USC at Oregon St Interceptions

This post will look at the interceptions by both USC and Oregon State in the day-after-Halloween game up in Corvallis.  These turnovers helped swing the momentum of the game in either direction and really set the tone.  Let us take a look at each interception in terms of the offensive and defensive playcall as well as what transpired on the field.

Oregon St. Interception #1

The situation: 12:25 left in the 2nd Quarter, USC up 14-0.  1st and 10 on the USC 16 yardline.

Click here to view the video of this interception

The offensive Playcall:

Oregon State's playcall

Oregon State’s playcall

Oregon State comes out in a single back, balanced two tight end set with both receivers lined up towards the boundary side of the field.  The boundary wide receiver goes into motion presnap as Oregon State called a double play action fake in this play.  They faked the fly sweep motion and also faked the off tackle handoff to the running back.  They expected the combination of these two actions to stretch our defense out horizontally and strain the defense.  The slot receiver would take the safety away by running a post route.  This left the tight end on the left side, who would sell the run block for the off tackle run but would then leak out and wheel out into the area vacated by the slot receiver.  It is actually a pretty well designed play.

The defensive playcall:

USC's playcall

USC’s playcall

USC comes out in their base 5-2 defense.  Because of the WR in motion, our safety and corner make a switch with Josh Shaw now covering the deep zone and the safety coming down hard on the potential fly sweep.  The corner on the top of the screen also helps on the fly sweep.  The slot receiver is covered man to man.  The outside and inside linebacker to our defense’s right (bottom of the screen) cover the flats.  The defensive end on that side starts with a pass rush but eventually also drops into the flats.  The inside linebacker on the far side of the field does a delayed blitz.

The play unfolds:

The play at the point of play action.

The play at the point of play action.

Here is the play as it is at the point of the play action.  The fly sweep is well defended with the safety and corner both there to contain and make the tackle.  Three linebackers are ready to take on the off tackle run (the outside linebacker would take on the block by the TE and be the contain man, forcing the running back towards the two other inside linebackers).

Secondary moves on both sides happen after a delay.

Secondary moves on both sides happen after a delay.

After a delay, the secondary moves activate for each side.  On Oregon State’s side, the Tight End leaks out into a passing route (unfortunately for him, USC didn’t send any rushers into his zone, which makes it harder for him to fake the block before leaking out).  On USC’s side, the inside linebacker goes in on a delayed blitz now that the pass blocking assignments are already set in, giving him a clear rushing lane at the QB.

All routes are well defended.

All routes are well defended.

At this point, USC has the play well defended.  The TE who has leaked out already has two potential defenders on him (yellow lines).  One of those defenders also has a good angle on the running back in the flats should the QB decide to checkdown.

Throw is made to the TE

Throw is made to the TE

The post is well defended and the QB believes that Josh Shaw has also followed the post receiver.  The throw is made to the TE.  However, Shaw reads this well and makes a break on the pass, easily getting over the top of the TE.

The interception

The interception

Easy interception for Shaw in the endzone since the ball is overthrown.  Had the ball been properly thrown, I still believe Shaw would have the angle to intercept it or at least bat it down.

USC Interception

The situation: 9:43 left in the 2nd Quarter, USC up 14-7, first play after an OSU score.  1st and 10 on the USC 25 yardline.

Click here to view the video of this interception

The offensive playcall:

USC's playcall

USC’s playcall

USC came out in a weak offset I with one receiver on either side.  Playaction was called on an off tackle run.  The receiver to the top of the screen would run a deep out.  The receiver on the bottom of the screen runs some unknown deep route (not seen on the camera angle).

The defensive playcall:

2 Defense Play Diagram

Oregon State’s playcall

Oregon State bites pretty hard on the play action with all of their linebackers moving in the direction of the fake run.  The safety on the bottom of the screen also bites.  Both corners are playing man coverage on the receivers (yellow dotted line), but the corner on the top of the screen bites on the play action.  The safety at the top of the screen moves into deep coverage.

The play unfolds:

Oregon State bites on the play action

Oregon State bites on the play action

This shot shows the point of the play action.  All three linebackers and the cornerback to that side bite on the play action.  This leaves the receiver on that side of the field one on one with loose coverage by the safety.

Oregon State's defenders react to the play action.

Oregon State’s defenders react to the play action.

Oregon State’s defenders realize the fake and react accordingly.  The corner and one of the linebackers drop back to defend the receiver and the two other linebackers blitz in.

