November 15, 2011

Scout's Eye View: Breaking down big plays

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BREAKING DOWN BIG PLAYS WEEK: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

Most college football fans, when watching a game for the sake of enjoyment, simply follow the ball and pay little mind to what is happening on the field as far as positional groupings, schemes and whatnot. Each week Inside the Gators will take you 'behind the scenes' as former college coach and scout Michael Digman breaks down several of the biggest plays of the game.

***If the videos aren't playing under each description, click here to watch the highlights (scroll down to UF-South Carolina highlights on the right)***

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The video was kind of tough this week. Because of the camera angle I couldn't really see any of the secondary on most if not all of the plays.
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De'Ante Saunders interception of a Conner Shaw pass

On this play the Gamecocks are in the Trey formation. Florida is lined up in the Bear front, although it is an unusual version. Normally there is a nose tackle over the center, but in this case they have a linebacker (Jelani Jenkins) in that spot and they've also stood up their defensive end (William Green). They do a great job disguising the pre-snap look. They bring a zone blitz from the weak side and play a 3 deep, 3 under zone behind it. When you see the Bear front it is man coverage 99% of the time. While you can tell it's not man coverage by the pre-snap look it is pretty tough to decipher what the end result will be, so it is understandable that Shaw got confused and ended up with an interception. The deception is equally effective on the Gamecocks offensive line. The defensive end (Green) to the boundary distracts the left tackle and then drops into coverage. The left guard watches the looping defensive tackle. This means that no one is left to block the blitzing cornerback (Marcus Roberson). The left tackle tries to recover but it is too late for him to make a good block. This causes Shaw to be rushed and as you can see, he makes a mistake under pressure.

Saunders, reading the quarterback, jumps the route and gets the intercption.

This big play goes to the Gators defensive staff.

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John Brantley 20-yard pass to Jordan Reed

On this play Florida comes out in the single back wing formation and the motion the tailback (Chris Rainey) out to the weak side to end up in an empty formation. South Carolina is lined up in an even front with the Sam linebacker walked up. Both Corners are up tight so it appears to be cover 2 pre-snap. As the Gators motion to empty the Gamecocks check their coverage, but still end up in a 2 safety defense. Florida is running the stick concept front side. This means they have a vertical route by the outside receiver, a flat route by the wing, and the stick route by the tight end Reed. On the backside they have a slant/flat combination. This is a pretty standard empty route and a simple read for the quarterback. If he gets a 2 safety defense he will work the stick concept front side. He is reading the outside linebacker, if he goes out then the QB throws the stick. If he doesn't expand he will throw the flat route. If he would've seen a single high coverage he would've gone backside. On this play the Sam backer expands, so Brantley throws the stick route on rhythm for an easy completion and first down.

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Chris Rainey 47-yard rush

Florida comes out in the strong I formation. The Gamecocks are in an over front with a safety walked up with man coverage in the secondary. The Gators are running the stretch play. Rainey is aiming for a point just outside of the tight end. The fullback is leading up on the Sam backer trying to reach his outside shoulder. The tight end has a critical man block on the defensive end. The offensive linemen are all down blocking while the center is pulling to get into the alley and attack the first defender he sees. The receivers have an easy assignment since the corners are in man coverage, they can just run them off. To their credit they do a great job hustling down field and blocking. They all do their jobs about as well as can be expected, especially Quinton Dunbar and Rainey does his making the unaccounted for defenders miss.

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Shaw 10-yard touchdown rush

South Carolina comes out in the ace slot formation. Florida is in an over front with one backer bumped out over the slot, playing cover 4 behind it. They are playing a redzone variation where the linebackers sit hard inside and wall so that they can't get beat inside, taking away the easiest throws. The Gators appear to be a little slow off the snap, but they're trained to be slow in this type of defense. If they rush to get to their usual depth the receivers can get underneath and inside of them. If they're slow off the ball, the receivers will climb and this allows them to pin the low hip and wall them off. This takes away the shortest throws, which is the main concern in the redzone.

South Carolina is running vertical routes to try to get a match-up they want and throw a jump ball. The Gators do a very good job in coverage, but Shaw finds the open lane and uses his athleticism to make a big play.

Here, the front Florida is in leaves a gap open on the weakside, but if they were in a different front the gap would just be on the front side. In this situation it would've probably been better, but I'm sure they were worried about stopping the run front side as it is in the redzone on a third and five.

Florida's linebackers and secondary were in a great defense to see the scramble and make a play, but they just weren't able to get it done on this play on the very athletic Shaw.

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Melvin Ingram sack for a 12-yard loss

Florida comes out in the wing slot formation and they motion the wing (Reed) over to the opposite side. South Carolina is in an over front playing man coverage behind it. The Gamecocks are bringing a simple 5 man pressure with the middle linebacker rushing the weakside A or B gap. Florida is in a 7 man protection with the running back and tight end helping out. They do a good job schematically of blocking who they need to for the protection to work correctly. However, they get beat one on one at several positions. The left tackle (Xavier Nixon) sets for the defensive end and does a pretty good job, but ends up getting beat late. The left guard (Jon Halapio) does a good job of seeing the blitz coming from the inside and picking up the middle backer. The center (Dan Wenger) is who ultimately gives up the sack.

Ingram is lined up over him to the weakside, but immediately crosses face on the snap of the ball. He gets the center turned to the sideline and then it's just a matter of leaning and running. The right guard (Kyle Koehne) works to the defensive tackle. The right tackle (Matt Patchan) is free, while the tight end is blocking the defensive end.

This, like many of the sack highlights I've broken down this year, was simply a matter of a defensive lineman beating a Florida offensive lineman one-on-one off the snap. Because of that, Brantley never has a chance on this play.

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Michael Digman was a Division II quarterback before being a student assistant for the quarterbacks at the University of Missouri. He has made stops at several high school and college programs, including working the quarterbacks at the University at Buffalo under current Kansas head coach Turner Gill. Along the way, he has also worked alongside new Texas Longhorns offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin.


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