If you'd like to simulate Texas State linebacker Frankie Griffin's energy level, give your seven-year-old a handful of pixie stix and set them loose in the yard. They'll be all over, in the street, up a tree, chasing the dog, and hopefully not setting fire to anything. That's how Frankie Griffin plays the game, well, minus the fires.
Need someone to rush the passer? Send Frankie. Need a guy to fit on the run? Frankie's your guy. Need someone to cover? Set Frankie loose. Need someone to deliver a hit? Frankie does that too.
The rising senior from Klein Collins came into his own in Randall McCray's 3-4 as an outside linebacker. When Chris Woods showed up to take over the Bobcat defense a few months ago, Griffin started to jump off the film at him. Woods told The San Marcos Daily Records Nick Castillo, "The guy that’s really flashing every day and making plays is Frankie Griffin. I remember when I interviewed with coach Withers, I said, ‘Man, that 18, dude, he’s maybe the best guy here’ because he flashes all over the place."
Woods nailed it. Griffin does flash everywhere. We thought we'd highlight a few of his different talents with a quick film study. Let's start with a pop vs. New Mexico State.
If you can't tackle in space, you can't play defense in today's game. Offenses are designed to get skill players into clean, green grass and force you to tackle them. Here Texas State is defending a third and long; they're playing a sticks coverage, lined up right at the first down line. The Aggies complete the ball underneath, and Griffin closes the distance, keeps his feet moving, gets big, and plants his facemask into the receiver's sternum.
Here he is rushing the passer against big, bad, defending PAC 12 South champ Colorado.
This is another third and long. Griffin is coming on a blitz from the boundary side. The end engages the tackles, and the guard shuffles out to help the back with the blitzer, Griffin. A couple of things happen quickly here, and it's either great coaching or great instincts. First Griffin widens upfield, just briefly to make the back commit to a wider position. In pass pro, on an edge rusher, backs are taught to work inside out to make the rusher take a longer loop. Griffin feigns an outside rush and then executes another instinctual or coached move, he gets small. He takes his play side shoulder and dips in between the guard and back to give them less mass to target and works his head and hips into the gap.
Last clip and this is our favorite.
Here again, it's an advantageous down and distance for Texas State, the Aggies are in second and long. New Mexico State brings motion across the formation and Griffin goes with it. He's clearly in a man key, a linebacker against a receiver. That's a mismatch most days, but here Griffin again closes the distance and gets onto the receiver's shoulder and becomes his shadow. Hell, he becomes his siamese twin. Notice as the ball arrives, and it's not a poorly thrown ball, Griffin turns his head and locates it. Nick Saban would love those ball skills. Griffin makes the athletic play to knock the ball away and force a third and long.
Keep number eighteen fresh in mind when you watch the Bobcats next fall. Chances are he'll be around the ball.