In their 29-21 loss to the Missouri Tigers, the Tennessee Vols, a run first offense, had some difficulty running the ball. Sacks and tackles for loss heavily contributed to poor rushing stats. However, Tennessee had a large amount of success on one run concept: the power read/inverted veer. The first time the Vols ran this play, they used a band new motion to disguise it. Tennessee lined up in an unbalanced formation with Pig Howard, the only receiver to the right, off the line of scrimmage. Howard came in jet motion and the play looked similar to many the Vols have run previously this season.
Howard did what he had never done before after motioning. After crossing in front of Dobbs, Howard slammed on the brakes. The playcall was the power read to Howard away from the motion. Missouri was shifting to their right in the direction of the motion, but they playcall was going back to the defense’s left.
After having shifted with the motion, the playside of the defense overreacted once again to Howard reversing course. Both the cornerback and the weakside linebacker ran out wide to defend the sweep. The unblocked read defender also got wide to stop Howard, so Dobbs kept the ball himself. The middle of the defense was wide open for Dobbs and he ran for a big 21 yard gain.This was one of my favorite plays to watch this season. The Vols so often use a jet sweep with this unbalanced formation that defenses often overshift to defend it. Tennessee has never used this motion before, but having the motion man freeze and then reverse course is a very nice counter to the base concept and it shredded Missouri.
Tennessee didn’t go back to the power read until early in the second half. Bajakian called the play on the second snap of the third quarter. This time, Tennessee ran it out of a traditional formation with running back Jalen Hurd on the sweep, and slot receiver Von Pearson motioning as a decoy. The read defender took the sweep once again so Dobbs kept the ball up the middle. Once again, Dobbs got good blocks and has lots of room to run. He gained 13 yards before going down. The next play, the Vols ran the exact same concept; this time without the motion from Pearson. Missouri was running a stunt with their defensive line, and the read end twisted inside the tackle. With the unblocked defender inside, Dobbs handed to Hurd on the sweep. Left guard Marcus Jackson, the pulling guard, was unable to get to the Tigers middle linebacker, Michael Scherer. Hurd was able to beat Scherer to the edge and get up the sideline for an 8 yard gain.Tennessee finished the game with an average of 14 yards per carry on three attempts at the power read. This play consistently created openings in the Tigers defense. Even as the game was being played, I wondered why the Vols did not go to this concept more after seeing how successful it was. Tennessee likely had more success with this play than any other versus the Tigers.