Diagnosing one play

NCHawkeye24

HR All-State
Apr 19, 2021
635
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I know there are a lot of plays to analyze, but there was one play in particular that had it all. Play call, scheme, formation, execution, read; it was all there. It is on Iowa's first drive, 2nd and goal from the 9. It ended in a 1 yard loss with a little inside flip to LaPorta, but, there is so much more to it than that.

Formation: Spencer in shotgun, Bruce in the backfield to his right. Ragaini far left with, Brecht far right. Lachey on the LOS on the right with LaPorta off the line to his right. The unbalanced formation made the linebackers shade to the tight end side, and with a single high safety, it left Brecht in man coverage on the right with his corner playing 7 yards off of him and Ragaini man coverage on the left with his corner playing 10 yards off of him. I love the formation and the personnel because it put all of the playmakers in their best spots and the tall QB can see over the top of the defense to read what the safety is going to do.

Motion and pre-snap read: So we send Ragaini in motion to the right and Illinois responds by rotating the single high safety with him and the left corner rotated into the safety position. Now, at this point the only contain the Illinois had on the left was the defensive end, which you would think should have been the next read because we know that we are going to counter Bruce to that side of the field post-snap as well as LaPorta. To me breaking it down, the defensive end is all that mattered.

Play-call: It was a great play call because we were in control up to the snap. Illinois was forced to respond to what we were doing and they responded in a very predictible way. I love everything about this play up to this point.

Snap: Bruce breaks to the left and Spencer shows the ball to him with this run option. Before Bruce ever gets to Spencer, the defensive end crashes to the inside to engage the pulling right guard and never had his eyes in the backfield.

Execution: As soon as Spencer saw the defensive end crash, he should have handed the ball off to Bruce who would have been in a foot race with the single safety to the pylon. He either scores or gets really close. But Spencer kept the ball who fooled nobody because there was really nobody to fool as the defensive end was already engaged. Instead Spencer flipped it to a pulling LaPorta who tried to turn it up inside the left tackle. However, the gap was much tighter because of the crashing defensive end, Richman totally gets beat on his block, Stephens, the right guard gets beat on his block (in his defense he was blocking someone he didnt think he had to as the defensive end shouldnt have been there) and the result is there were two defenders standing all alone at the line of scrimmage waiting for LaPorta.

Analysis: This play really stands out to me because of the all the elements within it. Like I said above, I love everything about the play up until the snap. But the first thing that I really question is the read. Was this play designed to be a read-and-react play or were we dead set no matter what that we were going to flip it to LaPorta? That question alone is the basis to why this offense is not very good. If this was a designed read-option play, then Spencer is at fault here because he totally failed to make the right play with the very obvious key he would have had. If it was not a read-option play, then we are expecting to be able to "guess" as to what the defense is going to do in the huddle, which seems incredibly difficult to do, which would show to me that the OC is not doing a very good job. But in this particular play, it is not both, it is one or the other.

The other thing it shows me is that we have zero confidence in throwing to a receiver with single man coverage. Ragaini could have stayed where he was and not went in motion and Spencer would have had 2 options on the edges. Is this because we have no faith in our WR's to make a play? Is it because we have no faith in Spencer to make the throw? Both? Either way, this is a glaring weakness that makes things very difficult for us to do anything in the box because there are so many defenders there.

My take: To be an effective offense, you need to be able to counter anything the defense shows you. If you can't, if there is even one weakness, it will be exploited and you will not be very good. Any good offense, college or pro, would have thrown to either of the wide receivers with both of them being manned up with a single safety. Not complicated. You can throw the fade, a fade-stop, a curl, a break to the pylon, or even just get it out quick and see if he can make a play and beat the corner. When this is successful the OC looks brilliant. But we dont do that so we have to scheme everything, which is much much harder. In this case, if Spencer missed his read on the defensive end, then that answers the question of what is the upside of playing another QB. The upside is that we have a QB that makes the right decisions based on the keys he is given. But, if Spencer was not supposed to read anything post-snap and the RPO action was just for show, then we seriously need to look at the upside of a new OC because most high schools can execute post-snap read options.
 
