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Five Plays: Boston College Second Quarter

Boston College v Louisville Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The second quarter of the Boston College game was owned by the offense but it was when we started to see some of the big plays and chunk plays that the defense gave up. I didn’t intend to focus on the defense but there are some things that happened that seem to be a theme so far and it’s good to point them out.

Jack Plummer was still in his bag and Jeff Brohm continued to push for big plays with his calls. I added a bonus play because I think it highlights a concern with the defense when they bring pressure.

I really liked the simplicity of this play. Like, “I ran this play in high school” simple. It’s a basic wheel concept where Ahmari Huggins-Bruce runs his man off of the “in” route which causes the defender into “trail” position and Jack Plummer just has to deliver it out in front of AHB.

Jeff Brohm has been heralded as an offensive guru, which is a fair assessment of his career. What I think has been overlooked is how he utilizes simple offensive philosophies to scheme guys open in specific situations. This play doesn’t work against any other defensive call. Single high safety with man coverage. It’s like the call was delivered on a platter.

This was Jack Plummer’s best throw of the day, in my opinion. It’s an “NFL throw” that not many can make. This was the play after Plummer had the ball deflect off of his knee for a fumble. He put the offense in a bad spot and he followed it up with a ridiculous throw from the opposite hash to the sideline for a first down. This throw gets you drafted.

The play is also very complimentary of the design as well as the execution. Jamari Thrash gets off coverage because of the bunch formation. You can’t press him and you can’t even give soft coverage because of the potential of the crossers by the other receivers. You have to give him space and Thrash uses the space to create separation. Plummer puts it on the money with impeccable timing and Thrash runs his route at the proper depth to get an easy first down.

Louisville’s four-man rush just isn’t getting results like you would like to see. On this play, they mug up (walk the linebackers up to the line) the linebackers to show blitz but they back out. I think this is a good idea that can work very well. We saw it work last year plenty of times. I think the issue this year is that they don’t actually blitz out of this look all that often. And even when they do (as I point out in a later post) the blitz doesn’t get home.

On this specific play, the rush doesn’t even bother Thomas Castellanos and the linebackers are left floating into random open space. The corner to the short side doesn’t get depth because of the short route to the boundary and there is a big window left against the zone coverage. The throw is on the money and they give up a third down conversion.

Three separate Louisville defenders run themselves out of this play against a quarterback who ran for 95 yards the week before. I can’t imagine that the game plan didn’t include keys to watch for to stop this type of play from happening.

BC hadn’t run Castellanos much at all up to this point and I’m not sure they called any designed runs at all. But they also don’t have a running back that has shown the ability to hurt you. Therefore, the defense should be designed to have a plan to keep him contained. Instead, he fakes a simple option read and he runs untouched for 39 yards.

Riley Leonard will run wild on plays like this. Tyler Van Dyke has run a handful of short-yardage option plays where he can get chunk yardage. Brennan Armstrong will kill this defense on Friday if they don’t show the discipline needed to mind their gaps. This can’t be an ongoing issue when the defense will face a few more quarterbacks that can punish the mistakes.

I linked a tweet below from December when I was tweeting out some plays that stood out to me. On that play, Purdue was in Cover 0 (man with no safety deep/help) but they didn’t bring an extra man on a blitz. The quarterback sat back and delivered an easy first down. But, what stood out was the linebackers just floating in space.

You can see a similar play from the BC game where they try to disguise the look with a safety closer to the box but as the play starts he bails out, the outside linebacker that is showing blitz drops into coverage, and the wide receiver just runs a simple skinny post and makes an easy catch for a first down. They’re relying on the four-man rush to get home but they’re also leaving three players on defense with no real assignment. We’ve seen this for four games and if I’m seeing it, opposing coaches are seeing it.

I don’t know if this is by design or if a player missed their assignment but Boston College has more blockers than Louisville has rushers on an “all out” blitz. At the snap, Louisville has eight players in the box. One player is in man coverage which drops it to seven players in the box. Boston College has seven blockers which makes this even.

Even isn’t bad for Louisville as one blocker is a tight end and one is a running back. At this point, it’s all about creating an advantage which you can do with angles, stunts, games, or dummy rushes. Louisville doesn’t do any of that and they also don’t rush every player. This is where I question if it was a missed assignment.

I can’t see the number but I believe it is Stanquan Clark who doesn’t initially blitz and ends up doing so a few seconds after the play starts. This just doesn’t work against a mobile quarterback that can make plays like this. You’re also leaving a safety in single coverage which is an advantage for the offense no matter who the safety is.