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Nite’s Watch: Will Grier to Ricky Rogers in West Virginia’s Spring Game

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A brand new weekly series will be brought upon the House of the Smoking Musket. Each week we will look at a play or series that helped define the previous week’s game. Since there are no previous weeks in 2017, yet, we are going to look at one of the more explosive plays in the 2017 Spring Game. Will Grier launching a long pass to wide receiver Ricky Rogers.

The Play

Here is the play. The ball is on the offense’s 37-yard line. The Gold Team is lined up in a 2x1 offset pistol formation. To the far side of the frame, Ricky Rogers is your outside receiver with Gary Jennings (?) lined up in the slot. I’m assuming Wellman is offset from Grier with Martell Pettaway lined up behind the quarterback. To the near side stands David Sills.

The defense is shading David Sills with the cornerback playing on his outside shoulder while the safety is providing inside help. This bracket coverage is meant to contain Sills.

On the far side of the field, you have a cornerback lined up again outside on Rogers with the safeties playing bracket on the slot.

At first glance this is a play designed to take advantage of the run. With only six men in the box, its a perfect time to run outside and get some big yardage.

At the snap, Wellman comes across the line while Pettaway runs an off-tackle fake. Grier sells the play fake before bootlegging back to the near side of the field.

On the far side, Rogers gives an inside release before turning upfield while the slot receiver is running a drag across the middle of the field. Sills on the near side is running a deep out. The overall goal of this play is to flood half the field while stressing the defense vertically. Grier has a checkdown in Wellman, an intermediate throw in Jennings, a safe deep throw in Sills and a touchdown throw in Rogers.

Tony Gibson counters this with a corner blitz from the near side. The rollout and Wellman help neutralize this as the corner is running towards but away from Grier and has to change direction. Wellman is able to get in his way which effectively alters his route and gives Grier enough time.

The weakside linebacker is scraping down the line but peels off when he sees the playfake. He begins to rush Grier but spots Wellman leaking out behind the blitzing corner and gets deep to cover the flat/checkdown. This again gives Grier ample time to set his feet.

On the far side of the play, the corner covering Rogers is in zone and lets Rogers go. The strong safety takes the slot receiver and follows him along his route, clearing out underneath. This leaves Shane Commodore one-on-one with Ricky Rogers. Rogers, with his clean release, presses up on Shane before turning to the post.

The best part of this play isn’t the route or the rollout. It’s the throw. This is a throw that Skyler has to put 20 yards further in the air to get to this point. Skyler often threw a high ball but here you can watch the ball travel, in the air, on screen the entire time. There is a great trajectory and even more impressive is that despite the ball traveling nearly 50 yards in the air, it lands in Rogers’ hands as soft as a kitten.

This play is similar to one’s run by Florida in their dominating win over Ole Miss in 2015. As a freshman, the Ole Miss game was considered Grier’s coming out party. When the game started, Ole Miss brought heat and got to Grier early.

That sack forced Florida to punt. After a quick three-and-out by Ole Miss, Florida countered the Rebels pressure with the exact play we are highlighting. It is a different formation but the play routes are the same. Grier runs a play action, off-tackle bootleg. This time the slot/H-back acts as his check down, while the X receiver runs the deep out. The tight end on the far side runs the drag route and the Z receiver runs the deep post. Grier hits the deep out on this throw but its the same play from two formations.