August 11, 2011

Scout's Eye View: Breaking down practice video

While many associate fall practice mostly as players going out onto the practice field and performing rep after rep against one another, the truth is just as much teaching and learning happens in the meeting room after the pads are off and coaches go over the tape from the day. That is when the good and bad are pointed out. When kudos are handed out and mistakes are harped upon and hopefully corrected.

In this edition of Scout's Eye View Michael Digman breaks down camp video of receivers and defensive backs going one-on-one.

Watch the Video as you read the play by play breakdown

1st Rep: Deonte Thompson vs. Louchiez Purifoy
On the first play Thompson is running a "slant" route. He does a great job versus press coverage attacking the outside shoulder of the defensive back to widen him and open his hips so that he can get inside.

2nd Rep: Frankie Hammond Jr. vs. Josh Evans
On play #2 the receiver is running a "pivot" route. The safety does a text book job of driving through the receiver, using his up field hand to play the ball and his backside hand to secure the tackle. While he doesn't get there in time to knock the ball out, he does a great job of limiting the yards for the offense.

3rd Rep: Quinton Dunbar vs. Marcus Roberson
Play #3 is another "slant" route by the receiver versus press man coverage. Dunbar does a great job of attacking the defender's outside shoulder to widen him and open his hips so that he can get inside. This time the defensive back is more physical in this repetition than Purifoy was during the first rep, so the receiver is using a technique where he places his inside hand on the inside shoulder pad of the defensive back and pulls himself through. This is a technique that few teams employ. After a great job of getting off the coverage for the catch, the receiver was lackadaisical about putting the ball away at the end of the catch. If the defender was closer, that could have resulted in a strip.

4th Rep: Jeff Demps vs. Jaylen Watkins
Play #4 is a seam route by a running back out of the backfield. He does a great job running directly at the safety until the last second and then takes a tight path to the outside. This technique forces the defender to stay square because he doesn't know which direction the offensive player will break. By running a tight path around the defender it makes the angle greater that the defender has to open his hips. As it becomes clear what direction the offensive player is going, it is too late for the defender to flip his hips from facing straight ahead to the complete opposite direction. Had the running back run wide initially the defender would have widened, opening his hips and creating a much last drastic angle change for him to be able to get his hips vertical and run. Thus increasing the speed with which he can pursue.

5th Rep: Robert Clark vs. Joshua Shaw
Here the receiver, Clark, uses a similar technique to attack the defender in order to run a "speed out". He pushes vertical at the defender to freeze him and create doubt as to which way he will break. He slams his right foot into the ground to make a sudden change in direction to the outside. This is a classic "man beater" route and one that when executed correctly is impossible for the defense to stop as demonstrated in the clip.

6th Rep: Andre Debose vs. Jeremy Brown
Debose is running a "dig" route from the slot. This is one of the more difficult routes to run against man coverage. In this case, the corner isn't very physical at the line of scrimmage so he is playing catch up the whole time and never actually gets there. The receiver works his release to the outside and then climbs vertical. The difficult part is that most man coverage is inside leverage. This make it hard to get back inside at the top of the route. Because the DB isn't physical as the WR gets down field the WR has little problem getting inside and catching the ball. Here, Brown should press his hip and ride him the whole time he is climbing vertical instead of just playing chase.

7th Rep: JaJuan Story vs. Purifoy
Here the receiver is running a "comeback" route. This is a route that breaks to the sideline and back to the line of scrimmage at a 45 degree angle. The receiver gives a jab inside to help get the outside release he wants. The corner tries to place his backside hand on the WR as he releases, but the receiver quickly swats it down and climbs vertical. They're both doing a very good technique job until the top of the route where Story becomes impatient and tries to get out of his break too soon. This causes him to get his feet too wide instead of being underneath his hips. Nine times out of 10 when a receiver slips on a route like this, it is for this very reason. His technique slows him down and allows for Purifoy, who is in great position, to take advantage and make a great break on a ball that was poorly thrown.

8th Rep: Trey Burton vs. Jabari Gorman
This is another "dig" route. The difference in this dig route from the previous one is the defender's technique. Now a safety is in outside leverage, off man coverage. This means that the inside, where the route is going to break, is where the safety is most vulnerable. Burton does a great job of pushing vertical so that the Safety doesn't know which way he will break. He gets in and out of his break quickly so the safety has almost no chance of making a play.

9th Rep: Hammond Jr. vs. Chris Johnson
Yet again, here is another "speed out" - a staple of pro-style offensive schemes. This time it is versus soft man coverage. Here Hammond Jr. pushes vertical so that Johnson will either back pedal or stay flat footed. As the defender is at 10 yards or so depth and the speed out breaks at around five-yards, the receiver needs to do nothing more than make sure he doesn't tip the route and it should be an easy completion. However the defender does an excellent job in coverage and drives through the hip of the receiver to tag him, which amounts to tackling him, for just the completion yardage and no more.

10th Rep: Stephen Alli vs. Roberson
This is another "dig" route. This time the defensive back does a good job being physical at the line of scrimmage, but he gets beat to the inside which is a big problem. However he does a great job trailing the near hip and reading the receiver's break. This allows him to jump the route and make a big play.

11th Rep: Chris Rainey vs. Matt Elam
Here is a "corner" route with a smaller, quicker player going one-on-one against a much bigger defender. Rainey is working against off man coverage. He climbs vertical and breaks to the corner. The defender does a great job taking a great angle and undercutting the route to get the pass break up. Part of it is because the ball was a little under-thrown and should have been over the up field shoulder of the receiver.

12th Rep: Hammond Jr. vs. De'Ante Saunders
Another "speed out" versus soft man coverage. The receiver climbs vertical to hold the defender then slams his left foot into the ground and explodes out away from the defender for an easy completion.

13th Rep: Dunbar vs. Brown
This is just a simple "go" route from the slot position. Dunbar gets a clean release and does a good job getting to his landmark which is the blue line running down the field a few yards from the sideline. The defender does a good job pursuing the inside hip, but is outmatched in speed. The quarterback throws the ball over the outside shoulder, where it should be, but he simply just over throws the receiver. In a coaches mind, though you would love to see the completion for a big gain, if you are going to miss, this is a very acceptable miss as you want your guys to miss away from the defender so that there is a chance for a completion or incompletion, but no chance for an interception.

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 with distinguished coaches such as Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz and new Texas Longhorns offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin.

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