A collection of every passing play and/or scramble run involving Geno Smith against Maryland this past Saturday. With thoughts!
Now that the offensive portion of the WVU is over, here's a look at every snap involving Geno Smith from their game against the Terrapins. You can see a lot of what we talked about yesterday in action and a few things we probably need to talk about even more. I only had time to watch the first half so far, and I'll fill in the rest later.
- It only takes about a minute of watching this video to realize that Maryland's intention throughout this game was to pressure Smith as much as possible and put him on the ground whenever they could. That came back to bite them when WVU ran screen plays to the RB or the WRs, but they stayed committed.
Tavon Austin's first TD catch came about 1:03 into the video. Memorize that play because you'll see it again. Hopefully you won't see the same result where the Maryland defender was more interested in hitting than tackling and Austin shook off the hit to race 40+ yards for a TD. If our defenders try that same crap this week, I guarantee you he'll do the same thing.
- On the first play of WVU's second drive, after a false start that we don't see in the video, Maryland came back with a 3-man front but showed 5 rushers before dropping the LBs into coverage. I would bet anything we do a lot of this when we absolutely know they'll pass, like on a 1st and 15. They sold the play well and Smith didn't realize he would have more time than he expected. They did the same thing again on the second play, this time dropping three LBs. Their MLB made a great play on Austin after he got the ball, holding him to negative yardage and putting WVU in a long third down. On that third down, Smith made a poor decision to throw to a covered Stedman Bailey who probably wasn't going to get the needed yardage unless someone blew a tackle (which was certainly possible).
- Maryland came back to their 3-man front on the next drive but brought extra pressure on a standard first down by overloading the offense's left side. They didn't get to Smith but the pressure forced a throw earlier than he probably would have liked, and it went incomplete on the sideline. I like how Maryland's LBs are constantly moving before the snap, weaving in and out of different gaps and OL responsibilities until they either drop off or rush. Takes a lot of trust in those guys on the part of Maryland's DC to let them do it. Not exactly their fault that Smith and Austin beat the zone on the next play for a big gain.
- You finally see Smith run on the following first down. He's mobile, but not speedy, and only gets 2 yards on the play. Our LBs have to recognize when he tucks the ball and when he doesn't so they know how aggressively to pursue him. Last weeks' opponent, Kolton Browning, was not only left-handed but had a very quick release and beat us several times for big gains when he escaped the pocket.
- Tavon Austin is a lot like Kendall Wright in how he finds the first down marker and waits. He's not as strong as Kendall was, but he's very smart and doesn't get greedy.
- After a pair of incompletions and a Smith scramble for four yards that Robert Griffin III would have busted for 20+, Maryland brings the house, doesn't get there, and Smith finds J.D. Woods on the sideline inside the 10. It didn't work out on that play, but Smith still ended up on the turf and it took a great throw/catch to make the play. WVU followed that up with a weird fade play that would have gotten Smith killed had he kept the ball another half-second.
- On second and third down with goal to go, Maryland was not content to just let Smith pick them apart and brought huge pressure, getting to Smith both times. Smith survived the second down play although his helmet didn't and threw it out of the endzone. He didn't survive third down and was sacked for a big loss to force a field goal. Pressure is everything against him. His RB made a terrible decision on that play and ended up only chipping a guy probably twice his size.
- The next time they got the ball, Smith followed a tip-drill incomplete pass ripe for an interception with a strike down the middle of the field to Austin. They're going to do that to us a lot. Get used to the idea. A few plays later Smith miraculously got the ball out to what looked like Bailey even though the pocket had completely collapsed. Smith ended the half with a wide-open TD to Austin on what had to be a blown coverage. Looking at the replay, the CB must have thought he had help over the top, because he ran to a spot on the field and let Austin go completely.
Like I said, I only watched the first half because of time constraints, but you should realize that WVU already had 24 points when I stopped watching. That means they only scored 7 points in the entire second half. Maryland continually varied the looks Smith saw at the line of scrimmage and the results from those looks by bringing zone blitzes, delayed blitzes, and making it look like they'd do one of the two before dropping everyone back. I'm now watching the first drive of the second half and Maryland's MLB went untouched for a sack on a blitz from his original position (that means he didn't walk up to the line or signal that he was going to blitz). He went right through the spot vacated by WVU's LG, who doubled the nose with the center and never saw him. Maryland then brought pressure on the resulting long third down and forced a throw short of the sticks and a punt. Pressure is everything!
I'll come back and watch more later.