Each week, quarterbacks make spectacular throws ‒ and Mark Schofield is there to break down how it happened. And when a wide receiver throws a touchdown to a quarterback ‒ as Quinshad Davis threw to Marquise Williams ‒ it definitely qualifies as the throw of the week.
The University of North Carolina began their season with a disappointing loss to South Carolina. While the Tar Heels won their next three games, questions lingered around the offense. Senior quarterback Marquise Williams was pulled in the second half of the team’s victory over Delaware, and redshirt freshman Mitch Trubisky threw for four touchdowns and 312 yards during his limited action.
Williams earned the start against Georgia Tech on Saturday, but things were still shaky at the outset. UNC trailed by 21 points late in the first half, but two quick touchdowns saw them enter the break trailing by seven. After a back-and-forth third quarter, Georgia Tech looked to take advantage of a poor punt when they started a fourth quarter drive in Tar Heel territory. But the Tar Heel defense forced a turnover on a triple option play by the Yellow Jackets, giving UNC the football on the GT 37-yard line.
On the next play, the Tar Heels got the big play they needed.
The offense comes out with Williams in the shotgun and 11 offensive personnel on the field, with trips formation on the left and a single receiver to the right, using a wide split from the right tackle:
This play begins innocently enough, with the quarterback handing the ball to running back T.J. Logan, heading to the left edge. The Georgia Tech defense flows to the point of attack, ignoring Williams, who starts to float toward the right side:
As Hogan looks to test the left side of the field, and the defense surges to meet the threat, senior wide receiver Quinshad Davis (#14) circles into the backfield to meet the RB:
Logan flips the ball to the receiver, who immediately moves the football into throwing position. As the GT defense scrambles to respond to the reverse, Davis starts looking for his receiver, Williams:
The quarterback hauls in the touch pass, and scampers into the end zone untouched.
Running this play through, you notice some of the key elements that help it succeed. First, four members of the offensive line, the left tackle through the right guard, all fire out in unison to the left. This helps sell the defense on the run to that side, influencing their movement. But right tackle Jon Heck (#71) anchors himself on the right side of the field, blocking the defensive end. This ensures that when Davis wheels around with the football, he will not face pressure off the edge.
Second, the route from the single receiver on the right, Mack Hollins (#13) opens up the outside for the quarterback. Hollins runs a deep post route, bringing his defender to the middle of the field. If the WR ran a straight vertical route, the cornerback would be in position to recognize the play, peel off Hollins and break back on Williams. But Hollins and his defender are in the middle of the field, no threat exists:
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UNC went on to win, 38-31, in the largest comeback in team history. In a statistical oddity, Williams finished as the leading passer, rusher and receiver on the day. He completed 13 of 24 passes for 134 yards, and ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. But it was his 37-yard touchdown reception that goes down as the play of the day, with the throw of the week coming from Davis, the wide receiver.
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Mark Schofield has always loved football. He breaks down film, scouts prospects, and explains the passing game for Inside the Pylon.
All video and images courtesy ESPN.