You’ve seen the protection. Whether it’s Shane or Sam, the Longhorns offensive line hasn’t always held up well, not even close. A reaction coaches have to that is to move both the line and the quarterback, moving the pocket, if you will. While that seems like a good idea, it’s often not. For starters, you’re eliminating half of the field. Then, if you’re losing blocks in your more standard protections, what makes you think you won’t lose blocks moving the line. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. A little initiative is afforded when blocks appear to be run. However, that needs to be coupled with routes that are likely to open and, something that’s been missing from Herman-Beck’s pass game, scramble and or throw away needs to also be drilled into the quarterback. For those clamoring about negative plays due to sacks in the passing game, don’t look past the staff, because why is that there aren’t enough 3rd Fix opportunities nor throwaways by the quarterback? All that is drilled, right? Many times, it doesn’t look that way.
Quarterback movement schemes usually involve a Flood concept, a Herman staple, or a ‘bootleg’ concept (more later). That’s when you have at least 2 to 3 receivers in the pattern all working toward one side of the coverage. The problem for the Texas passing game goes beyond protection. There are also the concepts that must be sound and get receivers open, because if they don’t, the quarterback holds on to the ball and executes what’s called ‘scramble-drill’. Only, in Herman-Beck’s case, it’s run for your life, take shots, and get sacked, because it doesn’t look like they drill throwaways enough.
Take the following example. Texas is aligned in ’20’ personnel with a tight end and running back in the backfield. The space to the field side looks promising, but…
As you can see, two receivers work the field side coverage while the back works up to cut off the alley defender. Here’s the thing, it’s 3rd & 3. You have a corner and safety 8 to 9 yards off the ball, easy, right?
What does Herman-Beck run, an outside vertical against a sinking safety and an extremely round out route, awful.
This brings me to a couple of important points. One, far too often, the staff fails to capitalize on ‘easy yards’, the yards present upon alignment and immediate post-snap movement. Two, when you do see routes, they are often sloppy and don’t effect coverage’s positioning.
Next, they run a real beauty. I don’t even know what to call this. Texas has ’11’ personnel on the field, one tight end right and one running back. The left guard is pulling to the boundary and Shane is meshing with eyes that way too. What is the read here, if any?
After the mesh, Buechele moves right outside the hash while it appears his only receiver to that side is breaking a route inside. At this point, he has no one to throw it to.
You can’t see what’s going on downfield, that’s always frustrating. Nevertheless, protection eventually breaks down and Shane is running for dear life. If you don’t remember, Shane completes a pass to a the opposite sideline and is clobbered, winning!
It’s hard to tell what the aim was here, but what was clear, whatever they had going to the weak side wasn’t working and the receiver starting from the weak side works all the way to the opposite sideline. I’m suspecting the field slot does the same thing, a head-scratcher, for sure.
Now to the bootleg idea. Also, is it me or does Herman like 3-Level a little too much? I digress. Moving on, you’re seeing the beginnings of a bootleg concept. The H-back is ‘arcing’ across behind the line and Shane is ‘handing off’ with his back turned to the defense.
After the fake, you see the single receiver to the field running a vertical route, the boundary receiver running the Drag, and Warren’s route into the flat being blown-up. More importantly, the Drag is running into two defenders in coverage.
What happens on this one, the vertical stem being run by the field receiver is an out or comeback route of sorts and the ball comes out a bit late and off-location, incomplete.
If you’re as puzzled as I am sometimes watching this Herman-Beck offense, you’re not alone. The staff appears lost because of its inability to effectively run the ball. Are they out of their element? I think they are, a little. It doesn’t appear they fully grasp the spread pass game and all it encompasses when you have a good passer. Now, is part of that problem the fact that they’ve had to scheme for two different quarterbacks that possess different strengths? To an extent, but that sounds more like ‘next generation excuse-making’. The fact that Herman-Beck fail to get very talented receivers open, early and often is concerning. You’ve read here the type of concepts I’d like to see more often from the staff and offense. What makes me extremely curious heading in to Morgantown is what personnel changes. If Connor Williams is indeed back, it allows the staff to utilize different concepts and no matter what quarterback is in, they will feel better knowing Williams is protecting their ‘blind side’. I’ll touch on that some in the TFB Game Week preview. Until then, tell me what you think!