One of the most critical plays in the Tennessee-Oklahoma game came early in the first quarter when Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley was sacked and lost a fumble. At the time, Oklahoma was only ahead 3-0 and the Vols were driving. This turnover swung the momentum in the Sooners direction and it was a long time before Tennessee got it back.
The play run is a familiar concept. Tennessee called a packaged play with the back and line running inside zone with options for a quick out to the boundary and a spacing concept to the field. The Vols lined up in a spread formation with 2 receivers split wide to each side of Worley.
This play can be very successful if the quarterback makes the right reads. It is essentially a form of triple option because the quarterback is making post snap reads to determine where to go with the ball. Unfortunately, it appears that Worley pre-determined where he would go with the ball rather than go through his reads. At the snap he immediately pulled the ball out to throw it to Josh Smith on the quick out. The defender lined up over Smith read Worley’s eyes and began to jump the route. Worley realized the route was no longer open, but instead of turning to throw to someone else, he froze.
Oklahoma sent the outside linebacker to the field on an edge blitz and he came unblocked, hit Worley, and forced a fumble. This wasn’t the lines fault as this player is not accounted for in the run scheme. Had Worley handed the ball to Lane, the linebacker would’ve been so far outside that he wouldn’t have been able to impact the play. The sack and fumble is all on Worley. He had to know that on a play like this where the line is not pass protecting that he must get rid of the ball fast. Instead he made a poor read, froze, and the result was a turnover.
We see here that had Worley made his reads correctly this likely would’ve been a big gain. To the field, both receivers are open on the quick hitch routes. The corner bailed into deep coverage, although you can’t see him in this picture, and the outside receiver is wide open. The flat defender got too far into the box and left the slot receiver open.
Oklahoma only had 4 defenders in the box to stop the run to the offenses 5 linemen blocking. If Hurd had received the ball he would’ve been able to run for a nice gain. Right tackle Coleman Thomas is in position to block the linebacker and if Hurd cuts behind him then he’s got a chance to score.
This is really unfortunate because the play was designed well and the opening was there, but the players could not execute.