Last week, we looked at how Justis Nelson, and really most of the defense, read the eyes of Baker Mayfield to show them where he was throwing, forcing an interception. This week, we’re looking at a similar play, although it happens much quicker for Dakota Allen intercepting Mason Rudolph.
Oklahoma State is in a pretty standard formation, four wide receivers and one running back (although you can’t see the 4th receiver in the shot).
Defensively, Tech is rushing three defensive linemen, having Pete Robertson cover the running back coming out of the backfield. The corner covering the intended receiver, Theirry Nguema, has his hips turned in saying he’s in zone coverage. Tevin Madison appears to be blitzing, but I think he was reading the possible quick screen to #13 as he gets upfield in a hurry but stops.
Rudolph is looking to throw a quick slant. The receiver at the top of the screen has made his cut nearly 5 yards ahead of Nguema. Robertson is currently right in the middle of the throwing lane between Rudolph and the receiver, but he’s trusting the defenders around him to cover the receiver while he covers the flat in case Rudolph dumps it off the the running back. Almost the entire offensive line is on the ground, cutting the defensive line to create space for Rudolph to make this throw (this is what I was talking about that the Tech O line should have done in one of the plays where Mahomes was intercepted against Oklahoma). The linebackers here are still almost exactly in their starting positions, filling the middle of the field in zone coverage.
Here is where Rudolph throws the ball. It appears he was aware of Robertson in zone coverage because he waited for the receiver to get past him, but I think that was as far as he got in his read of the defense. I believe he was too keyed into Robertson and the defensive line getting cut as he stared his receiver down. I don’t think he ever saw Allen until after he threw the ball.
As you can see here, Allen didn’t have to really move to make this play. He was in the right position to catch the interception. He played his role in the defense, didn’t try to do too much and let the quarterback’s eyes take him to the ball, which coincidentally was right where he was standing. This was a big play for a young defender still finding his way around in this defense. This would allow the offense to score more points and expand its lead, which is exactly what David Gibbs said he was going to do for Texas Tech. I’m liking the progression of the young linebackers in this defense and I really am excited to see where Coach Spavital has them next year.