On Saturday, the Ole Miss Rebels pulled off a huge upset, knocking off the Alabama Crimson Tide 23-17. While there were many exciting plays in this game, few were more important than the three Ole Miss touchdowns.
The Rebels first touchdown came midway through the 3rd quarter on one of head coach Hugh Freeze’s favorite packaged plays. Ole Miss lined up in a twins slant formation and ran power to the left. Wallace had three options on the play. First, hand off to his back on the power, second, throw to his split end on the hitch/fade option route, and third, throw to his slot receiver on the bubble screen.
Pre-snap, Alabama lined up in their base 3-4 with seven defenders in the box. The Rebels only have 6 blockers, so Wallace knew he could not hand off. Because there were 7 in the box, Alabama had only one safety deep. That left Ole Miss split end Laquon Treadwell matched up one on one with the corner outside with no safety help. This is the look Ole Miss was hoping for. Because the corner was in press coverage, Treadwell ran a fade route. Wallace recognized the one on one matchup and pulled the ball to throw to Treadwell. The back-shoulder throw was perfect and Treadwell made a great play on the ball. He then was able to make two Crimson Tide defenders miss and get into the end zone for the Rebels first touchdown of the day.With 5:29 left In the fourth quarter, the Rebels scored another touchdown to tie the game at 17. Freeze dialed up a “Pin” (Post-In) concept to attack Alabama’s quarters coverage and it worked perfectly.
Quarters is one of the best pass defenses in the game. In quarters, both corners are responsible for covering the #1 (closest receiver to the sideline) on any vertical routes. The two safeties are responsible for covering the two inside receivers on any vertical routes. If either of the inside receivers does not release vertical, the safety will help the corner cover his man. The corner will play with outside leverage because he knows he has the safety help inside. The two outside linebackers play flat coverage while the middle linebacker robs any routes over the middle of the field.
“Pin” is the best quarters beater in the game. The #1 receiver runs a deep post while the #2 runs a deep in. The play is designed to attack the deep safety. The safety sees the vertical release from the #2 and wants to jump the in route. When he does that, the #1 breaks inside on the post route and often is wide open. The corner is playing with outside leverage, so when the receiver breaks inside and the safety isn’t there to help the result is often an easy completion.
This is exactly what happened on this play. Both safeties see the dig route and move to cover it. Ole Miss receiver Vince Sanders did a great job with his route. Right before he broke over the middle of the field, he gave a nice jab step to the right.Alabama cornerback Tony Brown attempted to jump the outside route because he thought he had safety help on the inside. One step later, Sanders broke over the middle and Brown is already beat.With the safety focused on the in route and the corner trying to defend the outside route, Sanders is able to get wide open. Wallace lofted the ball out in front and the Rebels scored an easy touchdown to tie the game.The Rebels final touchdown came with 2:54 left in the game and proved to be the game-winner.
Faced with a 3rd and goal, Freeze called for a post/wheel route combination. Treadwell, the flanker, ran a now screen while tight end Evan Engram ran a post route and running back Jaylen Walton ran the wheel route.
This is one of the more effective route combinations in the game. The hope is that the post route over the middle clears out room for the wheel route to be open on the sideline. If the defense covers the wheel, Treadwell will be in the flat as the check down.Alabama is playing what appears to be a form of pattern matching cover 2. The corner jumped the now screen while both the strongside and middle linebackers dropped to cover Engram.
At this point, they realize that Walton is releasing to the flat so the strongside linebacker comes off to cover him. The safety is drawn inside to cover the post. The linebacker reacted too late and took a poor angle. The result? Walton wide open in the end zone for the game winning touchdown.