This post is meant to expand on the two early big Colin Kaepernick runs and the defensive breakdowns that caused them. This is from the first drive of the game.
Second play from scrimmage: 2nd and 7, Kaepernick rushes for 17 yards on a veer play.
With Nevada putting three wideouts, Cal seems to be in a base 3-4. The linebackers are in two point stance at the line of the scrimmage, ready to crash if they get read on the play.
Nevada now lines the tight end on the right side as opposed to the left.
Nevada is running the veer--you can tell by the way the linemen seal off everyone to one side. Outside linebacker Keith Browner is left unblocked on this play.
The pulling tight end wrinkle is interesting. Nevada is utilizing man principles to lead for the runner, while using zone blocking for the linemen to keep Cal's defensive line out of the play. On this play, both achieve their purpose.
Browner is already crashing for the inside line now that he knows he's being read. It seems the plan by Pendergast is to goad Kaepernick into faking the handoff and taking the outside...only to get met by one of the inside linebackers. Unfortunately, something has gone horribly wrong behind him.
D.J. Holt does the right thing and stays in place. Robert Mullins, on the other hand, takes off toward the interior. Perhaps he's trying to provide the second level of support against an inside draw play so that Holt can make the tackle. But the moment Browner crashed toward the tailback, Mullins should have curved to the outside. Take a look at how wide open the outside lane is for Kaepernick to crash into.
With Mullins occupied, Holt is the only defender standing between Kaepernick and a first down.
Unfortunately, the pulling Virgil Green stands in the way, and he pushes Holt off and gives Kaepernick the lane to the second level. If the defense executed properly, Green would've probably blocked out Mullins and Holt would've made the tackle for a minimal gain. The lack of containment outside cost the Bears a first down.
Imagine how different this play is with Mike Mohamed in there instead of Mullins. Sads.
Seventh play from scrimmage: 2nd and 13, Kaepernick rushes for 21 yards on a veer play.
Kaepernick had two big scampers on the opening drive. This is the second, and far more egregious breakdown.
Cal again lines five defenders at the line of scrimmage (three down linemen, the outside linebackers in two point stance). Kendrick Payne is now at nose tackle.
The right flanker comes in motion. If any of the last couple of plays are an indication, that means Nevada is probably running to the left. The veer play is coming again.
Browner again is left unblocked. The wide receiver does not come into block and seems to get ready to turn upfield. You can tell by the way the offensive line is blocking and the way Kaepernick is looking that this is the veer play again.
Browner crashes toward the tailback Taua on the simulated handoff, but Kaepernick has kept the ball. Browner is just doing what he's supposed to do (at least that's what I suspect, since I can't understand why he'd be hitting the tailback without even looking at the play ahead of him).
It's what's happening behind him that makes very little sense to my knowledge-less eyes. Again, with the outside linebackers crashing to stuff the run from the edges, the inside linebackers or safeties should be pulling outside to handle the outside running lanes, especially for a play as dangerous as the veer.
I'm not sure where Chris Conte is going on this play. There's no reason he should be racing ahead of the linebackers, especially when there are already four people racing to contain inside.
Robert Mullins again leaves his responsibility (the outside lane is left way open) to crash the interior. This I can only chalk up to inexperience. I wouldn't be surprised if Clancy Pendergast told his players to be proactive and find the proper lanes to attack, because that's the only reason I can think of why Conte, Mullins and Holt all converge inside and leave a WIDE gaping hole down the left hashmark.
However, despite ALL of these setbacks, there's still reason for hope, Darian Hagan (#26) diagnosed it right. He immediately recognized the scrape-exchange and hedged in on Kaepernick. He races toward the quarterback, evading the wide receiver block by Rishard Matthews. Thankfully, it looks like he'll get to him on a stutter step and minimize the damage...
HEY! ILLEGAL BLOCK IN THE BACK BY MATTHEWS!
THROW OUT THE YELLOW FLAGS REFS! Hagan could've made that tackle if he didn't get hit from behind!
And that's why you play disciplined football on the road. You can never count on the officials to do the right thing by you.
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