Kessler's pass

Kessler’s pass

Kessler throws the ball to the receiver on the deep out.  I believe Kessler threw the ball a bit late and gave the corner too much time to react and get back on the route.  This allowed him to sit, read, and intercept the ball easily.

The deep out is a very tough throw to make.  You need a lot of arm strength to get the ball out there before the defense can react (and before your receiver hits the sidelines).  In this case, the throw probably should have been made before the receiver even made his cut.  The throw comes out late, the corner has time to recover from the play action,makes a play on the ball, and runs it back for a TD.

Oregon State Interception #2

The situation: 12:51 left in the 4th Quarter, USC up 31-14.  1st and Goal on the USC 5 yardline.

Click here to view the video of this interception

The offensive playcall:

Oregon State's playcall

Oregon State’s playcall

Oregon State lines up in a a strong I formation with both TEs on the same side of the field  and calls another play action pass.  This play is similar in design to the first interception.  The receiver runs a post route to draw off the safety.  The TE fakes the block for the play action and then leaks out to the area vacated by the post route.  The fullback is in the flats as the checkdown and the running back stays in to block.

The defensive playcall:

USC's playcall

USC’s playcall

USC’s playcall is pretty simple.  The cornerback and the safety are both playing the wide receiver.  The corner plays outside leverage as he knows the safety has inside coverage against the post or dig routes.  The inside linebackers are in man to man coverage against the running back and fullback.  Dion Bailey has man coverage on the tight end who leaks out.

The play unfolds:

The point of the play action.

The point of the play action.

Here is the play at the point of play action.  There is good outside contain defense against the run which would have forced the running back inside.  The corner establishes his outside leverage against the receiver with the safety helping inside.

USC's pass coverage

USC’s pass coverage

Oregon State sets up to pass and does not have much.  The fullback is now double covered out in the flats.  The post route is also double covered.  Dion Bailey has already sniffed out the leaking TE and is in coverage against him.  The running back is also covered (although he is not going out for a route but instead tries to cut block one of the pass rushers).  Also at this point, the defensive front is starting to make their penetration moves and get through the blocks.

Dion Bailey has eyes on the QB.

Dion Bailey has eyes on the QB.

This frame is pretty key to the interception.  As you can see here, Dion Bailey is in tight coverage against the TE.  He has his hand touching the TE to better establish the position of the TE which allows his eyes to be on the QB.  This allows Bailey to easily see the pass being made and jump the route.

Bailey jumps the route

Bailey jumps the route

Here, you see Dion Bailey jumping the route.  The cornerback also had eyes on the QB and provides help over the top (since the post is now covered by the safety).

Oregon State Interception #3

The situation: 4:16 left in the 4th Quarter, USC up 31-14.  1st and 10 on the USC 30 yardline.

Click here to view the video of this interception

The offensive playcall:

Oregon State's playcall

Oregon State’s playcall

Oregon State comes out in the I formation with a receiver on either side.  The receiver who is just out of the frame on the top runs a go route.  The receiver on the bottom of the screen runs a deep in route (dig route).  The TE does a shallow in route, creating a high-low with the receiver on the bottom of the screen.  Both running backs run shallow routes, one going in each direction.

The defensive playcall:

USC's playcall

USC’s playcall

After showing blitz, USC is in a pretty simple Cover-2 man.  The two safeties who are off the screen to the right are playing half field deep zone coverage.  The linebacker with the red arrow may be playing a shallow zone as well and picks up the crossing TE.

The play unfolds:

The point of the play action

The point of the play action

USC does not bite whatsoever on the playaction.  The linebackers don’t react at all and the corners cover their man.

Defenders bracket the receivers.

Defenders bracket the receivers.

The TE has crossed the field and is now bracketed by two linebackers.  Just off the screen, the receiver on the dig route is also bracketed by the corner and safety.  The fullback (guy on the yardline running towards the top of the screen) has been picked up by a linebacker.

The throw is made to the dig route

The throw is made to the dig route

The ball is thrown to the dig route.  You can clearly see the TE (bottom center of the screen) and the dig route receiver being bracketed here.  On the top right corner you can see the corner covering the go route receiver and the other safety should have been on top of that, also bracketing that receiver.  The fullback is defended on the top left of the screen.  However, this left the running back completely wide open on the center left of the screen (circled).  Had the QB been more patient, that is an easy completion instead of forcing the ball into double coverage.

Conclusions

USC played strong defense and was able to react well to the play action passes by Oregon State.  By taking away both the run and the screen, play action stood little chance.  This lead to three timely interceptions by USC’s defense which helped preserve the lead and come home from a tough road game with a W.

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