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Film Room: Play-action Frees Coles for Winner

The Hokies executed a play-action pass beautifully and Logan Thomas found D.J. Coles in the back of the end zone for the eventual game-winning touchdown.

D.J. Coles celebrates with teammates following the touchdown that gave the Hokies the edge.
D.J. Coles celebrates with teammates following the touchdown that gave the Hokies the edge.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Warren Harvey's 44-yard field goal gave East Carolina a 10-7 edge over Virginia Tech in the third quarter. On the ensuing possession, Tech moved the ball 25-yards on four plays before a 20-yard pass to D.J. Coles set the Hokies up at the East Carolina 30. Trey Edmunds then picked up 14-yards on a screen pass and followed it with a rush to the right side for 13 more yards to give Tech first-and-goal from the East Carolina 3-yard line. Edmunds rushed again on first down, but for no gain. The three consecutive plays to Edmunds made East Carolina's defense bite on the play-action, leaving Coles wide open for the eventual game-winning touchdown. Let's go to the film.

The video:

(skip to 0:45 seconds for the touchdown. Sorry.)

The breakdown:


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Expecting a run--which given the tendencies of Virginia Tech they absolutely should be--East Carolina lines up with five on the line and defensive back Chip Thompson (#1) blitzing off the corner. Tech certainly lines up to sell the run with two tight ends and fullback Sam Rogers just off the edge of the line. Edmunds will set up to run to the right side behind Rogers, who will feign blocking before heading to the front pylon. Coles will cut inside and slow up like he's going to block a linebacker or safety. East Carolina's Detric Allen (#4) will be playing zone and Thompson will blitz with Adonis Armstrong (#3) covering his side of the field.


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Logan pulls back from center to begin the fake to Edmunds, who is running right. Coles will start to the inside but not at full speed, selling the idea that he's looking to block. ECU's Zeek Bigger (#44), Brandon Williams (#24), Damon Magazu (#11) look to play the run and look to set up to defend Edmunds or shed blocks by Rogers. Armstrong seems to be watching Coles come across, but doesn't commit yet.


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By now you've hopefully identified the ECU players I'm talking about so they'll now be noted as M (Magazu), W(Williams), B(Bigger), A3 (Armstrong), A4 (Allen) and T (Thompson) in the picture. Coles slows up as if to block before slipping past Magazu and Williams. Rogers will continue to the front pylon, drawing Allen in coverage. The fake to Edmunds freezes Williams and Bigger, while Armstrong comes over to keep an eye on Coles and the run.


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The fake to Edmunds works beautifully and Coles has a solid yard of separation between Armstrong and Magazu, who both start back to try and cover him. Bigger is still up on run support/covering Edmunds for the pass, while Williams peels off to try and recover to the middle of the field. Thompson is closing in on Thomas, but at this point the Pirates are pretty much dead in the water and Logan has a simple dump over the top to Coles in the back of the endzone.


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At this point, Coles simply has to go up and get the ball and he does so with ease to put the Hokies on top. I also included this to show just how few Hokies (two) were in the end zone and how many Pirates (four/five-ish) were and Tech still had the advantage.


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