It is that time of week where we would discuss particularly interesting plays or formations from our guys. Much of the film shows NT did not really change much of their offense. A lot of it was simply good execution against an overmatched opponent. The highlight reel will suffice for our purposes.
We will not spend too much time and energy breaking this down but did you notice that Jeff’s first TD came on Power?
Here, let us refresh our memory of what Power / Counter is:
NT’s run game consisted of the staple Outside and Inside zones mixed with some Power and Counter to throw off Lamar, but honestly, nearly everything was successful without any constraints. Using Kelvin Smith et al as the “full back” in the heavier sets allows Offensive Coordinator Graham Harrell to have some variety and a little protection from play-to-play. Defenses cannot glean the play call simply by looking at the personnel.
I write that while fully aware that this system is pretty clear about the intentions. Still, it helps to have a little doubt in the opposition’s mind.
Go read the HOD Run Game recap to get some idea of what why exactly you need to change up the run calls, run formations, and personnel. Army did a good job of blowing up plays they were ready for, and GH did a solid job of anticipating those reactions and adjusting with counters himself. Here, there was much more leading with a right cross and connecting than a full-on boxing match with adjustments.
For an example of the Kelvin Smith point, check out the 2:02 mark in the highlight video above. Smith motions from left to right, settling in behind the line in an H-back look before pulling back to the left again on a counter. NT had set this up earlier by doing running an outside zone to Smith’s side from the same look. This is exactly how you plan it. Harrell is thinking that the defense cannot stop the outside zone without cheating up or shooting the gaps, and so keeps them honest with a counter that kills it.
In this case it helps that Lamar had no penetration, was caught in bad run call, and the safety took a horrible angle after a late reaction. Also, Jeff Smith is too good in space.
In the TD play at the 2:35 mark, NT is in essentially the same look but hits Lamar over the top after getting the one-on-one look that a devastating run game creates.
I do not know of a better example of the mismatch in this game than Jeff Wilson’s 62-yarder. His cut back was the wrong read, as he had enough of a gap to his right, the original play direction. Instead he cut back into Mason Fine’s area and simply ran around the entire defense. Against SMU, Iowa, UAB and everyone else that is likely getting stopped for at best 3 yards.
Still it is hard to argue with results.