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Air Raid Playbook: 2-Back Shotgun ISO

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We're taking a look at another play from the game against the Texas Longhorns.

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Early in the third quarter, down by 7 and driving out towards midfield, Tech faces a second and 6. The offense has been a little inconsistent since Vincent Testaverde took over for an injured Patrick Mahomes, but this drive was moving the ball nicely. And that brings us to the play we're looking at today.

And I apologize for the image quality of the screenshots. I was going off of the full game film, which was uploading in SD (the Tech highlights video included this play, but cut in after the ball was snapped).

Formation

Tech is in a 2x1, two-back set. Personnel consists of Devin Lauderdale at X, what looks like Cameron Batson at Y, Bradley Marquez at Z, Kenny Williams at H and DeAndre Washington at F.

Design

I believe this was supposed to be an ISO play. An ISO is basically a run up the middle with a lead blocker. I say I believe it was supposed to be this because it changed due to the defensive call. I think the play was supposed to have Williams lead through the hole in the offensive line and Washington was to follow.

If you look at the formations pre-snap, you've got 6 Texas defenders to Tech's 6 blockers. This should tell Tech that a run call is good to go. You expect to win one-on-one matchups, at least enough to give your ball carrier a chance, especially if that's DeAndre Washington.

One interesting point here (and I'm not sure if they're decoys or it's a read option for the QB to make) but the outside receivers, X & Z, run short curl routes. The Y receiver is running at the outside cornerback as if to set up a screen to that side. And whether or not a pass option is available here, this occupies both corners to the left of the screen and the safety on the other side (we'll get to what that corner is doing later).

Execution

At the snap of the ball, you get Testaverde turning to his right to make the handoff to Washington. Williams, to his left, is cutting across the formation to set up his lead block through the hole (allowing Washington to simply run downhill).

But here's where things change. The playside corner is blitzing. He's taking a path towards the mesh point of the QB and the RB receiving the handoff. Williams reads this perfectly and instead of heading upfield and potentially allowing that corner to hit the RB in the backfield, Williams cuts the corner.

At this point, you can see the curls/screen on the outside developing, sucking in those corners and the playside safety. You can see the cut Williams was able to get on the blitzing playside corner and you can see the blocking the offensive line was able to provide for Washington. The blocking was man, everyone was able to get their guy, including Jared Kaster moving up to the second level to get the backside linebacker. The playside linebacker would have been taken care of by Williams, but Reshod Fortenberry goes into full beast mode and blows his defensive end so far back that he impedes that playside linebacker from being able to slide over and fill the lane that Washington is running through. I mean, look at that last screenshot above. Fortenberry is three yards downfield with his defensive end, plowing into the linebacker. It's great.

Washington is hit about a yard short of the first down, but is able to spin enough of his defender off to fall forward, gain two more yards and pick up the first down. On second and 6, Washington is able to pick up 7 and keep the drive alive.

Now, you're only going to get these light boxes, especially with two backs, when the passing game is effective. At this point in the game, Testaverde was something like 5 of 7, so Vance Bedford (UT DC) hadn't quite figured out what Testaverde was capable of and was playing to keep the Tech air attack in check (especially with a strong defensive front seven, although on this play not so much). The Texas defensive game plan would eventually change to take away the run and we started seeing Testaverde taking more shots downfield to try to open up the defense, but wasn't successful.