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Film Study: UW shreds Cal

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The offense was so efficient it looked like 7-on-7 drills

NCAA Football: Washington at California Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Huskies played a really long football game on Saturday. On the way to their 66 points, the Dawgs put up over 700 yards of offense at better than 10 yards per offensive snap. On the ground, the team averaged 6.5 yards per carry. Through the air, Jake Browning and Dante Pettis combined for seven touchdowns, 20.4 yards per completion, and nearly 14.5 yards per pass attempt. The miracle of modern film shows us how that happens.

Special thanks to YouTube user (and Husky fan) tonylo76 for uploading his fan video to give us some great endzone angles.

1st and 10:

The first thing to note on this play is the unique formation the Huskies utilize. Drew Sample and Will Dissly are both to the offense’s left, but are playing as stand-up tight ends tight to the formation. Dissly is lined up as an H-back, almost directly behind left tackle Trey Adams, and three yards off the ball, which is a look the Huskies show fairly frequently. But both of them in two-point stances screams “PASS!” to the defense.

Dante Pettis motions in to the formation on the left as a tight slot defender, which is a move that causes Cal’s secondary to adjust slightly. It adds a slight layer of confusion to the defense’s reads pre-snap, much like the stances of the tight ends.

The offensive line shows inside zone run at the snap, with the primary point of attack between Trey Adams and left guard Nick Harris. Will Dissly comes across the formation as a lead blocker, which, coupled with the belly motion of Dante Pettis coming behind the formation, sells “end around” to Cal’s inside linebackers; you can see both of them flow to their left and up the field to attack Pettis.

This is a two-receiver route, with John Ross running deep, and Drew Sample running an intermediate drag back across the middle of the field. Since the linebackers have bitten hard on the end around, and the secondary so focused on Ross at this point, Sample is left wide open, and it’s an easy throw, catch and run for almost 35 yards.

From behind the play, you can see how the middle of the field opens up. The safety on Ross’ side (#17) is giving ground at the snap as Ross runs at him, while working to diagnose the play. The safety reads pass, and turns to run with Ross (and if you watch, all he ends up doing is falling down and taking his own man out with him). You can also see the linebackers coming hard to the end around, leaving the middle wide open.

Had the safety not turned and run with Ross, Jake Browning would’ve had a one-on-one opportunity to hit him again deep down the field. You can see Browning take a quick look at Ross after the ball fake to Pettis, read the double team, and quickly move to Sample coming across.

A very well-designed play, and the number of different things that happen both before and after the snap really put a lot of stress on Cal’s defense.

1st and Goal:

When you hear announcers talk about a receiver making a “double move,” this is a great example of what that entails.

John Ross drives off the line straight at the cornerback over him. He plants and sells the fade route to the outside, which causes the corner to turn his shoulders and commit to moving one direction. As soon as the cornerback turns, Ross plants and cuts back to the inside on a slant route.

The offensive line is showing power blocking to their left, with Shane Brostek pulling around. Cal’s defensive tackle is exceptionally quick off the ball, and Coleman Shelton isn’t able to get to him to block “down” (and Shelton was actually fairly lucky to not get called for a hold on the play). Brostek largely whiffs on the trap block as well. The net result is that Jake Browning is forced to move from the pocket in order to make the throw to Ross, and it ends up being a little behind Ross. But Browning keeps the ball low, which helps keep the defender from making a play on it. Pretty accurate throw without setting his feet and while sliding left.

This is a tough route to actually run well, because the action needed to really pull it off is sudden and severe. Ross does a great job in changing direction, and only some pretty decent pressure from Cal’s defensive line keeps this play from looking “easy.”

From this angle, it looks like Browning could’ve set himself a little better to make a more accurate throw. But that’s picking nits, and we can leave that up to the coaching staff. If he can make this throw without re-setting, he has a bigger window to throw into. #3 was flowing toward Ross, but is frozen because he is not expecting Browning to unload so quickly.

1st and 10:

The Huskies sell the screen - make that multiple screens - hard on this play.

Lavon Coleman releases outside right at the snap, and he’s waving his arm and yelling about how open he is. The right side of the offensive line gives a quick pass block look and then releases for the screen. And you’ll notice how Cal’s defensive line also largely reads this release, and goes looking for the screen receiver....

