First off, I feel like I need to qualify this article. I am an attorney and a sports fan. I am in no way a tactician when it comes to football. On the other hand, if you need a divorce in Colorado ... Anyways, I'm just a sports fan, and not a football expert. Keep that in mind as you pick apart my pedestrian analysis.
I feel better now. Enjoy.
In their prior three drives the Huskies' average starting position was the USC 30 yard line. (They started at the USC 33, 35, and 21). They wracked up a paltry 14 yards on 14 plays, with a missed field goal to boot, and desperately needed to get something going.
In all honesty, I was not in the least bit surprised that the offense hadn't scored yet. I had really low expectations, and knew, based on past performance, the offense would eventually string something together. However, that didn't change the fact that I was still really frustrated at the ineptitude and missed opportunities I was witnessing. Luckily for the Huskies, they were able to string together a very nice drive from their own 17 yard line that resulted in three desperately needed points.
What really helped the Huskies out on the 19 yard hookup was the running done by Miles Gaskin on the previous two plays. He ran the ball on the first two downs of the drive and gained three yards and then nine yards in rapid succession. I could be wrong but it looked the Husky tempo picked up as it looked like the Trojans were on their heels.
Here's what the play looks like pre-snap. The Huskies lined up with two receivers out wide, Perkins in the slot, and Gaskin and Mickens in the backfield. At the top of the screen, Pettis is supposed to run a curl route, while Lenius is supposed to run a slant to the middle of the field.
The Trojans are playing man coverage with a single safety deep in coverage. The other safety cheats up towards the line of scrimmage, presumably for run support, or to take away any possible short passes. USC has three down linemen and is showing blitz with potentially three linebackers, leaving one to spy on the running back and quarterback I assume.
Jaydon Mickens went into motion right before the snap, drawing the outside linebacker over in to cover him, leaving only two blitzing linebackers. However, I'm 90% sure that Browning assisted in moving this linebacker over as he was looking Mickens' way until he threw the ball to Perkins. The linebacker was reading Browning's eyes, and that another reason he decided to follow Mickens instead of following Perkins down the field. I firmly believe that Perkins was the primary read on this play, and Jake did an excellent job in not selling this at all.
In order to get Perkins all by himself on the right side of the field, the Huskies also needed to freeze middle linebacker and to suck the safety over to the receiver on the left side of the field.
Once the ball is snapped, the Huskies run a basic play action pass. The play fake freeze the linebacker just enough to allow Perkins to pass him. At the same time, Lenius runs a slant, which brought the safety over to help in coverage. Put it all together and Perkins has a bunch of real estate all to himself.
Look at all the green Perkins is staring at as soon the ball is snapped.
All that's left now is for the coverage to hold long enough to get the pass off. Gaskin runs over just wide enough to force the blitzing linebacker to run around the pocket, allowing Browning to step up and make the throw. Trey Adams (72) held his his block wonderfully, as the defensive end faked outside, and then popped back to the inside. He went nowhere. Jake Eldrencamp (52) was pushed backwards, and beaten on the play but managed to stay engaged with the tackle long enough to keep him from raising both hands into Browning's passing lane. This was really the one thing that could have blown up the play, as the Trojan defensive lineman was dangerously close to batting this pass down.
Siosifa Tufunga (65) did a great job pushing his guard out of the way. However, there was a missed assignment, on the right side of the line as both Coleman Shelton (79) and Andrew Kirkland (73) hit the same oncoming blizter, allowing the other blitzing backer to rush into the backfield untouched
All in all, this play was executed well. The Huskies were able to get Perkins all by himself in the open field, and they were able to use their limited success in running the ball, as well as Jaydon Micken's play-making ability to set it up nicely.
Here's the play in real time.