Thursday night I found myself feeling bored and decided to find some film on McNeese State. I found a 15 minute highlight video from their first game and threw it on. What I saw was a pretty bad team that I thought the Gators should be able to name their score against. Thankfully, that’s pretty much what happened Saturday night.
It’s tough to take too much away from such a mismatch, but there are still things that can be learned. This game reminded me of one of my favorite aspects of Billy Napier’s passing game from a coaching/teaching perspective. There was also a nice creative wrinkle that I thought deserved another look.
When Napier was hired I wrote that his offensive scheme was solid,and his concepts built off one another but it wasn’t a revolutionary scheme. Being able to see the scheme up close for over a year now, I have similar conclusions but I have really come to appreciate a certain aspect of the passing game. Napier does a good job of being able to get a lot of mileage out of similar progressions in the passing game. He will often have routes that look like totally separate concepts, but in reality the receivers are hitting the same landmark. This means I can teach the quarterback the progression for this one particular grouping and get to it a bunch of different ways.
The Flood concept is a good example of this. Flood is a concept where you are typically running three receivers into an outside third of the field. You are flooding the zone with receivers. There is usually a Deep option, an intermediate option and a short option.
In the late 3rd quarter, Florida ran a version of Flood with Max Brown at QB. Notice the landmarks of the receiver. The outside receiver attacks deep. The number two receiver attacks the intermediate area and you have a receiver in the short outside area (AKA the Flat). Florida also has TE drag behind the short receiver in case the backers fly to the flat.
Earlier in the game, Florida ran a couple of different plays that get the same deep, intermediate, and short options as flood. They just got to them in non traditional ways. The first one looks more like a deep crosser off play action.
Florida runs their deep option on a post adding another high-low element to the play. If the safety bites on the crosser you will hit the post. If the post clears out the deep defenders you can go from the crosser to the flare route from the motion man. This gives you a high-low of the intermediate to short defender. On this play, the defenders all fall back leaving the flare open. And that’s not a bad option when you throw it to Eugene Wilson.
The next example is one that somewhat combines Flood with the Air Raid Staple Y Cross. If you watch any of the Air Raid coaches like Lincoln Riley or Zach Kittley, you will see a ton of Y Cross.
The outside receiver away from the crosser is vertical. It can be a straight route or a post. The number two receiver away from the crosser is in the flat. This version would technically be H Cross with Florida’s personnel groupings. The H has the deep crosser and the outside receiver has a deep dig behind it. If the back gets out he will likely be to the flat opposite the crosser. Florida runs a concept that you could call Flood or a Ycross. In the game against McNeese, they ran a true Y Cross look and also a two tight end version that hit the same landmarks as Flood.
After running a lot of deep crossing routes Florida was able to finally get a shot over the top. Often, Florida will try to high low the safety with receivers coming from opposite sides. On this play Florida puts the crosser and post on the same side. This play is somewhat reminiscent of an old Spurrier concept, Mills. This concept puts a stress on the safety to the call side. If he runs with the crosser, you throw the post. That’s exactly what happened on Saturday.
The final play I wanted to look at was one I was surprised to see the Gators break out in this game. Eugene Wilson lined up at quarterback while Graham Mertz lined up in the slot. At the snap Mertz ran back as if he were to receive a reverse. Wilson faked the reverse and the defense froze for a second. That was all he needed to streak towards the end zone.
The surprise of seeing that play made me think back to my former coach Kerwin Bell. We were up big late in one game and there was a stoppage in play. Coach Bell was deciding what the next play call would be and he finally decided that he was going to call a reverse. It seemed like an odd choice to me but as soon as that thought creeped in my head he said “I want to get that on film”. He knew that the seemingly meaningless reverse call would be one that defenses would have to prepare for in the future. A few games later he walked up to me in the pregame and said we were going to fake the reverse and throw a shot on the first play of the game. We received and sure enough the defense flew to the reverse on play one. The shot was open and the receiver ended up taking it down to the one yardline and we scored the following play.
Florida did not need to put Eugene Wilson in the wildcat and Graham Mertz in the slot. But now that is on film. And they likely have a bunch of other plays off that same look.