Bear Raid Breakdown #2
This is the second post in this series. The first can be found here: http://www.bearinsider.com/forums/sh...ad.php?t=68728
The play I'm ultimately going to discuss is a 1st down conversion on second and 10 against Utah State. To understand how that play was set-up, though, we should look at how Louisiana Tech had found success up to that point in the drive.
This drive started after a punt to the La Tech 15. At the beginning of the drive, Tech stubbornly attacks the outside of the defense with plays heading toward the “boundary,” or the closest sideline. As a note, in this and future posts I might refer to sides of the offense or defense as the “field” or “boundary” sides. This refers to plays where the ball is set on one of the hash-marks instead of in the direct middle of the field. The “boundary” side is the side to the nearest sideline, where there is less open grass. In the picture above, since the ball is set on the left hash, the boundary side is the left side. The “field” side is the opposite side, where there is more open space. In this play, USU is playing a 2-deep defense with the boundary corner playing press-man coverage and the rest of the defense playing normal cover-2 (a zone coverage).
On this play, La Tech is going to run to the boundary. They do this by sending the boundary WR deep, which takes the manned-up CB with him. That means that the only player who can stop an outside run to that side is the OLB, standing on the 20. The offensive play design is drawn up here:
And the post-snap look is here:
What you're seeing here is the development of another packaged play, like the one discussed in my previous post. This particular package is meant to stretch out USU's underneath coverage as much as possible by attacking the short outside on both sides of the formation. At the top of the image, La Tech's wide receiver is looking for a screen, with the other WR blocking for him. Cameron is reading the field OLB and notices that he's hanging outside. Between this LB, the safety, and the LCB La Tech doesn't really have the numbers to run the screen, so Cameron hands off. At the bottom of the screen, the FB has moved out of the backfield to seal the edge, and the LG is pulling outside for the same reason. At this point in the play you can already tell it will be successful because the OLB at the bottom of the screen has been sucked up by the run-action. The FB and LG will easily get outside of him and the next LB inside, and the RB will have a lot of room to run before the safety makes first contact and a LB cleans up.
La Tech ran the same play immediately after this and gained another 9 yards, but we don't get to see much of it because they run the play before ESPN's camera crew can cut to the right shot. The next play is a run up the middle for a first down, which we don't need to look at here.
For those of you keeping score at home, it's now 1st and 10 at the La Tech 45. For the 3rd time, Franklin calls the play I've detailed above, but on this play the run goes to the right. Check the image below. Why have the run and the screen switched sides?
If you answered that this play always puts the run to the boundary side of the formation, you are correct. The ball is on the right hashmark now, so the run goes to the right (boundary) side and the screen goes to the left (field) side, where there's more room for the receiver to operate once he catches the ball.
Also important is that USU is in a different coverage this time. You might look at the above picture and wonder why there is no outside defender to the boundary. USU is worried about the 2-receiver side of the formation being in all that space to the field, and they know that La Tech likes to run screens out of this look. How can a DC take away the 2-receiver side without taking defenders out of the box? In this case, they've “shifted” their coverage to the 2-receiver side. What does it mean that they've shifted coverage? Think of the coverage above, with 2 deep safeties. In that coverage, there were two DB's (a corner and a safety) to each side of the formation. Coverage was balanced. Now take that look and “shift” it to the field, as I've illustrated below:
Bring the field safety into underneath coverage, bring the right safety to the middle of the field, and drop the CB's deep. Now you have 3 secondary defenders in position to defend the field side of the formation. This shifted coverage is nothing exotic, and is really just what you've probably heard called Cover-3, but I thought it would be useful to show the relationship between these two coverages, and what DC's are really trying to do by switching from one to the other.
With that out of the way, USU is actually playing a 3-deep fire zone, with the field OLB blitzing. The hope is that La Tech will see the blitz and throw the screen quickly where they don't have numbers, or that one of their players can beat his man and stop the run for a short gain. Their coverage and blitz responsibilities are seen below. Note that they have two DB's lined up over 2 WR's, making the screen tougher.
