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Breaking Down Both Interceptions Against Mercer


Zeek
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I didn’t like that play call on that first INT either. Think it was only 2 guys running routes while everybody stayed back. The receivers running routes were both double covered so not only was that a bad play call, TJ shouldn’t have thrown the ball at all 

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2 minutes ago, Sizzle said:

I didn’t like that play call on that first INT either. Think it was only 2 guys running routes while everybody stayed back. The receivers running routes were both double covered so not only was that a bad play call, TJ shouldn’t have thrown the ball at all 

Three guys ran a route on the first one. They had a crossing route on the left side and if we had kept running an out route it would have been an easy play (not that TJ was looking that way).

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53 minutes ago, Zeek said:

Yesterday I was at the Florida vs. Utah game (the wife is a Florida grad) so I only got to see small bits and pieces of the game. So this morning I have been re-watching the game against Mercer. Both of TJ Finley's interceptions are absolutely infuriating. Now I may only be a high school defensive coordinator and running back coach but holy crap I could have put us in a better position to succeed. I don't have fancy screen grabs but let's talk about each interception and the things that led up to them.

The First Interception

Let's start by looking at the pre-snap formation and what the staff (and TJ) should have seen. The safeties appear to be in "Cover 3". Leading up to the snap we send a man in motion and no one on Mercer's defense flinches (good hint it's zone coverage). So now it should be apparent that the LB on the top of the screen isn't going to be bringing pressure; if he does the entire flat would be left totally exposed. At most it should have been clear Mercer was only bringing five guys (they end up only bringing 4). 

We had all five linemen, the RB, and a TE blocking. That is seven guys blocking four.

This also means that we only have THREE guys running routes on 3rd & 18.

Additionally this means there are SEVEN defenders in coverage for three receivers. Mercer could double team every receiver and have a deep safety. They know damn well TJ isn't going to break a long run on them and even if he does the linebackers can peel of their zone to get him. This play was doomed from the start.

What makes it worse is the routes we have. No running back or TE releasing. Nothing attacking the middle of the field. No drag routes or anything that typically finds the holes in a zone. We run a somewhat of a rub on the left side but then the route puts both receivers in the same proximity making them easy to cover.

After all that working against us TJ makes the safeties life infinitely easier. Finley absolutely STARES to the right side of the field. There is only ONE receiver on that entire half of the field. If I'm the deep safety I am closing that distance ASAP and making a play on the ball; which he did and it turns into a pick.

Absolute failure of pre-snap read, play calling, and so on by everyone involved. TJ also had a wide open lane to pull the ball down and run it. Especially with the lead we have it was such an unnecessary play to try and force. 

The Second Interception

This will be shorter because the issues are largely the same. When this second interception happened we had eight players blocking just five pass rushers. Meaning that six defenders were covering just two receivers...

Is it hard to connect the dots on why this might not be an ideal setup?

Then, the receiver actually gets a bit of a step on the defender but TJ under throws him by 3-5 yards. This is one of those plays where he needs to place the ball where either the receiver gets it or no one can. An over throw on this play would have been infinitely better. Yet again, TJ stares down his receiver on the play. I feel bad for any of our receivers lined up on the left side of the formation.

 

The good news? A lot of this should be easy to fix if TJ is coachable and mentally capable of making pre-snap reads. Kiesau also has some blame to take. We can run these pro-style formations but damn I think we would help our OL and receivers if we did a few more 4 wide or even 5 wide sets. We can't use 8 guys to block 5. That is a formula for failure especially against zone schemes.

I honestly see the growth in TJ outside of these two plays. Ashford flashed amazing potential though and deserves a shot as QB1 in my opinion; maybe he fails too but he showed a lot of promise and poise. 

Second int watching live it seemed he hesitated almost double clutching which led to the under throw 

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Don’t matter, there is no excuse for the 2 picks. Problem is we aren’t confident enough in the backups to make a change, not yet atleast.

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You’re right.   Plenty of blame to spread around.   TJ doesn’t read the d very well AND stares down receivers too often!   This has to be corrected ASAP!!!

We had some issues with play calling at times.   Those are 2 great examples!   You've got to put your guys in the best situation to be successful, and that didn’t happen on those plays.   One of the things I loved about this offense was the check downs to RBs and TEs.   I suppose they thought it was a lost cause on 3rd and long?!?!?   The way Tank and Jarquez were carving up that D, I would gladly take my chances with them getting the yardage for a 1st.   
In both cases, the protection was more than adequate (but when our blockers outnumber their rushers by that much, that should be a given.)

Overall, it wasn’t a bad performance.  A lot of guys got some good meaningful snaps.   Let’s hope in the old adage that the most improvement happens between week 1 and week 2!

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19 minutes ago, sevenlee36 said:

Don’t matter, there is no excuse for the 2 picks. Problem is we aren’t confident enough in the backups to make a change, not yet atleast.

Hopefully there won’t be a need for a change. 

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1 hour ago, Barnacle said:

Hopefully there won’t be a need for a change. 