Feb 13, 2005
12,462
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In his press conference, Brian said it was a designed read-option. So Spencer just made the wrong decision.

Q. The one Arland was in the backfield and there was a shovel pass. Was that the quarterback's read there, or was that always going to be a shovel?

BRIAN FERENTZ: It's a read play, so there is an option there to hand the ball off. We chose to shovel, and obviously, it didn't end the way we wanted.

We would have liked to score a touchdown, but the good news is we maintained possession of the ball.



Video of the play:

 
Last edited:

ShonnDeereGreene

HR All-State
Jun 8, 2022
590
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Weird - Petras making the wrong decision…

Asking the least athletic, least decisive, slowest, and frankly least capable QB in the nation to run that play is questionable. You have to just hope he accidentally makes the right play because anything done with intention is likely going to be the wrong choice.
 
Feb 13, 2005
12,462
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Thanks for the analysis. That play stood out to me as well. Why put Petras in a read-option when he has almost zero experience doing so? He even looks to his left and sees a wide open field? Seems like he was already predetermined to flip it.

It's not that hard of a play for the QB to execute. He's got one read there: see what the DE does.
  • If DE crashes --> hand off to RB
  • If DE does not crash --> pitch to TE
If you can't trust your QB to make that read and execute, I don't know how you trust your QB to make any reads after the snap. And that's been a glaring issue for Petras for 3 years. He knows the playbook better than anyone. He probably makes pre-snap reads better than anyone. But when the ball is hiked in a real game, he does not make good decisions.
 

Greenway4Prez

HR Legend
Jan 10, 2005
24,192
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You could also hope for the line to at least check the incoming defensive end..
But that’s the plus of running that kind of play with a poor OL. The DE can’t go after two people, so even if you mess up blocking him, the play still has a chance so long as your inexperienced, 5th-year, just-needs-more-reps QB makes the correct, and EASY, decision.

When people wonder “What can we do in offense with a line this bad?!” This. This is what you can do. Apparently none of our QB’s can make correct 50/50 decisions.
 

ObeseMuffins

HR MVP
Jan 7, 2007
1,617
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It's not that hard of a play for the QB to execute. He's got one read there: see what the DE does.
  • If DE crashes --> hand off to RB
  • If DE does not crash --> pitch to TE
If you can't trust your QB to make that read and execute, I don't know how you trust your QB to make any reads after the snap. And that's been a glaring issue for Petras for 3 years. He knows the playbook better than anyone. He probably makes pre-snap reads better than anyone. But when the ball is hiked in a real game, he does not make good decisions.

Pretty sad how far our offense has fallen. A program that is known to be have elite execution and discipline - is well...not
 
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VodkaSam

HR All-American
Gold Member
Sep 28, 2013
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You have to just hope he accidentally makes the right play because anything done with intention is likely going to be the wrong choice.

Maybe Spencer just needs to do the exact opposite of his first instinct?
george costanza ladies GIF
 

DodgerHawki

HR Legend
Nov 19, 2002
10,085
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I know there are a lot of plays to analyze, but there was one play in particular that had it all. Play call, scheme, formation, execution, read; it was all there. It is on Iowa's first drive, 2nd and goal from the 9. It ended in a 1 yard loss with a little inside flip to LaPorta, but, there is so much more to it than that.

Formation: Spencer in shotgun, Bruce in the backfield to his right. Ragaini far left with, Brecht far right. Lachey on the LOS on the right with LaPorta off the line to his right. The unbalanced formation made the linebackers shade to the tight end side, and with a single high safety, it left Brecht in man coverage on the right with his corner playing 7 yards off of him and Ragaini man coverage on the left with his corner playing 10 yards off of him. I love the formation and the personnel because it put all of the playmakers in their best spots and the tall QB can see over the top of the defense to read what the safety is going to do.

Motion and pre-snap read: So we send Ragaini in motion to the right and Illinois responds by rotating the single high safety with him and the left corner rotated into the safety position. Now, at this point the only contain the Illinois had on the left was the defensive end, which you would think should have been the next read because we know that we are going to counter Bruce to that side of the field post-snap as well as LaPorta. To me breaking it down, the defensive end is all that mattered.

