“When you blitz, if you don’t get home, the band is going to play.” This phrase, stated by ESPN analyst Rod Gilmore during the Utah–Arizona State broadcast, is a truism of football. When a defense decides to blitz, especially when they use a zero blitz, either they pressure the quarterback or they give up a big play. The Arizona State Sun Devils attempt a zero blitz against Utah and quarterback Travis Wilson connects in the rain on this play in the red zone.
Trailing by three early in the second quarter, the Utes face a 1st and 10 on the Sun Devils’ 11-yard line. Wilson stands in the shotgun with 10 offensive personnel on the field, trips formation to the right, and a single receiver split left. Arizona State has 3-3-5 personnel in the game, and they show Cover 0 before the snap. The entire defense is within five yards of the line of scrimmage: six defenders up front, with two linebackers and a safety showing blitz off the edge:
The Utes show the Sun Devils a bubble screen to the trips side of the field. The inside wide receiver, Britain Covey (#18) shows the screen while the other two receivers release vertically. Kenneth Scott (#2) fakes a post before breaking straight up the seam:
Given the defensive front, another crucial aspect to this play is the running back in pass protection. As previously outlined, DeVontae Booker (#23) plays a crucial rule in the Utah passing game, both as a target and as a blocker for Wilson. Here, with potential edge pressure on the left, if all six defenders blitz the RB will need to pick up one of the rushers:
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Booker crosses the formation, picking up the edge rusher to his left, and doing just enough to give Wilson time to throw the ball. As the play develops, the secondary switches responsibilities, with the middle defender in the trips covering Covey, leaving Kareem Orr (#25), on Scott. The screen action, when coupled with the double move from the WR, turn the young DB around:
Wilson drops in a perfect throw, the Utes have the lead, and their band begins to play.
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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 NFL Game Pass.