Anatomy of a Backside Cut

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Saturday night, Arkansas continually disregarded maintaining any sort of backside containment and because of that TJ Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry had massive gainers.  They never made any kind of adjustment against our backside cuts yet apparently expected different results.  Insane!  In this segment, we are going to look at Derrick Henry’s 80 yard touchdown run and show you what we are talking about.

Now, first, we must say that it’s incredibly cruel that God made a human being like Derrick Henry.  At 240 lbs, Henry shouldn’t have the agility or speed to bounce a run to the outside and then outrace an entire secondary to the end zone but he’s just a beast that way.  We’ve been drooling over this kid since we saw him in the Army All-American game so it was nice to see him put his talents on display!  Honestly, I’m now expecting Arkansas to sue Alabama and Nick Saban for cruel and unusual punishment by unleashing Henry on their poor defense.  Ouch.

Ok, let’s take a look at the play that Alabama ran all night long.  All.  Night.  Long.  Below, Alabama is lined up in a single back formation with two tight ends balancing the line.  Henry will start to his right (noted by the yellow arrow) and when he does, the Arkansas linebacker and safety will crash down in that direction.



When Henry cuts the ball back to the left, he picks up an average block from AJ McCarron’s brother Corey and he picks up a good block from the wide receiver who is off the screen to the left.  But, honestly, because Arkansas didn’t keep any backside containment, these blocks didn’t even matter.  There is absolutely no one keeping backside containment for Arkansas so all Henry has to do is bounce to the outside and he’s gone.



In the last screen shot, you can see that Henry is turning the corner for a big gainer.  Credit his speed and agility which allowed him to bounce it to the outside and then outrace everyone to the end zone.  However, you also have to acknowledge that Arkansas blew this play time and time again so it was like taking candy from a baby.



Now some of you may be asking “what is backside containment?”  In Alabama’s first game of the season against Virginia Tech, TJ Yeldon continuously tried to do what Henry is doing here – start one way and then bounce it back the other way.  The Hokies were all over this and they shut this play down every time.  How?  They completely closed off the backside cuts by blitzing their LB or safety (circled below) from the backside of the play.



Remember, prior to Henry’s run Yeldon and Drake had long runs from the same cuts and Todd Blackledge even talked about that during the telecast.  Seldom has it been easier to get yards chunks of yardage against a defense.


One comment on “Anatomy of a Backside Cut

  1. Chris Lusco says:

    Amazing how coaches don’t make adjustments. Be interesting to see what they do when we go there in 2 weeks, because we will insanely try to run the ball… They have an off week to prepare.


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