Play-call: It was a great play call because we were in control up to the snap. Illinois was forced to respond to what we were doing and they responded in a very predictible way. I love everything about this play up to this point.

Snap: Bruce breaks to the left and Spencer shows the ball to him with this run option. Before Bruce ever gets to Spencer, the defensive end crashes to the inside to engage the pulling right guard and never had his eyes in the backfield.

Execution: As soon as Spencer saw the defensive end crash, he should have handed the ball off to Bruce who would have been in a foot race with the single safety to the pylon. He either scores or gets really close. But Spencer kept the ball who fooled nobody because there was really nobody to fool as the defensive end was already engaged. Instead Spencer flipped it to a pulling LaPorta who tried to turn it up inside the left tackle. However, the gap was much tighter because of the crashing defensive end, Richman totally gets beat on his block, Stephens, the right guard gets beat on his block (in his defense he was blocking someone he didnt think he had to as the defensive end shouldnt have been there) and the result is there were two defenders standing all alone at the line of scrimmage waiting for LaPorta.

Analysis: This play really stands out to me because of the all the elements within it. Like I said above, I love everything about the play up until the snap. But the first thing that I really question is the read. Was this play designed to be a read-and-react play or were we dead set no matter what that we were going to flip it to LaPorta? That question alone is the basis to why this offense is not very good. If this was a designed read-option play, then Spencer is at fault here because he totally failed to make the right play with the very obvious key he would have had. If it was not a read-option play, then we are expecting to be able to "guess" as to what the defense is going to do in the huddle, which seems incredibly difficult to do, which would show to me that the OC is not doing a very good job. But in this particular play, it is not both, it is one or the other.

The other thing it shows me is that we have zero confidence in throwing to a receiver with single man coverage. Ragaini could have stayed where he was and not went in motion and Spencer would have had 2 options on the edges. Is this because we have no faith in our WR's to make a play? Is it because we have no faith in Spencer to make the throw? Both? Either way, this is a glaring weakness that makes things very difficult for us to do anything in the box because there are so many defenders there.

My take: To be an effective offense, you need to be able to counter anything the defense shows you. If you can't, if there is even one weakness, it will be exploited and you will not be very good. Any good offense, college or pro, would have thrown to either of the wide receivers with both of them being manned up with a single safety. Not complicated. You can throw the fade, a fade-stop, a curl, a break to the pylon, or even just get it out quick and see if he can make a play and beat the corner. When this is successful the OC looks brilliant. But we dont do that so we have to scheme everything, which is much much harder. In this case, if Spencer missed his read on the defensive end, then that answers the question of what is the upside of playing another QB. The upside is that we have a QB that makes the right decisions based on the keys he is given. But, if Spencer was not supposed to read anything post-snap and the RPO action was just for show, then we seriously need to look at the upside of a new OC because most high schools can execute post-snap read options.
Good breakdown and as other posters have said, BF said it's a read play. That was a great call, just great. The QB just needs to make the right decision.

This play was fantastic in that it put the defense in conflict, forced the defense to make decisions and put the players in a position to succeed. Just need the right decision to be made and give the ball to Bruce. It is not a guarantee that it's a score, but it's close. And IF the right decision is made and Bruce is given the ball, you could could come back to that play later, run it again and if the defense reacts to Bruce's motion then the pitch to Laporta would be open. Looks like a case where the QB made the decision before the ball was snapped.
 

Greenway4Prez

HR Legend
Jan 10, 2005
24,192
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Good breakdown and as other posters have said, BF said it's a read play. That was a great call, just great. The QB just needs to make the right decision.

