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Cal football film room: Golden Spotlight on Goff to Anderson and reimagining the waggle pass

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More red zone creativity

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We all know that it has been a tough slide for Cal in recent weeks. The season has unfortunately gone as many predicted - Cal was able to beat the teams at the front of the schedule, but has not yet been able to topple one of the powers of the conference.
I know that my opinion will not be popular at the moment, but I still see reasons for optimism. Cal went to Texas and Washington and left with victories, and their Washington State win continues to look more and more impressive. They are one win away from bowl eligibility. I can be as negative as anyone, and I call things as they see them. Cal still has a chance for a good season, and the program has continued to improve.   
One reason for optimism has been Cal's ability to throw touchdowns in the red zone. Out of the top 50 most efficient red zone offenses (which is all that ncaa.com provides stats for), Cal has thrown the third most touchdown passes (18). To do so, Tony Franklin has employed a clever package of red zone passing plays.
Cal used another such play to open the scoring against Oregon on Saturday. As I wrote about here, Cal used a classic waggle concept to score against UCLA. Against Oregon, they reimagined it.

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Here, a "typical" waggle action. The defense will only expect a play action roll out to the side of the running back, because that is the natural play fake action (runner fakes from left to right while quarterback fakes from right to left).

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Here is what Cal actually executes. Daniel Lasco fakes a counter - he starts to his right, and cuts downhill to his left. Jared Goff fakes to Lasco, and then rolls to the same side as Lasco's initial movement (right). This may not seem like much, but to a group of defenders who have watched thousands of hours of film, this is the equivalent of a pitcher throwing a change up; the pitch may not look impressive on its own, but it serves the purpose of throwing off the batter's timing. Notice also that the two outside receivers run routes towards the left, clearing the right side of the field for Anderson. This is the biggest clue that this is a specialty goal line play, designed to free one player against man coverage.  And, as with much of Cal's play action game, they pull a blocker.  On this play, the pull is opposite of Goff's roll; another means to sell the fake to the defense.

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Here, we see the separation between Stephen Anderson and the linebacker as Anderson slows to make his pivot. The linebacker did not play it poorly, but the play is unique enough to cause hesitation in many defenders. And even if the defender were to play it perfectly (and, to be honest, this linebacker was about as patient as you could ask for), the whip pattern is a classic short yardage pattern for a reason - it is very difficult to defend a quick receiver in man coverage on a double move (fake slant, pivot, sprint back outside) in tight space.  The whip is the same pattern that Julian Edelman used to score the winning touchdown against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, which I wrote about here.

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Cal's receivers have cleared out the field for Anderson, who catches the easy touchdown pass.

Unfortunately, the rest of the game was mostly downhill for Cal.

Football is a game of confidence. Cal was overflowing with it when they traveled to Utah with an undefeated record. Let us hope that a game against Oregon State will help them to regain some of what they've lost, and won't be a repeat of past nightmares against the Beavers.

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.