Monday, September 10, 2007

Football 107

This week, I'd like to take a look at a play that happened at the college level. It was the second TD in the Hurrricanes-Sooners game. This play by itself did not win or lose the game. But, it was interesting from a coaching standpoint, and was a part of the overall success of Oklahoma.

With respect to ABC, here goes:
[image removed]Oklahoma lined up the shotgun, with one back in the backfield. They had two tight ends (one at either end of the line), one receiver on the right, and their best receiver lined up far left.

Oklahoma had run been running on the downs prior to this one, but had set up in this formation before. And Miami had countered it with a different defense than they're showing here.

Lets break down Miami's defense. The defensive line was going to pass rush. All three linebackers are showing a blitz. The corners are covering man-man on the outside. That leaves the safety just behind the umpire - who came up to cover the tight end on the right side of the field, and the safety in the yellow circle. He's key to the play because his coverage responsibility was the deep zone shown with the purple x.

[image removed]At the snap, you can see how this play develops, and the coverage breaks down. The one safery does his job and goes to the tight end on the right side of the screen. The linebackers all blitz to create pressure on the quarterback. The corner on the best receiver (left) has his man covered. But, look at the safety next to the arrow. He's caught in "no man's land"...he hasn't dropped back into his zone. And, he's not looking at either of the receivers on that side of the field. He is "looking into the backfield."

And to make matters worse, he's moving toward the line of scrimmage. Basically, he was "chaeting" so that he'd be closer to the line, if Oklahoma ran the football. And on several of the downs where they showed a similar formation, they did run, so they set him up on the play.

[image removed]A moment later, he reacts to the tight end coming into the area. But, Miami already has another problem. The QB looks left, and the receiver puts a quick move on the corner. But the safety, having cheated up toward the line, and now trying to catch the tight end, is way out of position. He's one yard deeper than the receiver, but seven yards away from him.
[image removed]The receiver has great position on the corner and makes a catch that the corner can't possibly defend. The safety is trying to come over on the play. But, he is at the wrong angle, and no amount of speed can make up the play. He's about a yard *in front of* the receiver, and still 5 yards away. The receiver merely has to turn his body and run, and no one will catch him.

[image removed]The final picture shows how the corner and safety collide a few moments later as the saftey comes over to try and make a tackle. The receiver scored a few seconds later.

I saw two big breakdowns on the play. The first was that Miami chose to send seven guys after the quarterback. I don't ever see this as a workable strategy. That left man-man coverage on each of the defensive backs, and might have left the back open if he had gone out for a pass.

The second was that the safety was playing out of position. It appeared as though he was supposed to be in a deep zone, but he was nowhere. His feet were stuck in the mud, and he didn't cover anyone, and reacted too late to the play.

The play was representative, because from that point on, Oklahoma ran formations and threw things at the beleagured Hurricanes that they couldn't handle. They were in a loud stadium, and had been burned by this play and others like it. I believe they were unsure of themselves and wound up losing big as a result.

Its interesting how one play can lead to bigger woes on the field.

Class dismissed.
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