One of the biggest plays from the Arkansas State game was a 56 yard catch and run for Vols slot receiver Von Pearson. The pass was able to be completed because of a great playcall by the Vols to attack the Red Wolves’ Cover 2 defense.
Tennessee lined up in a trips formation while Arkansas State lined up in their base 4-2-5 defense and is running Cover 2.
The Vols run a dig concept. The split end, Pig Howard, is going to run a go route, the tight end, Daniel Helm, is running a pivot route, the slot, Von Pearson, is running a dig route, and the flanker, Marquez North, is running a deep post. The running back, Jalen Hurd, is responsible for blocking if the linebacker blitzes, but if not then he becomes a checkdown option for the quarterback.
This play is really effective versus Cover 2 because of what the pivot route does to the linebackers. Both the middle linebacker and the strongside linebacker see the pivot route in front of them and are often tempted to run down and cover it. However, when they do that it leaves the dig wide open. If the linebackers stay deep to take away the dig then the quarterback can easily check it down to the pivot or to the back. The deep routes by the outside receivers make sure that the safeties cannot defend the dig.
Right here, we see the linebackers overreacted to Helm on the pivot route. Both the middle linebacker and the strongside linebacker are watching Helm and are starting to flow towards him. Pearson is now wide open on the dig and Worley throws him the ball.
The free safety could’ve come down and made the tackle and this would’ve only been a 15 yard gain, but he takes a really poor angle and Pearson turns it into a 56 yard catch and run.
This is a concept that Tennessee usually goes to in each game they play because it is so effective against Cover 2, as well as many other coverages.