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Examining Mike Leach's Screen Game, Via Cougar Sports Weekly

For those of you who got sick of screen passes under former offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy, you might want to take a deep breath right about now: You're going to see a ton more under Mike Leach, as the screen game is a huge part of the Air Raid attack.

With the Crimson and Gray game on Saturday, I figured it was time to dive back into Mike Leach's playbook to examine Rita, Lisa, Randy and Larry. Here's a snippet of my 1,600 words on the topic in yesterday's Cougar Sports Weekly:

Right now, you probably have no idea who Rita, Lisa, Randy and Larry are. But if you want to familiarize yourself with Mike Leach's playbook, you best get yourself acquainted with them, because they're the names of most of the variations of Leach's wide receiver screens. ...

This is your basic jailbreak screen -- a screen pass in which an outside receiver catches the ball running to the inside of the formation with linemen running out in front of him -- either to the right (Rita) or left (Lisa). It's the play that probably comes to mind when you think of a wide receiver screen, and it's a play that Marquess Wilson ran to great success last year, including his touchdown at San Diego State. Here's what it looks like in diagram form:



The process is simple. The quarterback takes a three-step drop while the intended receiver sells a vertical route. The defensive ends push upfield, and the tackles ride them right out of the play. At three steps downfield, the receiver plants and retraces his route, coming back to the ball and back across the line of scrimmage. That last part -- catching the ball on his side of the line of scrimmage -- is really important, because that allows the linemen to run free downfield without penalty.

All of the blockers flow to the side of the intended receiver, creating a wall behind which the receiver can run. When the interior linemen release the defensive tackles, the screen theoretically creates a hat-on-hat situation with blockers and defenders. And when it works to perfection, you get what you got against SDSU: An escort down the field.

I go on to examine Randy, Larry and the Arc -- more types of screens. (EDIT: Forgot to mention that the newsletter also includes my analysis of recruit Danny Mattingly's video.) If I have sufficiently intrigued you and you'd like to read the rest of the piece, you can find subscription info for Cougar Sports Weekly here. Monthly subscriptions are just $1.99, and when you sign up, I'll forward you the most recent edition and you'll have access to our archives.