Motley Takes the Field

Tech expected Furman to come out with a lot of Cover 2 looks where two safeties played deep zones and the cornerbacks played closer to the line of scrimmage. The Paladins were probably okay with keeping things simple; playing zone can make interceptions easier since everyone is facing the quarterback, and they no doubt thought (rightly) that Brenden Motley would make mistakes.

A smash route concept
A 4-3 defense running Cover-2 vs. the I formation, with defensive zones in yellow. The tight end and strong-side receive are running a smash concept.

You can tell this because Loeffler calls a variation of the “smash” concept, which thanks to Smart Football’s Chris Brown, is probably the best-known passing concept among arm-chair QBs everywhere. (For a piece of trivia, I first approached TSL a few years ago with an article on pass coverages which included a look at the smash concept. The ugly picture above is actually from that article.)

The smash concept (or smash route) is a pairing of one deep and one short route in order to put a Cover 2 cornerback in a bind. The smash requires two receivers on the same side of the field. The inside receiver runs a corner route to where the safety on that side has a hard time reaching. The outside receiver runs a short route like a hitch in front of the cornerback. If the cornerback drops to cover the inside receiver, the outside receiver is wide open. If he covers the shorter route, the inside receiver has a good chance for a deep ball.

In the diagram above, the tight end runs the corner route to the void between the safety and the cornerback, while the receiver to that side runs a quick hitch. Tech ran the same play from a balanced spread look where Isaiah Ford was the inside receiver running the corner route, and Bucky Hodges was lined up on the outside and ran the hitch. In this instance, the Furman corner covers Hodges. The throw is late though, and the Furman safety reads the ball well and nearly gets an interception. Later in the quarter, Motley led Bucky Hodges into a waiting cornerback, and again was lucky the result was just an incompletion.