We're cracking the lid back open on some of the most significant plays of the 2017 season, starting with UTSA's epic fourth and two stop in Waco that gave the Roadrunners their first P5 win in program history. Let's take a gander at the stop heard round 1604.
UTSA leads by seven, Baylor is driving, inside the Roadrunner 20 when fourth and two comes around. With just over two minutes to play in the 3rd quarter, Matt Rhule decides to roll the dice and go for it. UTSA's defense stifled Rhule's offense for almost three full quarters and after a loss to Liberty, Baylor needs a spark. UTSA is seeking its first ever win over a Power Five opponent and beating an in-state opponent could help define Frank Wilson's program.
Baylor comes out in "22" personnel, two back, two tight ends, and one receiver. One of the tight ends is former Baylor basketballer Ish Wainwright who is playing in his second collegiate football game after making the transition to the gridiron. Converted linebacker Kyle Boyd is at fullback, and true freshman John Lovett is the back dotting the "I."
Anu Solomon is the quarterback, he's under-tall and spent most of his life in the shotgun for Rich Rod's Arizona spread offense. As a grad transfer, he's making his second start for Baylor, and in those two starts, he's probably tripled the number of snaps he took from under center.
UTSA is going heavy, six men on the line, blitzing, cutting down space, there are ten players within seven yards of the football. The Roadrunners deploy one corner and three safeties. On the interior, UTSA positions over 800 pounds of humanity to stop the run with King Newton joining Kevin Strong Jr. and Baylen Baker. They are all looking at a college football unicorn in Baylor's "I" formation. In short yardage against a heavy personnel package, the fullback, generally, takes you to the ball, so linebacker Josiah Tauaefa is keying him, so apparently are the safeties.
At the snap, everyone, and I mean everyone, on UTSA's defense crashes the line of scrimmage. Baylor, perhaps anticipating that aggressiveness, runs the old play action to the tight end, initially a one receiver route with Wainwright sneaking out into the flat and at first it's open.
Timing is critical in these scheme plays. Chances are Solomon's run this action, under center play action, turning his back to the play, very few times. It's a stone-cold lock that Wainwright never ran this play for Scott Drew's basketball squad. The timing is off because when Solomon is ready to deliver the ball, Wainwright isn't looking and by the time Wainwright looks, Solomon has already double clutched.
The play was close to delivering a crushing blow to the Roadrunners. The UTSA safeties, eager to make a game-winning stop, momentarily disregarded their man coverage responsibilities to get downhill. You can see Carl Austin's "oh crap" moment when he realizes that Wainwright's cleared and stacked both him and fellow UTSA defender Andrew Martel.
Wainwright ran free downfield, but Solomon wasn't comfortable making the throw. Part of that reason might have been the NBA Power Forward sized Marcus Davenport careening towards him, but Solomon eats the ball.
Something interesting happens away from the boundary that once again could've ruined UTSA's evening in Waco. While the fullback, the tailback, and Wainwright went towards the boundary, the second tight end snuck out to the field side where no one was waiting for him. If Solomon had the presence of mind to set up instead of continuing into the boundary, his second tight end was all by himself.
Instead, Marcus Davenport literally ragdolled the freshman Lovett, who was somehow given the task of blocking Davenport one on one. Solomon ends up in the Bermuda Triangle of Pain with La'Kel Bass, Josiah Tauaefa, and Davenport all closing to make an eight-yard tackle for loss.
UTSA gets the ball on downs and holds on for a historic win in Waco.