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Coach’s Quick Screen - Leaf to Jackson

Looking back at a great play in Apple Cup history.

Ryan Leaf Washington St

So I hear there’s a football game of minor importance this Friday.

Let’s take a look back at one of the iconic plays of the Apple Cup.

WSU Offensive Formation

10 Personnel - Trips Right Open

UW Defensive Front

Nickel Personnel - 42 Over Sam Twist Cover 1

It’s 3rd & 13 on this play. UW decides to send an overload blitz to the offense’s right side in the hope that the pressure gets home before Ryan Leaf can get the ball out of his hands. By sending pressure, they leave their cover guys in man coverage with a single deep safety over the top. Down at the bottom of the screen, the corner is isolated against Chris Jackson.

At the Snap

The Coug OL does a fantastic job of sliding to the blitz and picking it up across the board, creating a nice pocket for Leaf to step into as he delivers the throw.

At the top of the screen, it looks like the WSU trio is running a China combination - slant by the outside receiver, corner by the middle receiver, and an arrow/flat route by the inside. But Leaf never had any illusion of throwing to the trips side. He’s thinking vertical the whole time. As he drops, his eyes freeze the free safety in the middle of the field, holding him long enough to prevent him from getting to Jackson’s vertical route.

Jackson presses the DB with an inside release, using that leverage to create space for Leaf to drop the ball over his outside shoulder. This is one of the techniques that I harp on for my high school receivers. You have to give your quarterback room to complete the pass. If you get pressed to the sideline and close the space, the chances of an interception or the ball being completely uncatchable are high. That area between the bottom of the numbers and the sideline has to stay clear until you adjust to the ball in flight. It’s a little thing, but taking care of the little things makes big things happen. #coachspeak

Leaf drops a dime right over Jackson’s outside shoulder.

The corner stumbles and slips trying to recover. The free safety, arriving late, gets very rudely dealt with by Jackson’s shoulder pads.

Cue the fight song.

A lot of strategy and game planning will go into Friday afternoon’s tilt with the Huskies. Coaches have 11 games worth of plays, formations, alignments, and tendencies to pore over and break down. Hours upon hours of practice, film study, team meetings, and coaches’ strategy sessions will take place. A game plan will be developed and implemented to attack specific perceived weaknesses in the opponent’s defense.

But sometimes, your best play is just F&!% it; go deep.

Go Cougs.