When Arkansas rolled into AT&T Stadium Saturday night they were hoping to knock off fellow undefeated SEC West opponent, Texas A&M. They kept step by step with their opponent until the Aggies strung together two quick drives to put away Arkansas. Mark Schofield shows how the Aggies gained the upper hand and never looked back.
Two surprising undefeated SEC West teams met Saturday night outside Dallas in what was considered a big matchup. The Texas A&M Aggies entered the game 3-0 and ranked #10 in the country, while the Arkansas Razorbacks entered the game ranked #17. This was a back-and-forth contest until late in the third quarter, when the Aggies turned in a huge goal-line stand and then exploded for 21 unanswered points. The first 14 points, broken down here, completely changed the complexion of this game.
Late in the third quarter, the Razorbacks were on the move and on the doorstep of the end zone with the game knotted at 17. On a drive that began on their own 11-yard line, Arkansas marched down to the Aggies’ 2-yard line and faced a first and goal situation. But after being stopped on three straight runs, they faced a 4th and goal and, rather than attempt the field goal for a three-point lead, head coach Bret Bielema choose to go for the touchdown. Wide receiver Keon Hatcher was subsequently stopped for a five-yard loss, ending the possession.
The decision to go for it was questionable, as was handing the football to the receiver on a jet sweep. As previously outlined, TAMU likes to take their talented defensive end Myles Garrett and put him on the edge in a two-point stance in short yardage situations. Texas A&M did this earlier in the game in the red zone and it led to a loss on a running play for the Razorbacks. Here, the tight end and left tackle were forced to double-team Garrett, leaving the cornerback free to tackle Hatcher for a loss.
After a Keith Ford two-yard run, the Aggies faced a 2nd and 8 on their own 8-yard line. The offense lines up with quarterback Trevor Knight (#8) in the shotgun and 11 offensive personnel on the field. Tight end Tanner Schorp (#86) is in a wing to the left with two receivers to the outside, while wide receiver Josh Reynolds (#11) is split outside to the right. The Razorbacks respond with their 4-2-5 nickel package, showing Cover 2 before the snap:
The Aggies run a simple vertical passing concept using an out route and a seam route from the slot receivers, while Reynolds runs a straight go route:
Reynolds gains outside leverage at the line of scrimmage against the press coverage from cornerback D.J. Dean (#2). From there he accelerates and gains separation on his vertical stem. Knight drops in a perfect throw, and Reynolds secures the catch, breaks the tackle attempt from Dean, and is off to the races:
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The key to this play is the ability of Reynolds to beat the press at the line of scrimmage and secure outside leverage. He uses a quick stutter-step move at the line, which gets Dean to transfer his weight to the inside and also to rock back on his heels. That allows Reynolds to accelerate to the outside, preventing Dean from getting a jam on the WR:
From there, the receiver accelerates, gaining a step or two of separation. That’s all Knight needs to drop in a perfect bucket throw.
Arkansas failed to put points on the board on their following drive, managing only 27 yards on five plays, and were forced to punt the football back to Texas A&M. The Aggies took over possession on their own 15-yard line early in the fourth quarter and, after six plays – and a defensive pass interference penalty – they faced a 1st and 10 at the Arkansas 33-yard line. They line up with Knight again in the shotgun, this time with 10 offensive personnel. Three receivers are split to the right, and a single receiver aligns on the left. The Razorbacks use their 4-2-5 nickel defense again, this time showing Cover 1 in the secondary:
The Aggies opt keep the football on the ground here, using a power concept up front:
They use down blocks from the center, right tackle, and right guard. Center Erik McCoy (#64) blocks down on the nose tackle aligned in a 0 technique shaded to the center’s left shoulder. Right guard Connor Lanfear (#70) blocks down on the 1 technique defensive tackle, aligned on Lanfear’s left shoulder. Finally, right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor (#72) blocks down as well, but he heads to the second level and the backside linebacker. This accounts for three of the six players up front for the defense. The backside defensive end is left unblocked. But this blocking design allows both left guard Colton Prater (#76) and left tackle Avery Gennesy (#65) to pull. The guard handles the playside defensive while the tackle aims for the playside LB.
It works to perfection.
Running back Trayveon Williams (#5) takes the handoff heading to the right side. The downblocks collapse the interior of the Arkansas defense, and Prater is able to drive the playside DE to the outside and away from the hole. The playside LB recognizes the hole and crashes forward to fill the gap, but he’s met by the big LT with a full head of steam behind him:
Free safety Josh Liddell (#28) is the only player left with a chance to slow Williams down, but he takes a poor angle to the play and can only wave his arm at the RB as Williams races by:
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33 yards later, the Aggies had themselves a 14-point lead. They would not look back, as the final score was 45-24. Texas A&M will look to improve to 5-0 this week as they travel to South Carolina for a meeting with the Gamecocks; they’ll need to avoid looking ahead to the following two weeks, as games with Tennessee and Alabama lie in their near future.
Follow @MarkSchofield on Twitter. Buy his book, 17 Drives. Check out his other work here, such as how Alabama passes to attack the flat, or Tennessee’s use of the double post concept, or how LSU runs play action.
All film courtesy of ESPN.
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