A talent like Chris Herndon IV can’t go underutilized in 2017. With a new starting Quarterback in Malik Rosier, an H-Back type of player can be a security blanket. It’s cliche but true, guys like Herndon who block, run great routes, and get first downs boost the QB’s confidence. Here are 4 ways to get Herndon the ball using past Miami tape.
The Flat Route
Below: Chris Herndon IV is working from the backfield against Miami in the ‘16 spring game. Herndon runs a ‘flat’ route off of play-action and runs over two defenders. This was used sparingly in the season and I’m not sure why as he’s definitely a weapon versus the Miami front 7 in the spring game.
The Stick Route
One of my favorite routes is the stick route. I’ve used it as a coach, and love it as a fan. The Tight End will run a sit down route (run about 5 yards and turn around to the QB). But if the inside linebacker covers him he steps down hard and runs an out route.
This is a “can’t lose” route because your tight end is hard to cover based on usual zone linebacking rules. Linebackers are usually told to stay in that area called the ‘hook’ and play that sit down Herndon is told to run, but once he pivots and runs the out, the linebacker passes him off to... well here no one. The outside wide receiver runs a vertical route and the corner would go with him leaving Herndon open on the sit down on the curl, or on the out, depending on how the LB reacts.
The Wheel Route
The wheel has been giving defensive coordinators issues for decades. The outside receiver runs a slant and the inside receiver runs a wheel. A wheel looks like a flat route and then turns up field. If the cornerback covers the slant, the inside receiver is wide open like in the clip against Virginia Tech below.
The “rules” for the corner are to play #1 (the most outside receiver) in the Hokies defense. He and the flat player who is over #2 will switch responsibilities if #1 goes inside and #2 goes outside — like on the wheel. The issue is it all happens so fast and the crowd and band are so loud, does the inside defensive back even hear the call?
Herndon lines up in the slot. We’re all so worried about losing David Njoku and his athleticism and size in the slot but Herndon can do the same. He’s a big target at 6’5 , and though he doesn’t have Njoku’s vertical leap, he’s a damn good athlete. Getting Herndon in space needs to be a priority.
Spread out wide he’s able to use his route running on a corner that gives him the leverage, like in the video below. It’s hard to strip the ball from a big bodied receiver so even if the defensive back can hang with Herndon he won’t fight the ball out easily.
In the end, Christopher Herndon IV is a dynamic athlete who is one of, if not the singular best TE in the ACC. Miami would be wise to get him the ball, and I’ve given you 4 ways for that to happen.
Now, we’ll see if the Canes are able to do this when they return to the field against Toledo on September 23.