Thursday, December 15, 2011

VT bubble/tunnel screen

All 2012 Sugar Bowl coverage can be found on the Bowl Game page.

Against Miami (FL), Virginia Tech didn't do all that much offensively of note. They ran the counter draw that Michigan showed early in the year, and they used the inverted veer to devastating effect against a Miami defense that just couldn't figure it out. Otherwise, it was a lot of downhill running, clean pockets, and checkdown passes. They did run a really interesting bubble/tunnel screen late in the game.

(First, apologies for the quality of the screenshots. This was not a high-res rip of the game.) This is right as the ball is snapped; the camera work on this game was mediocre. The Hokies are in a three-wide set with a tight end lined up as an H-back and a running back to Logan Thomas' left. Miami is in a 4-3 nickel formation.

As the ball is snapped, Thomas looks off to his left as the VT running back heads for the flat. The slot receiver to Thomas' right starts to bow out for a bubble screen. The H-back heads immediately upfield to block the nickelback lined up over the slot receiver. Miami, for what it's worth, is in a basic cover-2 defense with five zone defenders underneath.

A moment later, after the nickelback has taken a few steps toward the sideline to cover the bubble screen, the slot receiver reverses his direction and begins running toward the middle of the field for a tunnel screen, the likes of which Michigan has run with Jeremy Gallon all year.

The VT offensive line has now successfully slipped the rushing defensive linemen and are headed to the second level to block Miami's linebackers. The slot receiver is catching the ball and turning upfield.

The slot receiver cuts inside...

...and is brought down for a six-yard gain.

Obviously, the goal of this play is to get the second-level defenders running toward the sideline so that they can clear out the middle of the field for the tunnel screen. The Hokie linemen are supposed to seal the linebackers to the outside, putting the receiver one-on-one with the safety. Unfortunately for Virginia Tech, Miami has the perfect playcall to defend this play. This is a man-coverage beater, though, something that worries me against Michigan's defense. If you're not disciplined or read the play quickly enough, whoever is covering the slot--either Avery or Jake Ryan, who frequently played that role against Illinois--could easily overrun the play.


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