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Oklahoma Sooners Football: Lincoln & the Jets

OU made jet motion a staple of the Sooners’ offensive game plan last week versus Texas Tech.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

I love jet motion. It’s my favorite offensive concept in football. If loving jet motion is wrong, I don’t give a damn about being right.

It’s simple in execution: A split receiver runs across the formation parallel to the offensive line and remains in motion at the snap. Yet, it can have wide-ranging impacts on a defense – opening up the possibility of confusion and miscommunications and creating stress horizontally. Elegant and simultaneously devastating.

Oklahoma Sooners coach Lincoln Riley made jet motion a staple of his team’s offensive game plan last week in a 62-28 stomping of the Texas Tech Red Raiders. By my count, OU used it on 10 of 47 plays in the first half alone.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways OU deployed jet versus Tech and how they played out.

Jet Power

OU’s first jet play came on its opening offensive drive at the 11:57 mark of the first quarter, and it provided a template for what the Sooners would do the rest of the game.

Facing second down and 20 from its own 15 yard line, OU subbed in 21 personnel (two running backs and a tight end). With the ball on the right hash, RB Seth McGowan lined up as the H receiver in the slot to the wide side of the field. Quarterback Spencer Rattler lined up in a shotgun formation with the other RB, T.J. Pledger, next to him to the wide side of the field to his left. Theo Wease sets up as the X receiver to the field side of the formation. On the boundary side, Marvin Mims is playing the Z, while TE Austin Stogner lines up as a wing attached to the offensive line.

A signal from Rattler sends McGowan in motion all the way across the offensive line. McGowan pivots and starts back in the same direction from which he came. Rattler calls for the snap with McGowan still in motion, timing it so that the QB receives the ball before the motion player crosses in front of him. The blocking scheme is Power: Right guard Tyrese Robinson pulls left, while the other linemen block down to their right to seal off the three defensive linemen.

It’s not clear if this is a called give or if Rattler is reading the unblocked linebacker (No. 41), but McGowan takes the ball from Rattler at the mesh point on a dead sprint. He heads around the left end, with Pledger lead blocking for him.

The play results in an eight-yard gain. Importantly, Riley has planted an early seed in the minds of the Tech defenders that the Sooners will use jet to get the ball out on the run in space.

HB Iso

Here’s an example from later in the first quarter at the 5:37 mark as the Sooners are knocking on the door of the Tech end zone. The formation and personnel mirror the previous play, except Jeremiah Hall has replaced Stogner as the wing and Rhamondre Stevenson is lining up as the back next to Rattler.

With OU on Tech’s six yard line, the Red Raiders are crowding closer to the line of scrimmage. The Tech DB (No. 11) lined up across from McGowan is playing man coverage, so he tracks McGowan when McGowan sets in motion.

The play call is an Iso run for Stevenson, with Hall blocking the interior linebacker to the play side. So who has responsibility for blocking the nickel/outside LB (No. 10)? That’s where the jet comes in handy.

With McGowan sprinting horizontally to the field, the nickel initially flows with him toward the sideline. Therefore, the jet motion has effectively taken two defenders out of the play. By the time No. 10 reacts to Stevenson getting the ball, the OU RB is already well on his way to gliding into the end zone untouched.

QB Lead Draw

Let’s finish with a nasty wrinkle from the 7:17 mark of the second quarter. Nothing special about the initial formation.

The nickel lined up across from McGowan doesn’t track him when he goes in motion, so keep an eye on the two circled LBs.

Rattler fakes a give to Stevenson, which attracts the attention of the LBs.

Rattler opens to his right, indicating that he’s throwing to McGowan. That sends the LBs moving in the direction of McGowan in the flat.

Only problem for the Tech LBs: Rattler is actually running a lead draw, and they’ve been taken out of the play. OU’s QB keeps the ball and powers down to the Tech one.

Obviously it remains to be seen if Riley will continue deploying the jet motion concept with such frequency for the rest of the season. At the very least, however, he has given upcoming opponents one more thing to think about when game planning to slow down the OU offense.