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Cal football film room: A Golden Spotlight on Daniel Lasco's TD springing fake

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Daniel Lasco's fake frees Darius Powe for a waggle pass touchdown

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Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Cal's loss to UCLA on Thursday night was ugly.  I choose to look at the positive and the interesting with the Golden Spotlight, and Daniel Lasco's touchdown springing block showed a player overcoming adversity to help his team to execute a classic wing t concept in a 21st century package.

Lasco has struggled with injury in his final year at Berkeley, but he is still finding ways to contribute.  There would be no statistical reward for Lasco on the play, but his run fake occupied two key defenders, freeing Darius Powe for a touchdown.

The play is a variation of the "waggle pass," which has been one of the most productive plays in football history (and which the great bucksweep.com calls "the best play in football").  The idea is simple - the run fake goes in one direction, the quarterback rolls to the other direction.  The receivers also run in the opposite direction of the fake, layered down the field for the quarterback. The defense is in immediate conflict - the buck sweep (or, in Cal's case, the inside zone) has hopefully already been established, forcing the defense to respect the run, while receivers sprint in the opposite direction.  The quarterback is left with a run pass option and receivers in clear throwing lanes at different levels down the field.  The play can be both a clock grinder (the quarterback run or the short passes) or a home run ball (the deeper routes).  Chip Kelly is perhaps the most prominent spread coach who employs variations of the play as a staple of his offense.

GS Waggle 1

The waggle routes and assignments. Note that Raymond Hudson from the wing position is often the open receiver, as defenses have trouble picking up receivers who run their pattern behind the offensive line. UCLA does a good job with this route on this play.

GS Waggle 2

Lasco does a great job of carrying out his fake. When watching this play live, it probably seemed like Darius Powe simply beat his man, but make no mistake: Lasco made this touchdown. The circled defender, above, is in man coverage on Powe. At this moment, he reacts to Lasco, and that is all that Powe needs. Watching the gif, below, shows just how lost the defender was on the play. Jared Goff and the offensive line also do good jobs of selling their fakes. This is a play that is a function of a true "system." The initial steps of the line, Hudson, Lasco, and Goff are identical to a Cal zone run with Hudson blocking the backside. This is how the pieces of an offensive system fit together.

GS Waggle 3

Lasco's fake did not only take Powe's initial defender out of the play. When you watch the gif of the play, pay attention to the circled player. He reacts up on Lasco's initial fake briefly, then moves with the flow of Goff's path, and then turns to Lasco again. This is why running backs must carry out their fakes. Many backs have a tendency to pull up after the initial fake. Not Lasco. He carries his fake to the goal line, a function of good coaching and disciplined playing.  This second defender may have been able to take away Powe's pattern if Lasco's fake had been halfhearted. Also note the separation between Powe and his initial defender, who has no chance of catching up after biting on Lasco's fake. Finally, note how well UCLA reacted to and covered the other patterns on the play. Several defenders were put in conflict on the play and reacted well. But Lasco's fake created plenty of space for Powe in the back of the end zone.

GS Waggle 4

Powe shows great body control in adjusting to the pass and securing the touchdown. 

Compare to an "original" wing t waggle pass:

Waggle pass diagram
Cal did not have a good game against UCLA. Offensively, they struggled against UCLA's physicality and athleticism, failing to win in the trenches or consistently gain separation down the field. UCLA is a good team, but Cal's schedule is not getting any easier. If those problems persist, Cal's execution level will have to compensate for physicality/athleticism deficits, if Cal is to have success. Their goal line execution of the waggle concept is one such example of how to beat a fast, good, aggressive defense.

Keegan Dresow spent four seasons as the head coach of the Avedøre Monarchs of the Danish American Football Federation, is the author of Offensive Football Systems and Gridiron Cup, 1982, and is the operator of totalamericanfootball.com.