Well that game was something. Never felt more frustrated scoring 42 points in a Big Xii victory than I did last Saturday. Too many mistakes went Iowa State's way, but the Red Raiders found a way to still win by a TD that thankfully was decided earlier than it could have been.
This week's Rewind takes a peek at Tech's fifth touchdown of the day, a 12 yard score by DeAndre Washington to put us up 14 points with 12 minutes to play.
Starting out in 20 personnel, we get two WR's out to the left and one on the right. As this play goes between the tackles we're gonna focus on the big guys in the trenches.
At the snap, Sadale Foster goes from Davis Webb's left side across his face to the right, giving the LB's a first look towards that side of the play. They don't really bite at all, as it appears the D line was slanting that direction already, so they were likely setting up to cover the backside of the slant anyway. But the move does help the score to happen, which we'll see later.
The slant, though, opens up one of the two big blocks on the play, both of which were made by the offensive tackles taking out the 2nd level LBs. The defensive lineman over Le'Raven Clark goes in towards the left guard, James Polk. With Polk setting up to block back inside, it makes it pretty easy for him to keep pushing him that way to open the hole. Now Clark is free to move up and engage the linebacker opening a path for Washington to scoot through.
The other big second level block is on the other linebacker, made by right tackle Rashad Fortenberry. At first it seemed to not make sense that the right tackle would be free when the defensive line is slanting that way. Surely there would have been someone there, as four linemen were available and headed that way.
Now the movement by Foster takes a bigger role. As the defensive end looks in to the backfield, he's looking to keep his ground for two things, either to trail on Foster, or rush Webb if he keeps the ball. For either, he was trying to keep himself free to make a play. His focus on those things allows Rashad Fortenberry to shoot straight past the line and cut off the path for the other linebacker. This is where a great defensive tackle blowing up blocking assignments helps slow a run game.
If either of the linebackers don't get blocked there, the play may only get a couple yards if Washington can't bump that outside.
Personally, the key to a really valuable running game in our system is getting those LBs blocked and make the secondary come up and make the play. That opens a ton of space and options when the D Backs can't focus as much on the pass. Personally, that's my favorite side effect of running like this. It's one thing to just show the run a lot to set up that pass, but that really only works when the running is effective for what you're going to want to do.
As the season's gone on, Tech has become considerably better at installing blocking schemes that the linemen can execute. This will be huge going forward as we may find ourselves in a few more games where EVERY piece of the puzzle will need to be in place in order to get the win.