Film study: a stroll down Sack Ave

Parish and Hall sack Henigan on the opening play / Photo by Mario Puente

On Friday, GoCoogs wrote about Memphis’ weakness on the left side of the line and at right tackle:

Memphis starters Gambill (#65) and Dale (#75) will give UH defensive coordinator Doug Belk and DL coach Brian Early plenty of opportunities to bring pressure from the outside. They’ve combined to give up 18 pressures in the last three games.

Another spot to keep an eye on is left guard. Ellis (#74) has started seven games and has had difficulties, most notably against SMU. He did not play against ECU last week after suffering an injury late in the SMU game. His replacement Fields (#71) was solid against the Pirates but had a rough game against Tulsa earlier in the year.

It did not take long to see the Cougars pounce on those very guys. On the first play of the game, Brian Early dialed up pressure attacking the left tackle #65, guard #71, and the right tackle #75.

Lined up wide, Bandit Derek Parish popped #65 under his shoulder pads, pushing him back towards the QB. Parish’s strike is right-hand dominant and threw #65 off his axis. Parish continued to charge from the outside while the LT tried to re-establish himself with his right leg, a fatal error that Parish exploits. The mistake forced the LT to lunge at #0 who easily slides by.

On the other side, David Anenih rammed the right tackle with a big hit and won the pad-level war immediately. He kept pushing the RT back towards QB Seth Henigan to help collapse the pocket. As he finishes his drop, Henigan sees Anenih closing in and he knows that his preferred escape valve has been closed.

In the 3-technique, lined up on the left guard’s outside shoulder, Hall makes a quick inside move that confused #71. His first reflex is a long step back and to the right, keeping his shoulders aligned to where Hall started out. A critical mistake.

The guard’s first step should be short, meant to establish his center of gravity so he can stay squared to Hall. However, when #71 goes wide with that step, he loses any leverage he might have otherwise had. Hall responds with a lefthanded shove under the guard’s right shoulder. It is an agile move that 71 could not counter.

What Hall did not expect was that #71 is getting help from the center. When the center sees Hall coming through the A gap, he immediately extends his arm and grabs the front of Hall’s jersey – textbook holding – but it went uncalled.

Didn’t matter.

Having used his left hand to neutralize the guard, Hall uses the same shoulder to thrust past the center’s grabbing. Hall’s leverage is too much for #70 and he ends up getting tangled in the right guard’s feet. As he does that, #71 can only watch the carnage.

The quarterback Henigan knows he’s doomed, and he never even saw Parish closing in from the backside. The Sack Ave Boys made their presence known on the first play. Early attacked the three weakest Memphis OL and they combined to give up 15 QB pressures. Although the sack and TFL numbers were not very high, Henigan was uncomfortable all night.

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