Monday, November 2, 2009

New Mexico State First Half Observations and Play-by-Play

I just stuck to the First Half (Pryor led drives). Overall, I still see hiccups but continue to see improvement. One note--I apologize, having some technical difficulties with the video. I'm going to point some things out on the youtube clip below, and then I will update once I have the game.

1. We continued to do some new things schematically. For those looking for the negative, it can be said that we can't seem to settle on any one thing and keep jumping around still trying to find what we do best. For those looking for the positive, one can say that the coaches continue to implement new things and expand the offense, making things flow together and work as a 'coherent whole.' I tend to lean to the latter.

UPDATE: I had a typo in this section that I just fixed to make my meaning clear. While I think about it, though, these are what I would list in a few words as what OSU is currently trying to accomplish:

1) Find ways to run the ball inside

2) Find ways to get Pryor in good situations and out on the edge

3) Work more on making their plays 'look alike'

4) Work two man routes with Posey and Dane to exploit secondary coverages.

2. The offense continued the trend started versus Minnesota of being far more balanced between pro style and shotgun looks. (For the reasons as to why I think OSU is doing so check out here.) This game in particular we featured a lot of under center ace formations--both 3 x 1 and 2 x 2. Beyond that, though, here are some evolutions in the offense that I really liked.

a) We had a nice use of unbalanced line in this game. In particular I like what we did with the option down at the goalline. We went unbalanced right, but then put the trey look to the weakside. This threw off the keys for NMST on this look and forced them to give a more balanced defensive front, but also got us nice blocking with the two tackles establishing the edge at the POA. You can see this at both 1:28 and 6:42 marks of the video, we got far more balanced defensive looks from which to run the option against then we otherwise might get with our standard 'trey strong' formation. (H/T):

It looks something like this:

As you can see, we had the supposed 'strength' of our formation to the left. But, at the same time, our line was unbalanced to the right with the LT coming over to the normal TE position. And so NMST favored the 'trey side' as most teams do to the wide side of the field, and we were able to get great option lanes.

You can tell that the speed option is really our 'go to play' at this point when we need to pick up yards. Pryor has gotten SO MUCH BETTER at optioning the force player that its like night and day. Look in both clips how quickly he makes a decision and goes. He also had a really nice run on 3d and short where he just decided he was going to get the first down, kept it, tucked up behind the tackle and barreled his way forward.

We also used unbalanced with nice effect on the Dave play (see 1:09) of the clip. One thing that I liked too, is that we play action passed out of unbalanced. This means we're trying to stay away from giving away tendencies. I'd look for the unbalanced to continue, particularly in short yardage situations.

b) We also did a continually better job of running counters/misdirections, having plays look alike, and basically having things flow as a 'series' of plays. My main complaint after the USC game (echoed by others) was the lack of 'constraint' plays--we were not doing enough to hold the backside end when we ran frontside plays such as 'Dave', so against USC the backside was not showing any respect for their gap responsibility--look at how the backside end and even the backside CB come flying in:

We've started to address that. Last week I discussed the 'Dave' pass that looks exactly alike. This week we saw a couple of nice bootlegs both from under center and shotgun where we would fake the zone play left, Browning would pull right and Pryor would set up. We've also ran counter-trey several times this game. This has always been bothersome to me-for a power football running team, I never understood how OSU didn't run this play more. It counters the frontside action of Dave and is essentially the same play, just back the other way. Check it out at 7:30 in the youtube clip. The line blocks it picturesquely and Hall hits the hole hard for a big gain. If would have run this once against USC we may have burned them on the back end. I hope we continue to see more of this.

c) I thought we ran quite a few different route combinations this game. Part of it was because NMST played some form of man coverage all game. But two pass patterns in particular I want to highlight. The first was the first TD pass to Dane. This is a 'levels' pass combo where the outside receiver (Posey) runs a short in and the inside receiver (Sanz) runs a deep in. It's a good pattern against man, the 'robber' jumped Posey and Dane beat his man for the TD. Nice read and throw by Pryor. Check it out at 2:31 in the clip.

