I would never dream of calling this Film Room, as I could never live up to the standard of bscaff, but I love gifs of cool plays and talking about them and "gifs of cool plays we should talk about" is a clunky title, so here we are.
There are two plays I want to look at, both happened in the 4th quarter. The first was that sweet "trick" play to TE Brenton Strange, but in order to understand it, we need to watch the play right before it.
Auburn has just cut the lead to 1, Penn State has a 2nd and 7 at their own 39 yard line, and they are in 11 personnel (1 back, 1 TE, 3 WR). They run a nifty little screen to RB #10 Lovett, trying to fool Auburn with the jet motion and #3 Washington in the flat. Clifford does a great job of getting this ball out despite an Auburn defender in his face (#86 Strange whiffed his block). Lovett shows nice speed and shiftiness and picks up a first down, but the thing to watch here is the game clock at the end of this play (2nd gif). It stops at about 12:52 to move the chains.
At 12:45, PSU is lined up and ready to snap the next play. It's tough to say how much real-time elapsed, it was a 40 second play clock that ticked down to 25 seconds at the snap, but either way, the offense hustled to the line and was ready to go. And look how they line up:
(yes this is a weird gif, but I didn't mess with trying to grab a still frame from youtube, whatever)
PSU is still in 11 personnel, Lovett and Strange are still out there, but they line up 5 wide with trips to the field. Because they didn't substitute, there is no ref standing over the ball making them slow down. Auburn is jogging to get lined up, and they have some confusion going on. How do we know they are confused? ...because one of their defensive backs is walking up to play press-man coverage against #79 OT Caedan Wallace, who is lined up as the #2 WR at the bottom of the screen. He is not eligible on this play, as he's covered up by #13 KLS - but damn if Wallace isn't doing a great WR impersonation in that sprinter stance! You'll see he even holds the flat defender on that side with his bubble screen bluff.
Now, at the top of the screen, there are two more receivers, but note they are off the line of scrimmage. This makes Strange, lined up where the left tackle usually is, an eligible receiver. He doesn't have to declare, because he's wearing a non-lineman jersey number. Auburn doesn't notice this, likely for a few reasons: Strange is roughly the same size and shape of a regular offensive tackle, and they only had about 5 seconds to see how PSU was lining up.
Ball is snapped, Strange takes off and is wide open, easy throw, easy catch, huge gain. Great play design, but it only works because they could line up and run it so fast. Franklin has said he wants to run tempo before, and all OC's like to talk about playing fast, but this is the real thing.
Ok, next play. Later in that same drive, after the Strange catch set up a 1st and goal, PSU has a 3rd and goal from around the 3 and half yard line. They lined up, Auburn didn't like what they saw and took a timeout. PSU lined up after the timeout, checked to the sideline and shifted into the trips the boundary alignment we see pre-snap. #5 Dotson, #3 Washington, and #86 Strange are all at the top of the screen. Cain is on that side too, in the backfield next to Clifford. Auburn is likely thinking pass here, as PSU hasn't had much luck on short-yardage runs - also, we've been gashing them with boundary screens and that's exactly what we show post-snap. I'm almost certain this in an RPO concept, but Cliff can make his read pre-snap based on the number of box defenders.
Let's talk about those box defenders. Run defense isn't magic, it's making sure you have someone assigned to every gap. Draw an imaginary line through the center and count how many white jerseys are between that line and the left butt cheek of left tackle #53 Rasheed Walker (we'll get to him in a moment). There is a d-tackle in the A-gap...a MLB heads up over the center...and...that's it. 1.5 defenders responsible for 3 gaps (/thatsaboldstrategycotton.gif) War Eagle's other LB's are over the weak side of our formation; #31 bluffs a rush then drops (perhaps another clue they were thinking pass?), and #11 just kinda hangs out in no-man's-land. Pre-snap movement FTW.
Strange races for the flat and pulls an extra defender out with him, but the star of this show is Walker taking that d-tackle and driving him about 6 yards across the field before burying him. Miranda does a nice job of cutting off the other tackle attempting to shoot his gap. Cain sticks his foot in the ground and outraces the MLB to the goal line, who actually did a decent job on a play they never had a chance to stop.
Early returns on Yurc are looking very promising, to say the least. If you want something even more fun to think about on this Monday morning, consider it took until roughly the 2nd half of the 4th game for JoMo's 2016 offensive installation to find it's rhythm. This was week 3 against a good defense. I'm excited, you should be too.