Breaking Down Charlie Weis - Part 2
Our second installment of "Breaking Down Charlie Weis" will be focused on the single-back series for the Florida Gators. Weis, as we have said, likes to use a certain set or look with a base play and builds on the play throughout the game. The goal is to say, hey, you stopped this play from this formation last time, well, let's see how you do with this wrinkle. The progression of the sets and plays keeps the defenses on their toes and keeps the offense with the advantage.
Again, we're going to look at UF vs. FAU to get some looks on the offense. For the single-back series, Florida runs a mix of spread and tight formations that mix the X, Y, Z, and F. The goal is to keep the defense outmanned based on alignment. Weis knows, like every good coordinator, that numbers is the key. Where you have numbers is where you have success. By only having a single back, you are able to move your F, Y, X, and Z around to gain an advantage. Let's head to the film to show how the series is built.
FAU gives us a good look to show because they play a 3-4 (just, obviously, not as well as Georgia's). This play, the outside zone, and the stretch are the two plays that Florida will focus on out of this set. In this play, the outside zone, the goal of the running back is to press the heels of the line of scrimmage and read blocks. Should the natural lane open in the C-gap, you take it. The next choice is to "get on the waterfall" and get outside. Should the F get a good seal block, the H will try to hit outside. The last option is the cutback. Like every "zone" concept, the linemen are blocking to an "area" or "zone." Therefore, there is a natural flow to a play. Should the flow overpower the run lane, a cutback lane will be apparent.
In the play, the linebackers flow hard to the play side - probably from reading the play side guard. Therefore, Rainey feels the natural lane and the outside lane get cut off, so the cutback is the choice. No one is there to defend the cutback and Rainey makes them pay for a big gain.
This play - the stretch - is the other base play of the formation. The Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots are very, very good at running this play, and, it is obvious that Weis perfected this concept while in the NFL. This play is a basic, aggressive speed play. The stretch is as close to a toss-sweep as you get without the ball leaving the QB's hands. To run it right, the play side line must take a very aggressive outside angle to seal off the pursuit. Basically, the play is a race to the edge. If the line can cut off the interior for a second and the guys on the perimeter can hold their man up, it is a 1-on-1 race to the edge.
Guys like Rainey and Demps love this play because it is a foot race. If they can get a crease, they can take it to the house. The reason is that, unlike a run between the tackles, the RB's only need one or two blocks and they can win the 1-on-1 match-up. With Florida's speed, expect a heavy dose of this and the zone to try and get outside and away from Georgia's big interior.
This is Florida's play-action off of the outside zone. The outside zone run sets this up, only because the RB is taking a similar path. However, this is more for the LB's. The way the WR's take off, the DB's know it is a pass. However, Weis sees that the OLB on the strong side is coming to cut out the run. The RB takes him out, and the play-action holds up any LB action in the curl/flat area.
In this play, should the safeties get caught off guard, the Q will take a shot deep down the hashes. However, this play definitely is designed to get to the hitch. The Q takes a pre-snap read on the deeper corner, takes a long drop to allow the WR to press to the CB, as he hitches, the ball should be delivered to his hands. The only bad thing I see is that Brantley takes too long to peak to see if the safety bit on the fake. As soon as he makes his face, his head should whip around, find the safety, and by the time his back foot hits on his last step, he should know where he is going with the ball.
If Florida is able to establish the stretch, this play is going to give us fits! This play is a play action off of the stretch. The key is that the line sells the stretch, with hard aggressive blocking straight down the line to the weak side - as if they are running the stretch. They key is the delayed pivot route the Y runs. He sells the block for a 1/1.5 count, turns, and gets to the flat quick.
There are two immediate threats to this play - the defensive tackle and OLB away from the fake. Should either of those guys get a lot of pressure, the play will get busted open. However, you will notice, the OT to that side does not sell the block, he is blocking it straight up - because they know they can't run the chance of him getting through. The OLB is then on an island. The Z runs off the CB and occupies the safety, and the OLB now has to make a choice - press to the QB and leave the guy alone, or cover the Y in the flat. However, if he goes to cover, the Q now has time to let the drag clear and hit as the drag occupies the area that the OLB vacates. In this play, the OLB is wrong either way. The FAU OLB reads pass with his tackle read, however, he does not know where the Y is going. He is too late getting to him.
As any Georgia fan should know, the Gators offensive coordinator needs to be fired because he runs the DRAW!!! Just kidding! (On a personal note, I like the draw and sprint-draws we run). This is a simple sprint draw play. Throughout the entire game, Florida came out passing a lot on first down. The read on this is the QB to the RB. Should they take an angle, attack? If they drop, I drop. Well... that's good, except, the draw allows for drop or hesitation in the LB's, so it allows the OL to get to the 2nd level.
In this play, it is a hard drop for the Q with eyes downfield to sell the pass. (From a defensive standpoint, the read for the safeties is - as he drops, I drop - because, typically, the longer the drop, the deeper the route, and more of a chance for a safety to be challenged). The RB sells the play with a bounce-bounce as if he is checking for a blitz, then, blast-off. The key is for the RB to take advantage of the ground the D has given up because they have dropped or hesitated. This will be one of the plays Florida runs between the tackles, because it allows Demps and Rainey to use their speed.
Tomorrow, we will look at the last bit of Weis' offense that we've seen - the off-set pro-formation. Please comment with any thoughts or questions you might have of the breakdown!