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One Awesome Play: Tavares Martin Jr. turns a catch into a track meet

Here’s how 617 Switch sprung Tavares Martin Jr. against Oregon State.

Oregon State v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

The Oregon State Beavers recorded their first sack of the season on the third play of the game. Later on in the third quarter, after Isaiah Johnson-Mack beastmoded a first down out of a poorly blocked screen pass, the Beavers recorded their second and third sacks on consecutive plays.

Wazzu faced a 3rd-and-22 from their own 48 yard line.

Luke Falk laser’d a strike to Tavares Martin Jr. that’d do a bit more than pick up a first down.

Blue 617 Switch F-Option

Brian Anderson: @b17anderson

The Beavs had been doing their normal Quarters stuff for most of the game, mixing in a little Cover 2 and man to help clutter the intermediate. Facing WSU’s twin receivers and two running backs (“Blue” formation), after stunting their way to back-to-back sacks, OSU showed a very aggressive front pre-snap.

This is what the Beaver defense looked like just before the snap, weakly indicating a typical alignment for Cover 1, or man underneath with a free safety up top (who’s off-screen). They’re real soft to the two-receiver side, but with this particular down-and-distance, you’d expect that.

Instead of doing what they look like they’re gonna do and playing man, Oregon State drops both stand-up ends to underneath zones and the corners sit outside the numbers, transitioning into Cover 2.

This isn’t an especially great idea. If WSU tries to hit Y-Option or Stick routes inside, or double slants, or a running back swing, it might do well at keeping things in front and forcing a fourth down. OSU is sort of banking on the Cougs being conservative in this spot, leaving only one defender responsible for half the field deep and lining him up halfway between the hash and numbers.

Wazzu was not conservative.

Instead, they ran a combo route (like last week ... sorry but I couldn’t not do this play), that places stress on the corner and inside defensive back. The corner knows he’s not following WR1 (outside receiver, Martin Jr.) inside and needs to communicate that to the DB dropping to the middle zone.

Renard Bell (inside receiver) runs directly at the bailing safety and cuts to the numbers on a corner route, pulling him to the sideline. The cornerback passes off Tavares Martin Jr. when he hits the top of his zone and Martin Jr. breaks inside. The defender in the middle of the field gets too much depth and the stand-up end doesn’t quite get enough depth to take away the in-breaking route.

Wazzu quarterback Luke Falk hits him in stride, in a great window and Martin Jr. turns the play into a track meet. Chalk up the fifth touchdown on the day for Falk and the third for Martin Jr.

Play the fight song.

After a couple of games where the offense was little more than just fine, Falk — or maybe the fans, rather — needed a huge game against a known weaker team to feel better about what this Wazzu offense is capable of.

Falk delivered. There were a couple shaky series and missed opportunities but those exist in every game. For the most part, Falk looked like the defensive coordinator death dealer he can be when he’s operating at his best. Spreading the ball around and trusting receivers to make plays.

If nothing else, the Oregon State game should be a confidence boost for everyone involved. The outside receivers started balling when they were given a chance and hopefully that chemistry keeps building throughout the season.

In a game pretty full of great offensive plays, the 57-yard, on-target, in-stride, frozen rope to a speedy wideout blazing up centerfield into the endzone gets the nod for being most awesome.