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Nite’s Watch: West Virginia Safety Kyzir White Picks Off Two Passes

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Kyzir White picked off two passes. Let’s check them out.

The Play

I love this interception so much. Kyzir White does mind games to East Carolina quarterback Thomas Sirk. At this point in the game, it’s starting to get out of hand for East Carolina. West Virginia has scored on four straight possessions. The Pirates on the other hand haven’t found much success after their initial drive, but maybe things can change. A touchdown here makes the score 28-10. Get a stop, somehow and another score and it will be 28-17 going into halftime. That is respectable.

Kyzir has other plans, however. Kyzir fakes a blitz by slowly coming down from his mid-safety spot to inside the hash marks, leaving the slot receiver uncovered. He even motions Dravon Askew-Henry over, making it seem like Henry should pick up his receiver! As the ball is snapped, Kyzir is still inside the hash marks but turns quickly to the side line.

As Sirk scans the field, he can reasonably expect Kyzir to have blitzed, leaving his slot man uncovered for a quick play or for Kyzir to drop back into zone, which he appears to do. Either way, both reads would indicate the outside receiver, who is being played with an off-technique by Mike Daniels, should be open for a nice gain on first down.

WVU safety Kyrzir White fakes a blitz

As Sirk starts to roll to his right, he’s got two options. The inside receiver is running a zone beater, the flag route. The outside receiver is running a 8-yard curl. It is possible that the running back has an option route, either to block should the defensive end or linebacker need to be blocked, or to run a small flat and up route if the corners are in man.

The idea of the play is to flood the right side of the field and give Sirk a simply, sure throw.

You’ve probably run this play 1,000 times in your life if you’ve ever played football. It is a simply concept. The rollout likely cost ECU here. If Sirk isn’t rolling out, he likely has the wherewithal to hit the inside receiver on the flag, but because he’s rolling out he never gets a good read on White.

White has left his blitz position and is cutting across the field to take away either a screen or the underneath position on this throw, and he does so beautifully.

This is the moment before Sirk unleashes the pass. White is a good 10 yards from the outside receiver and Daniels is 7 yards away. This should be a completion. Yet White covers the ground and completely undercuts the route. Had ECU been on the other hash mark instead of the middle of the field, White runs this back for a touchdown.


The play before Kyzir White caught his second interception, Toyous Avery almost picked off a pass. Sirk delivers a high pass over the middle and Toyous, manning the second free safety spot in the Cover-2, breaks on a ball and arrives 0.05 seconds too late. One more step and Avery comes down with an interception.

On the very next play, Tony Gibson blitzes all three linebackers, producing enough pressure to force Sirk to throw off his back foot. That throw sails on him as his receiver gives up on the route. Kyzir is gifted another interception, this time much easier.

Pre-snap

Pre-snap you can see that ECU is again in a 2x1 with an offset shotgun-I formation. Kyzir is acting like the slot corner but he’s giving a large cushion. ECU runs a rub route that Kyzir’s depth allows him to overcut and avoid beautifully.

In the meantime, the linebackers announce their blitz and help overload the line. Check out Reese Donahue hurdling the running back as he attempts to go low and block the 250-pound defensive end. On the top of the screen Adam Shuler just rushes past the right tackle putting pressure on Sirk. Sirk, expecting his receiver to run a go, just heaves the ball to avoid the pressure. The pressure and the miscommunication give Kyzir an easy interception.


I’ll leave you with this gif, don’t let your Friday be like this ECU defender who throws his hands up in frustration knowing they just let West Virginia score again.