Every week, UteZone will provide you with an in-depth look at some of the best plays from Utah’s previous game, as well as some of the not so good plays. By providing this X’s and O’s breakdown of certain plays, we hope to keep you informed and educated you on what went well and what went wrong for the Utes, and why exactly the outcome of each play happened. First up, Utah’s 24-0 win over SUU.
1. 2ND Quarter - 1ST and 10 at SUU’s 37-yard line
Utah starts the drive inside SUU territory, and marches out 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE), lined up in trips left. Troy McCormick flanks Williams to the left. SUU is in their base 4-3, but has their outside backer lined up over Raelon Singleton in the middle of the trips, with the strong safety lined up over Harrison Handley.
At the snap, left guard Isaac Asiata briefly engages the defensive tackle, but then releases after a brief second. Center JJ Dielman and right guard Salesit Uhatafe engage the defensive tackle a bit longer than Asiata, but also eventually release. The SUU DT actually reads the play very well, and appears to be in good position to stop the screen pass, but simply can’t keep up with McCormick running out to the flats. All receivers release as if running streaks, but break down to stalk block after 10 yards. Troy Williams stays patient, and delivers a perfect ball in stride to McCormick.
Asiata delivers a perfect cut block on the middle linebacker, and that is the key block to spring McCormick. McCormick gets two more key blocks by Handley and Dielman, and he’s able to simply outrun the rest of the defenders towards the goal line, before eventually being pushed out of bounds at the 5-yard line.
2. 3RD Quarter – 3rd and 8 at Utah’s 29-yard line
Utah is again in 11 personnel, this time trips to the right side of the formation, and Armand Shyne flanking Williams to the left. SUU is now lined up in a 3-3-5, but creeps up a backer to the LOS, giving the impression of a four man rush, with man coverage on the outside.
SUU backs off their linebacker at the snap, only bringing three on the rush. Utah’s WR’s all take an outside release, and appear to be running “All 9’s” (streaks). SUU’s defensive end gets a good jump at the snap, but when he is beat outside by Garett Bolles, he utilizes a swim move to the inside of Bolles. Because the linebacker backs off his rush, Asiata is late to help Bolles with the inside pressure, and Armand Shyne fails to adequately step up in pass blocking.
Because Asiata is late, he ends up pushing the defensive end closer to the quarterback, and Armand Shyne is pushed back with ease, leaving the defensive end lunging towards Williams. Honestly, had Asiata not even chipped in on the pressure, Bolles and Shyne may have been able to push the defensive end further inside, allowing Williams to side-step to his left to avoid pressure. Perhaps the most disappointing part of this play is the poor effort given by Shyne on pass blocking. If he wants more carries, that part of his game must improve ASAP.
3. 4TH Quarter – 2nd and 10 at Utah’s 43-yard line
More 11 personnel for Utah, with trips to the left. SUU is again in their base 4-3, with the outside linebacker covering the middle receiver in the trips. The free safety also cheats over to the trips side, leaving more than half of the field uncovered. The strong safety is up in the box, and Troy Williams reads the coverage perfectly. Man-to-man coverage in the secondary, with the two remaining linebackers playing the hook-to-curl zone.
Recognizing the man coverage with no safety help over the top, Williams knows exactly where he’s going before the snap, with Patrick running a streak. Thing is, Williams had two other receivers wide open on the play as well. Kyle Fulks gets above the linebacker and runs a crossing route, while Harrison Handley runs a 5–yard out. No matter, Williams knows exactly where he wants to go, and delivers a beautiful ball over the top to Patrick.
The unnoticed part of the play is the great use of hands by Patrick to beat the man coverage. He’s bigger and faster than the SUU corner, but he’s still got to get good hand positioning. He does just that, as he’s able to throw the corner’s arm off him at the LOS and get leverage with his left arm. This is a huge part of the play, as it allows Patrick to get separation from the corner by just extending his arm. Had the pass been a jump ball, Patrick would have won with ease because of his hand placement. Patrick ends up not needing the leverage though, as he’s able to simply outrun the corner to the ball, and walks in the endzone.
