The Spring Game showed a lot of things, but one of the things that interested me the most is how offensive coordinator Josh Gattis ran the offense. Besides tight ends, which I already examined here, Gattis’ usage of the running backs in the passing game stuck out to me. With dynamic backfield players like Jaylan Knighton, Henry Parrish and Don Chaney, getting the ball to the backs in open space will be crucial to the ‘Canes success. These are low-risk plays that have homerun potential, and can catch defenses off-guard. What are these plays?
The Swing Route
Easily the most effective play, the swing route was utilized twice by Gattis in the spring game. Used mostly against stacked boxes and obvious man coverage looks, the swing route was an easy way to pick up yards for the ‘Canes. While Miami’s offensive line did show improvement in the spring game, it’s still not something that I would consider a strength. Getting the ball out quick will help the offense flow and pick up yards with ease. The swing is also an effective way to beat the blitz. I expect Gattis to continue to run the swing often during the regular season.
The Angle Route
Everyone’s favorite route in Madden, the angle route is a great way to get the ball into the back’s hands with the entire field to work with. While it wasn’t completed in the spring game, if it is thrown and caught against the correct coverage, it has touchdown potential no matter where the ‘Canes are on the field. If Knighton catches this route at full-speed, goodnight. Having said that, hopefully it will be correctly utilized in-game or else Miami running backs are going to get obliterated by opposing linebackers. I think we will see a few Knighton touchdowns come from angle routes in the near future.
The Flat Route
The final route that Gattis utilized was the well-known flat route. It was thrown twice, and the purpose of it was very clear. Against zone coverage, the flat route’s hope is to take advantage of the space that is created by the cornerback dropping into coverage. Against man coverage, the hope is to create a pick route or make the linebacker slow down to avoid making contact with the receiver on the short dig route. The flat is an easy way to pick up yards with almost no risk involved, and it will be one that TVD and Gattis will use a lot in the future.
Going Forward: The X-Factor of Jaylan Knighton
Going forward, I think that Gattis’ desire to get the ball in the hands of the playmakers will prove to be elite for the ‘Canes. As I mentioned before, the offensive line will most likely struggle against better competition, so getting the running backs involved and in space will be a breath of fresh air for Miami. Additionally, putting the running backs in a one-on-one with a defensive back or slower linebacker will favor the ball carrier almost every time. It’s an easy, low-risk way of getting yards that also has the potential of scoring with Knighton. In 2021, Knighton averaged 14 yards per reception, and had three receiving touchdowns that averaged 49.3 yards (60, 53 and 35 yards). Knighton’s return to the lineup will be very interesting, and ‘Canes fans should be excited to see Rooster in open space.