The second one was a 'switch' route by Posey and Dane on the right side. This originally started as a run-and-shoot concept but has been adopted by a lot of teams. Again good against man coverage. As described in the article, Dane takes an outside release and runs a fade. Posey comes inside, reads that the middle of the field is open, and breaks for the in to get us down to the goalline and set us up for the last TD before half. You can see it at 6:32 in the clip. (When I get the video for this game, I may do a bit more of a breakdown of these two routes).

Whatever can be said about the previous games, I would say we threw the ball quite a bit over the middle this game. We also ran slant-shoot combinations quite a bit. These are just a few examples. We also had a lot of success running speed outs this game. At this point, I think its hard to argue that this is an 'unsophisticated' passing game...

As a side note, that switch route throw by Pryor was probably the best pocket presence I have ever seen him had. Check out the play again. Saine is late picking up the blitz, but Pryor just sort of sidesteps over in the pocket without taking his eyes downfield and delivered a strike. It was some really great quarterbacking.

The TEs were also more involved as passing threats. They probably did not release most times, but I counted about 7 or 8 pass plays in the first half where they did release, which is an increase from the Minny game. Mostly drag routes, but there was one play out of the empty two TE look where Ballard ran a seam up the middle to clear out for Dane to run a slant underneath.

d) We also continued to vary the tempo this game. I agree with those that thinks that helps this team, and expect to see it continue.

2. Picking up on the Pryor theme, I will say that I think the biggest improvement in the offense the last two weeks has not been anything we've done schematically different, but his willingness to use his legs to make something out of nothing. In the past, he could make a play if his teammates delivered for him, but he wasn't really 'covering up' other guys' mistakes. Now, he's doing that. Someone gets beat in pass protection and he makes something out of nothing. He's being decisive, running hard, and getting upfield. It's like he's reconciled himself to the fact that its okay to make plays with his legs and doesn't make him less of a QB. But this is why we are now sustaining drives when we weren't before, and gives this offense the chance to sustain drives the rest of the year.

On a sidenote, NMST was just plain not smart to play cover 1 and cover 0 against us the entire game. A team that does that is just asking for Pryor to gash them for 15 yards a scramble--there are no eyes in the backfield and no underneath coverage. I would suspect that we don't see a whole lot of man for this reason the rest of the year...

3. The offensive line play was 'ok'-decent, not great. It was actually better than what I thought live. NI saw more mental errors than physical ones. MST did in fact stack the box a lot--but the problem in the running game was not so much the extra guys in the box, as guys losing sense of what LBers they need to block on plays like Dave. For example the playside tackle would downblock and go for the backside LBer, leaving the playside LBer free. I still think part of this group's problem is just mental game awareness. Maybe the constant shuffling is having that effect--I don't know. May be an excuse, but having Boren back will definitely help.

I've come to accept the fact that the tackle play will probably be serviceable at best this year. My preference would be for them to pick two guys and stick with them for cohesiveness sake, but I doubt that will happen. But, unlike what I thought I saw live, there were not too many plays where it was a tackle just getting beat man on man. The mental mistakes should be corrected, though. I will say I thought M. Hall did a pretty nice job pass blocking on the series' he was in there.

4. People that read my posts on Scout know I am not one to call for people who are not playing to play simply on the belief that they are somehow better. I generally trust the coaches as they see these guys everyday in practice. But at this point I'm pretty well convinced that Jordan Hall needs to be the primary tailback. He doesn't need to start or play every series, but he should be getting 15 carries a game and should not lose carries to the other two. Whether you want to call it vision or what have you, he a) finds the hole, b) hits it hard, and c) always manages to fall forward. He therefore gets 3 or 4 yd gains on plays where one of the other guys gets 0. There was one play in particular-it was a zone left out of the shotgun and looked like nothing was there but he found a small crease hit it hard and picked up four yards. Now we're 2d-6 instead of 2d-9: makes a big difference. He's able to take a small crease and turn it into something positive, and more than anything else he is DECISIVE. It's not to say that Boom and Saine do not offer something, but I just think for this team to consistently run the ball Hall needs to play, period. I also watched him pass blocking, btw, and he does a fine job with that, I don't really see any problems, so I don't think it is holding him back. Again, when I get some video I'll show some examples.

