Something that Tennessee does a lot is run inside zone with the slot receiver on the backside running a bubble screen. When you run this play as much as the Vols do, you must have constraint plays to prevent the defense from being overaggressive on your base plays. Against Arkansas State, Tennessee unveiled one of their counters to the bubble screen. While the pass was ultimately incomplete, it was a well drawn up play and worth a second look.
Tennessee lines up in a trio formation with 3 receivers wide to the left and a tight end to the left. The slot receiver runs a bubble screen. Quarterback Justin Worley is going to fake the hand off to running back Jalen Hurd and then pump fake the bubble screen. Marquez North is playing split end here and he is going to immediately release vertical and slightly bend his route towards the middle of the field. Pig Howard, the flanker, is going to slowly run towards the corner as if he is going to block him for the screen, but then quickly release up the sideline on a wheel route.
This is a play many teams that use lots of quick screens like to run. The playaction and pump fake often cause the defense to overreact to the bubble action because they see real bubble screens so much. The outside receivers’ vertical route is able to clear out the corner and the slot receiver on the wheel often comes open.
Right here the defense is running a fire zone. The middle linebacker comes on a blitz and the strong safety drops down into the box for zone coverage while the free safety drops to the deep middle. The Vols have 7 players staying in to pass protect, so the blitz is easily picked up. The strong side linebacker sees the bubble action and attempts to jump that route. North’s vertical release clears out the corner and leaves Pig’s wheel route wide open. The free safety eventually realizes that Pig Is open and runs over there, but he is too late.
Unfortunately, Worley’s footwork is off, and the pass is very inaccurate. Worley threw the ball high and wide, and the pass fell incomplete.
Despite the pass falling incomplete, this is a nice concept that the coaches drew up and is a very effective constraint play to the bubble screen.