"Never mind the maneuvers, just go straight at them." –Admiral Horatio Nelson
"Never do this." –Dude who fought at the Somme
[GAME OF THRONES SPOILER ALERT]
So yesterday military and football strategists were dunking on the Night King's gameplan for taking Winterfell. Leaving aside the unique military advantage of being able to convert your enemy's defeated soldier's into fresh troops, iceman here had a thousand lifespans to plan his attack on humanity, and somehow the best he could come up with was to walk straight into the Godswood.
A direct frontal assault could be your best chance in some cases, but if we learned anything from 20th century warfare, it's that that you should probably avoid it when you can. That's not just my thought. In 1954 the British military historian B.H. Liddell Hart published Strategy: The Indirect Approach, a seminal work on military history largely informed by the lessons of two World Wars he participated in. The book, which is in the public domain, discusses the strategies of great generals and their counterparts in various time periods and theaters, and is well worth the (short) read that most people who reference him never undertake (especially his take on Ludendorff). Hart favors tactics that get the enemy moving one way then hitting them where they ain't:
To move along the line of natural expectation consolidates the opponent's equilibrium, and, by stiffening it, augments his resisting power…An examination of military history—not of one period but of its whole course—brings out the point that in almost all the decisive campaigns the dislocation of the enemy's psychological and physical balance has been the vital prelude to a successful attempt at his overthrow.
Admittedly, Hart's conclusions are colored by his biases, and he is so often misquoted by wannabe business Napoleons that most people who've heard of Hart now roll their eyes at his mention. But the guy had a point, and I think if he was alive this spring, Hart probably would have really enjoyed some of the things he saw in Michigan's running game under new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis.
Others did as well:
Brian commented that these plays reminded him of the way Scott Frost attacked us in 2016. Here's an example of one of those things except run two weeks later by the offensive staff Gattis was a part of at the time:
A lot of plays could lay claim to represent the Indirect Approach school of rushing offense—simple outside zone is a good candidate—but here you really see the Hart philosophy at play. You've got three frontside receivers and a backside tackle pull directing defensive material away from the point of attack. Look at all the guys whose reads are telling them to move/stay to the (offense's) left:
That's a lot of red.
A zone read of the unblocked defensive end is there as a contingency; worst-case scenario the optioned DE (Taco) decides to fling himself upfield into Barkley's path, and quarterback can dive forward behind a puller and a double-team, still a numeric advantage.
The way to defend this from Michigan's base cover 1 would be for the weakside linebacker (McCray, with the green edged thought bubble above) to beat the crack block from the top receiver, and for the cornerback on that side (Stribling) to see the crack and "replace," i.e. take over McCray's edge duties and force Barkley back inside. They both misplayed it and Barkley picked up 30 yards en route to…
/checks drive chart
/looks at scoreboard
/re-checks drive chart
So that's what we mean about getting the defense moving one way to attack elsewhere. This play is a stark (not sorry) example of this running philosophy. Now let's see how 2019 Michigan's using it.
[After the JUMP: Gattis hasn't given up]