Marty Simpsons big-play breakdown
In this special feature, former Gamecock football player Marty Simpson takes a look at some of the big plays from the South Carolina-Auburn football game.
Lattimore 15-yard touchdown run
Great block at the top of the screen by Bruce Ellington, the inside receiver. He does a great job of exploding off the ball to begin with to create leverage. He gets his body in a good stalking position and chicken fights just long enough to force the defender to commit to jumping one way or the other, which allows Marcus to read this and cut off of it.
The left tackle on the play, Rokevious Watkins, made a good base block to neutralize his defender, and the pulling center, T.J. Johnson, did a great job of getting up in the hole and to the second level to cut off the linebackers.
The backside linemen did an exceptional job of making their blocks. Watch the backside guard get to the second level and make a good collision and then a second-effort knock-down block.
There was one thing about this play that I found sad though. This play represented our shining moment on offense. It was the play that saw Marcus Lattimore turned loose for the first time in the game. It gave us all hope that the hemorrhaging offense had somehow found a way to stop the bleeding. Yet in the midst of perfect execution, two of our linemen found a way to look like they were in middle school again playing that game where you bend down so someone can push the person to trip over you. Remember that game?
You played that trick on someone you didn't like, right? Yesterday, we played it on ourselves...on one of our few good plays.
Garcia to Ellington for 35 yards
First of all, there was solid protection from the offensive line this play. This allowed Garcia the opportunity to read the dropping linebackers and notice that the middle backer had turned his back on him. Whenever the middle linebacker has turned his back on the quarterback this allows the throw to be placed in the open area as opposed to the ball being thrown to a "man."
Garcia recognizes that the open area is now the middle of the field and throws a great ball into this zone. Ellington can then make the athletic play to break his route off and come over and catch this ball.
The only thing I noticed on this play was that Jeffery did have a step on his man at the top of the screen and for whatever reason Garcia liked the middle better than this.
Ellington is starting to show glimpses of what I saw early on in him. Carolina fans can hope this trend continues.
Melvin Ingram sack
They won't show up in this video, but credit the defensive secondary for great coverage allowing time for this sack to happen at all.
You have to watch Melvin Ingram this entire play to get the full effect of how good a play this is.
First of all, he reads his key perfectly. The player in front of him executes a down block, which typically means the play is either running away from you or a back or lineman will be coming for a kick-out block (if the play is running toward you). Players are coached to "squeeze" a down block as they collision the blockers hip or butt pad.
Ingram does this so well that the pulling linemen actually never sees him as he was connected to the down-blocking linemen. Therefore the pulling linemen arcs too wide and sees DeVonte Holloman scraping outside.
Holloman's job on the down-block will be to scrape outside of Ingram since Ingram is squeezing. If the linemen blocked "out" on Ingram then Holloman would fill inside. On the down block he scrapes outside.
This type of blocking would commonly be used on a running play coming toward Holloman and Ingram, but since this was play action, Ingram is left after two seconds with no one blocking him. He then has a straight shot at the quarterback.
My favorite part of this play was the quarterback's posture as he knew the inevitable was coming. He made no apology about his body language, which read loud and clear, "Please don't kill me...please?"
Garcia 21-yard run out of the end zone
This is the inside zone read play. You are able to know it's the read play because our tight end on the left side doesn't block the backside defender in front of him. Instead he releases outside to the next level.
If Garcia thinks this defender is going to tackle Lattimore right after the hand-off then Garcia keeps it. This provides great leverage on the left side, as all the defenders have their momentum towards Lattimore and are easy to seal down inside. Rewind this play and watch how badly the cornerback on the offense's left side was fooled as he sprints toward Lattimore.
My only problem with the way we run this play is we have no pitch man for Garcia to run a true triple option play. If our wing-back/tight end lined up on the left side had not gone down field and chased a defender that was fooled by the ride-fake to Lattimore, that wingback could have been the pitch man off the free safety. Garcia would have pitched this ball to him after about 12-15 yards.
I propose slipping someone like Byrd in this spot when running this play so we are pitching the ball to a 4.26 guy on the sideline with a full head of steam.
Melvin Ingram sack
Melvin Ingram has quickly become one of the best defensive players in the country. Here he displays the same spin move to defeat a double team that he used last week in a similar sack highlight.
He collisions the double team to begin with then spins to his left away from the double team.
He then makes a very athletic tackle to hang on for the sack.
The secondary was getting trashed early in the season, but they made a nice adjustment to this unorthodox alignment from Auburn. If you notice the communication and the man-to-man coverage on that stacked formation. Well done by the Gamecocks.