Sometimes the D doesn't move knowing the QB changes the play at the line and then shift at the last second. Other times the O coordinator thinks the D is gonna do that and runs the wrong play. If the QB does not have the authority to change the play, he always has the option to throw the ball away, or place the throw where no one can catch it but your guy. The best option is to have that guy that can read the D as all this chaos is happening on the field. There ain't many out there. 

Edited by JuscAUse!
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This is where I'd like the staff to allow the QB to check into a new play.  On 3rd and 18, up 21 or 28, whatever I was- the QB should be able to Omaha into a RB dive or a quick slant or hitch.  There's no reason to run a play that can't work. Admit defeat, live to play another day.

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Does the coaching staff knows this? If not we should send it to them. 

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1 hour ago, JuscAUse! said:

Sometimes the D doesn't move knowing the QB changes the play at the line and then shift at the last second. Other times the O coordinator thinks the D is gonna do that and runs the wrong play. If the QB does not have the authority to change the play, he always has the option to throw the ball away, or place the throw where no one can catch it but your guy. The best option is to have that guy that can read the D as all this chaos is happening on the field. There ain't many out there. 

Was talking about a change at QB!

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2 minutes ago, Barnacle said:

Was talking about a change at QB!

Whatever. Just more or less thinking out loud. Didn't mean to get you all hot and bothered.

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Just now, JuscAUse! said:

Whatever. Just more or less thinking out loud. Didn't mean to get you all hot and bothered.

Not hot and bothered at all! Just clarifying what I meant in the post you quoted. Thought you might have misread. Thinking out loud is one of my favorite pastimes here. 

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17 minutes ago, DAG said:

Does the coaching staff knows this? If not we should send it to them. 

I say that because most college staffs don't let the QBs do that.  Our previous regime was notorious.  Curious if they do now or not. 

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2 minutes ago, Barnacle said:

Not hot and bothered at all! Just clarifying what I meant in the post you quoted. Thought you might have misread. Thinking out loud is one of my favorite pastimes here. 

Yeah. Me, too.  If I had  thought this much about making money, I'd be a multi millionaire by now...

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Just now, WDE_OxPx_2010 said:

I say that because most college staffs don't let the QBs do that.  Our previous regime was notorious.  Curious if they do now or not. 

CBH seemingly seems like he would do that but I imagine first and foremost, he wants to trust his QBs to make the basic right decisions.

I mean we can do the should’ve , would’ve , could’ve all day especially 24 hours. We throw a bubble screen then people would be mad. We run a dive then people will exclaim “Gus all over again.” My issue is regardless, the QB has to know in some of these circumstances, you absolutely cannot do that. And no I am not saying the coaches are perfect. They are fallible as well. 

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2 minutes ago, WDE_OxPx_2010 said:

I say that because most college staffs don't let the QBs do that.  Our previous regime was notorious.  Curious if they do now or not. 

Don’t hold me to it, but I seem to recall Harsin complimenting Finley on getting the offense into the right call during fall camp. At least in some situations, it does appear to be something Harsin asks his QBs to do. 

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Just now, Barnacle said:

Don’t hold me to it, but I seem to recall Harsin complimenting Finley on getting the offense into the right call during fall camp. At least in some situations, it does appear to be something Harsin asks his QBs to do. 

I thought this just meant the play being sent in- didn't consider it might be a quote about changing the play at the line.  Good observation 

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14 minutes ago, Barnacle said:

Don’t hold me to it, but I seem to recall Harsin complimenting Finley on getting the offense into the right call during fall camp. At least in some situations, it does appear to be something Harsin asks his QBs to do. 

He implied (or maybe said directly) that was the main reason Finley won the job

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7 minutes ago, fredst said:

He implied (or maybe said directly) that was the main reason Finley won the job

That was my recollection as well. Good understanding of what the offense wants to accomplish, situations, game management, etc.

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49 minutes ago, DAG said:

Does the coaching staff knows this? If not we should send it to them. 

Considering they made the same mistake twice... lol

 

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Good breakdown - thanks.  
 

I also Thought TJ looked a lot better than last year.  Really, other than those 2 plays, I didn’t see any big screw ups - but those two were both picks, which hurts - a lot.  

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I am really pulling for the young man, but he cannot turn the ball over. And going forward I don’t want him playing tentative either, afraid he’s going to turn it over.

 

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I was just happy to see that CBH pulled TJ after the 2nd INT.  If he thinks TJ should start next week, that's OK too.  Let the guys know that poor performance has consequences....

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Quote

I say that because most college staffs don't let the QBs do that.  Our previous regime was notorious.  Curious if they do now or not. 

I know Mac Jones had the option of checking off.  I remember one play during the college playoffs in 2021, they showed a replay of this.  Mac comes to  the line and its obvious the lbs are crowding the line, he looks at DeVonta, Devonta looks at the linebackers and then back at Mac.  It was if Mac was saying "you see what Im seeing" and DeVonta saying "I see it, forget the play you called Im running a crossing route behind the  linebackers".  Ball is snapped, a toss to DeVonta and a touchdown.  

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