This play was fantastic in that it put the defense in conflict, forced the defense to make decisions and put the players in a position to succeed. Just need the right decision to be made and give the ball to Bruce. It is not a guarantee that it's a score, but it's close. And IF the right decision is made and Bruce is given the ball, you could could come back to that play later, run it again and if the defense reacts to Bruce's motion then the pitch to Laporta would be open. Looks like a case where the QB made the decision before the ball was snapped.
With a mobile QB, this kind of play can have so many layers added to it.
 

jonesy5960

HR Heisman
Sep 6, 2012
6,711
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BF’a comment of “good news is we retained possession of the ball…”

WHAT A LOW BAR!!! Surprised he didn’t follow that statement up with “Padilla probably fumbles it …. Laugh laugh snort snort”
Baby steps. If the offense doesn't turn it over it's a successful day. Points are secondary.
 

Bulldogs1974

HR Legend
Oct 16, 2012
10,400
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1. sometimes plays need to be set up. which this one never was.
2. A TE shovel is a safe play with high upside. Maybe should have been tried out of a formation where we predictably pass. Maybe with gavin williams in a rb.
 
Feb 25, 2008
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In his press conference, Brian said it was a designed read-option. So Spencer just made the wrong decision.

Q. The one Arland was in the backfield and there was a shovel pass. Was that the quarterback's read there, or was that always going to be a shovel?

BRIAN FERENTZ: It's a read play, so there is an option there to hand the ball off. We chose to shovel, and obviously, it didn't end the way we wanted.

We would have liked to score a touchdown, but the good news is we maintained possession of the ball.



Video of the play:

Yeah, that was on Spencer, panicking and defaulting to his safety valve in LaPorta.


My biggest issue with all this is that not only does the staff/Spencer not recognize all of this until they go back and watch film after the game.....................but they will NEVER come back to that play again. That was simply a one-off Brian special that either works or doesn't.

Kinda like all those trick plays we use to run between 2017-2019......................
 

RollingBallofButcherKnives

HR All-American
Nov 22, 2015
2,503
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BF’a comment of “good news is we retained possession of the ball…”

WHAT A LOW BAR!!! Surprised he didn’t follow that statement up with “Padilla probably fumbles it …. Laugh laugh snort snort”
See, I said this in another thread. Iowa’s offensive philosophy is to not turn it over. To hell with scoring points. That is for the defense and special teams…
 

AlwaysbeaHawk

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Sep 25, 2002
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Great, great post.

It also feeds into my assertion that we should be giving Padilla/Labas a package of plays that play to their individual strengths. How nice would it have been to see either one of them jog in and run that exact play in the red zone rather than SP? They would be laser-focused on the ONE read, and likely make the right one 90% of the time (because they've practiced and rehearsed it in their heads a hundred times). Instead, we go with our stiff, slow, poor-decision making guy who we all know is gonna "f" it up if given the chance. Again, put your players in position to be successful. Every team is allowed to play more than one guy at each position for a reason.
 

Dargo

HR MVP
Jun 13, 2020
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Why the hell is he calling a play where Petras has to think and react. He can’t do it. Brian is a friggin moron.
 
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herkyhawk00

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Gold Member
Jan 28, 2008
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Weird - Petras making the wrong decision…

Asking the least athletic, least decisive, slowest, and frankly least capable QB in the nation to run that play is questionable. You have to just hope he accidentally makes the right play because anything done with intention is likely going to be the wrong choice.
So many high school freshmen qb’s run it very well. It is reading one guy, the end! If the end crashes down like he did, he hands it off to Bruce. It’s pretty simple and elementary. I have to think he knew he made the wrong decision as he was doing it.
 

DutchyFunStar

HR MVP
Aug 8, 2014
1,457
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Wait a second. Iowa has RPO's in their offense?
I think that is half the problem. If they have only a few RPOs in he playbook, how many reps are they getting in practice. Not enough to reliably make that read. It has to be ingrained like the combo blocks in the zone scheme. It can't be just an occasional thing or it won't be well executed.
 
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SchwartzUndGold

Scout Team
Nov 20, 2019
145
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I want to compliment NCHawkeye24 for his breakdown of the one play. It took a lot of time and thought to put together a coherent piece on what the situation was and how it unfolded. I noticed that Arland Bruce was standing wide open in a position to catch a pass, but Petras never even looked his direction. I believe he was fixed on handing the ball off to Ragaini.
 
