I'll be joining the crew here over the next few months to take a peek at plays ran by the Red Raiders and see what we can learn about our offense. Each week I'll take a play and just slow it down piece by piece.
But to kick off the series, we're running a two-play special! Don't get too excited though, as it's basically the same play, just ran twice with different, but practically the same, results.
While I was watching the game early on from the north end zone, I was keeping an eye out for a certain play to catch my eye. As we saw, though, our offense wasn't exactly humming for the first 30, so I decided to enjoy what I could of the first half and wait until Jace Amaro entered the fray.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Red Raiders were looking for a touchdown to get a two possession lead on SMU after taking over with 13:05 at our own 22. (Side note: was it really still that close with less than a quarter to play?) After a nice sequencing of pass plays, we get to the subject of today's article.
Link to point on youtube video here: Link
Lining up with trips left, Eric Ward, Jakeen Grant, Amaro (outside to inside), with Bradley Marquez (I assume, as he's out of frame) far to the right. At the snap (which ESPN barely gets on film we're so fast) Baker Mayfield throws a quick receiver screen to Ward, with Grant and Amaro blocking. From the snapshot below, you can see the two blockers getting setup. For the defense, you can spot a cornerback and safety coming up to make the play.
However, as Ward makes his way past the line of scrimmage, Grant and Amaro both engage the corner back, a gross mismatch for the poor DB, but leave the safety (#22) free to make the open field tackle on Ward for a gain of 13.
As the play ends, you can see Kliff Kingsbury looking at Jace and seemingly begins to follow after him, but a ball boy and an injured (or sad?) Mustang comes between the coach and a coaching opportunity.
But Kliff was not to be denied the chance to see if we could improve on something right away (or he just wanted another 13 yards). The very next play (and I'm sure you know where I'm going with this), trips left with Ward, Grant, and Amaro, and wide receiver screen.
But this time, it all goes a little bit differently. As Ward makes the catch and begins turning up field, Grant goes to engage the CB, and Amaro turns to engage the nickel back.
Unfortunately, this sequence doesn't work as well. The CB is able to stand up to Grant's block without a giant TE in there helping out, cutting down on Ward's running lane. This slows him up enough for other Ponies to get to the ball. Also, with Jace taking on the inside CB, he never had the chance to block the safety to really help Ward break free. We only end up gaining (ONLY) 9 yards on the play to set up a short 2nd & 1.
8 plays, one Pass Interference call, and a hilariously bad check at the line later, the Red Raiders extend their lead on the way to victory.
Couple quick questions/thoughts:
- It seems pretty evident that Ward would be a better blocker than Grant, so why keep going to him instead of the other way around? Is Kliff looking for a stronger runner rather than Grant there? Is he trying to get future opponents to look for Ward to be the one making that catch? I'm probably over thinking this.
- I wonder how different the result would have been if Amaro had taken on the safety in the first play. Would Grant have been over matched as we saw in the second sequence?
- These WR screens look pretty good, honestly. I'd be happy if we can keep them this successful as we begin to face more physical and talented defensive backs. But being able to pick on little things at this stage of the season can make a big difference later if you can iron out any wrinkles you find.
That's all for this edition. If you see any plays that really catch your eye against SFA, I'd love to take suggestions in coming weeks.