6. I also think that Pryor is really starting to get on the same page with Posey and Dane and the receivers are doing a decent job, but everyone needs to cut out the drops. I think every single player had one this game. Just like with the O-Line, we'll be inconsistent as long as these mental errors continue.

5. How great is it to get to end the season with these three games? As a player you couldn't ask for anything better. I like where OSU is sitting right now--they need to continue to improve, but if Pryor continues to play like this I really think he gives them the opportunity to move the ball consistently enough to win. I'm going to watch some Penn St video and give a breakdown this week of PSU and what we may try to do in response.

The First Half Play-by-Play breakdown, after the jump:


First Possession: 0-0. Own 21 yd line.

1st-10: Ace Trey right. NMST in a 4-4 look. Line slides left. Good protection, nice job by Cordle riding his guy out. Pryor steps up nicely into the throw and throws a nice deep ball to Posey. Good catch. 42 yd gain. N

1st-10: I twins right. NMST in a 4-4 over. Dave left. Nice kick out by Z. Boren. Browning for whatever reason pulled around and went for the MLB who was being combo’ed, rather than blocking the playside LBer. No gain. Good initial push on the left side, just a blown assignment. Perhaps he counted wrong because he didn’t realize they had 8 guys in the box.

2d-9: Ace tight bunch right. NMST in 4-4 over. Fake zone left, boot right. Browning pulls playside to block. Good protection, nice job turning back by Browning. Pryor holds onto the ball too long and then throws off his back foot downfield. BAD decision. Reminiscent of the INT hethrew against Purdue. This is knocked down though. N

3d-9: Ace right. NMST in a 3-4 w/ no deep safety. NMST brings 6. Good blitz pickup by Saine and Cordlee. Pryor steps into pocket. Miscommunication perhaps. May have had Ballard underneath on a drag. Y

4th-Missed FG

Second Possession: Own 30

1st-10: Ace tight bunch right. NMST in 4-3 under. Counter trey. Really like seeing us run counter trey, don’t think Tressel teams ever do it enough out of the I. Browning again pulled around and went after the wrong. The line didn’t seem to combo block on the front side of this play correctly at all in terms of assignments. Then Cordle whiffed on the playside LBer. Otherwise there would have been a big bounce play. Nice job by Saine breaking through the first tackle.

2d-6: Gun 4 wide H-back lef. NMST is in a double eagle w/ 2 backers in the box. Quick outs. Decent job by Shugarts and Browning on the right side. Nice throw by Pryor and nice move by Small for the first down.

2st-10: 4 wide-H back left. NMST-4-2. Bring a blitz off the left edge. Browning got pushed back into the backfield, collapsing the pocket. Pryor is too indecisive and takes too long to throw the hitch to Posey, could have been picked.

2d-10: Ace right-H-back offset right. NMST in a 4-3 over. Draw. Playside LBer is unblocked but Saine misses a cutback lane so wide you literally could drive a truck through it. Should have been a touchdown. Really poor vision by him-just bad. 0 yds.

3d-9: Ace trey lef. NMST in a 3-3. They bring 2 off the left edge. Initially nice pickup but then Saine gets beat. Nice job by Pryor being decisive and stepping up and running hard for a first down. He breaks one tackle with a stiff arm and then trucks over the DB. Great, hard nosed run by him! Big improvement. Y

1st-10: Ace right: NMST in 4-3 base. Dropback slide protection left. Stoneburner gets bullrushed blowing up the pocket. Pryor then tries to get outside. Gets back to the LOS. N

2d-12: Empty double tight trey right. NMST 3-4 over. Both TEs release. Looks like slant-shoot combos to both sides. Cordle gets beat on a speed rush. Pryor hit as he releases.

