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One Awesome Play: Jamire Calvin sparks a comeback over Boise State

A well-designed combo route creates confusion for the Broncos’ defense.

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

There were a lot of indications sprinkled all throughout Saturday night’s game against Boise State that it might not end favorably for WSU. But a touchdown to Jamire Calvin sparked an effort that would prove them all wrong.

With four minutes and ten seconds left in the third quarter, the starting quarterback and WSU career passing yardage record holder was benched for a series so he could “see how easy it was out there”. Up to that point, the Wazzu offense had run 43 plays and garnered 188 yards (4.37 yards per play — not great), punted on five of seven drives, and failed to get into the end zone.

QB2 ran six fairly successful plays before taking a sack 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage; on the very next play, he proceeded to demonstrate excellent shovel-pass technique right into the hands of a defender on a scramble drill.

Like good teams do, Boise State took a shot at the end zone after a turnover at midfield. It worked. 24-10 Broncos.

The starting quarterback returned — having learned a great many things on the sideline — and was promptly slammed into the turf after his pocket blew up, fumbled, had that returned for a touchdown, then couldn’t get off the field without medical staff on each arm. 31-10 Broncos.

A one-possession game that mostly featured offensive ineptitude turned into a three-score deficit and no QB1 in about five minutes.

Then QB2 trotted out a second time.

Tyler Hilinski led a march down the field, connecting with Kyle Sweet, Renard Bell (twice), and Isaiah Johnson-Mack for chunk yardage. Finding themselves facing 2nd-and-1 from the Boise State 17 yard line with 8:07 left on the clock in the fourth, the Cougs dialed up a play that notched Calvin’s first collegiate touchdown.

Early 98 Switch Z-Under F-Swing

That’s the best guess at the play name Jesse Cassino and I came up with, anyway. Early is trips to the right and some tag (maybe “Flip”) is used to move H inside of Y. The playcall itself could be a number of other things though; this play is a post-corner combo between the inside receivers, like 617 Switch between outside receivers.

Boise State lined up in their base defense, and gives away their Cover 3 just before the snap. In Cover 3, the corners and single high safety are each responsible for a third of the field deep and it’s fairly standard to see teams “roll” into this coverage against a trips receiver set.

Given what WSU had been doing all game, this is a really understandable adjustment to trips from Boise State. They essentially pull a guy from a deep zone to clutter the intermediate field side.

Their Star backer on the line of scrimmage to the the right of formation bails to take the flat to the boundary, a backer blitzes A-gap while the other drops to middle zone, and the two — let’s just call them Nickels — to the field side split the intermediate zones to that side of the field with the corner bailing to his deep third.

The important read for Boise State is what the corner sees in that combo route. Calvin, inside at H, runs his corner across the face of that outside Nickel. The Nickel shades him for a few steps before passing him off and keying on Jamal Morrow swinging out of the backfield to the flat.

The corner misreads the combo route, picking up the Post route from Kyle Sweet at Y and leaving Calvin about as wide open as a freshman could hope to be for his first TD. There are three receivers that all have a better than good chance at getting a first down; one of them has a gimme six.

Rather than lead Calvin into the boundary around the 5 yard line, Hilinski guides his corner route more vertical and into the endzone.

Play the fight song.

What would’ve otherwise been a nice garbage-time confidence builder for Hilinski and Calvin turned into the first step of a massive fourth quarter comeback. On the next series, Peyton Pelluer housed the most ill-advised pass attempt you’ll ever see, and Erik Powell perfectly executed Coach Mele’s immaculately-designed Doink It Off Their Coverage Guy’s Helmet Punt to set the Cougs up to tie the game in regulation.

That game was bonkers. This play was awesome.