Anatomy of the play: Conversion Stop

Syracuse was finally able to stop John Robertson with the game on the line. breaks down the film to see how the Orange were able to make the play on the final snap of the game.

After scoring a touchdown, Villanova was one point away from tying Syracuse at the end of the second overtime period in Friday night’s season opener. However, the Wildcats elected to go for two and the win rather than simply kick an extra point. Ultimately, the Orange made the stop to preserve the win.

Villanova lined up in the pistol with running back Gary Underwood next to quarterback John Robertson. Prior to the snap, Underwood goes in motion to the right. When the ball is snapped, Robertson fakes a toss to Underwood. Josh Kirkland (circled to the left above) crashes towards Robertson. Robert Welsh (circled to the right above) takes an inside path from his blocker, ‘Nova tight end Earnest Pettway (#81), gaining leverage.

Welsh explodes off the ball and clearly has the advantage to the inside of Pettway who wanted to push him to the outside. Robertson, after faking, starts his draw towards the middle of the formation. Offensive tackle Vince Kowalski (#76) is pulling to try to cut-off Kirkland’s rush. However, Kirkland is able to squeeze inside the initial block and gets to the spot at the same time as Kowalski. The play design is set up to have Kowalski get to the spot before Kirkland to block him away from the play. Kirkland disrupts that plan with his speed off the edge. The Syracuse defensive line does a nice job holding their ground, mucking up the middle.

Here is an alternate angle

You can clearly Kirkland has a path to Robertson and the Syracuse defensive line is closing the gap in the middle. Kowalski (#76) is to the right of the picture, pulling towards Kirkland. At the very far right next to Kowalski, you can see Welsh with his leverage to the inside of Pettway.

Kirkland and Kowalski arrive at Robertson at approximately the same time. The ability of Kirkland to get there, however, forces Robertson to hesitate as Kowalski gets in his path. That action allows Welsh, who is inside of Pettway (#81), to get to Robertson. Robertson is unable to explode full speed due to Kirkland’s disruption. If Kowalski does not continue his pull and block Kirkland, then Kirkland would have made the play. But his initial crash off the edge is what caused the disruption to completely take away any option for Robertson.

Welsh shrugs off Pettway at this point and is able to get to a slowed down Robertson to make the tackle from behind preserving the Syracuse victory. Even though Kirkland did not make the tackle, he created the disruption necessary for Welsh to make the play.

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