Four Big Ones

In our continued efforts to bring our HSJ viewers the most comprehensive Aggie Football analysis, we turn to our resident football nerd, jmlittle, who recently took a vow of silence from Aggie internet message boards to spend more time on his Gig ‘Em techniques.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of four A&M scoring plays for all the X’s and O’s junkies out there. Enjoy:

Not so bad for the first drive of the season.

Now, obviously, this is not how you draw it up, but I want to show you why A&M’s scheme is going to work to Jerrod Johnson’s strengths on this particular play. While you can’t see all of the action, you’re going to see why the defense parts enough for Johnson to score.

A&M is running the “smash” concept that it used with great effectiveness last year against New Mexico and quite a few other teams.

The slot receiver to the right is going to run what other teams refer to this as a “return” route: a slant that is broken off to the boundary. A&M will run a deep out behind this return route, and the quarterback will make a corner read to determine who will get the ball.

The reason this play came open is that both routes are run toward the boundary. The middle of the field came open as New Mexico lost rush-lane discipline, and JJ took full advantage.

The very nice blocks by McCoy and Nwachukwu put Jerrod into the end zone.


The Texas A&M Offense’s second touchdown is definitely a throwback to the 1990’s. Aggie fans (and 1990’s-era Aggie opponents) may recognize this as the Lead Draw made popular and incredibly effective by running backs like Greg Hill and Rodney Thomas. See this clip at 00:58, with thanks to giveusroom. I suppose it’s no coincidence that Mike Sherman was A&M’s offensive line coach during that era and is reviving the play with a bit of a twist.

Here, A&M shows up in I Split Left, with New Mexico showing a 6-man box. A&M is definitely outnumbered at the point of attack without a tight end, but the action of the play is going to take care of the sixth man. What makes this different from a typical zone running play is the technique of the offensive line and Cyrus Gray’s footwork.

On the weak side of the play, both Lee Grimes and Matt Allen are going to “highwall” the defenders. As you watch the play unfold, you’ll see that their technique is designed to influence the down linemen upfield, and that’s exactly what the New Mexico defenders will do, failing to retrace their steps against draw. Allen will give his man a nice shove on by and out of the play—just enough to make him a non-factor.

Over on the play side, Baker is going to make a hard charge at the five technique defensive end and get a good seal against the inside run action. This does not have to be a monster block for the play to be effective.

Drawn by both the action of the playside wide receiver and the backside guard’s influence block, New Mexico’s playside linebacker is going to break the cardinal rule (“Play run first”) and get to his pass drop. By the time he realizes what’s going on, it’s too late.

Cyrus Gray will score the touchdown here, but Kevin Matthews will make the play.

The play starts with Shumard and Matthews getting great vertical movement against the defensive tackle with a devastating double team. At exactly the right moment, Matthews peels off to pick up the weakside linebacker and create an excellent backside seal for Gray to make the end zone standing up with a tremendous cut against the free safety.

Perfect execution – six points.

This was easily my favorite play of the night. Why? Because A&M’s offense shows some real creativity and diversity here, and when you couple that with situational awareness, this is what happens.

A&M is going to come out on the right hash in Gun Doubles Bunch. By formation and alignment, you’re putting the most stress on the defense to the wide side of the field.

This is yet another variation on the smash concept. A&M is going to run a speed out with Morrow from the slot position to tamp down the corner and keep him out of the play … Jeff Fuller is the primary target from the snap. Morrow waits a half-tick before releasing into his route. Why? Because it allows Johnson to read the coverage better. Here, if the cornerback does not release alongside Fuller, he knows that the cornerback has Morrow in the flat and that he, Fuller, has a free shot at the corner of the end zone.

Fuller attacks the deep safety with his route and bends a gentle fade to the corner of the end zone, and Johnson is going to put the football in a catchable place. The safety never had a chance to make this play, and the defense just got caught in a terrible call on the goal line against A&M’s personnel.

This is a play that requires an awful lot of timing and good ball placement, and Johnson and Fuller seem to be in a place where both are really working for them.

Great call, great execution … great play.

Yes, yes, yes. The “beater” concept.

I have to think that Mike Sherman was taking his freshman slot receiver out for a spin here. This was the concept on which Jeff Fuller scored his first touchdown last year against New Mexico.

Pre-snap, Jerrod is facing a six-man pressure. He knows he’s going to get man coverage against that many rushers against empty. New Mexico is about to bring the house, and Johnson is going to make them pay. (Note: In reality, New Mexico is going to bring 5 here and spy one linebacker on Johnson. He doesn’t come, but it has no effect on the outcome of the play. They should have just brought him.)

McNeal is going to see immediately after the snap that he’s in man coverage against the deep safety. Reading MOFO (No, Rick Perry … Middle Of Field Open), he’s going to bend his route into a post and take advantage of the mismatch against one of New Mexico’s most experienced defenders, safety Frankie Solomon.

This is a very simple read against man or zone coverage. A&M just happened to get lucky that New Mexico was in man here. If you’ll watch closely, you’ll see that Jerrod Johnson’s eyes never leave McNeal. He knows he’s got him in man, and he’s going to wait to see if the freshman makes the right read. When McNeal does, he delivers for a 44-yard touchdown.

Danny Baker misses his block here, but it’s not fatal. Johnson is going to keep dropping against the rush and puts enough air under the ball that McNeal can run to it and make a play.

You’ll definitely see this concept again, and it will certainly be a nice check against an all-out blitz.


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