The game was pretty much decided by this point, but on 4th-and-1, the Wolverines decided to run the (a.k.a. my) dreaded Wild Haskins formation. Michigan did indeed throw a changeup at Ohio State’s defense, sending sidecar fullback Ben Mason from the playside to the backside of the play, where he was kicking out the defensive end. (Most Wild Haskins plays have Hassan Haskins following Mason.)
Follow 74 for a touchdown. Instead the back does whatever the hell he wants and the OL get blamed for it pic.twitter.com/FTZQfBAkYc— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) November 30, 2019
This is one of those plays where I’m not sure who to blame based on the film.
Hit the jump for more.
The game announcers wanted to blame Michigan’s offensive line, which “didn’t get a push.” And…I mean…it’s true that they didn’t get a push.
They did create a giant hole on the right side, where left guard Ben Bredeson pulled through and had no one to hit.
Was that on Haskins himself? Why did he choose not to follow Bredeson? Why was he so quick to try to cut to the backside A-gap?
Was that on Josh Gattis or Jay Harbaugh? Why was Haskins attempting to hit the hole so quickly?
In my personal opinion, I think the play was poorly executed. The timing was off, whether that was an issue from install or whether it was just something that popped up on game day with a guy unready for a big spot.
If I were coaching Haskins on that play, I would teach him to take a position step (basically a lateral step or a delay) in order for the blocks to set up and a hole to develop. With the timing of someone taking a direct snap from 5 yards behind center and then immediately going forward, that hole opening up with Bredeson wasn’t quite fully formed by the time Haskins had made his decision. If he takes a position step and gives the line .27 seconds more, then he can follow Bredeson through the playside D-gap for a chunk gain.
The above paragraph is one reason why I dislike the Wild Haskins formation in general. It’s a play that they surely practiced, but it’s not a bread-and-butter play, and you have a guy who’s a) not highly accustomed to taking a snap and b) not used to following a pulling guard after taking a direct snap.
We played a decent single-wing team this year where the “QB” did a great job of understanding the timing required to run power. You need to give time for the pulling guard to get playside and let the block develop. But he was good at it because that was a huge part of their offense. When they needed a key conversion, they went to their bread-and-butter play. Michigan, on the other hand, is not a single-wing team and its bread-and-butter play – if there is one – is certainly not Hassan Haskins running power.
Great coaches say: “Think players, not plays.” The play design was fine. If you’re a college offensive coordinator, you’re probably pretty good at designing plays. The real difference is fitting your plays to your players, and I’m not sure Haskins was ready for this one.
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