Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How Georgia Lost the SEC Championship - RB Pass Pro

You either win with fundamentals or you get beat with fundamentals.  Georgia was reminded of this bitter lesson in the 2012 SEC Championship Game that saw them battle toe to toe with defending national champion Alabama.  They valiantly drove down the field in the last minute, only to see the clock run out because of a tipped pass in an awful and surreal ending for the stunned Bulldogs, who expected to be able to see Aaron Murray throw two plays into the end zone with the ball at the 8-yard line and 15 seconds left (Chris Brown at Smart Football analyzes the clock logistics of the play here).  The tipped pass by Alabama LB, C.J. Mosley, was seen as horrible luck, but really the play was preventable with proper fundamentals from the RB position.

Most young RBs have trouble getting on the field because of pass protection—not understanding the scheme of what to do and not being to execute it correctly.  The game of football depends on the execution of all 11 players and a freshman RB made a poor play at the worst possible moment for the Bulldogs (one of many plays from the game that Georgia would like to change, not to pin the entire loss on one player).  I will analyze the play by using the RB Pass Pro fundamentals that I got from a clinic talk by Tony Ball, the RB Coach (from 2006-2009) and now, WR Coach at Georgia, so you will get coached up with the same coaching points this player will be hearing as he watches this film with his coaches.

Here's the film, courtesy of CBS Sports and the SEC Network:

Fundamentals of RB Pass Protection

1.  Scan the Defense. 
Check.  The RB scanned the defense and knew who to block.

2.  Step with Inside Foot First. 
Check.  The RB stepped first with his inside foot to get inside leverage and to get his body turned correctly. 

3.  Close Space Quickly. 
Big mistake here.  Both the RB and the LB started off 5 yards from the LOS (line of scrimmage), so theoretically they should meet halfway—at or near the LOS.  Instead of expanding the pocket to give room for the QB to throw, the pocket is condensed.

4.  Punch. 
Even with the mistake of the RB not closing the space quickly, he can still do his job and block his man if he punches him at all.  Instead, the defender takes off at the 11-yard line and continues in the air relatively unimpeded and tips the ball at the 13-yard line.

5.  Expand the Pocket. 
After the punch, the RB should continue to force the defender outside to expand the pocket.  The RB "opens up the gate" and lets the pass rusher get upfield vertically instead of widening him.  On a drop-back pass that takes longer to develop, the RB would need to keep his feet working to widen the rusher and expand the pocket.

A critical error was that the RB did not take the protection into account on how he attacked his defender.  The Fade-Flat combination on this pass play is designed to be used with quick protection.  The Georgia Offensive Line did a terrific job of firing out and stopping the Alabama Defensive Line at the LOS.  The Left Tackle cut block the Defensive End, making him a non-factor in the play as well.  All that was left was the RB's block on the blitzing LB to give Georgia QB Aaron Murray's pass a chance to reach its intended target in a play that will torture the Bulldogs for what could have been.


  1. Very Good Analysis there Coach. I at first thought it was the freshman right tackle but after seeing the film you are exactly right there.

  2. Check out Alabama's first turnover, where Jarvis Jones slapped the ball out of AJ's hand. Eddie Lacy chipped JJ on a double team with RT DJ Fluker, then inexplicably stood there as if the play was over. Jones didn't stop because there was no reason to stop, so Georgia ball.

    http://youtu.be/3VJg2zJoYxE?t=10m49s (10:49 into video)

    1. When I saw the title of this article, that's the play that came to my mind. Unbelievably poor effort in a huge game.

  3. Please don't use Vimeo. Can't get the video to work in either FF or Chrome. Fail.

  4. I just feel like the play was rushed! A spike would have let Georgia collect their thoughts and might have gotten 3 plays at the end zone instead of two! Also the throw was extremely low for the back corner of the end zone.

  5. Read an article Sunday where Kirby Smart said they had practiced and knew Georgia would run this hurry up play with the "flat and back shoulder fade" route in their 2 minute offense for the past 3 years. CJ was told not to rush all the way and slap at the ball because of the potential low trajectory. Watch the replay, Milliner (#28) is all over Mitchell (#28) and the back shoulder fade. Lester (#37) and Smith (#24) both were covering the flat route. Talk about preparation!

  6. Good call, coach.

    The piece that I have yet to see any analysis on is the timeout that Georgia burned on defense with about 4 minutes to play.

    Bama was at midfield with a 3rd and 5, and there appeared to be confusion among the Georgia defense, and it seems like they got caught with the wrong personnel on the field. If that timeout is still in play on Alabama's last possession, Georgia gets another 40 seconds. (And after the timeout, Yeldon runs for just enough for the first down. Next play is the go-ahead bomb to Cooper from the 45.)

    I am not a trained enough eye with Georgia's personnel or scheme to be able to breakdown what they were trying to do, lining up there. Your thoughts?

    1. Good point, People forget Bama went into half time with a field goal when they could have punched it in for 7. They tried to hurry up instead of calling a time out, wasted 15 to 18 seconds and went into the half with 2 timeouts.

  7. How about just a poor read by the QB. Bad throw. Throw should have been an actual fade, not a back shoulder.

  8. I think Georgia was more concerned with trying to stop the Bama offense and getting them off the field on a key 3rd down there.

    As far as the back shoulder fade, it is a good call vs. a good CB who can blanket a WR on the regular fade route, but it sounded like Saban had them prepared for it pretty good.