On this play the LB's all do the right thing, unlike the first play discussed where the outside defender lost the edge. This run works because of numbers. Because USU is in a different coverage and alignment, La Tech's OL adjusts slightly to block it. To the boundary side, USU has the following defenders: ½ of the NT, the LDE, the LOLB, and the LILB, or 4 available defenders. La Tech blocks this by having the FB take the LOLB, the C and RG double team the NT, and the RT takes the LDE. The LG pulls and takes out the LILB giving La Tech five blockers against four defenders. The run goes for an easy 5 yards.
Last edited by berk18; 12-21-2012 at 03:19 PM.
The next play is a penalty, putting La Tach at 2nd and 10, the play that this post is really about. Remember that La Tech has been attacking the outside and stretching the defense out horizontally with great success. We might expect USU to do something about that. If Franklin and Dykes are really clever, they'll see that coming and call a play to counter that adjustment. Here's the pre-snap look:
Look at that picture and tell me USU's not trying to take away the horizontal stretch. They have 6 freakin' guys in underneath coverage. This coverage is really Cover-2 robber, and they're running it out of nickle personnel. Coverage responsibilities are shown below:
Cover-2 robber is basically cover-2, with the safeties dropping to deep 1/2's of the field (the 2nd safety is off the screen) and the CB's and LB's dividing up the underneath coverage evenly. The “robber” part of this coverage refers to the nickle-back, who is lined up slightly behind the LB's and right next to the ref in the picture above. The normal weakness of Cover-2 is the “hole,” a space in between the two deep safeties and behind the linebackers, about 10-20 yards deep. In a robber coverage, you use a “rat” or “robber” player to take away that hole. The normal Cover-2 assignments are outlined in gold above, and the robber's assignment within that shell is in blue. This coverage, by leaving CB's in the short outside zones, puts guys in good position to stop plays to the outside.
Of course, if the defense puts a ton of guys in underneath coverage, the offense's answer is easy: Send a bunch of guys deep. Here Tech runs the Air-Raid staple 4-verticals, or the “6” route, which is a deep horizontal stretch play:
This looks like it's just bombs away, but it's actually a play that will take a lot of practice, precision, and chemistry to get right. The tough part about running this well is that WR's and the QB have to read on the run. The WR's are running downfield looking for seams in between deep defenders, and the QB has to read where the seams in the defense are and hit the most open WR quickly before the seam closes. An extension of this is that any of the four deep routes is supposed to convert to a hitch if it becomes clear that the receiver can't get over the top of the coverage. Basically, if the deep coverage keeps dropping, a lot of space is opened up between the deep and underneath coverage, and the receivers want to settle in that space if they can't get open deeper. That is exactly what happens on this play. Here is the play immediately post-snap:
There are a few things to note. On the defensive side, you can see that the robber has opened his hips and is dropping toward the middle of the field, and that the safety is in his back-peddle to his deep half. The underneath coverage is sitting to see what develops. On the offensive side, the RB is running a check-down to the field. The most interesting fact, however, is that the LG is pulling, as if this is a run to the boundary. You can see him in this picture with his back turned, running just behind the center. This is important, because the underneath coverage is keying not only the RB, but also the offensive line to read run vs. pass.
In this picture, we see the two inside receivers and the underneath defenders covering them. On the hash toward the bottom of the screen, you see what you want to see as a DC. The linebacker is even with and inside of the WR at the USU 49, and is dropping with his eyes toward the QB. At the top of the screen, the picture is subtly but importantly different. The WR is past the 50, and he's already got a step on a LB who's opened his hips toward the sideline and so can neither stay with the WR or see the QB. This LB had a little stutter step immediately post snap, and I have to believe it was hesitation because of the pulling guard.
This photo shows the end of the play. The WR in the middle of the screen has just caught a pass for a first down. To sort out how this space was created, I've ID'd each of the defenders. The safety is running deep with the outside WR, the LCB was playing the short outside zone, the LOLB got beat as discussed above, the ILB started the play in the middle of the field and was too far away to make a play, the ROLB was the guy sinking with the other inside WR, and the robber was dropping into the hole in the middle of the field. Importantly, the WR at the bottom of the screen (who didn't catch the pass) was probably not open when Cameron threw the ball, even though it looks like he is. Keep in mind that the ball took time to get from Cameron to the receiver. Trace the robber's path backwards to where he would have been a little less than a second before this picture. He was in the middle of the field, and would have been able to make a play on the ball. When the boundary inside receiver saw the safety and the robber going deep, he settled down in the space created and the QB hit him for a first down.
