Alabama scored with about two minutes left in the first quarter to take a 14-0 lead on Virginia Tech. On the following drive, the Hokies’ Trey Edmunds ran right through the Alabama defense for a 77 yard score.
Was this a botched play by the defense or just a stellar effort by the Va Tech offense? Let’s take a look to find out.
It’s first and 10 for the Hokies on the 23 yard line. The Tide is lined up with three down lineman – Dalvin Tomlinson (54), Brandon Ivory (99) and Jeoffrey Pagan (8) (left to right). C.J. Mosley (32) and Trey Depriest (33) are the inside linebackers and Denzell Devall (30) is playing stand up jack linebacker. Deion Belue (13) and John Fulton (10) are the cornerbacks and Vinnie Sunseri (3) and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (6) are the safeties. Jarrick Williams (20) is in as an extra defensive back (or fourth linebacker), but he walks up to near the line of scrimmage.
Virginia Tech lines up in the pistol formation, with no tight end, an H-back and two receivers lined wide right. It’s worth noting that the inside receiver is covered up by the outside receiver and would not have been eligible to catch a pass.
At the snap, ‘Bama linemen Tomlinson (54) and Ivory (99) slant to the strong-side (i.e. right). Pagan (8) comes across the line and engages the tackle. Williams (20) comes into the offensive backfield to play the option. Mosley (32) fills the hole on the play-side, while Depriest (33) stays at home.
Offensively, several key things happen. One, the right tackle engages Tomlinson (54), who is slanting, and uses this momentum to totally wash Tomlinson inside and completely out of the play. The right guard blocks Depriest and sticks to him like velcro. The center plays Ivory (99) exactly like the right tackle plays Tomlinson: he uses the momentum of the slant to take Ivory out of the play. The left guard picks up jack Devall (30) and the right tackle engages Pagan (8). The fullback meets Mosley (32) in the hole.
Tomlinson (54) has been completely washed inside. Mosley (32) fills the play-side hole, but he fullback blocks him and pushes him outside. This creates the perfect hole for the speedy Edmunds to burst through.
Once Edmunds hits the third level, he’s off to the races. Safety Clinton-Dix (6) is supposed to provide over-the-top help, but has been pulled to the left side enough to prevent him from catching Edmunds on the fly.
So What Went Wrong? Three main things:
1) Tomlinson’s momentum from the slant is used against him and he’s pushed way too far inside. I’m not sure exactly what he should do, but at the snap he should have read the tackle’s direction stayed in position.
2) Depriest has to stay at home and read his keys, but he gets 100% blocked by the right guard. Because he’s blocked, he can’t read the play, scrape and stuff the run after a several yard gain.
3) Clinton-Dix gets pulled over too far left and can’t get back in time to catch Edmunds.
You also have to give a lot of credit for the play call by Virginia Tech and their execution of the play. The right side of the line, plus the fullback, make outstanding blocks. It’s also a great play to call versus a slanting line.