We’ve finished our six-part series on the Drinkwitz offense, and I thought it might be worthwhile to see how the elements we identified came together in Appalachian State’s New Orleans Bowl win over UAB.
Of course Coach Drinkwitz has been busy preparing his Mizzou Tigers for 2020 and beyond, and didn’t coach the Mountaineers in The Big Easy. It is clear, however, that the App State offense on display in New Orleans was a continuation of Drink’s own attack. All the hallmarks we looked at in the series were there: Inside Zone, heavy doses of Outside Zone, Coach Drink’s favored Quick and Dropback pass concepts, and his Screen game. (Interim head coach Shawn Clark opted for only one Bootleg play, which resulted in a throwaway. It is the one offensive facet we identified in the introduction series that is unrepresented here.)
Let’s look at some plays from the NoLa Bowl.
Loyal readers will remember that in our introductory series I described Coach Drinkwitz’s run game in terms of building blocks. Each play is assembled from as many as three blocks: scheme, motion, and H back assignment. Almost all Drink’s run plays are from the Zone family, specifically Inside and Outside Zone. Motions he uses to complement his runs are Jet and Orbit motions. And there are many H back assignments he can tag, among them Lead on a playside or backside inside linebacker, Arc on an alley player, Wham on the backside edge player, and Search, which we will see in our first example.
The Mountaineers ran Inside Zone three times, with quarterback Zac Thomas pulling the ball on each occasion. These were the two most successful of those plays.
Inside Zone Search
Zone Search is a read play in which the H back crosses the formation against the grain of the run, searching out the backside inside linebacker or safety.
Inside Zone H Arc with Orbit motion
Here Orbit motion and an H arc block are attached to an Inside Zone scheme. The handoff/pull read is the defensive tackle, and the free safety is the pitch read. The Orbit man reverses course in the backfield, and becomes the option pitch man.
True to Drinkwitz form, the Mountaineers were relentless in pounding UAB with Outside Zone. Once again, we’ll look at the way these plays were cobbled together from the building blocks we’ve established. But let’s begin with two simple, untagged versions of the play.
Outside Zone H Lead backside
Here the H back is assigned to the backside inside linebacker, allowing the backside of the line to block their backside gaps.
Outside Zone Wham
The Wham tag sends the H back across the formation, against the grain of the run action, to kick out the backside end man on the line of scrimmage.
Outside Zone with Jet motion
Jet motion adds an element of misdirection, with the motion man faking a Jet sweep away from the Outside Zone.
Outside Zone with Orbit motion
As we saw in the introduction series, the Jet motion building block was most frequently paired with Outside Zone plays, with Orbit motions usually tagged to Inside Zone. Against UAB, however, App State used Orbit motion going away from Outside Zone on several snaps.
Outside Zone Wham with Orbit motion
Finally we have a play that fits together three building blocks: Outside Zone + Orbit motion + H Wham.
Drink’s RPO game is built around the Outside Zone series. Here are two RPOs that ask the quarterback to choose between Outside Zone and a backside Slant.
The QB reads the backside inside linebacker as he rides the running back. If the LB drops or sits, the QB hands off. If the LB attacks the run, the QB pulls the ball and throws to the Slant route.
This play features a double Slant on the backside.
In the New Orleans Bowl we saw almost all the quick pass concepts we identified in our introductory series: Double Slants, Spacing Twist, and Fade/Out.
In the introduction series we identified four main dropback concepts of which Coach Drink made frequent use: Mesh, Shallow Cross/Drive, Y Cross, and Double Post. In their bowl game, the Mountaineers ran Shallow Cross/Drive and Y Cross.
The lack of Double Post calls suggests a less aggressive mindset than the Mountaineers had with Coach Drinkwitz, though App State did hit some vertical throws on the dropbacks they ran.
The Drive concept is similar to the Shallow Cross. The only difference is that the Shallow Cross and the Dig come from the same side.
Y Cross was the most-utilized dropback concept in the Drinkwitz-called games I looked at, and it was the concept most frequently called in the New Orleans Bowl as well.
I first saw this next version of Y Cross run by Oklahoma. Personally, I love the concept because it includes the Now Screen-Go as the frontside read.
(Quick Screens such as the Now are important for contstraining the defense as it defends the run game. Quick Screen-Gos protect the Quick Screens, so it is important to carry both.)
In our introduction we focused on the RB Slow Screen and Jailbreak Screen as the most important elements of Coach Drink’s screen game. The Mountaineers didn’t call Jailbreak in The Crescent City. Instead, we saw a running back Swing Screen.
The RB Slow Screen was also on display.
QB Sneak Fumblerooskie
There is one more play that I believe is worth looking at.
Please, please Coach Drink, install this play at Mizzou!
In Coach Drinkwitz’s absence, Appalachian State executed a very Drink-like gameplan. I hope seeing these plays come together in a single game gives us a small sense of what upcoming Mizzou games might look like—especially since it was a win!