Yesterday we looked at UTSA's Marcus Davenport and his near singlehanded destruction of Rice's offense. History is written by the winners, but not in this case. We wanted to highlight one of our favorite players in the 2017 season, Rice outside linebacker Brian Womac. Womac didn't destroy UTSA's offense, but he got pretty close. Let's take a look at the senior from Houston Memorial.
A few quick stats to get out of the way, Womac is 6-2, 250 pounds and thriving in Brian Stewart's newly incorporated 3-4, attacking defense. On Saturday night Womac tallied nine tackles, three sacks, four tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry. His eight sacks in 2017 are fourth nationally. Womac is the definition of a high motor guy, but don't let that designation undermine his natural athletic ability, he's a plus athlete for his size who's smart and won't quit. More on that later.
First, let's look at one of Womac's three sacks.
Here's a snap sack. Womac is playing his natural outside linebacker position, and he's coming. He makes this sack off the snap, by that we mean he gets a great jump and before the tackle gets into his set, he's beat. Once Womac leverages the tackles he takes his play side arm and shoulder and rips through to turn the corner and UTSA's quarterback is toast. This is a freshman left tackle, and it shows. He drops his head, bends at the waist, doesn't kick step, loses his arms and puts a bullseye on the quarterback. It doesn't matter because Womac is gone anyway, but the technique issue creates an expressway to the blindside.
Womac has beaten some of the best left tackles in football including Brian O'Neill at Pitt who is an NFL lineman.
Here's Womac in coverage.
Coverage is a Bermuda triangle for a lot of college linebackers; they tend to get lost. Most are a liability, and a chosen few are competent. Rice runs a cover two zone, Womac has the boundary flat. Playing zone is an active endeavor. Still, a lot of linebackers drop dutifully to their zone responsibility, stand at attention with their head on a pike. They may as well be guarding Buckingham Palace. A competent zone drop involves understanding where your coverage risk is coming from, using your eyes to locate threats, staying in an athletic position and moving as though an amoeba with the rest of the zone.
Here Womac gets to his responsibility, doesn't trail the boundary wideout once they vacate, keep his head up and the closes distance. Eating up grass is critical against these routes. Womac has to close the distance between himself and the back out of the backfield right now. He does so and executes a form tackle that would make Nick Saban feel all warm and tingly. That's a tough open field play, and Womac makes it look easy.
Alright, one more sack. We aren't showing all of them, have we mentioned that?
You know what makes us all warm and tingly? Moving elite defenders around the formation. Why let the offense have the schematic advantage of knowing where your assassin is going to stand? Brian Stewart moves Womac inside, over the guard, flexes out the defensive end and gives UTSA a different look. Off the snap Womac comes at the right guard, lets the guard commit and get over his cleats, then Womac swims him. I don't think the guard knows where Womac is until film session on Sunday. Again, it's a bad set and a waist bend, but Womac shows the versatility to swim past it and make a play. It's a beautifully executed technique.
Last play and this is why we love the term High Motor for Brian Womac.
We love thinking about situational football, both game specific, but also what motivates teams week to week based on their situation. When you watch this play, remember, Rice is a 1-5 football team. They've been dragged halfway around the globe to take a whipping. The Owl offense is inept. The Rice defense trotted out onto the field on four consecutive series two weeks ago after their offense turned the ball over to Army. They're banged up, pissed, and they know whoever they play is going to be better on paper.
All Brian Womac does is run from the backside and chase down a back 73 yards downfield. That's a high motor guy. That's why Brian Womac is so talented. He combines natural ability with a work ethic and motor that won't let him quit.