Texas State's offense struggles to score via conventional means, so the Bobcats pull out a bit of trickeration to put points on the board. The 'Cats put that penchant for a trick play on full display Saturday afternoon against New Mexico State. We decided to take a look at a few of the Bobcat's creative plays from the game.
Every defensive coach in America is teaching something called eye discipline. Imagine you're asked to follow someone through a busy crowd, if you lose focus and glance at your surroundings, chances are you'll lose your target for a split second and have to scramble to find him. That's why defensive coordinators preach eye discipline, don't get caught looking at the distraction. Every player in the defensive huddle has a responsibility in the run or pass game, ideally, if all eleven defenders are doing their job, they can cover, theoretically, the offense's options. From there it's a matter of running to the football, executing, and winning one on ones.
Here's Texas State's first score on Saturday, a reverse pass to tight end Gabe Schrade.
This is an interesting area of the field to run a trick play, but it works because the movement of the play forces New Mexico State to scramble and prevents them from trusting their eyes. Here the Bobcats send quarterback Damian Williams out to the field side receiver position. He's there to occupy the cornerback. Williams' absence leave Jaylin Nelson by himself in the backfield in a "wildcat" formation. New Mexico State will know that Nelson isn't a typical wildcat, Nelson played high school quarterback and competed for the job at Texas State before a position change to running back. The Bobcats further the deception by aligning Schrade and fellow tight end Elijah Rogers to the boundary side with two receivers. They're declaring the strength of the formation and New Mexico State has to account for the personnel. We preach the phrase personnel matters because it's true. Two tight ends in a wildcat formation create a tendency, a probable run.
Hutch White is your slot receiver on the boundary side, for several weeks White has been the most effective quarterback on Texas State's campus. White's already thrown a touchdown pass this season; he's about to throw a second.
Nelson takes the snap hands the ball the White on a reverse, and from this point forward the operation is basically a bootleg action to the field side, something the Aggies have seen tons of times in practice. Still, Nelson's alignment and the two tight ends make the Aggies more aware of the run, and they crash to the boundary. Schrade slips across the formation and into the flat, part of three crossing routes coming for the boundary to the field side.
The safety is in no man's land. You can see the moment he as that "oh shit" moment. He jumps back to cover Rogers, leaving Schrade open for the score. Let's not blame #19; the end zone view shows you how difficult maintaining eye discipline can be when everything is moving to and from tendency. But that's the nature of these "gimmick" plays, to make defenders chase ghosts and put themselves into untenable positions.
Speaking of that, here's another score, this one on a reverse to the talented Tyler Watts.
Texas State comes out in 10 personnel, one back, four receivers. New Mexico State plays aggressively at the line with all eleven defenders within seven yards of the line of scrimmage. On the snap, Williams hands the ball to the back who hands it to a reversing Watts.
The backside defensive end sees a runaway read from a back and no one blocking him, he's taught to get upfield, deep as the deepest offensive player to take away the bootleg, the rollout, or the reverse. He plays it correctly, but the reverse action acts as a vacuum, pulling everyone else to the boundary side and leaving a lane for Watts. Watch the backside linebacker, we circle him, he's got the run fit here, and he flies out chasing one of ten Bobcats who don't have the ball.
Defenses teach pursuit drills ad nauseam, the idea being to teach defender to run to the football and do so at proper angles. Tyler Watts is fast, and the Aggie safety takes a poor angle to the ball. We all think we're faster than we are.
Details, details, details, matter and Texas State masters them with three great downfield blocks, including a pancake downfield by Eric Luna and an excellent cut by Nic Foster. Those blocks give Watts the green grass needed to showcase his speed and put a DB into the spin cycle.
Last one, and it's not as exhaustive a read you'll be happy to know.
Here's Jaylin Nelson again, the former quarterback turned running back. The action here is simple; they bring Nelson across from the boundary side on a jet sweep look. New Mexico State blitzes into the field side with a corner or safety; we think it's a corner. This tactic almost works, but Nelson alters his path and looks like a running back, two hands on the ball, etc.
While all that's going on, Caleb Twyford, the slot receiver on the field side fakes a stalk block on the defensive back and the defensive back crashes. As a general rule of thumb, if someone looks like they want to block you and then sprints upfield, maybe follow them. Instead, everyone crashes on Nelson who reveals the ruse and delivers a great throw to Twyford. Nelson and Twyford are both true freshman by the way.
The Bobcats came up short against New Mexico State, but their offensive creativity gave Texas State a chance to stay in the game down the stretch.