Long touchdown pass to Jeffery
This play was made possible by great protection up front allowing Garcia to step and throw. There was single coverage on the outside players and Garcia recognized this and felt like he could take a shot with Alshon.
This is the same play that Ellington catches the ball over the middle on later in the game.
It's amazing what can happen when Garcia throws the ball high and soft and catchable and not out of bounds when targeting Alshon Jeffery.
Alshon made a live play look like a video game the way he finished it. I really thought I heard Scorpion's voice from Mortal Kombat saying, "GET OVER HERE" as Alshon dragged the defender into the end-zone.
Garcia 14-yard pass to Wilds
I have broken down screen passes already this season and explained how you can tell if it's a screen pass or a short dump-off to the back out of the backfield. This play is the latter and you can know this because no linemen have gone downfield.
However, I am not exactly sure what Alshon Jeffery is doing with his defender as this is technically not legal. In essence, Jeffery blocked downfield during a pass and should have been called for offensive pass interference. Sometimes this type of contact is overlooked if the ball is not thrown toward that receiver (which this one wasn't). I feel certain had Garcia thrown to Jeffery he would have been flagged.
Either way, it's worth rewinding and watching Jeffery the entire play as he really gets the best of his defender. (Again..."GET OVER HERE." Apologies to the non-nerds reading this that don't understand the Mortal Kombat reference.)
Reverse pass that Allen intercepts
There are many noteworthy things that happened on this play. The first of which is Ingram is the defensive contain man that is not fooled by the reverse. In so many ways "these aren't my father's Gamecocks" and this is definitely one of them. It seems like we are fooled by true reverse plays far and far less than in the old days.
This causes the passer to throw the ball a little sooner than he should have.
Antonio Allen is caught out of position initially but makes a heck of a recovery on the ball. He sees the receiver's eyes look for the ball so he turns and looks and just makes a great play on the football.
Ingram, Allen, and Clowney all have a nose for the football. It just seems like great players are always around the football at the right time. This play was no exception.
I don't have stats to back this up, but I can't remember a game this season that both Allen and Ingram didn't have their hands on the football during the game. It's just a weird feeling to go into every game assuming two of your defenders will have their hands on the ball before the game is over... every week.
Auburn interception on deep ball
This is a simple flat-curl route to the left. It cannot be proven from this video because the defense was blitzing, but our ball fakes continue to NOT fake anyone out.
HOWEVER, with that being said, due to the blitz the left side linebackers were cleared out of the passing lanes and Lattimore picked it up nicely. This caused Alshon Jeffery to be WIDE OPEN on the curl route for a nice gain, a gain he sometimes turns into a long run for a touchdown (Tennessee last year).
Instead, Garcia throws to the freshman Byrd that is supposedly the fastest player to ever come to South Carolina. My hunch is the play was predetermined in the "huddle" to go to Byrd. We used to append the receiver title to the play if we wanted to tell our quarterback where to throw the ball. Our normal play name might be "Split Twins 1-74" and the play with the forced action appended might be "Split Twins 1-74-X." This instructed the quarterback not to run the normal 74 playside read but throw the ball to the X (split end) instead.
Again, my hunch is that Spurrier had Byrd in the game to throw deep to him explicitly. I would not put too much blame on Garcia on this one. However, I would put the blame on our lack of imagination and poor ball fakes.
I was watching the game in Greenville at an Outback Steakhouse on the way home from a comedy gig and there was no volume on the television. However, when Byrd entered the game, folks in the restaurant were yelling "Byrd's gonna get it!" If Outback customers know where Garcia wants to throw the ball ahead of time, is it reasonable to assume that defensive coordinators do too?
Frazier's 20-yard run
I won't spend a lot of time breaking this play down but I will point out a few things.
First, the umpire in the linebacker's way actually affected this play mightily. I know that sounds like an excuse, but it's worth taking a look at.
Also, I would like to point out that while our defense played outstanding overall, we never did have a true answer for the wildcat type running quarterback attack. Whatever our base set of coaching technique is, it lends itself to getting attacked up the middle by running quarterbacks. It's just worth noting.
This is a really tough play to defend as the backside guard pulls which makes the linebackers assume the play is going to "their" left in the direction of the pull, but the quarterback is going to run wherever there is "air." Basically the two interior linemen have to win their battles up front and they just didn't.
Auburn 14-yard pass to Blake
Give credit to Auburn for being creative here. First of all, they ran a "jail-break" screen early to take advantage of our aggressive pass rush.
Second, this formation is very unorthodox. At first glance it looks like a regular empty set, but it's not. There is a tight end and two flankers to the left, so three eligible receivers are over there.
