This will look at the breakdowns in drives 4 through 6 of the Baylor game. Was TCU outschemed? No. Did they find some flaw in the famed 4-2-5 defense? No. I submit it's simple. The corner: (1) was sufferning from a dash of hubris; (2) was slower than the wideout; (3) did nothing to try to slow the wideout down at all; and (4) seemed too interested in the play-action. The safety on the same side: (1) wasn't reading his keys; (2) in one instance forgot his assignment; and (3) missed an open field tackle (no shame there, happens all the time, but I submit sure tackling skills is one of the key's to TCU's recent success on defense - they are in years past one of the most fundamentally sound defenses in football). Is some of this excusable or expected? Sure. But one is not . . . you can't let receivers get behind you. Period. Deploy bump and run. Give them an 8-10 yard cushion. Just be faster. Whatever the method, allowing a team to so easily go over top is just not excusable.
Ends in a Punt
Ends in a Punt
After shutting them down again for two plays (one of which was helped by a slot receiver dropping a pass), it was third and long. Baylor comes out in a simple formation that TCU has seen all night. Griffin gives play action, and even though all offensive linemen and the slot back (which should be the safety’s read) shows pass blocking immediately, the strong side safety bites. The corner, who was apparently (at least I hope apparently) on flat coverage, let’s the receiver sail right by.
Result is a large gain and the drive stays alive.
At first and 10 in TCU territory, they begin back with a run. It goes nowhere. On 2nd and 7, they come out in a balanced set with two wideouts on both sides. They bring motion across, flooding the right. TCU adjusts appropriately, but they leave 5 in the box. That’s one too short. The play was a draw up the middle. Baylor gets a first down. After a Griffin run, Baylor lines up in yet another shotgun formation with wideouts to either side. Clearly, the strongside corner has man coverage, as the safety has cheated up to approximately 7 yards from the ball. On the snap, Griffin again shows playaction. The corner, who should be locked onto his man (because the safety on his side is providing run support, or really is keying on the slot receiver), is found backpeddling and watching the play action. It’s no contest. The wideout has his jets on the whole time.
Griffin lobs a ball into his hands for a touchdown. Again, an early read (for the corner or safety) would have been the slot receiver on the strong side, who immediately showed pass blocking.
On two more plays, the same corner is picked-on for decent gains. Also, the running game has picked up some steam for Baylor, but on the touchdown play, no secret . . . Griffin gives play action. The safety, who is cheating hard already, bites big time, racing up to the line, until he realizes what the slot receiver, once again, could have told him . . . it is a pass, and the slot receiver is staying home to give coverage. The corner, is once again, backpeddling on a receiver who shows no sign of slowing down. He doesn’t chuck him or do anything to slow him up. The receiver runs the same pattern he would run if he were on a field by himself against no defense.
The result is a touchdown.
Something is amiss on this drive. Baylor comes out in the exact same set they have been the entire game. Except, this time, instead of play action, they actually run. I see a couple of issues. First, Verette (the corner they have been picking on all night) is back on man coverage. Questionable call after being burned three times already, and it’s barely into the second quarter. Second, the linebackers are showing absolutely no respect for the strong side of the ball. I don’t know what they saw, but they were unbalanced to the weak side of the ball. Finally, the safety isn’t using his read, again. This time he hesitates to see if Griffin really hands off. The slot receiver could have informed him immediately it was a running play by his movement. That’s the safety’s man anyway. I’m not asking him to look at the sideline or anything. Big gain.
They come back with the exact same set (in a hurry up offense). This time, the linebacker is better positioned for the play. The strong safety is 11 yards off the ball. The corner is finally showing some respect (giving an 8 yard cushion). The safety has the same read (the slot), and fails to react quickly to it. The tailback takes the handoff and again cuts back to the strong side. The safety this time reacts a little more quickly and comes up to make the tackle and, in uncharacteristic fashion for TCU, he misses. Another big gain.
It’s now 1st and 10 from the 13. They come back with the exact same set. The corner, forgetting that he has been burned three times already, creeps up, giving a 3 yard cushion. The safety is on his heels. Now, who’s man is the slot? The corner is in man coverage so the safety has the slot . . . the same guy he has failed to key on all night. This time, the slot’s move at the line is crisp and fast; he barrels up the middle. He hasn't moved like that all night, even on run plays. He isn’t looking to block anyone. Griffin gives play action. The safety takes one step forward to respect the play action, then when he realizes it’s a pass, he turns his back on Griffin AND THE SLOT (his man) and heads to give the corner help. Griffin just dumps the ball over the middle to the wide open slot for a touchdown. It's possible the slot receiver became the linebacker's responsibility, but my guess is, based on previous alinements in the same set, he is the safety's responsibility. Drive 6, Play 3
Airforce, fortunately, is an option team, but I would expect them to test the left side of our defense to see if the corner has figured out how to cover a wide receiver and whether the safety has figured out how to read his keys. I know Patterson is all over this, but let's hope the players are responding.