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Gobbler Country Thought Experiment Series: The Breakaway

We are at third and really short, there is an injury to the defense, and instead of getting to pick up the pace, everyone’s stuck cooling it off for a commercial/injury time out. This is the first drive of a game in which every score is supposed to count. Moving and keeping the ball is critical. You the OC have picked the play. Let’s see what happens next.

Hewitt gathers in a Tribe fumble
John Schneider - SB Nation

It’s an Audible

You all choose the WR out route. Well, the situation changed a bit. We want to go to the same place but some new circumstances mean that we need to call an audible and change the primary pattern set a bit. The wide receiver has been doubled since the kick off, and now their Strong Safety is sidelined. What we thought was good might be improved. Let’s see.

A Defensive Wrinkle that Creates Something

So as we pick up the series, our offensive coordinators in waiting have called the play. The official in the red shirt with the headphones raises his hand, and gives the five second warning. The Referee hoots on his whistle and restarts the clock. The TV timeout was annoying but the minor injury to the opposition’s Strong Safety (looked like he rolled an ankle on the previous play) created a revenue opportunity that couldn’t be missed. So, the Ref signals the clock to wind, the play clock to start, and you are waiting to get word that your QB understood the play-call.

The team breaks the huddle, and heads to the line in pretty quick fashion. You had planned this to be a no huddle deal, but the injury timeout changed that. Your quarterback looks back at you and nods...He’s got the play and understands what you want him to do on this one.

Running the Play - Not EXACTLY What was Called

The formation is a twins right on the strong side of the formation. The H-Back goes in motion and sets off to the Quarterback’s left like he’s going to help block the blind side. The Left side wide receiver looks back and signals (it’s a dummy - he’s going to drift into a mid-distance drag about five yards down, but needs to be convincing enough to sucker the replacement Strong Safety to come down to cover him. Even if the Corner takes him the Strong Safety has to cover the other route. You’re hope is that you are going to get to challenge the Cornerback to cover your H-Back. He’s running an out route that’ll look like an inside out wheel. He’s going to chip a block and then circle out of the backfield to the left and get close to the sideline a yard or three beyond the marker.

The Quarterback’s challenge is to drift to the left slightly to clear his throwing lane to the H-Back. He has that check down to the flanker on that mid-range drag, but if that read is taken it’s likely to be a close deal and a measurement. Your Quarterback is in luck. The replacement Safety starts moving up toward the line (you’re not convinced it’s a blitz, but what it does do is remove any help that the Safety can give to his Cornerback.

The ball snaps, it was nice and clean about chest high. The Quarterback looks off the drag, most of the defense flows to the strong side to cover the twins, and so he starts his three step slide to the left side of the line... He’s got to be quick about it, but his release is totally dependent on how good a chip block and release the H-Back gets. The Defensive End pinched in too far, and the three step slide to the left avoided his rush. The H-Back circled out to the left, past the 2 yard line to gain, and the Quarterback (eyes as big as saucers) hit him on the back shoulder away from the closing Cornerback with a nice snappy but catchable pass. It was a really nice execution.

Whiff and Luck Combine

The first down was in the bag, but something interesting develops. The Cornerback, all 5’10” and 170 pounds of him makes contact with your H-Back about a yard away from the sideline. The H-B hadn’t developed a ton of momentum out of bounds, and his stop and turn up field created a complete whiff on the tackle by the Cornerback. The Corner bounced off your 6’4” 235 pound motioning Tight End/Fullback, and belled in out of bounds... leaving your H-Back slowly accelerating up field between the left sideline and the numbers. Remember that Strong Safety? Well he’s past the play, and there is no one over the top to limit the damage. So your H-Back sprints down the sideline as fast as he can go. But the experienced Free Safety already set an intercept course. At this point it’s a race of the leg and the hypotenuse.

Reminders for Players and Coaches

The two players merge on an all-out feat of foot work and gravity defiance as the Free Safety stretches it out in a desperation shoestring tackle. He trips up your H-Back. He makes a valiant attempt to keep his knees from hitting the ground, and the initial signal is a Touchdown. Of course the coach gets in the Quarterback’s ear hole and reminds him to stick to the “%*W@#$@ play call” instead of gun slinging, but the QB knows the results will sort of butter over that particular push of the rules.

Meanwhile, during the wait, replay and physics take their toll. It seems that your H-Back’s right knee cratered at the three yard line, with the ball hovering above the one. After some fussing and another timeout, the Referee comes out and announces that the play did not result in a touchdown, and the ball will be placed on the left hash at 1 yard line.

You’d have liked the TD, but it ended up being a great play and a solid call. You got your objective accomplished, which was moving the sticks in a critical situation. Then your players made a little bit of magic happen.

Time to Cash in the Luck

Time to take a breath, the long play and first down on the 1 also stopped the clock and you have a few seconds to gather yourself to figure out where you want to go to grab the most points possible on this next set of plays.


Golden Opportunity! 1 yard and a huge wide side on the natural arm side of the QB. What’s next?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    Set up a roll out to the right, Three near side patterns. Corner of the Endzone, under the right upright, and one in the front corner. Throw the open route.
    (19 votes)
  • 16%
    Straight drop back, Short fade in the left corner, Tight End under the left upright, and a flare to the right corner. Fake the fade throw the right corner.
    (7 votes)
  • 9%
    Straight drop (Same corner and seam routes) throw the left fade after pump faking the right corner.
    (4 votes)
  • 28%
    Straight drop, shovel pass to the Fullback through the A-Gap
    (12 votes)
42 votes total Vote Now

So, how do you get this done? What’s the set of probabilities to consider. You don’t have a ton of time to consider, and the only thing that you are really concerned about is that the QB seems to have a head of steam and looks to be doing a little riffing of his own.

It’s up to you. Six on this one or not?