[Note: Click on the pictures to see larger versions. Rollover the animated gifs to see animation.]
You may have seen this post in which I gave some general scouting data on the 2013 Aggies. On the heels of that, I thought it would be fun to show some pictures and video (do gif's count as video?) of a few pass plays the Aggies run.
Much has been written and discussed about the Aggie offense and it's "air raid" lineage and some of the common plays that usually show up with those types of teams. When watching the game, whether in person or on t.v., it's often hard to notice what is going on, either because we are so naturally focused on watching the ball or because the camera angle doesn't show us the whole field. The plays below are just a few that I pulled out that seem to fit the bill as examples of common air raid plays.
A couple weeks ago, I broke down one play that the Aggies like and have used with great success. The ones below don't have nearly as much detail on my part, mostly because I really don't know very much. As I've said before, I am like the self-appointed Brian Fellow of Aggie football. The fictional Jack Hannah-wannabe Brian Fellow "is not an accredited zoologist, nor does he hold an advanced degree in any environmental science," he is "an enthusiastic young man with a sixth grade education and an abiding love for all of God's creatures. Similarly, I am not an accredited coach or analyst and have never played organized football at a level higher than private Lutheran school flag football. (Once got suspended for a game in 8th grade for forging- quite badly- my mother's signature.) I do have an abiding love for Texas A&M and football in general though, so here we are.
This first play is the famous "mesh" play. Mesh is basically a play that has two receivers each run shallow crosses from opposite sides of the field. As a kid telling your buddies what to do, you would have simply told your receivers to run crossing routes. Aside from those two routes, teams do a lot of different things with the other receivers. So in this case, A&M will run a 2x2 formation and the two inside receivers will run shallow crossing routes. Here's the pre-snap look.
(One little note that may only be interesting to me since I chart every game and notice random stuff like this: Probably 98% of the time, on the left side of the field, Derel Walker will line up farthest outside, and the slot receiver will line up...in the slot. But every once in a while, maybe 2% of the time or less, Walker will come inside and the normal slot receiver will go out wide. Why? I suppose for match-up reasons. Maybe we're setting something up. I don't know. In either case, Walker is still on the LOS, and the normal slot receiver is still off the LOS, therefore eligible to go in motion. If you're wondering, as far as I've seen, we haven't done that same thing on the right of the field a single time this season. Evans has lined up out wide every single snap. On the right. Every time.)
At the snap, Sabian Holmes (the bottom receiver) is out of view so I don't know what route he runs, but from watching the defenders, it's something short. A little stop route or something. On the top though, Mike Evans is up there preparing to dominate. He runs about a 15 yard in route.
Arkansas has one deep safety, and from watching, I'm not exactly sure what they're deep coverage is (with combo coverages and a general lack of knowledge, I have a hard time figuring out sometimes... the corner up top confuses me so I can't tell if he's in man or zone) but the underneath coverage is all zone. With the deep safety and the corner above Evans both staying deep, Johnny now just has to look at the linebackers. If they drop to take away Evans, he would hit one of the shallow crosses. If the linebackers stay shallow, which they do, he throws it over them and hits Evans. Here's the result.
Now this next one also features a shallow cross from one wide receiver, but this time the other receivers are running more vertical routes and it clears out the underneath space for the shallow cross. Here's the pre-snap look and then the result. Again, we can't see the specifics of the other receivers, but clearly the linebackers in the middle drop deep so then the underneath is wide open and it's an easy read for Johnny.
And here's a second example of the same play with the same read made.
Another play that is common and is very simple is to just have your slot receivers run out routes after the outside receivers have cleared the area with go routes. Here we do it against Sam Houston from a 2x2 formation. We do this a few times a game.
This second gif below is the same route combination against Bama with the pass going deep to Evans. Bama just had a single high safety on that one and as soon as Johnny sees that the safety isn't going to be able to help on Evans, he goes ahead and throws it deep even though the out route also looks open.
Finally, another common staple of our offense. The stick route. We run it from 3x1 formations and it is often packaged with a run option of one sort or another. The outside receiver runs a go route, the middle runs a quick out, and the inside receiver runs a stick (run three yards and stop, plant, turn and look for the ball). We've completed the stick several times. It's not typically a big gainer, but it's important because of the fact that defenses know that if they don't cover it, we will take the free yards every time... but if they do cover it, now they have one fewer defender in the box and we then have the option of handing the ball off instead of throwing the pass. Here are two examples, first showing what happens if the defender stays in the box (we throw to the open stick route) and the second showing what happens when the defender abandons the box and chases the stick route (we run, in this case, a draw).