I think it's fair to say that the Mississippi game did not go as we had hoped. I especially was hoping for a few key plays to use and to share with y'all to maybe talk about what we're doing wrong. The reality is, however, I really don't have the strength to watch this game twice. Nonetheless, we've gotta get through this, so let's take a look at some of the plays from last week's game.
PLAY 1: 1st and 10. Webb run for 11 yd gain.
I'll start with Vanderbit's opening drive. Vanderbilt lines up in an strong-I formation (FB is not behind the QB, and is offset to the same side as the TE). In addition, we have both our WRs on the same side (the weak side). Mississippi lines up in their base defense, which is a 4-2-5. Immediately, Rivers calls an audible, flipping the FB and the TE. This changes two big things about the Mississippi defense. First, the (now) weak-side DB moves over closer to the LBs. Secondly, and more importantly, the DB over the inside WR moves back a whole 2 yards. There's a huge amount of real estate now directly in front of the WRs.
The ball is snapped, and the DBs already are backing up. It's clear that Mississippi was expecting a pass. The run blocking on the side of the run is nothing short of great. Andrew Jelks in particular is a beast who runs all the way up and continues to be in the play. It should be noted, however, that Webb's excellent awareness made this a big play. Right as he's about to cross the line of scrimmage, he makes an excellent cut between tacklers which gets him all the way 8 yards up field before he fights again for a 11 yard gain.
PLAY 2: 1st and 10. Webb run for 11 yd gain.
No, that's not a typo. Webb started this game off with two 11 yd gains. When I saw this play live, I thought for sure it was a draw with the way the WRs seemed to be looking for the ball. For the uninitiated, a draw play is a fake pass play, and in order to really sell it as a pass, you have your OL fall back into a pass block. However, looking at it now, however, the OL is run blocking, and doing it damned well.
Watch the line. The RT and RG both pick up their counterparts, and hold the block well. The RT especially does a fantastic job of positioning himself in a way that the only way to get to Webb is through him. Our C picks up the DT in front of him and the LT picks up his counterpart. Key to the run being so successful is the awareness of our LG, who now has no one to block as there's no blitz, and everyone near him is taken care of. He squeezes his way past our blocking C without disrupting him (which isn't easy), and picks up the LB who was playing a middle zone and would have been in a great position to tackle Webb.
...and not a moment too soon. The RB has basically caught up with the LG by the time the block is made. By the time Webb gets to the line, the C, RG and RT have moved their linemen to the right, and the LT is keeping his DE at bay. Webb cannot risk the edge, so he jukes back into the hole the line has made, runs past the upfield block, and splits the DBs before being brought down for another 11 yard run.
As a sidenote, while I don't think it had anything to do with the play, I kind of feel like we may have gotten away with on here. The TE on this play makes a good initial block, but it somewhat looks like he maaaay have been momentarily holding the LB on the edge there. He let go pretty quick so maybe that's why it wasn't seen/called.
Nonetheless, it was an excellent run.
PLAY 3 - 2nd and 4 - Pick 6
You knew this was coming. As soon as he dropped back I felt it coming. Everyone saw this coming. Except for Rivers. Vandy started with another great run by Webb only to be thrown away, literally.
You know what I had forgotton in my rage? This was actually a well drawn up play. Vandy again lines up in an offset-I formation against the Rebels 3-deep defense. The Rebels even blitz, sending an extra man (so 5 man pass rush). The OL isn't perfect, but gives Rivers more than enough time to make a good throw. Even Webb runs up to block a free defender who had just beaten our RG.
Even though Mississippi called the pass play from the very beginning, there was plenty of time to make a good decision. As soon as Rivers turns around, he sees the outside WR fairly open for a hook route. He never looks anywhere else. He plants, and throws. The first problem is that the throw is just off. When you have time like this, and you stare down one route, even for a few seconds, you better be on target. In the moments it takes to wait for the WR to reach the hook, the LB has already noticed that Rivers is staring him down and is dropping back. If the throw were even on target, it might have been picked off. It wasn't and the DB instead caught it and ran it to the house.
The inside WR may appear to be open, but that would have been a dangerous pass over the LBs. I also want to get on his case for not waiting a moment longer, because #80, a TE paying FB on this play, does get open a moment later.
I'm not a QB coach. Luckily, AoG reader and commenter theomega311 is. Instead of making all sorts of armchair quarterback arguments over whether the mechanics were right, or his decision making was flawed, I'll leave it up to him. It definitely looks to me though like the kind of mistake that comes from inexperience.
Play 4 - Dumbass Throw.
I want to just say... this was a terrible throw. Like, seriously, what the hell was he thinking doing that? Chest pass desperation throw would be fine if the game is on the line, but.... let's just go the the video.
If you've stuck with me this long, you deserve a treat. So here it is, the fumble recovery. We scored a TD on this one. Yup. Totally didn't sputter out again for no damned reason.