But there are three players split out wide to the ride too, giving the impression of six receivers, however, the split-tackle is not an eligible receiver. Since they complete this pass behind the line of scrimmage anyway, he can be downfield.
I want to give credit to Auburn for this formation and their creativity, but the truth is they should have run this play TOWARD the offensive tackle split out wide, because this is where they had a serious numbers advantage. So Auburn was trying really hard to out coach us and just barely doing it.
Either way, they executed the "jail-break" screen perfectly.
Auburn 23-yard pass to McCaleb
Again, credit Auburn for being creative.
They ran a sneaky screen where the linemen just played like opossum before leaving their stances.
Watch Clowney at the top of the screen. He is the only one that even senses something is wrong with what is going on, but even he cannot recover quickly enough to do anything about it.
If you watch this play over and over again you will conclude we played this play pretty great to not give up a touchdown.
C.C. Whitlock interception and fumble
Have you ever seen a player step out of bounds without trying to get that extra few yards and thought to your self, "I wonder why he didn't try harder?" Well, now you know!
The saddest part of this play is that two of our best players, for reasons not discernible from this video, passed up opportunities to block Lutzenkirchen.
Honestly, after watching this play, I am sure there are some Auburn folks wondering if Williams-Brice causes ALL quarterbacks to throw the ball directly to defenders.
My father and I used to always tease by saying, "If it would have helped your team MORE to have been struck by lightning during the play instead of what actually happened, then you probably made a mistake at some point during that play." We usually had this come up if a player made a bone-headed block behind the ball on a long touchdown run or something. I guess we needed the lightning to strike just after the interception on this one.
C.C. Whitlock interception in the end zone
Williams-Brice Stadium somehow causes quarterbacks to throw into double coverage off their back foot also is probably what Auburn fans are thinking, right? That is exactly what Auburn's quarterback does on this play.
Whitlock somewhat redeemed himself for his boneheaded fumble on the interception return earlier by making an extremely athletic play on this football. Then he does an even better job of holding on to the ball as his body impacts the ground.
Great pressure was provided by Devin Taylor as he crushed the quarterback.
Auburn Lutzenkirchen TD catch
As well as the defense played this entire game, I will have to blame Ellis Johnson for this touchdown. There is absolutely no excuse for Lutzenkirchen catching an easy touchdown against anyone.
If you have ever watched Auburn play at all, ever, EVER! in the last two years, whenever they are in the red-zone and have to have a play, it's Lutzenkirchen that makes it.
I am not saying we should have stopped them every time, I am just saying an easy touchdown to Lutzenkirchen is inexcusable. This means that our defense obviously was not coached to stick to him like glue no matter where he goes! They weren't told all week to make sure that no matter what happens DON'T let Lutzenkirchen catch a touchdown!
You can say, "Well, he faked like he was going to block then went out" and you'd be right. AND YOU would have been right last year when they ran this EXACT same play against us and Clemson and at least five other teams including Alabama to aid in their 21-point comeback in the Iron Bowl.
I would not have minded them throwing to Lutzenkirchen for a touchdown as long as we had two guys dragging at him as he caught it. He is their version of Dallas Clark in the red-zone.
This play is very imaginative and extremely well executed. However, this doesn't change the fact that prior to this play being run, I looked at the bartender at the Outback where I was watching the game and said, AND I QUOTE, "As long as they don't throw it that Lutzen-myer-kirkendall dude I will be okay with it, cuz if they throw to him, and we don't guard him I will take a flame-thrower to this place."
So earlier, when I said if folks at the Outback Steakhouse know what play is being run surely the defensive coordinators do too, it turns out that this may not always be the case...at least not for our defense.
But again, I will give credit where credit is due. The Gamecock defense showed up in this game and played wonderfully. And giving credit where credit is due, I will credit Ellis Johnson with the blame for this play working! This play should have been run at least 10 times on Wednesday in practice from five different formations. Auburn should have been able to FAKE this play as we had three guys running with Lutzenkirchen and then walked their quarterback into the end-zone. THAT I could forgive. This was inexcusable.
Allowing this play for a touchdown was much like our new version of the "Fun and Gun Offense." I call it the "Bad and Sad." Because "Bad and Sad" is catchier than "Boring Peashooter."
From coach to comedian: Marty Simpson is a former Academic All-Conference player for USC who scored the Gamecocks' first 6 points in the SEC. During 8 years as a high school varsity coach, Simpson led his team to the state finals and saw one player advance to set an NFL rookie record. Simpson now divides his time between his family, running a multimedia company named Blue-Eyed Panda and traveling the country performing stand-up comedy for clubs, churches, and corporations.
Check out Marty's comedian website here.
Check out Marty's comedian website here.
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