Dirty Work Wednesday

Who’s ready for some fun? It’s our weekly look at the unsung but essential members of a successful college football team, the linemen, fullbacks, linebackers, and tight ends who carry out the dirty work.

Let’s start with a favorite, a fullback lead.

Thor with the Lead

This is a stretch play, each Aggie lineman is going to reach a man down to the field side, and Cullen Gillaspia’s going to lead into the space created once the play side guard gets a hook on his man while the play side tackle drives the end outside.

Gillaspia’s going to read the guard and adjust his path based on the hook. He then attacks the first player that shows at the second level. Trayveon Williams job is to get right on his hip. The role of a fullback in this instance is to act as a ball carrier and find the space.

Here Gillaspia executes a perfect cut block and actually occupies or slows down a second pursuer as well. Have you ever see the linebacker drill where a coach throws an oversized ball at the feet of a linebacker working parallel? That’s to defend against this type of takedown. Gillaspia gets to the defender's legs and knocks him down.

Bonus for Quartney Davis with the stalk block on the corner, proving that receivers, when prompted, can do a little dirty work too.

Counter Action

Sometimes a little subtle movement can be the difference between success and failure. Hence why counter plays, when executed properly, can create a ton of space.

Here’s a run by Loren Easly, set up by three great blocks.

Easley’s going to act as though this is a stretch to the field side. His action moves the linebackers to the field side just a bit. This allows center Sosaia Mose to get an angle on the Mike linebacker and lets tight end Kelvin Smith get upfield to lead on the other linebacker.

Manase Mose executes a great down block on the tackle, and Riley Mayfield lets the defensive end block himself. My philosophy has always been if a defender wants to block himself, by all means, let him. Easley is untouched for five yards and gets nine altogether.

The Mose brothers set a physical tone for the Mean Green font.

93 Yards Starts Up Front

We talked about subtle movement earlier, here’s an instance where motion moves Ohio State’s defense to create favorable angles for the TCU front.

TCU comes out with four wides, 2x2. The Horned Frogs bring motion to the field side, and Ohio State adjusts, shifting their strength to the three-receiver side and more importantly, Ohio State’s other inside linebacker moves to the center of the formation, allowing TCU to leverage.

The Frogs run zone read action as the line reaches. On the back side the Buckeyes run a scrape exchange, end Nick Bosa crashes the give while the linebacker comes off his hip and is there to take Shawn Robinson on the keep. Bosa comes within a hair of blowing this up from the back side, Lucas Niang gets just enough of him to keep the play credible.

TCU’s center Kelton Hollins executes an excellent combo block to allow the guard to get some leverage on the defensive tackle, then Hollins gets to the next level and seals the linebacker. Not all great blocks are pancakes and Hollins makes a great block to spring Anderson. The zone read action helps suck the linebacker in.

Five pieces moving in unison and springing the back for 93 yards.

If can’t beat’em knock’em down

Last clip and we highlighted this one last Saturday on gameday. This is UTEP’s Chris Richardson against Tennessee.

You know all those drills defensive linemen do to work to create space and arms, shoulders, and their heads free, this is why. Richardson puts on a clinic to get his shoulder clear and then creates havoc.

There’s a saying that all a camel has to do is get his nose into the tent, you can’t stop the rest of him from getting in. The same principle applies to splitting a double; once you get your head between the double, you’ve beaten it, now you just got to grind those legs and hips and split it.

Richardson frees his right shoulder with a great swim move, clears his head through the double and moves the pocket into the quarterback’s face. If you can’t get to the quarterback get your hands up, Richardson does just that and gets a deflection. Beautiful sequence.

The Roundup…