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Bend Don’t Break: A Defensive Series, Part Three

The thrilling conclusion of our look at a Mizzou defensive series against the Gamecocks.

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

Welcome back to Film Room’s analysis of Ryan Walters’ 2019 Tiger defense as it battles the South Carolina offense during a fifteen-play drive. We’re treating our anxiety about the state of the 2020 football season with heavy doses of analysis.

Let’s take another look at the Drive Summary before we begin.

We’re on play eleven, a second-and-seven from Mizzou’s 19 yard line, meaning that to this point the Gamecocks have moved the ball 56 yards in ten plays.

Play Eleven

Carolina puts a nub tight end into the boundary and a receiver in the backfield. Mizzou is in its Tite front.


The play is a Sweep with both guards pulling.

This is the blocking scheme.

Three Tigers are key to making this stop, and their names should be a surprise to no Mizzou fan: Cale Garrett (#47), Nick Bolton (#32), and Jordan Elliott (#1). Here are the paths these three took to the ball.

Elliott is pushed back initially, but recovers and crosses the face of his blocker, finding himself directly in the hole. Garrett and Bolton both knife inside their blockers and collaborate on the tackle.

No gain. Third-and-seven.

Play Twelve

Play twelve is kind of a bust, both by the Mizzou defense and the broadcast professionals. The camera makes it to the field just after the ball is snapped. The alignment diagram is my best guess.

Here’s the play.

This is a free safety A gap blitz, with Cover 0—man-to-man with no deep safety—behind it. Garrett is free of man coverage responsibility and hovers in the short zone.

Whatever we missed due to sloppy broadcast direction, what’s clear is that the result of the play is a first-and-goal from the Mizzou 10 yard line.

Play Thirteen

South Carolina shows a formation new to this drive, tight twins to each side. Missouri is in and even front, though it is difficult to tell what is going on besides that.


It appears the Tigers are having a difficult time getting organized before the ball is snapped. The coverage is quite strange.

The offensive call is a Spacing concept, with the receivers running Quick Curls and the RB swinging over top of them.

Notice that Nick Bolton is the deepest player on the right side of the defense. Both the corner and safety squat on the Curls. It would be a problem if either or both the receivers ran deep routes.

Second-and-goal from the five.

Play Fourteen

Carolina sets two tight ends on the left end of the line and sends the slot receiver in motion that way. Mizzou is in the Tite front.

With the only two wideouts to the right side, Walters sets both his corners there. All three safeties are on the heavy side of the formation.

The play.

The offensive call is Inside Zone to the left.

The nose tackle (I can’t make out who it is) takes up two blockers, leaving Bolton unblocked. Bolton, however, steps toward the Jet and loses his leverage. Cale Garrett once again slices underneath the H back who is arcing around for him. Akial Byers (#97) scrapes down the line to get a hat on the ball carrier.

Here’s the play again.

Third-and-goal from the 3.

Play Fifteen

Here’s the payoff!

The Gamecocks are in an unbalanced double-tight trips, the Tigers in their Tite front.

While there are only two split receivers, the corners are on opposite sides of the field unlike the previous play.

The linebackers and secondary are arranged in a “picket fence” alignment, straight across the goalline.

Playaction two-man route combination. Strong safety Ronnell Perkins (#3) steps in front of Hilinski’s pass and takes it the distance for a Tiger score.

The route combination is a Slant coming under a short Smash route. Hilinski is looking for the Smash to clear the safety so he can fit it into the Slant opening underneath. That’s not the way it plays out.

Corner DeMarkus Acy (#1) and Perkins are playing banjo coverage here: Acy takes whatever route breaks to the outside, and Perkins picks up the in-breaking route. Acy’s technique is suggestive: he turns his body inside, looking for whatever comes out to him. Once Perkins reads pass, his eyes turn outside—he sees the Slant, and he slides underneath it.

TD, good guys.


This concludes our analysis of the drive.

It also concludes my time here at RockMNation. I’ve really enjoyed writing for you and appreciate all of you, my readers. I hope I’ve offered some insight that makes watching the Tigers more enjoyable. Take care!