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Air Raid Playbook: Fake Screen, Vert

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We're taking a look at one of the explosive plays from the game against Texas Christian, before the wheels fell off.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Like last week, we've got a play that was successful due to some setup work previous.

We've seen Tech run countless sideline screens, where the ball is thrown out quickly a receiver near the sideline and the other receiver(s) to that side run upfield and start blocking someone. This play starts out the same.

Formation

Tech is in a one-back, 2x2 formation. This is a pretty standard formation and one where DeAndre Washington was able to break off a huge run from earlier. There isn't any pre-snap motion, so this play is relying solely on the defense to overcommit.

Fake screen formation art

TCU is in their usual 4-2-5 alignment with the corners off a bit, the weak and strong safeties over the inside receivers, linebackers and free safety in the middle of the field.

Fake screen formation

Execution

At the snap, it happens quickly, but it looks like there may have even been a play action sort of look with a slight motion towards Washington. On the outside, Jakeem Grant starts to float out towards the sideline as if to be on the receiving end of a screen pass with Devin Lauderdale getting upfield and grab a blocker.

Fake screen diagram

With the look over to Grant and a real quick pump fake, the offense is able to suck up the playside safety, the corner blows past Lauderdale in an effort to make a play on Grant (who at this point had already broken free in the TCU secondary) and the free safety, while still deep, looks to be on an angle towards Grant rather than Lauderdale.

Fake screen play 1

The screenshot above was right after the pump fake, so you can see the effect it had on the defense.

Once the free safety realizes it's not going to Grant, he quickly bails to cover Lauderdale, who's already got the angle on him and in position to catch an uncontested ball.

Fake screen 2

The free safety's angle allows him to meet Lauderdale 22 yards downfield, but the poor pursuit angle only allows him to attempt to push Lauderdale out or fall at his feet, neither of which are successful in stopping Lauderdale, with him going 56 yards for a quick touchdown.

Tech had run a variation of this same play earlier where Grant was able to break free and run for 59 yards. That was in a 3x1 formation, where Tech sent two receivers deep behind the fake screen. Grant was able to make the catch in space and run from defenders. Following those two plays, along with the long Kenny Williams touchdown early in the game, Webb had around 175 yards and 2 TDs and it looked like they were gearing up for a shootout with the Frogs, but we know how this story ended.

Plays like this only work when your opponent is concerned about stopping the quick screen game - if you have beaten them with it and they're tired of giving up quick, easy yards. TCU here didn't want to see Tech dink and dunk down the field. Only problem is that it opens up opportunities like this one for big yards and quick scores.