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Two Awesome Plays: Hunter Dale will sack you, Max Borghi will truck you

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Let’s break down how WSU’s nickel back hit home on a safety blitz, plus, another bonus this week — a running back bulldozes the Trojan secondary.

NCAA Football: Washington State at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The USC Trojans looked outmatched for most of last Friday’s contest. A dominating ground game on their first drive and the position group match-up against WSU’s corners were the only spots the Trojans looked like the more physical team.

With 1:19 remaining in the first half, USC’s offense took over at their own 26 yard line, down 24-14. Quarterback JT Daniels quickly completed three passes and moved the Trojans into field goal range. After a short pass to Tyler Vaughns and an incompletion, USC was looking at 2nd-and-10 from the Washington State Cougars’ 29-yard-line with 0:33 left before halftime.

Plenty of time to take a couple shots at the end zone — let JT Daniels chuck it and draw some more defensive pass interference with their Joe Flacco Ravens-style offense.

Hunter Dale and Dominick Silvels didn’t let the ball get out of his hand.

Ultimately, the throw-it-up and get DPI (most of which were deserving) worked just two plays later, setting USC up for a field goal just before half.

It’s still awesome to watch Dale start from safety and drop JT Daniels eight yards behind the line of scrimmage in less than three-Mississippi.


The Trojans are on Wazzu’s 29-yard-line with limited time in the half and have beaten the Cougs deep along the boundary a few times already. WSU squares up against USC’s 11 personnel with what looks like man coverage and a single safety who isn’t being very safety-like at less than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage.

WSU likes to mix their safeties — either one — into run fit responsibilities like a linebacker and camouflages when this is happening by routinely varying safety alignment, especially depth.

That provides a challenge to offenses that rely heavily on single or two-high safety reads from their quarterbacks before the snap.

Only four WSU players don’t rush the quarterback.

At the snap, Dominic Silvels at Rush End (right) speed rushes the outside shoulder of the right tackle. The USC tight end doesn’t bother chipping him before taking off on his vertical route. Just behind him linebacker Peyton Pelluer has a wrecking ball assignment, similar to what a wedge-breaker used to do when wedge returns were legal in the kicking game. Mainly, blow everything up. He smashes into the outside shoulder of the guard, opening up the B gap.

Hunter Dale bursts through from the secondary and hits home right as Silvels turns the corner on his edge rush.

Unfortunately, WSU wasn’t able to capitalize on this great effort and keep USC from putting points on the board in what ended as a one-possession game.


The bonus play this week highlights alleged freshman Max Borghi. It’d be tough to overstate how hard Borghi hits the hole at the line of scrimmage. The kid’s got feet like a speed skater on grass and carries the momentum of a buffalo — he refuses to let the first guy who hits him change his direction. In general, USC isn’t used to getting trucked ... but the Trojans are very not used to being trucked by WSU, and definitely, absolutely not used to getting trucked by a freshman running back in a pass-first offense. Borghi sat a few of their guys down last weekend and probably gave the rest of the conference a bit to think about.

It won’t be much longer until Max Borghi is a Pac-12 household name.

And ... WSU has added an RPO?

Washington State is in their Early (trips right) formation, 10 plays deep into an 11-play scoring drive. The trips is into the field side, drawing most of USC’s attention away from the boundary.

The Trojans have five defenders in the box. A box-count run game was half explained during the broadcast and was more an excuse for former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy to put numbered circles on defenders to help us count.

Defensive match-ups and alignments will dictate what is, or is not considered, “in the box.” Often times broadcasters will count an outside linebacker or rush defender in a Wide-9 alignment as in the box when the offense doesn’t consider them part of the blocking scheme — their positioning at the snap takes them out of the play.

This play is pretty clear. There’s five guys there. Probably going to be a good opportunity to run the ball. But the Cougs add a twist we haven’t seen all that much.

The line doubles the defensive guards and leaves the end unblocked, like you do in a zone-read play. The trips formation runs a simple bubble screen to the No. 3 WR (Y, Kyle Sweet). Quarterback Gardner Minshew II is either going through some rather elaborate motions on a called run play or he’s reading the secondary covering trips and the unblocked end in a RPO (run-pass-option).

He can either pull the ball and hit Sweet on a bubble screen if the blocks are being set up great or the DE crashes really hard.

Or he can hand it off to Max Borghi.

Borghi sees the congestion and bounces. Without anyone around to cheap shot, defensive end Porter Gustin is relegated to a fruitless chase.

Another fun angle:

Borghi is a stud. Now we just gotta work on those touchdown celebrations.