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Game Film Breakdown: Colorado

Our Coach Miles Perry breaks down the biggest plays from the Colorado game on Saturday.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 02 Colorado at TCU Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now that we’ve had ample time to recover from the loss on Saturday, I thought it would be good to look back at some of the big plays on the day. Was TCU really as bad as it felt at the moment? Is the season already lost? Or was it just one of those games where everything that needed to go Colorado’s way did? Let’s get into it.

Note: I apologize in advance for certain plays where I cannot tell who a player is. For some reason TCU’s numbers are really hard for me to see....

Colorado’s first touchdown of the game had many TCU fans screaming at their TVs. This is a pretty simple concept from Colorado. The 2 receivers at the bottom of the formation run slants, and their goal is to pick any linebackers who are chasing Dylan Edwards out into the flat. I can’t tell who the safety is that walked down on the end of the line of scrimmage, but he hesitates and thinks about going with the rail route, then decides to rush the QB. One thing you can’t do in football, especially at this level, is be indecisive.

TCU moved the ball well all afternoon. On this possession tight end Jared Wiley runs a stick and nod route, and he actually beats his man. The problem is that Colorado is in man free, so there’s a safety playing over the top. Morris is late on the throw and it gets picked off. If Morris was going to Wiley, the throw should have come as soon as Wiley came out of his break on the nod. By the time Morris throws, Wiley is already 3 steps out of his break.

TCU’s next trip to the red zone resulted in a touchdown. I really like this play call from Kendal Briles. All four eligible receivers are on the left side of the formation, and so is the running back. Colorado over rotates (4 defenders are OUTSIDE of the tight ends) so TCU knows they have numbers going the other way. The call is inside zone, but Trey Sanders bounces it outside for an easy touchdown.

Colorado’s second touchdown is pretty symbolic as to why they won this game. Johnny Hodges said that the issues were due to effort and communication on the field, and this play shows it. The Buffaloes put a defensive lineman in at fullback and let him lead the way. He annihilates the play side linebacker. The wrapping tackle from the backside doesn’t even have to touch Mark Perry in the hole. Pretty pathetic effort by Perry.

TCU’s second touchdown was similar to the first. Another unbalanced formation. This time you have trips bunch to the top of the formation. Colorado does not over-rotate on this play, but they are not lined up correctly. Inside zone again and Trey Sanders gets a little help from his tight end on his way into the end zone.

The next Colorado touchdown was by far the worst play of the day for the Frogs. Normally, running back screens go for big touchdowns when the defense gets caught in a blitz. Here, TCU only rushes 3, meaning you have 8 men back in coverage. There is ZERO reason this should go for 75. The first problem on this play is with the play side linebacker (I can’t tell what number he is, but he’s on the 29-yard line in the middle of the field when the ball is snapped). His angle is horrible, so he isn’t able to make the tackle but check out his “effort” once the ball carrier is past him. Awful. That’s followed up by Avery Helm just throwing his hands out at Edwards in an attempted “tackle.” Johnny Hodges is jogging across the field because he thinks someone else is going to make the play. And finally, the high safety who bailed to the boundary on the snap takes an awful angle coming back across, followed by a half-hearted attempt to make the tackle. This is honestly one of the worst defensive plays I’ve ever seen in my years of being around football.

TCU touchdown #3 was my favorite of the day. You get a switch release from Jared Wiley and the wide receiver at the top of the formation. The receiver holds the high safety in the middle of the field, so Wiley is 1 on 1 with a safety. Morris puts this ball where only his guy can get it. Great throw, better catch. What I like most about this is that the play call is a direct result of the interception earlier in the game. Colorado played a lot of man free in the red zone. Hold the safety with a route over the middle, and let your man win 1 on 1 outside.

