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October 16, 2012

ITG In-Depth: Play Breakdown


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    Inside the Gators bring you its newest feature, a play breakdown complete with screen shots and commentary. Today's piece examines two different pistol formation plays in Florida's first touchdown drive in its 31-17 win over Vanderbilt last Saturday. It focuses on the value of a failed play.

    * The first snap is a first-and-10 run by tailback Mike Gillislee early in the second quarter. UF's senior gains just one yard on the carry, but the way Vanderbilt defended the play exposed the potential for future long runs utilizing the read-option element.

    The Gators are in one of their spread pistol formations. The 'Dores are in a nickel defense and the inside corner (#20) is already sneaking towards the line of scrimmage expecting a handoff.

    At the snap, seven Commodores crash towards the inside. Quarterback Jeff Driskel is reading the left end, meanwhile the nickel corner is blitzing from the weak-side. Florida tight end Clay Burton (#88) is pulling across the formation to seal the edge should Driskel keep the ball. As you can see, the Gators already have a breakdown in protection, made more evident in the next pixel.

    One of two things occurs here: Either Florida had a miscommunication on the line or left tackle Xavier Nixon whiffs his primary assignment. Regardless, Vanderbilt's right end (DE #90) was left unblocked, thus he was able to meet Gillislee in the backfield for an instant stuff. At the snap, Nixon was indecisive on whom to block, choosing the blitzing corner instead of the down lineman.

    Although the missed assignment caused the play to break down, offensive coordinator Brent Pease was surly delighted at the amount of attention given to Gillislee. Vanderbilt's left end hardly respected Driskel's keeper option, instead choosing to crash hard and stuff Gillislee. Had Driskel kept the ball, there is 10 yards of free grass ahead of him with a receiver ready to block downfield.

    * The second play is Driskel's 37-yard touchdown dash, a 2nd-and-10 run six snaps after the first play diagramed above. The Gators actually showed a new pistol wrinkle three plays earlier in the drive -- they lined up Trey Burton as the halfback with two tight ends flanking the edge -- but on this snap, Florida is again in a spread look, only with fullback Hunter Joyer in place of Burton.

    Vanderbilt is once again in a nickel set, with both the short boundary corner (#20) and nickel defensive back (#23) geared up to blitz. As is (almost) always the case, the Gators position Joyer opposite of Driskel's read edge.

    Because of the previous runs, at the snap nine 'Dores are already leaning, crashing, rushing, sucking etc. towards Gillislee. The nickel corner (#23), outside linebacker (#95) and right defensive end (#90) have already botched their lane assignments. Driskel recognizes this and keeps the ball at the last available second. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt's free safety (#1) has taken himself out of the play by simply guessing.

    As you can see, Florida's line does a great job pinning everyone inside, while Joyer mauls the crashing linebacker. Unlike other read-option runs in the game, Vanderbilt was so badly beaten it didn't get a lick on Gillsilee or Driskel. The nickel back (#23) and free safety (#1) immediately start chasing the play, but because of the Commodores' undisciplined approach, Florida wideout Latroy Pittman (#13) is alone on the edge, ready to escort Driskel into the endzone.

    Pittman doesn't even block anyone as much as he gets in the way of three 'Dores defenders desperately trying to recover. Easy, explosive touchdown. Textbook execution, fake and blocking.

    Video screen shots were taken from the ESPNU broadcast of the game

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