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Cal @ Maryland: Cignetti Calls Up A Cool Play

After seeing Cignetti's playcalling after 5 games, what are your thoughts? Is it too early to tell if Cignetti is a good hire or a bad hire? Or are you ready to conclude he's incompetent? CGB reader Jiggets seems to think Cal's offense is vanilla. CGB reader RickySanchez brought up a few good points regarding the offense, namely pointing out how perhaps Cignetti wasn't adapting to take advantage of what the Maryland defense was doing.

So while doing my Reviewing Cal @ Maryland: What Happened to Cal's Running Game? post, I came across a cool playcall that I thought I might share.

Here's the situation. Cal is at Maryland's 5 yardline. It's second and goal. Cal has 11 personnel on the field (3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 RB). There are two WRs to the offense's left; and one WR and one TE to the offense's right (see picture below).



Riley first looks left. The slot WR sets up a block, and the outside FL WR (flanker wide receiver) comes back towards the QB underneath the slot WR block for the slip-screen pass.


The defense reacts to the slip screen and many defenders move in for the tackle (shown by the three red arrows).


But it's NOT a slip-screen!!! Riley instead looks to his right! I've shown Riley looking right with the green vision cone. Note the perfect window Riley has between the Maryland linebackers.


Riley passes the ball! I've shown the ball with a green dot. Riley is hoping to hit Boateng in the endzone on a post route! I've shown the post route with the blue line. Boateng was able to get inside of his defender giving an ample opportunity for a catch and touchdown.


Unfortunately, the pass is incomplete. I've shown the ref signaling incomplete.

Final Thoughts:

I thought this was a really cool play because of the deception. I wanted to show it because to the casual fans it might have looked like a broken play or just another regular pass play, but it wasn't.

There are two more little points I want to demonstrate.

(1) The play's formational design did a great job hinting to the defense of the possibility of a slip-screen. Do you know the formational "tell" which hinted at slip-screen? Go to the very first screenshot and see if you can find it.

If you noted that the left slot WR was on the LOS, and the left-most WR was off the LOS, then you've found the tell. Good job!

Most of the time Cal has the outer-most WR on the LOS as a split-end, and the slot WR off the LOS as a flanker. But on this play, by placing the slot WR on the LOS, it puts the slot WR in front of the left outer-most WR for protection and so the the WR can run behind the slot WR for the slip-screen.

(2) After the snap, there is a clue that this wasn't a slip-screen although it looked like one. This is an easy one. Do you know what the clue is? Go to the 3rd picture and see if you can find the clue.

Like I said, it's easy. The clue that the play was not a slip-screen was the fact that the OL is continuing to pass block instead of allowing the DL to penetrate and subsequently running upfield to block the LBs for the slip-screen. On slip-screens, the OL will pretend to poorly pass block and allow the DL to penetrate, and then will head upfield to block. The OL didn't do this, and thus, an astute Maryland linebacker might have known immediately that the play wasn't a slip-screen.

So, you were 2 out of 2 on these two questions? Great! Good job. See? Football is easy.