the #2 receiver: slot, doubles, trips, tight end or whatever. However, the corner can take the #2 and the safety can go to the flat depending on the read. Coaching articles cite spreading the #1 outside receiver and the #2 as far a distance as possible as a way to neutralize the strong play of the robber. Such a player is subject to good play action passes if the running game is working. So teams can throw into the vacated area, throw deep down a seam if the safety vacates, or even run plenty of quick stuff: sit-downs, outs, and slants. Spreading out the defense helps when running slants. The throws should be quick and underneath the safety. If the offense goes to quick three step drops and takes advantage of the safety, then the corner may gamble and jump the route. But if the corner guesses wrong and bites on a double move and a pump fake, look out. Michigan, with Denard at the helm, is not set up to throw short, quick routes time after time. So look for some outs and maybe even a few double outs.The 4-2-5 is not the best choice to stop a strong I formation series. So, seeing as how Michigan needs tailback production and the I attack can hurt this defense, look for Denard to get under center more than normal. The bet here is Michigan wants to use what works, the traps and pulls to spring Denard before setting in the I formation. Success in the passing game and play action is needed to keep the 4-2-5 from cheating into an 8 and 9 man running defense. If defensive players are crashing, hit the flats quick!
Some coaches attack the backside with the tight end or flood an area like the pistol offense does. Send one deep, send one on an intermediate out, and send a back to the flat. Might see this, indeed.
But besides running isolation and attacking the two contain guys with stretch and quick passes, and using Denard in a way to make quick hay, Coach Borges needs to find a tailback. Isolation blast and the outside stretch play might be the best bets of what will happen Saturday outside of the Denard package. Denard to be successful must make really good reads and not get suckered by route jumpers. It is thought here that even with a lead, Coach Borges will want to continue to spend time upgrading the passing game. But the passes may be safe and short for the most part. Coach should have some freedom and breathing room to throw deep once or twice to the big outside receivers and also try to put a touchdown up from 15 to 20 yards out if a receiver is isolated away from safety help.Coach Mattison is not going to reinvent defense this week, and should not need to do so. Michigan’s defensive performance will come down to playing solid technique and executing assignment football. Look for Illinois to attempt get Michigan’s back seven to bite. Play with discipline and put some pressure on the thrower, pretty much like last week. Illinois will hope for some success on the read and quick hitter up the middle. Illinois has had mixed success in this area in 2012. Last week Michigan played well against the inside read series.
Coach Mattison no doubt has talked about keeping Scheelhaase contained. He is a better runner than TerBush, and more likely is a better quarterback. Losing contain on him could cause some unnecessary problems. Other than that, Michigan has seen this script before and should be well prepared.
The name of the game is get on top early and dictate to the Illini what is going to happen on Saturday. The Wolverines need to be prepared because surprises have happened each week of the season. And conference play will be no different.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
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