3d-12: Gun 4 wide trips left. NMST in a 3-3. Dropback. Ok protection. Shugarts gets beat inside but recovers to stalemate. Cordle gets speedrushed again. Pryor dumps it off short to Posey on a shallow cross-no gain.

4th down

Third Possession: 0-0

1st-10: Can’t tell because Big Ten Network is showing the Minn flag flying. Looks like a lead zone right to Hall. Good push. 4 yd gain.

2d-6: Gun, 4 wide. Quick passing game, line slides right, good pickup by Hall. Quick outs. Complete to Carter. We had some decent success with the quick outs pattern.

1st-10: Gun 4-wide trips left HB right. NMST in a 4-2 nickel. Zone read left. If it was a zone read Pryor should have kept the ball. Shugarts’ guy gets across his face, which plugs up the hole. But a good push nets 3.

2d-7: Gun ace left (H-back left) H-back right. NmST in a 4-3 under to the H-back side. Dropback Mesh route. The receivers need to get more depth on that, they are meshing at the LOS. Then Posey was open but drops the ball. N

3d-7: Gun trey left, H-back left. NMST-in a 3-4. Cover 0-no deep safety. False start.

3d-12: Gun ace left-H-back lef, H-back right. NMST in a 3-4. They bring 5Good protection. Nice job by Ballard and Browning setting a pocket. Pryor doesn’t see anything and takes off and runs. Again, nice job by being decisive. Big gain-25 yds.

1st-10: NMST 44> Gun ace left, H-Back right: NMSt 4-3 to the wideside. Zone read left. Nice job by Hall seeing the small hole and exploding through it. That’s making something out of nothing for 4 yds. Nice block by Brewster getting a push against the NG to create a crease.

2d-7: Gun Ace trey right, H-back strong right: NMST 4-3 shifted way over. 2 guys outside the TE. Zone play action left, boot right. Browning pulls playisde very nice block by him to set the edge. Nice job by Pryor stepping into the pocket and throwing a nice out to Dane. Strong flood route. N

3d-1: Double tight I left. NMST in a tight 4-4 defense. Dave left. Good execution up front, just as its drawn up. Brewster and Moses got low to stop penetration, nice job by Ballard getting to the backside second level, good kickout by Z. Boren, good pull by Browning, and nice run by Hall to get 3. Our short yardage Dave execution is really improving.

1st-10: I unbalanced left. NMST. In a 4-4 under to the TE (weak) side. Dave left. Again really nice exectution. GREAT kickout block by Z. Boren. That was awesome. Love seeing the improvement. Really nice block by A. Miller on the trade-off call with Boren. Huge hole. 12 yd run. The unbalanced look was really successful here.

1st-10: Terrible camera work so have no idea. Looks like some kind of counter toss sweep. NMSt defender comes flying over from the backside to make the tackle. In the future may be able to fake that play and have TP boot naked for big yards. 2 yd gain.

2d-9: Gun Ace left-H-back motions to trips right, strong right. NMST in a 4-3 under. Fake zone left, naked boot right. Good protection, Pryor would help himself by creating a little more depth. Kind of rolls right into Ballard’s block. Nice throw to Dane on a flag route, I think that’s a ball he can/should catch. Strong flood route. N

3d-9: Ace right-NMST is really overshaded to the wide side. No one outside of the backside 3 technique. Dropback. Somehow, with that alignment, Miller nonetheless steps outside, letting the 3 technique get a step and then he whiffs. Just a great individual play by Pryor eluding the guy, stepping up and hitting Ballard with the drag route for the 1st down. Pryor bailed Miller out there. We ran a switch route on top with Ballard draggin underneath.

1st-goal at the 7: Unbalanced right, trips left, HB right. Another new unbalanced look. Nice design, throws off NMST’s reads for what we want to run the option play from. They’re in a 4-4 and shift over toward the trips side. Really great seal and double team by Cordle and Shugarts, just destroy the RE. Exactly why you do unbalanced. Pryor waltzes in, TD.

