The Perils of Box Score Scouting: Josh Woodrum and Missed Opportunities

What shows up on the stat sheet isn’t necessarily reflective of what happens on the film. Mark Schofield looks at the perils of box score scouting, digging into the film of 2016 NFL Draft prospect Josh Woodrum and how the box score did not reflect a missed presnap opportunity by the quarterback.

The perils of box score scouting have taught us that a negative result such as an interception or a sack may actually demonstrates positive traits in a quarterback. Now, we look at the inverse of that idea. This play from Liberty Flames quarterback Josh Woodrum is one such example.

In their game against the West Virginia Mountaineers, Woodrum hit wide receiver Darrin Peterson (#13) with this tunnel screen for a solid gain and a first down:

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At first glance, this seems like solid execution from the quarterback. The Flames set up dual screens, with a running back swing screen to the right side and a tunnel screen to the left. Woodrum takes the snap, checks the RB swing screen before pivoting to throw the tunnel screen to Peterson. The timing, ball placement, and decision all seem solid.

Some issues become present when taking a step back. Liberty faces 2nd and 7 on their own 48-yard line, and line up with Woodrum in the shotgun and 11 personnel. The QB has a running back to his right, and dual slot formations, with the tight end in the slot on the left. West Virginia’s 3-3-5 nickel defense shows Cover 3, with both a nickelback and the strong safety down in the box: WoodrumPerilsStill2

The free safety is aligned 10-yards deep and over the slot receiver to the wide side of the field, while the cornerback is aligned 7-yards deep, and well inside of the outside receiver. The outside WR is uncovered at the snap, but Woodrum never looks his way. In many offenses, this is an automatic “pause” or “sight” adjustment for the quarterback. Woodrum should have thrown a simple one-step smoke route to the uncovered receiver, to give him a chance to make a play. If Woodrum throws to the outside here on that design, the worst-case scenario is about a five-yard gain. But if the receiver breaks a tackle, he could go the distance. Instead, this is how the play develops:

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There are some potential reasons that Woodrum made the correct decision here. It is possible that the Liberty offense only throws to uncovered slot receivers in their pause / sight adjustment scheme, so that they avoid risking longer throws to outside WRs. This could have also been the exact look from the defense based on film study, and Woodrum stayed with the play design. Finally, the Flames offense may simply not have a pause / sight adjustment component to their offense.

However, at some point as a quarterback, you need to identify situations where the defense is giving you free yardage and take advantage. Even if the play simply goes for a five-yard gain, it forces that cornerback to be more strict in his presnap alignment, perhaps paving the road for a bigger play later in the game. This play goes for a solid gain and a first down, but I’m left wondering about Woodrum’s knowledge of the offense, defensive structure, and his awareness in the presnap phase of the game.

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.

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