Anatomy of a Clearing Route and a Draw Play

Aside from the backside cuts, there were two other plays against the Razorbacks that caught my eye so we’ll take a look at them here.  On the first play, Alabama designed a play to isolate 5-star tight end OJ Howard on the Arkansas linebackers.  Howard is very big and very fast and is a match-up nightmare for anyone trying to defend him.  On this play, Alabama used three receivers to clear out the entire left side and then released Howard on a crossing route underneath.  He was so wide open he could have walked in.  Here’s a look at that play…



Todd Blackledge did a nice job of diagramming the play so we’ll just use his handiwork.  Now, further out left is yet another wide receiver who Blackledge didn’t point out so that should make three yellow arrows moving from left to right.  Howard (circled) will move from right to left and the two Arkansas linebackers responsible for him will basically wet the bed.



Above, you can see that Howard has cleared both of the Arkansas linebackers and is wide open.  Also, note the pristine pocket and sight line that AJ McCarron has here.  So, this easy pitch and catch was the result of the three pass routes that vacated the entire left side of the field.


Did I mention the confusion on the part of the linebackers?  I don’t think he’s signalling touchdown here, do you?  You know it was a loooong night for the Arkansas defense.  Want more proof?  Here’s a quick look at a draw that made the Razorback middle linebacker look completely foolish.

Behold.  The simple draw play.  It’s a play that is in every single playbook of every single offense in existence.



Here, Arkansas is employing one single solitary linebacker to shut off the interior run.  At the snap, this linebacker flees to the left of the screen to provide pass coverage.  The problem for this guy is that the play is a RUN!



As you can see above, Yeldon has just taken the handoff.  Notice the linebacker circled in yellow – he has no clue what’s going on at all.  Now, scan the field working from the player circled and working back to the right of the screen.  See all the green grass?  That’s what Yeldon saw, as well.  Folks, this is pitiful defense on behalf of Arkansas.  Yeldon picked up a nice block from Amari Cooper and then he strolled into the end zone untouched.

Alabama was very good against Arkansas but, as you can see, Arkansas was very bad.


One comment on “Anatomy of a Clearing Route and a Draw Play

  1. Chris Lusco says:

    I hate to talk about this, but the Howard TD looks a lot like one that happened in that same endzone about 3 years ago… 😀


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