1. 1st Quarter – 2nd and 1 at SUU’s 35-yard line
Utah lines up in the now rare 4-3 to start to the game, but it has more of a 5 man front look as Kavika Luafatasaga is lined up close to the LOS outside of the defensive end. This is called a 4-3 under formation. SUU lines up in a wildcat formation with the QB lined up like fullback, and brings the slot receiver in motion towards the snap. Cody Barton and Chase Hansen makes great breaks on the potential jet sweep to the slot receiver, and take great angles, but the “QB” keeps the ball instead of handing it off.
Fitts sheds the blocker with ease and is in good position to make a tackle, but gets a bit off balance when the runner plants his foot. Not a problem though, as Fitts has now forced the runner back towards the middle of the field, which is his job. The play begins to go wrong for Utah though thanks to two key mistakes. First off, Filipo Mokofisi takes a poor angle towards the runner while engaged with a blocker. Instead of pushing more up field to funnel the runner towards more Utah defenders, Mokofisi take a direct line to the ball carrier, and is easily side stepped. Second, it takes far too long for Cody Barton to recognize that the slot receiver doesn’t have the ball. This leaves a huge gap for the runner. Thanks to Marcus Williams though, the long gain is negated after William’s strips the ball from the ball carrier and recovers it himself. The end result is good for Utah, but still wasn’t a very pretty play by the defense.
2. 2ND Quarter – 2nd and 10 at SUU’s 25-yard line
Utah is back in to more of its’ base defense, the 4-2-5, and the SUU offense lines up in a bunch formation to the left. Utah is late to get lined up at the snap, which gives SUU QB Tannon Pederson a good idea of what coverage they’re running. He’s right too, as Utah runs single high man coverage, with Sunia Tauteoli spying Pederson.
SUU runs a crossing pattern with its’ bunch formation, which is designed to effectively pick the man covering the inside receiver, and the route is actually open, as Justin Thomas fails to maintain his man coverage, and sits on the slant instead. Hunter Dimick quickly beats the offensive tackle with a swim move, and Cody Barton takes off towards the QB once he sees the running back staying in for pass blocking, so the QB doesn’t have much time in the pocket. Reggie Porter has good coverage on the lone receiver to the right, as the receiver takes an outside release. Seeing the single high man coverage, and sensing the pressure, Pederson decides to take a shot down the field.
The throw is actually not bad by Pederson, as he places the ball on the outside shoulder of the receiver, which creates a natural separation from the corner. The ball is overthrow just slightly though, and Marcus Williams is able to beat the receiver to the ball, extending out and making a great catch for the interception.
3. 4TH Quarter – 2nd and 9 at SUU’s 35–yard line
More 4-2-5 from Utah, but this time they shift Barton up towards the line of scrimmage, giving the defense a five-man front look. Pre-snap, it appears that Utah may be playing straight man coverage with a single high safety, as Chase Hansen is lined up over the tight end. Utah actually drops back in to a deep thirds zone, with Thomas, Barton and Tauteoli covering the hook to curl zone. Hansen blitzes off the edge, and the defensive line stunts to their right.
The SUU right tackle, guard and center take on both Utah’s defensive tackles, leaving the tight end one on one with Kylie Fitts. Meanwhile, the SUU RB isn’t able to get in front of a sprinting Hansen, who forces the QB up towards the Ute defensive line. Fitts easily beats his blocker, giving him a free run at the QB.
It would appear that either Fitts or Taumoepenu is in perfect position to sack the QB, but both wind up missing the tackle, just like Hansen. Pasoni Tasini is not far behind though, as he splits the double team and is able to clean up the mess left by Fitts, Taumoepenu and Hansen.
1. 2nd Quarter – 4th and 3 at SUU’s 27-yard line
SUU’s punt team rolls out on the field for the third time in the half, and the punter gets off a good punt, driving Boobie Hobbs back to the Utah 25-yard line. The punter outkicks his coverage though, as Hobbs catches the ball with ten yards between him and the nearest defender. The punt return unit has their blocking set up almost perfectly, as both defenders to Hobbs’ left are covered, though an SUU defender runs free to Hobbs’ right. The middle of the field is wide open though, and Hobbs uses his speed to beat the lone defender up the field.
Further up the field, the Utes have a wall set up perfectly, with a man on every SUU defender up the sideline. Cody Barton delivers a jarring block to the furthest outside the defender, which springs Hobbs up the sideline. The lone defender left between Hobbs and the end zone is now the punter, and Hobbs simply doesn’t have enough space to make a move, being forced out of bounds at the SUU 37-yard line, for a 35-yard gain.