Dec 31, 2014
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I know there are a lot of plays to analyze, but there was one play in particular that had it all. Play call, scheme, formation, execution, read; it was all there. It is on Iowa's first drive, 2nd and goal from the 9. It ended in a 1 yard loss with a little inside flip to LaPorta, but, there is so much more to it than that.

Formation: Spencer in shotgun, Bruce in the backfield to his right. Ragaini far left with, Brecht far right. Lachey on the LOS on the right with LaPorta off the line to his right. The unbalanced formation made the linebackers shade to the tight end side, and with a single high safety, it left Brecht in man coverage on the right with his corner playing 7 yards off of him and Ragaini man coverage on the left with his corner playing 10 yards off of him. I love the formation and the personnel because it put all of the playmakers in their best spots and the tall QB can see over the top of the defense to read what the safety is going to do.

Motion and pre-snap read: So we send Ragaini in motion to the right and Illinois responds by rotating the single high safety with him and the left corner rotated into the safety position. Now, at this point the only contain the Illinois had on the left was the defensive end, which you would think should have been the next read because we know that we are going to counter Bruce to that side of the field post-snap as well as LaPorta. To me breaking it down, the defensive end is all that mattered.

Play-call: It was a great play call because we were in control up to the snap. Illinois was forced to respond to what we were doing and they responded in a very predictible way. I love everything about this play up to this point.

Snap: Bruce breaks to the left and Spencer shows the ball to him with this run option. Before Bruce ever gets to Spencer, the defensive end crashes to the inside to engage the pulling right guard and never had his eyes in the backfield.

Execution: As soon as Spencer saw the defensive end crash, he should have handed the ball off to Bruce who would have been in a foot race with the single safety to the pylon. He either scores or gets really close. But Spencer kept the ball who fooled nobody because there was really nobody to fool as the defensive end was already engaged. Instead Spencer flipped it to a pulling LaPorta who tried to turn it up inside the left tackle. However, the gap was much tighter because of the crashing defensive end, Richman totally gets beat on his block, Stephens, the right guard gets beat on his block (in his defense he was blocking someone he didnt think he had to as the defensive end shouldnt have been there) and the result is there were two defenders standing all alone at the line of scrimmage waiting for LaPorta.

Analysis: This play really stands out to me because of the all the elements within it. Like I said above, I love everything about the play up until the snap. But the first thing that I really question is the read. Was this play designed to be a read-and-react play or were we dead set no matter what that we were going to flip it to LaPorta? That question alone is the basis to why this offense is not very good. If this was a designed read-option play, then Spencer is at fault here because he totally failed to make the right play with the very obvious key he would have had. If it was not a read-option play, then we are expecting to be able to "guess" as to what the defense is going to do in the huddle, which seems incredibly difficult to do, which would show to me that the OC is not doing a very good job. But in this particular play, it is not both, it is one or the other.

The other thing it shows me is that we have zero confidence in throwing to a receiver with single man coverage. Ragaini could have stayed where he was and not went in motion and Spencer would have had 2 options on the edges. Is this because we have no faith in our WR's to make a play? Is it because we have no faith in Spencer to make the throw? Both? Either way, this is a glaring weakness that makes things very difficult for us to do anything in the box because there are so many defenders there.

My take: To be an effective offense, you need to be able to counter anything the defense shows you. If you can't, if there is even one weakness, it will be exploited and you will not be very good. Any good offense, college or pro, would have thrown to either of the wide receivers with both of them being manned up with a single safety. Not complicated. You can throw the fade, a fade-stop, a curl, a break to the pylon, or even just get it out quick and see if he can make a play and beat the corner. When this is successful the OC looks brilliant. But we dont do that so we have to scheme everything, which is much much harder. In this case, if Spencer missed his read on the defensive end, then that answers the question of what is the upside of playing another QB. The upside is that we have a QB that makes the right decisions based on the keys he is given. But, if Spencer was not supposed to read anything post-snap and the RPO action was just for show, then we seriously need to look at the upside of a new OC because most high schools can execute post-snap read options.

tenor.gif
 

BurgHawk87

HR MVP
Oct 30, 2007
1,095
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It's not that hard of a play for the QB to execute. He's got one read there: see what the DE does.
  • If DE crashes --> hand off to RB
  • If DE does not crash --> pitch to TE
If you can't trust your QB to make that read and execute, I don't know how you trust your QB to make any reads after the snap. And that's been a glaring issue for Petras for 3 years. He knows the playbook better than anyone. He probably makes pre-snap reads better than anyone. But when the ball is hiked in a real game, he does not make good decisions.

