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Film Room: QB Run Game Unveiled

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The South Carolina game was the official reveal of the robust quarterback run game we’ve been waiting for.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Here at Film Room we have spent much time and many words—an inordinate amount of time and excessive number of words, perhaps—discussing the quarterback run game. Prognosticating. Prophecizing. Predicting. Presuming. Presaging. And so on.

But now we have no need for my silly conjecturing: the South Carolina game provided some concrete information about offensive coordinator Derek Dooley’s vision for running Kelly Bryant. Dooley finally unleashed a quarterback run package worthy of analysis.

So let’s dig in.

Inside Zone Search

Up until last Saturday, the only read play on which Bryant had kept the ball was Inside Zone Search. We needn’t spend time here on the play; we looked at it carefully in my Wyoming piece.

Nevertheless, here is a diagram.

Inside Zone Search: the QB reads the backside while H back searches for the backside inside linebacker.

Against USCe, Bryant had a couple big runs on Search.

While generally productive, Inside Zone Search was not uniformly successful. Remember that loss of six on 4th and goal? That was a variation of Search.

The line blocks Inside Zone to the left and H back Dawson Downing (#28) attacks the backside inside linebacker.

The problem here is, of course, the read. The Gamecock defensive end shoots upfield, but he attacks Bryant’s upfield shoulder. This should be a give.

It’s a real shame Rountree didn’t get the ball, because it wasted a devastating block by right guard Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms (#75).

Take a look.

QB Counter Trap

QB CT GH with Swing fake

Thank you Jesus, it’s finally here! Back in early August I predicted that Dooley would run Bryant on the quarterback Counter Trap play. At the time I didn’t think I was going out on a limb based on the success Bryant had on the play at Clemson.

But we didn’t see QB Counter Trap for the first three weeks. On Saturday, however, Dooley deployed the play, and with his own little twist.

This is Counter Trap GH: the backside guard and H back are the pullers. This leaves the backside tackle to block the end man on the line of scrimmage (EMOL).

Here’s the twist: rather than have the running back fake a handoff away from the playside as Clemson did, Dooley puts him on a Swing route to the backside. Bryant’s little peek at the Swing is the misdirection. Look back at the effect the Swing has on the inside linebackers, baiting them well out of position.

Here is the play diagrammed.

Here is the same play run in the opposite direction, but with less success.

QB CT GT with run fake

Dooley also ran the GT version of Counter Trap where the guard and tackle are the pullers. In this case he kept a tight end on the backside to block the EMOL. The misdirection is provided by a run fake to the backside.

The most innovative aspect of the play design is that it calls for Bryant to breakdance at the end, which he does with a spirited headspin.

Diagram:

QB Counter Trap GT

And here’s a shot from behind the offense where we can really watch the blocking develop.

Conclusion, or, so how much should we want to see Bryant run?

Consider these stats:

  • Against USCe Bryant accounted for almost 40% of Mizzou’s total rushing yards.
  • In the first half, Larry Rountree and Tyler Badie averaged a listless 1.7 yards/carry. Compare this to Bryant’s healthy first-half average of 7.2 yards.
  • In the first quarter Rountree and Badie were especially anemic, averaging less than .6 yards/carry. Bryant’s average for the quarter: almost 3.7.
  • And another way to look at this: the Tigers running game put them off schedule throughout the first half: for the half they were 2nd and 9 nine times after a first down run play to the running back.

So, while the running backs spun their wheels in the early going, Bryant carried the Tiger run game on his back, along with would-be tacklers.

Running the quarterback, however, is a dicey proposition. Ideally you’d like to protect the Bryant’s health by limiting his exposure. And with the Tigers’ limited depth and experience, the risk is all the greater. Is leaning on Bryant’s legs a good choice, given the violence he will endure?

That’s a tough question.

My take in a nutshell: If you judge that running Bryant could be the difference between winning and losing, you’ve got to run him. You don’t get extra points for having him healthy at the game’s end.

So I say: let’s see #7 tote the rock early and often against Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia.