We've long been told about Alex Ross' speed and have even been given glimpses of it from time to time. That was until last Saturday when the sophomore put his wheels on display when he sprinted 82 yards through the Tulsa defense. If you've been keeping up with our "Anatomy of a Play" posts then there are a couple of familiar things you'll see in this play. Let's see if you can recognize them.
If you picked out motion and Adam Shead blocking down field then you're a winner! Go ahead and pat yourself on the back...seriously...go ahead, we'll wait.
Now that we've got that taken care of let's look at the play itself and break it down.
What's absolutely great about this play is that Tulsa has seven defenders in the box specifically to stop the run. When you count the safety, lined up at the bottom right corner of the box, then the Golden Hurricane have committed eight players to the run on this play. Durron Neal is lined up at the top of the screen and his going in motion will result in a slight defensive shift.
With Neal in motion, corner Will Barrow signals to Austin McDaniel (bottom of the screen) of the switch. Barrow will pick up Sterling Shepard and McDaniel is supposed to pick up Neal. Both will go into a back pedal at the snap.
Notice that Tulsa still has seven in the box against the run plus two additional defensive backs. What doesn't make sense to me is that tight end Blake Bell in on the line at the bottom of the screen which means he would most likely have a linebacker covering him if he goes out on a pass, which is something to keep an eye on in the future.
Here's the textbook example of how to beat seven in the box. Center Ty Darlington is already engaged with middle linebacker Trent Martin, left guard Adam Shead is heading for C.J. Gooden, and right guard Tyler Evans is gunning for Mitchell Osborne. Anytime you can get offensive linemen on linebackers down field then you've put yourself in an advantageous situation. Alex Ross already has a lane at the line of scrimmage and is about to have the second level of the defense taken out.
Remember those seven guys lined up in the box? They're all removed from the play and Alex Ross is free to run untouched deep into the Tulsa secondary.
At this point it's a 70-yard sprint to the end zone. This freeze frame is the most telling of all because Ross is 13 yards down field from the line of scrimmage and is surrounded by the entire Tulsa secondary. Ross kicks it up a gear and shows off that speed we had all been hearing about.