Fourth Possession-OSU 7-0. Own 42

1st-10: Ace right weak. NMST. 4-3 base. Play action zone right dropback slide left. Good protection. Nice job by Browning and Brewster setting a pocket. Pryor throws deep for Small incomplete. But not a bad incompletion-threw it to where only Small could get it. N.

2d-10: I left-NmST 4-3 underDave left. Initial hole was there but then Cordle whiffed blocking back on the LBer (had this problem a couple times this game). He took a bad angle. And Saine ran too tentatively. 2 yd gain

3d-8: Ace right H-back right weak. NMST in 3-4 base. Dropback, slide protection left. Good protection, nice job by the interior setting the pocket. Stoneburner beat by a speed rush initially but he recovered well. Pryor stepped up in the pocket and delivered a strike on a deep out. 15 yd gain.

1st-10: 4 wide trips right weak-NMST-3-3-cheating the boundary side blitz-two guys outside LT. Dropback. Slide right, M. Hall BoB on the backside. Nice job by him moving his feet. 5 man route, slant/shoot combo on the backside with Posey and Saine. Pryor stepped up set his feet and throw nice slant route.

2d-3: 4 wide strong. NMST 3-4. Dropback-NMST brings 7. The ILB comes on a delayed blitz, which fooled Saine because he had already picked up the EMOL. Pryor flushed our right. Throws deep for Posey. Pass Interference called. Pryor did a nice job of collecting himself and setting his feet before throwing this time.

1st-10: Gun-trey right strong. NMST in a 4-3 under overshift. Play action draw dropback. NMST brings 5. Combo protection. Nice job by the right side. And nice job by Cordle out on an island. Good time Pryor is able to step up into the throw. We run a ‘levels’ concept on the right-where the outside guy comes on a shallow in, the inside guy runs a deeper in. This is a middle of the field pass. Stoneburner ran a drag/curl on the backside to try and draw the safeties. TD. Y

Fifth Possession-OSU 14-0. Ball on NMST 26

1st-10: I left-NMST-4-4 over. Dave right. Good initial hole but then Shugarts goes to shallow and picks up the backside LBer rather than blocking the MLB, leaving him unblocked. Saine makes a nice move, but then fumbles. TO

SIXTH Possession: OSU-14-0. Ball on NMST 38 after fumble.

1st-10; Unbalanced twins right. NMST-4-3 under. FS walked up over the TE. Dave ‘Draw’ play. A little different backfield action to it. Blocking assignment messup. Miller stayed on the 7 technique, but there was a man outside of him. Boren led through the C gap leaving that guy unblocked and didn’t block anyone. Saine then tried to cut it back for a 2 yard gain. We were having some trouble this game correctly reading the 8 man front looks NMST was giving us.

2d-8: Unbalanced twins right-NMST 4-3 over with safety up. Play action lead zone right. Good time. LBers bit the fake. Strong flood combo. Pryor went deep to Posey, looked like he had the underneat throws. Nice job though, of throwing out of unbalanced.

3d-8: Gun trey strong right. NMST 4-3 shifted 2 gaps under. Good man on man protection. Pryor threw the drag to Ballard who was open. But not a great play by Ballard on the ball.

Seventh Possession: OSU 14-0. Ball on own 30.

1st-10: Ace left-zip motion to trips right. NMST 4-3 under. LBer follows Stoneburner, showing man. Inside zone left. Oh, terrible zone step by Moses, just got beat by inside backer, blowing up the play. Otherwise was going to be a good hole there. Blown assignment-he goes to combo first, but he is playside, he has to realize that there is no lead blocker for that backer. 1 yd loss.

2d-11: Gun trey right strong. NmST-nickel under. Late shift by LBer outside the TE to an extreme overshift. Great read by Pryor pitching to Boom immediately. Huge amount of room to run with. Pryor is getting much better making the reads in the option game. 9 yd gain.

