At the end of the first half of the Montana State game, I went up to talk to Seth, who was sitting in the same section as I was. He’s an optimistic, and I’m a pessimist most of the times (there are exceptions, like Patriots and Texas Tech Basketball).
I was little bit concerned that Texas Tech was only up 21, especially since the last score came at the end of the half. We debated why the Red Raiders seemed the stall near the end of the half (minus the nice touchdown run be Shyne). I told Seth “That’s because we’re running the same f—– screen play every time. They figured it out.”.
It wasn’t a knock at the screen play. In fact, when we first ran it, I turned to my mom (who I attended the game with) and proclaimed “Finally, I screen with moving parts!”. I just didn’t like the fact it seemed that was the only play we were running outside of your prototypical inside run.
However, after listening to Wells press conference, I heard that they installed this plan way back in June. They had an idea of what they wanted to do, which included several calls to that screen play.
One reason why could be the fact that it has multiple options, so even though it’s one play, various results could happen. Another reason could be the fact it didn’t reveal much of the play book. There’s was nothing crazy or out of the ordinary that teams could look at.
On the first drive, they ran this play three times, including the touchdown. It was 11 personnel, with two receivers lined up the the right, a receiver lined up on the left, a tight end on the left side of the line, and a halfback beside the quarterback.
Essentially, this play is basically an RPO where Bowman can give the ball off the Ta’Zhawn Henry or throw it to Dalton Rigdon on the screen. Bowman can actually keep it as well, which is what he did on the final touchdown after noticing how the defenders were biting on the runningback. So Bowman has three choices on this play.
Back to the original gif, there are many reasons why this play works. One of which is why I was ecstatic to when I heard David Yost was going to use the tight end. Dont’a Thompson presence forces Montana State is go bigger that your typically package you use against the spread. Thompson on the line gives off a vibe that a run could occur.
Because of that run presence, the defensive back that was supposed to be covering Rigdon heads toward Henry. This leaves a two-on-one for Tech with Rigdon, RJ Turner and a Bobcat defender. And since Rigdon is moving before the pass gets to him, he’s able to quickly get to the first down marker before help comes.
On the second drive, they ran this second screen looks eerily similar. But it’s a different look. The difference? All three wide receivers are now on one side. It’s basically the same exact play except one player is moved and there’s an extra blocker. This allowed Tech is run the play a few more times before the defense caught on.
Here’s another screen below, although this this one doesn’t look like the others. The outside receiver was the target and the inside receiver was the blocker. But it’s the same concept, which the tight end on the line and and the threat of a running game.
In addition to the new look screens, they also ran the original one a couple times. On the fourth drive, they finally sniffed it out. The Red Raiders ran the play to being the drive, but the outside defensive back jumped the route, so Bowman threw it away.
Here’s the thing about running the same play over and over in the same drive or across consecutive drives. If the opponent can’t figure it out right away, it’s an easy way to get effective yardage. And you don’t show a ton of your playbook or plan, so you have a lot of plays left to use whenever the opponent does figure it out.
I doubt we see this same play over and over again next week, but this play kind of gave us an idea of what Texas Tech might try to run this season. Hopefully it’s an effective as it was this past weekend.