If you’re curious about scheme as much as I am, you’ll often note instances in games that make you wonder, why? That often pertains to what you actually see called on the field. However, omissions are just as bad, because available space to attack should be taken as often as possible, at least that’s my opinion, is that yours? A frustrating issue for me this season was the alley, because it’s beyond me why more coaches don’t take what’s immediately there. Oftentimes, when a defense aligns with a 2-high structure, it leaves space underneath. Offenses can ‘formation’ to coax defenses into giving them these looks and it happens quite often. What doesn’t happen enough, in my opinion, play-callers forego a simple quick pass to this area of the field. That pass can come in many forms, whether it be a short Hitch, Stop, or Bubble screen. What’s important is that you know the call is there and if the situation calls for it, why would you not make the call?
Now, I don’t even want to focus on any scheme here, but instead show you how formation and alignment may lead to exploiting the alley. This is all born out of frustration, of course. For an offense struggling with efficiency, you’d think Herman-Beck would take every opportunity to exploit this space, especially when the situation calls for it. Add to that, when your most effective concepts are perimeter screens to the receivers or backs, it makes sense to ‘over-call’ schemes that attack this space with initiative and pace. You should know, ‘over-calling’ only occurs when the concepts no longer work with consistency. Did you ever see that with regard to the perimeter screen game this season, no. Yet, you did see that with some other concepts, many involving the run game. This isn’t ‘rocket surgery’, folks.
I’ve begun pouring over the offense. What sparked today’s post was, I wanted to count how many times Texas saw alignment with an open alley and did not choose to target it. As I was watching the Maryland-Texas game, I counted 3 instances in the 1st quarter alone. I then thought, this may get too tedious and as fellow Brainiacs, you’ll get the general point and quickly begin seeing it yourself. Let’s take a look at those 3 instances.
The first play of the season featured a 1 tight end ‘20’ personnel, 2X1 set. Look at ALL the space over one of your favorite receivers, the field slot, Humphrey, just outside the hash. If you remember this one, the call was a packaged pass play, Hitch to the boundary plus ‘naked’ to a 3-Level flood concept to the field. Why so fancy!? This one nearly ended Shane’s career too, as he was blasted keeping the ball too long staring down the deep and intermediate routes to the field. The irony here, the 3-Level concept to the field does attack the boundary. Only, it’s slow developing and dependent on the quarterback to work through the progression quickly and deliver a pass to the 3rd Fix, the back to the Flat. Don’t even get me started here, just flip the dang ball out there, man!
Hey, does the next example look familiar? It’s virtually the same as the first one, except the tight end is in-line making it an ‘11’ personnel 3X1 Pistol set. Did the call attack an open alley here, no. You can also see the alley defender creeping well inside the hash against this set. When you have a quarterback who can quickly release the ball to the alley, it might be a good idea to let him make that call himself.
The last example is of a ‘10’ personnel 3X2 Empty set, Trips to the field. Before I forget, did you start noticing the downs and distances? In each of these cases, making a quick call or check to the alley is appropriate. Yet, Beck decides to forego it. Instead, he opts to call something a bit more complex.
Now, I know this all seems simple and having 3 examples in one quarter may not seem like much. If that’s the average, that’s 12 opportunities a game to attack space the defense is giving you. Now, given the down and distance seen in each example, two of them 2nd and 4, you have a high likelihood of converting or seeing a 3rd & short, the latter being a whole different story (LOL). Furthermore, relentlessly attacking looks like this with success creates opportunities for big plays off the same looks. The latter is just as important as the former when you consider what helps you, WIN GAMES. Both efficiency and explosiveness go a long way in securing wins. Now, it’s not that Herman-Beck don’t scheme shot plays off of screens, it’s more that either are too busy calling different schemes rather than taking what’s given and abusing it until they draw coverage up to close down that space. There were times I thought the staff did a better job exploiting this idea throughout the season, but it never seemed consistent to me. Going forward, I’ll be addressing similar issues. It’s my opinion, the staff missed many opportunities gained, just by formation alone, to attack at opportune times. That’s it for today and, as always, let me know what you think in the comments.