Defense Analysis - Drive #1

In a multipart series, we will dissect what went wrong with the TCU defense. This installment will just be drive #1, which ended in a touchdown on a trick play.

Baylor offense v. TCU defense.

DRIVE 1

Play 1 (diagram of play - if it's not showing up automatically, click and diagram should appear)
Baylor set up in a two slot, single back set. One wideout per side. Both wideouts are receiving man treatment. It’s a shotgun formation. Upon fielding the snap, Griffin gives play action, freezing both linebackers and hoping to suck the safety into believing it’s a running play (he doesn’t bite however). The right side wide receiver takes off on a fly pattern to draw the corner out of the flat. The right side slot runs a shallow flat pattern. The safety, who is keying on him, reads the simple formation and comes up to make the stop for little or no gain. Excellent coverage, except the success of the defense is dependent upon the corner being able to cover man-to-man.

Play 2

Play 2
Baylor sets up in a similar shotgun formation, except the slots are gone. They now have two wide-outs on the left and a tight end on the left. Again, it’s play action. The right wide receiver begins on the same fly route, except at ten yards, he pushes off the corner and returns back for a right hook pattern. The separation is several yards. It was a clear push-off. I don't say that as sour grapes; It’s just a fact. (of note, on the other side of the ball, there are three eligible receivers and potentially a back vacating the backfield. We, again, are signaling man coverage, and no receiver is being shown any respect. All TCU defenders are less than 5 yards off the line of scrimmage. Upon the snap of the ball, the tight end stays in to block. So does the running back. The safety guarding the interior wideout, on the strong side of the ball, blitzes. That wideout is running free. The free safety (who now apparently owns him in man coverage) is 15 yards off the ball and doesn't make any movement suggesting he is aware a blitz is on and he has responsibility for a receiver. Similarly, the linebacker doesn't either. The guy was wide open and had plenty of YAC room.

Play 3


Play 3
On the next play, Baylor floods the left with wideouts and Griffin is now under center. Paper doesn’t do justice to how much room the innermost wideout had. Griffin sees it immediately, and even signals to the wideout before he hikes the ball. Griffin pulls up to fake a hitch to him, and then hands off the halfback who is headed left. The linebacker fills the hole, the halfback cuts back across the grain and is met by the left tackle and back side safety.

Play 4

Play 4
On play 4, Baylor flips the field, stacking all but a tight end to the right. TCU responds with staking everyone to their left. The Baylor slot goes in motion. TCU doesn’t respond. The play is snapped and the linebacker goes on a run blitz. Baylor easily puts more blockers at the point of attack than TCU. The result is a large gain.

Play 5

Play 5
On play 5, we Baylor begins with a shotgun formation and two backs in the backfield. TCU is in a standard 4-2-5 set and is still playing everyone tight (except for the odd times the safety decides to play 15 yards off the ball . . . there appears to be no happy medium). Both backs go in motion to the right. One splits out wide and the other settles in behind the tackle. The safety moves up to cover man-to-man. Griffin gives a look over to the now split wide back, and goes on a delayed draw for little or no gain. Because no one adjusted to pick up the back that moved into the slot (remember the safety has vacated to cover the other back that is now split wide), the linebackers barely had to move to make the tackle. I think Baylor was expecting at least one of the backers to vacate or at least cheat to the outside.

Play 6

Play 6

Baylor scrambles back to the ball in no huddle. They show in a double wideout package with the safety playing considerably off the ball (which causes the problem). Upon the snap, Griffin immediately throws him a hitch. The play side safety sees it immediately and races up to defend and make the tackle. The cornerback, also sees it and immediately leaves his man to assist the deep-playing safety. Upon catching the ball, he immediately throws to a wide open receiver who is racing down the field. The free safety is, for whatever reason, cheating to the right (where he has been the past 5 snaps). The weak side safety is playing center field, but way over on the opposite side. There is no way he can get over to even attempt a touchdown saving tackle. Touchdown.

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