So no F Double today. I’m learning some things about this Big 12 and one is that it’s going to take some time to get places. In order to get to Austin, I have to get to San Antonio first and since I want to get to Austin at a decent time, I have to leave early.
I’m already in the air by now on my second flight bound for San Antonio as you read this and with the way these weeks stack up now, I knew yesterday I wasn’t going to have time to do F Double properly.
Can’t promise you it won’t be the same story next week, but I’ll just try to use this past week as a learning experience and get a little better next week. This week won’t make be a worse blogger. In the long run, I think we’ll look back and see at it as a blessing.
Moving on, I’d be happy to hear your thoughts on the game and likely game plans and ideas you’ll see in play or whatever Gus Johnson drinking games you’ll have on the table.
Keep an eye on WVU’s five-receiver set, though. It debuted last week — and I mean debut in the sense there were five receivers and not four with a running back — but was a Baylor ploy because of the way the Mountaineers saw the Bears defending empty backfields.
Doesn’t necessarily mean WVU will do this against Texas because Texas might have a better and thus discouraging tactic to defend it. But it’s at least another caliber of weapon in WVU’s arsenal because it looks and works so well. And Shawne Alston isn’t traveling to Austin or playing in the game, so WVU is again without its full range of running backs and might have to think outside the box again.
Here’s a five-play package from the game. It’s not the entirety of WVU’s usage, but it’s a broad sampling and it’s in chronological order and both matter.
The first play shows you the trick and the treat. Baylor had not seen Stedman lined up as an inside receiver, so that had to screw up some assignments — and afterward Geno said he could tell Baylor was confused and conflicted.
Yet Tavon is also an inside receiver. He’s in the slot at the top of the screen and Bailey is in the slot at the bottom. Baylor rushes three, so it’s 8-on-5 and you’d think the Bears would have the advantage. WVU has time, though, and watch Geno progress through the play.
There are basically three safeties and they all drop, so now it’s 5-on-5 underneath. Two Baylor defenders take Tavon and Geno has time to find J.D. Woods, who realized he was uncovered and sat down in an open spot and availed himself.
The second one is the very next play. Same personnel for both teams but this time Baylor does something tricky — and this may be what WVU noticed and wanted to exploit, for all we know. There’s a blitz, but it’s a faux blitz. Two of the three defensive linemen drop into coverage and three linebackers rush. It’s 4-on-5, but the dropping linemen create gaps … for both teams.
The linebackers get through and Geno has to go. The middle is vacated because the defensive ends went out wide to cover and they do get under the quick throws Geno might look for against a blitz. But Geno makes the right decision and runs and, hey, look who’s chasing Geno across the sticks — the defensive ends.
The third play doesn’t work, but it’s on film. WVU has almost exclusively thrown the hot potato pass to Tavon. It goes to Stedman here. Can’t believe Baylor anticipated that. Wrinkles! Also, tough catch-and-pass by Geno.
The last two plays really highlight the value of the package and kind of discount the idea it’s for Stedman. The set spreads the defense out and puts those safeties and linebackers in tough, tough spots against guys like Tavon — or Stedman. You’re going to be either in 1-on-1 coverage in spots or you’re going to let one or both of them run free in a zone.
On the first, Baylor blitzes again and WVU catches Baylor in a blitz again, which makes me certain WVU thought Baylor would pressure five-receiver sets and WVU would win those downs. This is a simple play against the blitz, but the safety can’t make the tackle. WVU would take the short gain, but also knows Tavon is good enough to make this bigger and better than a short gain.
The fifth play is similar but the defense is different. Three men rush with a zone behind it and WVU is going to win that one more often than not. Tavon started on the left side, challenged the linebacker heading right, but saw space and arched back left and Geno threw him open.
Again, tough to say if WVU will go with this Saturday because it was made to sound like it was for Baylor only. Yet it worked and Dana is a smart man who likes things that work. I wonder if WVU will let Texas roll with its two corners, Byndom and Diggs, and safety, Vaccaro, manned against WVU’s three receivers.
Incorporate more receivers, especially without Alston, and spread out the Longhorns and maybe spot and target some mismatches.