You could also hope for the line to at least check the incoming defensive end..
That's the beauty of an option, the line can be trash but the results can still be good. As long as one lineman on the play side makes a half ass block the play can work. Hell Jr high me ran the option all the time because Jr high teams aren't known to be blocking phenoms. If a 12/13 year old can be asked to look at one person and decide whether they are going inside or outside...never mind I'm preaching to the choir.
 

sbhawk64

HR MVP
Apr 7, 2009
1,568
1,391
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SP just needs more time
My fav played was against Michigan, we are 3rd and 3yrd on about the four yard line. We run a screen to the right. Michigan of course is all over it cus they watch film and we are predictable. They blow it up. So Michigan just showed us they are looking for the screen. What do we do next? We run a screen to the left. Result?

It's forth down and we try a pick play which the refs catch. It was easy to see it BTW. The tight end runs a yard short of the first down any way. Our fabulous qb throws it a yard short.

Conclusion. In one play, we run a dumb play, an illegal play, a bad route and a horrible pass, so the play was so bad, if you take out 3 of the 4 negatives, it's still Michigan ball on downs.
 
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unclesammy

All-Conference
Feb 1, 2006
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Good breakdown and as other posters have said, BF said it's a read play. That was a great call, just great. The QB just needs to make the right decision.

This play was fantastic in that it put the defense in conflict, forced the defense to make decisions and put the players in a position to succeed. Just need the right decision to be made and give the ball to Bruce. It is not a guarantee that it's a score, but it's close. And IF the right decision is made and Bruce is given the ball, you could could come back to that play later, run it again and if the defense reacts to Bruce's motion then the pitch to Laporta would be open. Looks like a case where the QB made the decision before the ball was snapped.
Bruce is all alone in the flat. If he flips it to him it is a sure touchdown, but he throws it inside to a covered LaPorta. There's no excuse for a senior quarterback to make that decision. There was no pressure on Petras so he probably could have completed the 4 yard pass to Bruce.
 

TRHawkeye145

HR Heisman
Mar 8, 2014
5,529
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In his press conference, Brian said it was a designed read-option. So Spencer just made the wrong decision.

Q. The one Arland was in the backfield and there was a shovel pass. Was that the quarterback's read there, or was that always going to be a shovel?

BRIAN FERENTZ: It's a read play, so there is an option there to hand the ball off. We chose to shovel, and obviously, it didn't end the way we wanted.

We would have liked to score a touchdown, but the good news is we maintained possession of the ball.



Video of the play:

It seems like Bruce looks back at Petras going.... "What the F, dude? All green in front of me"
 

NCHawkeye24

HR All-State
Apr 19, 2021
635
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Thank you all for telling me that BF was asked about it and he actually admitted it was a read play that Spencer missed. I have to say I am absolutely shocked by that admission, as much as it was even asked in the first place.

I am not saying BF is a great OC because he has things we can pick apart, but, not on this play. First you have to know that a team like Ohio St., Bama, Georgia, etc. would have scored a touchdown on us in about 5 different ways with this play and everyone would be salivating to hire that OC as their next head coach. Their first two options would have been to just beat either corner with a better wide receiver. Third, handing the ball off to any one of their backs would have scored, even if the safety (which was the corner) gets there because the back would either beat him straight up or run him over. Fourth, the QB, if he would have kept the ball, would not have flipped it to a covered TE and instead threw it in the flat to the completely uncovered RB. And 5th, the QB could have just kept the ball and ran to the left and let the back in the flat block the safety.

But you are a pretty decent play-caller and play-designer if you can call a play that can score a touchdown 5 different ways. Now, as far as being a QB coach, he gets an F-minus on that!