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LJWorld.com weblogs The Breakdown

Showing why (on one play) a Georgia Tech player was so wide open

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For this blog, I have consulted a Div. II offensive assistant coach, someone we'll just call "Coach."

Let’s take a look at Tevin Washington's 52-yard touchdown pass to Roddy Jones in the third quarter of Georgia Tech's 66-24 victory on Sept. 17 to see where KU's breakdown was defensively.

This might be surprising, but Coach says that KU actually has a good defensive play call to defend this pass.

The Jayhawks are set up in a Cover 3 defense.

Let's go over the zone setup.

In a Cover 3, the deep part of the field is divided into three sections. The top cornerback has the deep, top-third of the field; the free safety (just off the screen) has the deep, middle-third of the field; and the bottom cornerback has the deep, bottom-third of the field.

Meanwhile, the four players at linebacker level have their own zones to cover.

Coach says the middle two linebackers cover the hook/curl zones in the middle of the field.

The two outside players cover the flats on their respective sides of the field.

Georgia Tech's routes are pretty easy to diagnose. Both outside receivers run vertical routes, while the A-back Roddy Jones runs a seam route.

These routes are perfect for KU's defense.

"You should have it covered," Coach says, "because your corners are going to take the outside two streaks, and your free safety should be locked on to the seam streak."

So why does this play go for a big gain?

That free safety we've been talking about ... he bites on play action pretty hard.

We barely see him on the screen (and can't see his number because of the camera angle), but the video shows that KU's safety cheats up hard, thinking this play is going to be a run. That leaves him out of position to cover the long pass.

Another important note: A casual fan might think safety Bradley McDougald is the one to blame for this blown coverage.

In actuality, McDougald sees early that KU is in trouble and is simply trying to prevent a big play.

He's unable to chase the play from behind. But just because he's closest to Jones doesn't mean that it's his man.

"That’s where play-action pass out of the option is such a valuable tool, because everybody’s concentrating on stopping the option, making sure they’re playing assignment-sound football," Coach says. "That’s where the play-action pass can really come in to bite you."

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