Playcall Rewind - Texas Tech Baylor

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Finding the holes in the screen game. Where did all the Baylor defenders come from?

After the first quarter there wasn't a whole lot of quality offense sustained to keep up with the Baylor Bears. But those first three drives with out costly mistakes were very encouraging, and is something we can look forward to next year with QBs with more experience taking care of the ball.

Today we look at a play from early in that third drive, and one that actually didn't work out to well for the white-clad good guys. Setting up in a 4 reciever set, two on either side of the line, Sadale Foster motions out of the backfield to set up behind Eric Ward and Jordan Davis on the near side. During the motion, a linebacker follows Sadale out, giving an indicator that the defense is in man coverage. Both the remaining linebackers approach the line of scrimmage and show blitz, which is exactly what they do.

First problem on the play. We now have three defenders on two WR blockers. Ward takes his defender up the field out of the play, now leaving just Jordan Davis to pick up the first and closest defensive back to Sadale, leaving the safety free at that point.

Second problem is the quickness at which the defensive line picks up the read. All but one defensive linemen get through immediately. That ease of access is an imediate indicator that a screen play is occuring. Picking up on this the defensive end from the other side of the field looks across quickly and identifies Sadale right away as the eventual ball carrier. However, having come from so far away should have given Sadale enough time to turn upfield and not have to worry about him.

This is where the two problems clash. Since there was a free secondary defender, Sadale had to create some distance from the defensive back to give Baker a viable target. He's not able to direct his route up the field and away from the defenders in the middle. You'll notice also that Jordan Davis's block happens very close to the catch zone as well, just another wrench in the plan. Anyway, with Sadale having come farther back for the ball, he's now in an area where that free defensive end can meet him for the tackle behind the line of scrimmage. The only offensive lineman who even gets in a block is left guard Ryan Messer. None of the other guys either get in position for a block or don't identify the earlier threats for the tackle.

This is a play that I would love see some tweeks on. First and foremost would be for the route to be heading more upfield. A shallow slant 2-3 yards past the line gives the play forward momentum from the get go. I think that allows for a wider margin of error where even if he still gets tackled right away, a gain is still made.

One thing that I always try to look for in shallow plays like this is how quickly the receiver is able to get his eyes upfield for YACs after the catch. Obviously, you don't want him taking his eye off the ball before it's secure, but the earlier they can identify a route, the more success they'll have. Sadale here spends a second looking towards the threat that's already in his face when he gets ready to run, and never even has a chance to get momentum going the right way.

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