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Breaking Down Mike Leach's Favorite Airraid Plays, Via Cougar Sports Weekly

Here's an excerpt from this morning's Cougar Sports Weekly, in which I broke down one of the staples of Mike Leach's Airraid playbook, Blue Right 92, more commonly known as "mesh." You can find subscription information here. I might also point out that a subscription to CSW makes a lovely holiday gift.

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The two basic ways to beat a defense throwing the ball are by stretching it either vertically or horizontally. In this particular play, the name "mesh" comes from the crossing of two receivers, which seeks to stretch the defense horizontally. The play can be run equally well against man-to-man or zone.

The first read for the quarterback is the Z receiver, who runs a corner. Defenses often will recognize mesh, but if they try to jump the short routes, the big play will be available. If it's not there because they've played the deep route honestly, then the mesh comes into play.

The key here is the confusion caused by the X and Y crossing each other. It requires seamless communication from the defense to pass off a receiver from one defender to another, and since it's usually a pair of linebackers -- for whom coverage is not their strength -- someone usually ends up free. Against a typical 4-3 defense, the MLB has to pick either the X or Y to cover, as the OLBs are respecting the H and F. There's almost always a gap in the zone to be exploited by the X or Y -- or both, if the MLB can't make up his mind in a split second.

Big point: This play is a great example of how there's almost always someone open. That's magic of Leach.