Note: This is an excerpt from Breaking Down a Drive: SMU vs Baylor now available on Kindle here.
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QB scramble for 13 yards and a first down.
If you want an example of how precise this offense is, look no further. Once again on 2nd and long, the offense calls a passing play (that leads to the QB using his legs), but the assignment of one of the receivers gives great insight into how Chad Morris coaches up his guys, and how much timing plays a role.
At first glance this play looks like your standard boot play. A play fake with a receiver underneath and another one dragging behind as the QB rolls to one side or the other.
In that respect, there’s not much different about this play. The interesting wrinkle comes from the X receiver’s assignment, and the timing involved.
You see, Morris has coached up his QB to make a decision, and make it quickly. In fact, the timing is so precise that the outside receiver to the side of the boot knows exactly how far down the field, and how long into the play he should start actively blocking the DB across from him.
If the corner is rolled up, it’s not an issue, because against press coverage he’ll just go vertical and take the corner with him and out of the picture.
What happens in a situation like this, though, when the corner is playing off?
You can’t just tell the receiver to go block him, at least not right away. That’s going to be a penalty, even if you know the ball will likely be thrown and caught in that area. So if you’re Chad Morris, you time up the play so that by the time the ball is thrown and caught, or the quarterback takes off with it, you know where the outside receiver will be, and you coach him up not to go after the defensive back until that point.
As the quarterback is rolling out to this left, he sees everyone covered, while at the same time, a big patch of green grass appears in front of him (with no defenders in it). So he takes what’s there, and uses his legs to pick up the first down.
So far on this drive, SMU has done a great job not putting themselves in difficult positions, where they have to make amazing plays to stay alive. As long as they can continue to gain consistent yardage on first down, they’ll be able to keep things simple because of the manageable down and distances.