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Five Plays: NC State Second Quarter

NCAA Football: Louisville at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

At times it feels like Jeff Brohm can overthink things. This is the most successful aspect of the Cards offense. Get the fast guys the ball in space. NC State was hyper-aggressive from the first whistle and Brohm threw a mix of screen passes at them with the ball going to Chris Bell early and Jawhar Jordan here.

While NC State has great team speed on defense, speed isn’t all that helpful if you’re running away from the ball. I really liked the different types of screen passes that Brohm called and I really enjoyed Michael Gonzalez getting out in front of this play to drive Payton Wilson into another defender and give Jordan space.

If you read my posts after the BC game last week you know that I was looking for more from Ron English. I’ve pointed out that UofL needed to mix looks and “mug up” linebackers like they do here. English has seven players on the line and just before the snap, guys start backing out to drop into coverage. The look confuses the offensive line and Jeff Clark gets a free run at Brennan Armstrong.

This is how you simulate pressure. This is how you confuse a backup center. This is how you scheme things up to help your players make plays. It was good to see some different things this past week to gain an advantage on the offense.

Offensive coordinators want to live in 2nd & 4 because they can keep a defense on its heels with the option to run or pass. As a defense, it can be hard to make a call because you have to defend everything as opposed to expecting a run or pass. Robert Anae is a great offensive mind which gives him a great advantage here.

Ron English didn’t seem to care about any of that so he put six guys in the box and left his secondary on islands to defend the pass. He again shifted his defensive front and you can see that the State offensive line didn’t make any calls. UofL’s defense gets one-on-one blocks across the boards and they win the battles.

Josh Minkins has had a rough start to the season in coverage but I can’t figure out what this coverage is from a play call/play design standpoint. My (somewhat educated) guess is that this is man coverage with Brownlee and Minkins being responsible for short and deep. They signal to each other before the snap and it looks like they each take a man and Minkins just gets beat on an out route. It happens.

But what is TJ Quinn’s assignment here? He ends up right next to Brownlee in space. Is he covering the flat? There is no threat to that side of the field. Is he in short zone to the boundary? What’s the point with Brownlee and Minkins in man? Maybe he’s a robber meant to play in passing lanes in hopes that the quarterback doesn’t see the coverage. This is my true best guess. If not, he’s just hovering in space when he could either be applying pressure or taking a receiver which would put Minkins in deep coverage. I just want to understand what the plan is with the linebackers.

I loved the screen calls in this game but I do think they relied a bit too heavily on them without having checks at the line. It’s easy to see some of these things from the view we get on TV but the NC State linebackers are playing off the ball here and they are obviously not bringing pressure. They end up dropping into zone and the goal of the screen is lost.

One thing I will point out on this play from an execution standpoint is Renato Brown not delivering a block here but instead he gets caught in a position where he has to “catch” the defender which pushes him back into the path of the runner. I’m not sure if the defender just gets on him more quickly than he expected or if he just sees him late. Either way, this is a good play by the defender that slows the play down just enough to allow his teammates to get to the ball.

It's going to get really old when I start being very loud about the lack of touches for Maurice Turner. I can understand keeping guys fresh and focusing on Jawhar Jordan as he is having a stellar season. But Turner has consistently shown that he can get you tough yards and he can make plays in the passing game. What he has developed is an ability to get yards after contact, consistently.

UofL’s offense has been able to hit big plays in the pass game early on this season but the ability to build efficient drives is still not happening enough. Turner could be an option to unlock a consistent run game that could then open up things for the passing game. Brohm has to continue to have balance. Utilizing some new options could be just what he needs.

I loved this throw by Jack Plummer. He made a similar throw last week to Jamari Thrash from the opposite hash. I pointed out in my post last week that the throw gets you drafted. So does this one. The throw is great but I really think Plummer’s timing on this throw as well as the one last week was super impressive.

Plummer hits the top of his drop, pushes off of his plant leg, and steps into a throw with the perfect amount of air and pace. Jimmy Calloway makes the catch right at his numbers and he has the space to get yards after the catch. You could put this throw on a training video.

Plummer continues to show an inability to live to play another day, or however it's termed. This play is not going to work as the pressure gets to him so quickly that he starts to run after two steps. Instead of retreating, Plummer could just eat the ball here and try to come back on third down to get into field goal range. Instead, he turns the ball over right before the half.

Andre Ware had a really rough night on the broadcast call but he broke down this interception pretty well. NC State is in cover two or “Tampa-two” with the corners responsible for the flat after passing off the outside receivers to the safety.

The issue, of course, is that there is no threat in the flat so the corner just sinks back and Plummer delivers a present. This is a freshman-level mistake by Plummer and you just don’t expect it from a veteran like him. With three timeouts, I’d love to see him take the check down to Jordan with the hope that he would get the first down.