Last edited by berk18; 12-21-2012 at 03:19 PM.
Thanks for this again. Appreciate your effort.
Good stuff. We appreciate the effort.
True Blue Golden Bear
Yes....we really do.
Originally Posted by chazzed
Originally Posted by Cal_Fan2
Should be fun for fans watching practices and games to try and determine what's happening before and after the snap.
A+ thread, would read again. Looking forward to your next breakdown!
Great read. Thx very much.
This is really great stuff. Please keep it coming. What happens when you see this offense run into a first rate team is a game of cat and mouse ensues where the defense really wants to commit six to stopping the run and the offense wants to limit them to five. If you compare the last few photos of this series and the first few photos of the previous post against TCU you can see the difference in a four man front and three man front approach against the single back, four wide offensive set. But in each case, the D is in zone and committing 5 to stop the run. Sonny has the advantage in the chess match at that point.
A couple of things - look at how tight the O Line splits are compared to say a Leach coached team. Sonny/ Franklin want the D-line in tight mirroring those O Line splits so they can run wide more easily.
Second, it is important to have an at least somewhat mobile qb to run this offense against highly talented teams. If the qb is not mobile, and the opponent is salty, the defense will want to go 4-2 with 4 DBs manned up on four wides and a single safety. DEs lining up on OT outside shoulder and crashing hard to the deepest back and five O linemen trying to block six. That D should be tough to run against and should bring decent pressure. However with so much man coverage, if the qb can run and sees an opening and gets past the LB he can run forever because the DBs are locked in on their receivers. Once this happens a few times , D is forced back to 4-1 zone and the run is now easier pickings.
I'm so lost, this is nothing like Tedford's offense. Why aren't there any slip screens? I didn't know a receiver could run a route more than 5 yards down field, is that even legal?
Loved the breakdown. Wish there was more stuff like this. Thanks!!!
Synchronization or speed and precision OR all of the above?
Does this play require all players to make the same reads and know exactly what each other is doing?
"...When the boundary inside receiver saw the safety and the robber going deep, he settled down in the space created and the QB hit him for a first down."
Does the quarterback have to see the same thing on the field and then know/trust that his receiver will settle into the soft spot here? Or does he wait until he sees what the receiver is doing (is there any signaling involved) and then have to get the ball to him very quickly?
You should be a writer for BI. MB, lock this guy up!
True Blue Golden Bear
It's a brave new world........
Originally Posted by BAyers3
Thanks to everyone for the kind words. At some point I'll make a post on the resources I've used to learn about this stuff. There's no reason everyone here can't do this.
Nice points. I actually haven't read up on front play that much, so the more you can add about that the better. I also have a post in the works on beating man-coverage from trips (h/t to you for the suggestion), which will pick up on some of what you're discussing.
Originally Posted by slotright20
Yes, the players do have to make the same reads, and it's understood that they will respond to their reads in certain ways. This all happens too fast for any kind of signalling between the WR and QB. This kind of play both is and isn't difficult. It's difficult because you can't predict exactly where everyone will be until the play starts, and everyone has to be on the same page. That can take practice.
Originally Posted by BearHeart
If you imagine reading this as a QB though, it's not that bad. Pre-snap, you have a pretty good idea about the coverage. Depending on how much robber coverage USU has shown on film, you might know exactly what it is based on the position of the nickle-back. At any rate, once you see the robber you know you have 4 receivers on 3 deep defenders. You know the safeties are probably going to take the outside-most threat, so you've got the robber isolated with the two inside receivers on him. The entire play boils down to that read. You keep an eye on the robber, and hit the guy that is where he ain't.
Last edited by berk18; 12-23-2012 at 01:18 PM.