The next interception had me screaming at my TV. My biggest gripe with TCU in this game was they they continued to throw the ball AT Travis Hunter. I don’t mind throwing the ball his way once in a blue moon to keep the defense honest, but the Frogs threw at Hunter 9 times. He had 3 PBUs and this interception. In my opinon, this ball is thrown late, and should not have been thrown in the first play. TCU is trying to score in the exact same way that Colorado did on their first touchdown. The problem is that Colorado made adjustments. If you watch the safety standing over the ball on the right hash, you’ll see that at the snap he immediately turns towards the #2 receiver. Colorado is passing off the inside breaking routes to the next man in anticipation of a route towards the boundary. So all Travis Hunter has to do is wait for the throw and he will jump the route. This was Kendal Briles saying let’s get cute and try to score on the same play they did. I also believe this was the turning point of the game. If TCU scores a touchdown on this drive I don’t think they allow 45 points.

The defense held strong after the interception, and the Frogs were able to score on their next possession to take the lead. This one is simple. Empty set, bunch to the trips side at the top of the formation. Mesh concept. Morris hits the shallow coming from the top of the formation. One broken tackle later TCU is in the endzone.

Colorado’s answer was a great play call. Lewis dials up power read toss out of a trips set. TCU isn’t aligned to play option here as there is only 1 edge defender. Jamoi Hodge doesn’t read his guard correctly (he should be scraping over the top towards the field because the LG blocks down). The 3 receivers at the top of the formation block well. But someone needs to call out Josh Newton for this because it’s inexcusable. If the receiver you are manned up on comes off the ball that slow you can assume it’s run. Newton never even peeks inside. He took the play off.

Another one of my favorite TCU plays of the afternoon. The Frogs have run a lot of GT counter over the last 2 seasons, and this time they decide to read the backside end. The end crashes, the linebackers are scraping toward the counter, and the high safety had no idea where the ball is. A good block from the wide receiver makes this an easy touchdown for Morris.

Exhibit A as to why I never rush just 3 unless you are defending a Hail Mary on the last play of the game... No pressure = more time for routes to develop. It’s a simple concept. Sanders escapes the pocket and finds his guy wide open. I should’ve included the end zone view they showed on the replay because the coverage was horrendous. Horn Jr. runs a post, and when he sees Sanders rolling out of the pocket he breaks it off and heads to the corner of the endzone. When he broke off his route Bud Clark was already 5 yards away because he’d been beat on the post.

TCU’s next touchdown. More of the same. This time they tag 2 RPOs to inside zone. Morris gives anyway because the offensive line won and it’s an easy score.

This one hurt. And I can guarantee you this is one that Sean Lewis had in his back pocket after the opening touchdown. TCU gets caught here with Jamoi Hodge in man on the running back. That’s a matchup he is not going to win. The worst part, however, is yet another terrible angle (and piss poor attempt at a tackle) from a DB.

My Takeaways

  1. TCU is going to be just fine on offense. The Frogs averaged 7.1 yards per rush and threw for 279 yards. Morris needs to develop as a passer. He’s late on too many throws, making him turnover-prone.
  2. TCU doesn’t have a WR1, so they’ll need to scheme some things up and take a committee approach.
  3. The defensive issues are not as bad as they seemed on Saturday, but they are still bad. The biggest concern should be the effort. I just showed touchdown plays, but if you watch the entire game there are plenty of other examples.
  4. The defensive backs, which everyone thought would be the strength of the defense, are not as advertised. Too many times these guys were asked to make tackles and didn’t. Too many times these guys took horrendous angles and ran themselves out of a play.
  5. The linebackers are not fast enough to cover running backs man-to-man.
  6. TCU has to figure out how to create more of a pass rush.

I know many TCU fans have already thrown in the towel on this season and declared it a wash. I saw plenty of comments that this is a 6-6 team at best, but I advise against that. I noted in my article yesterday something that I think needs to be reinforced. Colorado was literally perfect on the afternoon. Shedeur Sanders played arguably the best game I’ve ever seen from a quarterback. If a throw needed to be made, it was caught. If a tackle needed to be broken, it was. Colorado literally had everything go their way and they still only won by 3. I’ll say it again - if you replay that game 9 more times, TCU wins AT LEAST 8 of them. Colorado was better on the day, and sometimes that’s just the way it happens.