Note: This article is part of our Film Study series. We publish several of these each week on GoCoogs and while they are usually only available to subscribers, we’ve made this one free for everyone prior to the Tulane game.
During the off-season, we heard a lot about how Dana Holgorsen wanted D’Eriq King to be smarter when deciding to pull it down and run. Dana emphasized that King learn to be patient and get his playmakers involved.
Our film study today is exactly what Dana has been talking about: it’s 3rd-and-6 and we need a first down to extend the drive. While the play breaks down, King stays patient and makes the most out of it.
The Play: 3rd & 6
This play begins with an audible. UH starts in four across before the sideline sees an opportunity. It takes a while to get everything set up before King gets the snap with less than a second left. Here’s the full play:
Bryson Smith comes in motion and crosses the center with 1 second on the play clock. But by doing so, he draws the attention of the MIKE linebacker (#37 Justus Rogers) who shuffles to his left. Rogers sees Bryson go wide (eventually into a wheel route) and knows the nickel (#25) will pick him up.
As he sees King dropping back, Rogers plants his foot at the 31 and steps back into his zone. Keith Corbin comes across the field behind the MIKE in a crossing route. Corbin is Rogers’ responsibility even though he never notices the WR.
We’re actually running a mesh play here with a sit route over the top. There are a million variations of the mesh but they all have the Y receiver (deeper of the two crossers – Corbin in this play) going six yards from the LOS – the exact yardage we needed to pick up the first down. This variation (with wheel + sit + RB releasing to flat) looks pretty similar to this one:
At the snap, the free safety (#26) steps in Corbin’s way forcing the WR to reroute his slant and disrupts UH’s timing. Watch Corbin try to step inside the FS but then switches course to go outside:
Best to elude the safety rather than get tangled with him. But by the time Corbin is moved off his intended angle, and even before King gets flushed out of the pocket, it’s a broken play.
King rolls to his left and avoids a would-be sack by the nose tack (#90). The NT flips a basic spin move and confuses Pancotti and Braylon Jones. You can’t double-team a guy and still let him get by you and get that close to making a play. On a drive filled with bad OL play, this could have potentially been the worst. Thankfully, #90’s first two steps are to the inside as King starts to cut out.
From the second he sees Corbin cross the MIKE, King realizes that Rogers is all alone. If he moves outside the pocket in that direction, he knows that he’ll be 1-on-1 with the MIKE and will have two good options to pick up the first down.
King has the speed to beat Rogers to the first down marker but it’s not his best play. He keeps his eyes up and forces the MIKE to commit to him, abandoning his zone and the WR he didn’t realize was behind him.
King’s primary option at this point, especially since the MIKE has committed to the run, is the all-alone Corbin in the flat. King makes the right decision and fires a pass over the MIKE’s head to Corbin, who breaks a tackle for a 37-yard gain. Here’s the entire play again:
King showed patience here from the moment he realized that the mesh timing was off. He saw Corbin and knew there were two positive options if he could break the pocket.
It was nice recognition by King. Why is that a big deal?
Because it’s plays like this that helped Case Keenum go from good to great. Recognition of your options and making the best choice with what the defense is giving you is the next step for King. Here, he achieved that.