Oct 19, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner (98) runs the ball against the Indiana Hoosiers in the second quarter at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Football: Michigan at Michigan State -- Be Quick, But Do Not Hurry

GBMWolverine Coach's Corner2Posted at 4:00pm — 10/31/2013

Michigan Football: Michigan at Michigan State — Be Quick, But Do Not Hurry

Michigan’s Offensive Dilemma

For several years now, Michigan has not attacked Michigan State’s defense well. Few teams have as a matter of fact. This is not the first time head scratching has occurred about how best to attack a blitz-happy defense. Think back to the famous Bear “46,” named after headhunter Doug Plank.

For many games no one had a solution, then the deep ball was launched down the sidelines to burn the Bears. Since then many blitzes have been neutralized by offenses that get rid of the ball deep.

There are certain traits that serve an offense attacking such a defense well. These include sound scheme, an absolute understanding of if, then possibilities, preparation so intense that confusion is limited, and the poise to be quick but not hurry.

Oct 19, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back Fitzgerald Toussaint (28) running the ball in for a touchdown in the third quarter against the Indiana Hoosiers at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan will have trouble holding back the hoards of Spartan blitzers who will come from everywhere, including safeties and cornerbacks. The blocking by the running backs has been less than stellar. So, it is unlikely that Michigan’s receivers may have the four seconds to run deep or long crossing routes, a severe disadvantage to the Wolverines, but reality. Michigan will have to identify the ifs of the Spartan defense and execute the thens. This means a short group of quick patterns may be in order. Essentially, Devin Gardner will need to be quick but not hurry, and he will need plenty of poise and patience.

CoachBt mentioned screens, draws, and throwing quickly to the flat. Strangely in the last few match-ups few of those strategies have been tried. The result being an offense that yielded few points, few yards, and only one viable play, the quarterback run. The final drive in last year’s game was well executed in the little time left.

Michigan may well shoot some receivers into spots thought to be open in the zone blitz. This can be problematic as who drops and who rushes is not identified until after the snap. This defense baits throwers into throwing into areas thought to be safe. The Spartan linebackers are very dangerous. So, the short game may go outside instead of between the hashes.

No doubt Gardner will be under duress and his judgment and legs will be critical to Michigan moving the ball. Every team would like to run the ball but against the Spartans this is tough with the run blitzes up the middle and the failure of Michigan’s stretch play to work successfully. The natural need for balance may have to yield to what works best.

The receivers need to play very physical. Blocking outside will be important, but so will keeping the Spartie mitts off of various Michigan body parts and personal property.

To this writer, the two biggest factors for Michigan’s success against the Spartan defense remain Borges’ game plan and Gardner’s execution and poise.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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