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Film room: 50 shades of Cantrell

Many players shined against Arizona State, but no one was as versatile as no. 14

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

2-0, ladies and gents! Despite lots of troubles, the Red Raiders defeated Arizona State and remained undefeated. After our Week 1 analysis concerning the defense, this time we focus on an offensive player who made strides in the Sun Devils’ game, Dylan Cantrell.

We could talk about Nic Shimonek’s 543 yards, Keke Coutee, and the interesting things that the running game occasionally built up, but Cantrell showed the ability to do many different things with proficiency and it was impossible to ignore him.

The big senior wide receiver broke his personal record of yards with 160 coming from eight receptions, he made some crucial plays late in the game and scored the winning touchdown in one of the strangest plays that we’ve seen in a while. Let’s start.

First of all, Dylan used his size to execute several important blocks.

On a 1st & 10, Texas Tech lined up with two receivers per side and a running back, Justin Stockton (black), while Arizona State rushed four players. On the right side, Cantrell (red) and Coutee (blue) blocked the two defensive backs and received help from right tackle Terence Steele (yellow), who took care of the linebacker when pushing up to the second level.

The blocks worked perfectly, as Stockton came out the backfield, caught the ball and gained 26 yards.

On the very next play, the formation was almost the same and Cantrell made another key play.

Coutee ran an out-route to the sticks, while Dylan looked like he was running a slant, but in fact ran a delayed deep route. This play totally fooled the defender (Alani Latu, linebacker, red), who was caught in the middle as Cantrell was behind him, broke two tackles and gained 35 yards.

Let’s go to the early third quarter, to analyze one of the two highlights of No. 14’s night.

The Red Raiders lined up with three receivers on the left side, Cantrell (red) on the right, and a running back. This last aspect’s important, as both the defensive end (blue) and the safety (yellow) dropped in coverage underneath and couldn’t totally commit to Dylan’s deep route. Consequently, he was in one-on-one coverage with the cornerback and made a spectacular catch with the help of his helmet, gaining 29 yards.

And now we come to the final play of this analysis, the one that gave Texas Tech the definitive lead.

Shimonek was under center, and there was a fullback (Mason Reed) and a running back (Desmond Nisby). I repeat: there was a quarterback under center and a fullback in the Red Raiders offense. Weird!

Nisby lost a costly fumble early in the game, but after that he converted every short yardage situation in which he was involved, so the expected call was a powerful run up the middle.

Instead, Shimonek took the snap and gave the ball to Cantrell, who was in motion to the right side. The timing was perfect and Dylan scored the winning touchdown. There was only one Arizona State player who had a real possibility of stopping Dylan, and he was defensive back No. 24, Chase Lucas (blue), but he was perfectly blocked by big wide receiver Donta Thompson (No. 17).

This last one was a particular call, and we have to credit coach Kingsbury it. In addition, the players executed the play to perfection bringing home the 2-0 record. A note goes to the defense, as it really looked better than last year (from 68 allowed points to 45), making some important stops.

Now, we can move on to Houston, as Saturday Texas Tech will face the Cougars. They’re a solid team that doesn’t score much but allowed only 19 total points in two games. A new challenge waits for the Red Raiders.