The Frog's don't have much of a history with the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks; you have to go back to 2008 to see them battle on the gridiron. TCU is of course a much different team than they were in the days of Dalton and Tank, so breaking game film from seven years ago is kind of, well, pointless. Instead, let's dive in to Trevone Boykin's rushing touchdown play from last Thursday night against Minnesota, and see just went what all went in to a successful audible to the option.
First things first, let's talk about Boykin's legs. One of the more explosive athletes in the college game, Deuce Boogie can throw it, run it, and catch it. Against the Golden Gophers, and their excellent pass defense, Tre was the leading rusher on the night, going for 92 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries (the same rushing total as he had in 2014 against Minny). His best run of the night was the one that led to points, an option play that he checked in to in the third quarter.
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When Boykin comes up to the line of scrimmage, it's with a pass play dialed up by Cumbie and Meacham, but he has a run option in his back pocket. Minnesota has been dropping coverage all night, not letting Doctson and Listenbee beat them over the top. TCU has trips left with Doctson split out wide to the right. The Gophers are choosing to play off the line of scrimmage, with only one defensive back in a press position.
The Gophers show blitz, with the linebacker coming up to the line initially, but he drops back in to pass coverage before the snap. The three receivers split out wide draw a ton of attention from the defense; with Listenbee's speed on the outside always a threat and concern, you can see how many DBs are cheating towards that side of the field and even have their shoulders shaded that direction. Seeing that, Boykin audibles to a running play; in this case an option.
From the snap, it doesn't appear he has any intention of pitching the ball, as he turns up field almost immediately. Because the linebacker has dropped back off the line, the Frogs have fine lineman to cover four on defense.
The offensive line sets the edge, creating a lane between the guard and tackle. Center Joey Hunt releases after snapping the ball and goes to block the middle linebacker at the second level, leaving Doctson to block the other linebacker.
By this point, the option running back, Kyle Hicks is... no longer and option. Boykin sees his hole, and explodes through it. For him to have a chance at the first down, Hunt and Doctson have to hold their blocks long enough to allow Boykin enough of a lane to clear the marker.
Hunt makes enough contact to move the defender behind the play; by the time the backer spins out of the block attempt, Boykin is well past him. Josh is able to push the DB off the line, then move him towards the sideline, allowing Tre to slip through the two defenders.
On the back side of the play, Big V is able to get a piece of the defensive back, holding him off so that he won't be able to get an angle on TB and catch him from behind. Lastly, Boykin does his thing, and jukes the safety out of his shoes.
Boykin's running ability is one of the great wild cards of TCU's offensive attack; even on a night when things aren't working through the air, and the running game never quite gets going, his ability to make something out of nothing with the ball in his hands is truly special. And, when a team decides to focus on keeping the wide receivers in front of them, dropping seven or eight in coverage each snap, Boykin's ability to make game-breaking big plays is a significant advantage for the TCU offense.
While I would imagine Cumbie and Meacham would be focused on getting the air attack going Saturday against an SFA defense that is no where near the caliber of what TCU faced in Minneapolis, the running game is obviously the key to the big passing plays. The Frogs will have to show that they can beat a defense on the ground, especially when they are playing deep to guard against the pass. Hopefully, this comes more from the backs than the QB Saturday afternoon, as TB doesn't need to take that many hits, especially against an FCS opponent. But, that being said, the ability to execute designed quarterback runs and in the option game is a key component to the Air Raid, and taking one of Tre's best weapons - his legs - out of the game plan would be counterproductive.