3d-2: Empty-3 wide two tight-trey left. NMST 3-4. We run Dane on a slant under Ballard’s VERTICAL SEAM ROUTE. Dane was there but Pryor missed him. Then Moses and Cordle got pushed into the backfield. Great individual play by Pryor finding the hole backside and making plays with his legs. NMST was stupidly continuing to play man coverage and Pryor just repeatedly burned them for it. 35 yd gain.

1st-10: Empty-3 wide 2 tight-trey right-NMST4-3 under. They bring 5. QB draw. The timing just did not look right on it. Then Cordle lost his block, Pryor tried to spring it outside, and lost yards. Again an example of where he should just take the 3-4 yds and be happy about it. Unfortunately he ran it to the 1 place NMST had a defender. If he goes to the right it’s a TD.

2d-14: Tight bunch right. NMST in a 4-3 under. Toss Reverse pass. Haha Great play by Posey, looking to Pryor doesn’t see him open, then goes back to Saine and throws a strike! TD

Seventh Possession-OSU 21-0. Own 47 yd line

1st-10: gun Trips right. TE zip motion left. NmST 4-3 under. Play action zone left. Slide protection right. Nice job by Browning and Hall on the right side. Dropped the ball. Smash route to the right-Carter converted to a stick route against man. Nice route combo, just dropped the ball.

2d-10: gun 4 wide trips right strong. NMST 4-3 under LBers overshift-Droback pretty nice job by Miller and Hall-Miller needs to hold his ground more. Pryor got some happy feet on this one. Then he just makes a nice play with his feet.

3d-1: Unbalanced right strong. NMST 4-3 under. Nice job by Pryor just sticking it up in there immediately for the first down. The pitch was wide open, but at least he was aggressive about keeping for the first.

1st-10: 4 wide rips right HB left-NMST-nickel-NB walked over to the backside. Blitz and stunt on the backside. Nice pickup of the stunt by Moses and Miller. Throws a nice quick out route to Sanz on the single receiver side.

2d-2: Empty two tight-NMST in goalline 4-4 tight-Bring 7. Ballard took the outside guy leaving the ILB coming free, but then great athletic play by him getting back to the backer to buy Pryor some time. The guy he was on comes free, then, though, but Pryor just outruns him to the sideline for a first down. 5 yd gain. Y-Stoney.

1st-10: Ace right-H-back right, HB left. NMST in double eagle. Dropback slide protection left. Delayed safety blitz comes free. Pryor does a good job of staying the pocket, though and stepping into the throw. 3 verticals route. Posey was open by Pryor just overthrew him.

2d-10: I twins left. NMST in a 5-4 at the LOS. Fake Dave roll left. NMST bites on the playfake but Browning gets too far outside and lets a LBer come underneath him. Pryor has to throw quick, and Dane was covered. He could have just kept running for about 20 yds.

3d-10: Ace trey left strong. NMST in 4-3 under with LBer over shift. Play action Saine got beat, but Pryor steps up nicely in the pocket as Saine rides his man around. Incomplete to Dane on an in but pass interference. Post-dig combo over the middle. Y.

1st-10: Under center ace left. NMST 4-3 base. Bring a blitz up the middle that we don’t pick up. Browning goes outside. Great job by Pryor, though, stepping up in the pocket, eluding and throwing a strike to an in-route to Posey. Big, big, big time play by him. That was fantastic. 4 man route-we run a ‘switch’ up top into basically a drive combo of an in and post behind with Ballard coming underneath on a drag.

1st-goal-Unbalanced-Gun right, trips left. Speed option. Again nice job by Pryor making the read right away and pitching to Saine who makes a nice cut for the TD. I like how we are doing the unbalanced on this to throw of a defenses’ reads on what is strong vs weak and still have good blocking at the POA on the edge. BTW, great job by Ray Small on the playside knowing the corner was playing man and just running him off like he was running a fade route.


  1. love the blog! have been looking around for this type of in-depth analysis of osu football - this is great. suggestions would be better integration of film clips with the analysis, HD video if possible, and similar analysis for the D. love what you've got though

  2. Great analysis. A friend told me about this and it is so good it was cited in the Penn State game previews section, with a link, over at Keep up the good work.