Note: This premium article is a free preview of the type of content GoCoogs.com provides. Now until kickoff, a GoCoogs annual membership is 50% off – just $44.99 for the year.
Baylor head coach Dave Aranda spoke Monday about breaking down UH film since Saturday evening. In this regard, especially with the short turnaround, Baylor has the advantage. They can prepare by using the 7 games from last season where Clayton Tune started. For the Coogs, trying to prep for a new staff on one week’s notice, it’s trickier.
UH’s grad assistants and analysts have to comb through Baylor film to study personnel. And then they’re going through the film from LSU (Aranda was DC the last 4 years), Louisiana (DC Ron Roberts’ last stop), as well as Texas and UNC (Baylor OC Larry Fedora’s last two jobs were one season as an analyst at Texas and, before that, head coach at UNC). That’s a lot of film to compile, sort, and study on very short notice.
In terms of what is on film, Baylor’s offensive line allowed the most sacks in the Big 12 over the last two years (2.85/game). UH’s OL hasn’t been much better in the same span (2.6).
Because of those sack issues, each team has to devise ways to protect the QB. Last year, Baylor moved QB Charlie Brewer out of the pocket often – he throws on the run well and it helped the Bears avoid sacks. UH relies on ‘max protect’ – a scheme that has been a staple of Dana’s system for years now. Both the TE and RB stay in to block, which then limits the offense to three routes. When running max protect, it is imperative that the offense is able to get it to and catch on the outside.
“There’s quite a bit that’s different,” Aranda said about seeing Holgorsen’s offense on film. “Lot more max protect throw than I can ever remember. A lot of that on tape from last year.”
Max protect can hinder the offense unless the outside receivers are making plays. Like this play that Jeremy Singleton made in the SMU game last year.
Max protect gives the QB more time to make the read and a decision. Tune didn’t need time to make a decision as this was a one-read play. But giving Tune time to set and allowing Singleton to get open downfield is imperative.
As Tune continues to progress, and UH can develop better play on the OL, we could see less use of this protection than what Aranda is currently seeing on film. I do expect to see a good bit of max protect this week, however.
Aranda also brought up a specific run play – UH’s GT (guard-tackle) Counter. It’s a gap run-scheme where the backside guard and tackle pull up the line while the center and the play-side guard and tackle block down to set a lane. In this run from the second quarter against SMU, Mulbah Car breaks free for a 44-yard gain thanks to the trap and seal from the two left-side linemen.
Here’s the play:
Before the snap, you can see left guard Keenan Murphy peak over at the outside linebacker. Murphy already has an advantage as the OLB is busy reading the handoff and won’t see him until it is too late. The OLB steps up the field at the snap which Tune reads and correctly hands off to Car. As the OLB tries to react to the handoff, Murphy traps him as Mulbah Car cuts behind them. By the time the OLB spins away, Car is five yards past him.
Here’s the pulling guard-tackle combo:
Coming behind Murphy is left tackle Josh Jones. Jones was so very good at this play. He gets to the second level and eliminates the MIKE linebacker, keeping his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage until he engages. He seals the block with a right shoulder move that twists the MIKE right out of the play. Car steps behind and around Jones and gets into space where he dazzles.
Holgorsen relies on the GT Counter to get more bodies in front of the RB and he uses it out of numerous formations and in the passing game. He incorporated this set into the UH offense after seeing OU run wild from it against his Mountaineers the last few years he was at West Virginia. Offensive line coach Brandon Jones was brought to Houston to implement line play that more closely resembles Lincoln Riley’s air raid as opposed to Mike Leach’s.
On Monday, Keenan Murphy was announced as the starter at left guard in part due to his success running plays like this. Something to watch is the development of left tackle Patrick Paul. Paul is agile for 6’7″ and has a good first step on the pull. He did get three starts at LT at the end of last season and if he can be effective in pulling – whether in the GT counter like this or a tunnel screen or in a zone-read – UH’s offense can flourish in 2020.