Just when it appears Michigan has come to the line in a power formation intent on pounding the ball, the Wolverines can flip the script.
Take this instance, something that the Ohio State defense — recovering from the attacks it endured a week ago at Maryland — probably will face a time or two Saturday at Ohio Stadium. Let’s call it “I strong right, H right flip, Y seam-arrow,” because what at first signals an intent to run turns into an attack on the heart of the secondary.
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It’s a throwback to coach Jim Harbaugh’s time as coach at Stanford because it starts with deploying in the I formation with a split end left, a tight end — in this case, 6-foot-8 Zach Gentry — to the right and, off his right hip, another tight end as an H back.
Before the snap, the H back flips to the left side off the hip of the left tackle. The defensive front seven must gird for what looks to be potential power attack to any gap across the front.
But at the snap, as quarterback Shea Patterson turns to fake a handoff to running back Karan Higdon up the middle, fullback Ben Mason darts into the left flat. The split end takes off up the sideline, the H back — tight end Sean McKeon — releases on a seam route on the left before breaking right over the middle, and Gentry releases on a seam route on the right before breaking left over the middle.
Suddenly, the power-run formation becomes a three-level attack on the secondary, especially the left side of it, and, in this case, Patterson hooks up with Gentry for a sizable gain.