-Bumped. BN Eds.
Just heard Pagano is staying in SD, so here's to hoping that Mazzone does actually end up at UCLA as it has never been officially announced. Recap so far:
- Base philosophy - The point of the spread is to force the defense to widen laterally in order to run inside and throw downfield. They can align players out wide to force the defense to also line up wide and/or threaten the perimeter almost every play with the quick screen or swing route which means you'll usually have either a quick way to get the ball to the edge or a defender running full speed away from the middle of the field, which you can attack.
- Zone Key combines the quick screen with the inside zone game, so you force the defense to cover both the perimeter and the inside run. It's effective until the defense starts to bring DBs down to stop the run or the quick screen, which then you can go to the
- Snag/Quick passing game, that takes advantage of defenses that spread too far out - if they widen with the swing route, the QB can hit easy throws in snag routes and double slants/ins behind these guys jumping the swing routes
- When the defense tries to get cute and overplays inside run, outside screen, and short passing game, you can protect these base plays by attacking other areas of the field off of the same concept.
That's not the whole offense, but you've got a lot to choose from with just a few concepts and its enough to start putting an offense together. What makes this effective is how everything is integrated. These plays can be run out of the same formations, with the same motions. You force the defense to cover sideline to sideline in the underneath areas and put a lot of stress on the edge defenders.
ASU had a couple drives this season built entirely off of these concepts, with the quick screen in the flat showing every time (also, keep in mind ASU was far from the only team to show this - both teams last night, WVU and Clemson, combined their zone series with a quick edge screen, as did Oregon in the Rose Bowl). I've posted three series below where they ran nothing but zone key, snag, and some minor tweaks off these concepts - very simple stuff. They mix in some up-tempo mode, and tire out the defense by making them run back and forth across the field chasing the same swing routes over and over again; sometimes they throw it, sometimes they run inside, sometimes they throw snag, sometimes they run playaction and throw downfield.
All plays are in the order they were run so you can get a sense of the playcalling and how multiple these two concepts can be. The formations change, but ASU shows the same look pretty much every play. I've fastforwarded through most of the in-between commentary but left in some parts so you can get a sense of how quickly they get plays off when they want to be aggressive. Check the time left on play clock - sometimes they snap it with 26, 27 seconds left - and see how tired some of the defenders look towards the end.
Series 1 (vs USC)
- (6:33) Zone Key, hit bubble as LBs played run
- (6:11) Zone Key out of different formation, hit bubble again. Note that the safety is the one to come down to make the tackle for a short gain; coverage is rotating towards the motion.
- (5:46) Snag, Osweiler tries to hit backside fade, again, coverage rotating away so there's no safety help. Dropped but pass interference.
- (5:38) Zone Key, give up the middle as motion actually occupies three defenders and looks like they bring the safety back deep again and are using LBs to cover the motion
- (5:13) Zone Key, hits bubble as inside LB is running all the way out there to cover motion
- (4:54) 3-man snag, motion man runs vertical, back swings out, WR runs snag - hits snag route. Safety (#7) is back down short and he jumps the swing route, gives up the snag.
- (4:34) Zone key, throw is late and motion man isn't looking, incomplete
- (4:29) Hard to tell, but looks like snag right and double slants left, hits snag route.
- (4:17) Goalline set, zone key. You can see the LB and the safety slide out with motion to respect the perimeter, they give it up the middle, TD
Series 2 (vs USC)
- (4:40) Zone Key give on sweep outside. All LBs shift with motion, they run it outside
- (4:08) Zone Key from trips, hit bubble, there's only 2 defenders out there against 3 WR
- (3:45) Bubble Screen to back with motion. The MLB (#54) looks like he's playing inside run and they go outside.
- (3:26) Zone Key, give up the middle
- (3:03) Zone Key, tried to throw the swing but incomplete
- (3:00) Snag, hit swing route for 1st down, after showing power set (2 TE).
- (2:40) Goalline set, zone key, LB moves out with motion, give up the middle
- (2:13) Same call, other direction, defender runs across formation in man coverage - hit swing for TD
Series 3 (vs UCLA)
- (9:36) Zone Key, throw bubble as we ignore the motion man
- (9:25) Looks like zone read of DE, gives to back as DE hesitates. Note safety #4 Stan McKay drops down to play the swing
- (9:02) Dropback pass with motion and swing, hits downfield out route. Safety and LBs to both sides play the zone key, there's WRs open on either side
- (8:46) Zone read of DE, QB keep with DE crashing. Looks like we sold out for zone key again as safety comes down hard and DE crashes on back, no one covers QB
- (8:16) Zone Key, throw swing for TD. Looks like man coverage as the LB runs across the formation