There’s a lot to be said for how Coach Bobby Petrino and the Cardinals ripped apart the FSU defense that’s been so good for so many years. The main cog was having a talent like Lamar Jackson* ready to dominate like he has done the past year and a few games. The guy is a one-of-a-kind athlete that will be the #1 overall pick when his time comes. But another thing Coach Petrino does is adjust his play calling and gameplan to pick on the defensive weaknesses just as much as focus on his own strengths.
*(For a sample, just watch this highlight of Jackson below)
Petrino did it against Miami back in 2006; using crossing routes, play-action passing, throwing to TE’s and H-backs vs man coverage, and zone running. The ‘Canes were blown apart in ‘06 as you can revisit below.
Much of Petrino’s play calling is in the same mold of Coach Richt’s. Zone running, using TE’s and H-Backs in the passing game, and play-action passing.
Below was an inside zone read lead play (mouthful) the Cards used to run for 300 yards at 6.8 yards/carry on the ‘Noles.
Inside Zone Lead should look familiar to SOTU readers as we discussed it as part of Coach Richt’s bread&butter run game this summer. The major difference is you won’t see Brad Kaaya run for 146 yards and 4 TDs which adds that entirely more dynamic part to the Cards offense.
Play-action passing is also a staple of Mark Richt’s playbook and Coach Petrino used it vs the ‘Noles to perfection. The motion and flood back was perfect in selling inside zone and Bobby, like Mark, loves using the HB/TE in the passing game (think: Browns TE Gary Barnidge and his 13.8 yards/rec and 17 TD’s in red and white). Dragging a speedy slot across the field gives the QB and over/under look to read short to deep after the PA freezes the linebackers. Crossing routes were tough for the FSU 4-2-5 that looked like it was in cover 3 to defend.
The last offensive play we will look at was a passing combo Petrino saw open and used multiple times. With FSU’s corners playing press man and the up-safeties playing inside leverage, the Cards threw the Vert/Out combo. The deep safety was useless here and the CB’s flipped their hips and ran with the vert leaving Jackson with great leverage to throw 5 and outs all game. Coach Richt loves using 5 and 10 yard outs as you can see in the ‘Canes GIF vs. App State, although his out was ran by the outside receiver.
On defense, the Cards applied pressure from multiple position groups while dropping defensive lineman and sugaring blitzes. “Sugaring” refers to a LB that approaches the line and looks like he will blitz but bails back after the snap. Sugaring gets the OL to change their protection.
Below the Cards show a 3 man down front with an overhang. The overhand backer to the bottom of the OL drops and covers the RB swing, the corner plays MEHG (man everywhere he goes) on the X receiver, and the 3 DL and the player to the top of the bunch provide the pressure for a sack.
On the next play FSU runs an empty set. Louisville has a 4 man down line and 2 linebackers up sugaring. One ILB rushes and the other drops to give a 5-man rush and another sack. These are back to back plays going into the half.
You can see the pressure with the ILB drop below...
Manny Diaz will definitely use the same technique to get in Francois’ face, much like they did against App State.
You’re see above a 5 man rush and a spy LB to take away the QB draw or an upfield scramble.
Here’s another 5 man rush from 3 down lineman. Look familiar to the Louisville shot from above?
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