On the other side of the field, the trips receivers and the left guard Nick Harris and center Coleman Shelton are setting up a tunnel or bubble screen, and

Dante Pettis releases to the middle of the field like he’s going to crack back on the inside linebacker nearest him (#1), who is starting to flow toward Coleman and the screen play. The other inside linebacker...I’m not really sure what I’d call his actions on this play. It kind of looks like he’s on one of those video game dance mats.

For some unknown reason, Cal’s secondary, which is 12 or more yards behind the ball at the snap, continues to drop as the play unfolds until they are five yards into the end zone. Jake Browning first looks right, then all the way back to the left, and then finally to the middle of the field where Pettis has found a soft spot in the zone between the linebackers and secondary.

From behind the play, you can really see how Browning uses his eyes to sell the two screen plays to the defense. He probably had the option to throw either one, but this play sure seems like it was designed to come back to Pettis, settling down in one of the soft spots in the pass defense.

This play largely looked like a blown coverage live. But when you see it slowed down, there is simply too much action for the Cal defense to handle and diagnose in real time.

1st and 10:

Here’s the power lead play from the Huskies, with Darrell Daniels serving as the lead blocker out of his H-back position.

There are several outstanding blocks on this play. The first two come from the tight ends; Drew Sample easily handles the defensive over him. Daniels first stocks, then engages the outside linebacker, neutralizing him. Next the two guards: Shane Brostek realizes that Coleman Shelton has the defensive tackle handled on his own, and releases to the second level, where he pancakes the inside linebacker on the back side of the play. The play side inside linebacker actually makes a good read on this play, and is crashing hard to the ball. But Nick Harris recognizes this, and does a great job of adjusting on his trap block to pick him up and keep the hole clear.

From there, Lavon Coleman runs hard and fast in mostly a straight line, and football fans that watched this rodeo were treated to some abhorrent, offensive tackling efforts by the Cal secondary. The safety (#17) is literally taken for a 20 yard ride on Coleman’s back in an attempt that would’ve made his own parents cringe even if he was eight years old and this was his first pee wee football game. This effort might’ve actually set form tackling back further than the the head-hunting “highlights” ESPN shows each week.

This angle really highlights the play of the two guards. First, you can see Brostek read that there’s no need to assist Coleman with the defensive tackle (normally his first responsibility on this play), and head straight to the linebacker at the second level. Second, you can see Harris’ adjustment (and maybe a bit of a hold) to the linebacker that is crashing hard on the play. That’s the block that really prevents disaster.

Way, way, way down the field you can see Coleman willingly giving out piggy back rides.

1st and 10:

This has to be a completely broken play by the Cal defense. It has to. Let’s look at things here:

The Huskies have one wide receiver and one tight end to each side. While there’s a safety to the defense’s right, there’s no linebacker. That means the safety absolutely has to cover the tight end man-to-man, which means the cornerback has to cover the receiver (Pettis) at the top of the screen man-to-man. And neither has any help.

On the other side of the field, there’s a cornerback over John Ross (unseen, behind the clock/score graphic), but the safety is within five yards of the ball. There are linebackers on that side, so the safety isn’t necessarily in man coverage with the tight end, but he’s so close to the ball that he can’t help on John Ross, which means the cornerback has Ross man-to-man, with no help.

Think about that - Jake Browning comes to the line of scrimmage, and he knows that Dante Pettis, Darrell Daniels, and John Ross all have man-to-man coverage, and there is NO HELP on any of them. Cal must be selling out on the blitz, right?

Yes. Well, sort of. No, that’s not what happens at all.

One inside linebacker (defensive right side) definitely blitzes. The other inside linebacker starts to come, then releases back (probably to go help on John Ross - chortle). The outside linebacker and the safety, who are in an odd stack position behind the inside linebackers, both rush on half-hearted delayed blitzes, I guess you’d call them, but they’re so late and so far off the ball that there’s no chance in Hades they’re going to get to the quarterback. The net result is a five man rush, with three guys effectively doing the chicken dance, and man coverage on three of the fastest Huskies on offense, with absolutely zero help for any of them.

The net result is about what you’d expect: John Ross running wide open in space. Gain of 35 yards, and what probably should’ve been another touchdown.

Sheesh.

Notice that little leg tap from Jake Browning to John Ross. It could mean “Its coming over your outside shoulder” (or could mean “Heh, heh. Go deep.”)

Against an injury-depleted and just plain not very good Cal defense, the Huskies played like one of the most efficient offenses in the nation. The defense, outside of two drives, shut down a high-powered offense. Things get substantially tougher this weekend in Seattle against the Trojans.