The Washington Huskies efficiently drove to victory against USC, benefitting from excellent blocking. Mark Schofield breaks down how Myles Gaskin and Siosifa Tufunga took over with the game on the line.
In an upset, the Huskies beat the Trojans using a four-play scoring drive to take a commanding 17-6 lead early in the fourth quarter, introducing the nation to freshman running back Myles Gaskin and senior center Siosifa Tufunga. The victory was sweeter for the Huskies, coming over former head coach Steve Sarkisian*, who left Washington for USC.
*Editor’s Note: Sarkisian has since been placed on indefinite leave.
Following a Trojans’ punt late in the third quarter, Washington takes over at midfield. Freshman quarterback Jake Browning (#3) lines up in the shotgun with Gaskin standing next to him. The Huskies have 11 personnel on the field, with slot formation to the right and a tight slot formation on the left, with tight end Drew Sample (#88) in a wing alignment. The Trojans have a 4-2-5 sub package in the game with rush linebacker Porter Gustin (#45) in a two-point stance across from the TE:
The Huskies run a power play here, with Gaskins taking the handoff and heading to the left B Gap:
The play begins with a combination block on the nose tackle. Tufunga (#65) initiates contact with the defensive tackle lined up across from him in a 0 technique, standing him up at the snap. Left guard Jake Eldrenkamp (#52) fires out of his stance and takes a quick series of chop steps forward, which holds the playside linebacker in place. The LG then snaps to his right, blocking down on the NT in concert with Tufunga. Freshman left tackle Trey Adams (#72) blocks out on the opposite DT, while Sample fans out to block the rush LB. From the backside, right guard Coleman Shelton (#79) is uncovered at the snap, and he pulls across the formation and enters the hole, to take on the playside LB.
But both the playside linebacker and the defensive tackle over Adams win their battles, with the DT angling inside. This forces Gaskin to make a cut in the backfield, planting and driving his legs toward Sample, who is fighting off Gustin on the edge. But rather than speed up and panic, Gaskin shows tremendous patience, vision, and footwork:
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Notice how the freshman RB sets up this play on the edge. As he comes up on the block of his TE, he hesitates for a moment, then drives his left foot to the outside and the sideline. This draws the rush LB to the outside, at which point Gaskin cuts to the inside and upfield. The change of direction allows the TE to finish the block. From there, the RB makes a second cut further to the inside, as Eldrenkamp has worked to the second level and is engaged with the backside linebacker. Strong safety Chris Hawkins (#4) finally drags Gaskin down from behind after a 31-yard gain.
Now the Huskies face 1st and 10 just inside the red zone. They stay with an 11 package, but line up with Sample on the right in a trips formation, and a lone receiver split to the left. USC keeps their 4-2-5 package in the game, with Gustin again in a two-point stance just outside LT Adams.
This play is setup by two combination blocks. Tufunga is again involved in a double-team block at the point of attack, this time with the RG coming to help. Once Shelton obtains leverage on the defender, the C is free to work to the second level, and the backside linebacker. On the edge, right tackle Andrew Kirkland (#73) executes a combination block with Sample on the DE, and once the tight end has established positioning, the RT moves to the next level, and engages the playside linebacker:
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The freshman RB cuts into the hole created by these double teams, and is finally dragged down from behind inside the Trojans’ 10-yard line.
Facing 1st and Goal, Washington now changes personnel, lining up with 12 offensive personnel with a dual TE wing on the right, with tight end Darrell Daniels (#15) set back from the line of scrimmage. USC uses their base 3-4 defense, putting both outside linebackers on the LOS and bringing Hawkins down into the box over the dual TEs:
Similar to the previous play, the C and RG execute a combination block on the nose tackle, while Kirkland and Sample work together to handle the playside defensive end. Daniels fires toward the sideline, to handle the outside linebacker. At the snap, Gaskin takes two steps towards his QB, takes the handoff, and attacks the A Gap between the C and RG:
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Only a last-second diving tackle from middle linebacker Cameron Smith (#35) prevents the touchdown, as the freshman MLB is able to muscle Gaskin to the turf at the 1-yard line.
On the fourth play of the drive, the freshman RB gets his fourth-straight carry, and punches the ball into the end zone:
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The Huskies stay with 12 personnel, and once more Gaskin attacks the interior of the Trojans’ defense, finding just enough of a crease to squeeze into the end zone. Where does he find this space? Right behind one more combination block by Tufunga and Shelton. The center and right guard win at the point of attack again, driving the interior of the USC defense back and creating enough of a hole for Gaskin to plunge into the end zone.
What is impressive about this drive is not only the individual work from the freshman running back, who shows the patience of a veteran on these runs, but how the blocking at the point of attack created holes for Gaskin. While many of the key players for Washington on this drive were underclassmen, it was the senior Tufunga who was in the middle of it all, throwing four big blocks to lead his team to a big touchdown – and victory.
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.
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.