The number 11 play in our countdown to determine the best plays of Tennessee’s 2015 season is Derek Barnett’s sack for a safety against Vanderbilt.
Halfway through the third quarter of the Tennessee-Vanderbilt game, Derek Barnett had perhaps his best sack of the season. While this play may not have been Derek Barnett’s most violent sack, it was the only sack he had all year that directly put points on the board.
Facing third-and-six from their own five yard line, Vanderbilt was in some trouble. Vols’ defensive coordinator John Jancek knew this was the perfect time to send some heat.
Jancek dialed up a five man pressure package. The key to the pressure package was a T-E stunt between defensive tackle Owen Williams and Barnett. A T-E stunt means that the tackle and end will exchange gap responsibilities. The tackle will come through first, running right at the offensive tackle’s inside shoulder. The end will then jab step upfield to hold the tackle, then duck back under the defensive tackle and run through the A gap. The hope is that the tackle’s stunt will pull the offensive guard far enough outside to give the end a rushing lane.
On this play, Jancek also sent strong safety LaDarrell McNeil off the edge to further occupy the offensive tackle. Middle linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. blitzed through the opposite A gap in order to occupy the center and keep him from sliding over to pick up Barnett. Defensive tackle Kendal Vickers was responsible for contain on the far side.
Behind the blitz, the Vols’ just played basic man coverage with the free safety deep.
The blitz worked just as planned. Williams’ stunt occupied the guard, while the tackle and center were focused on McNeil and Kirkland, respectively. This left a huge gap, as you can see below, for Barnett to run through.
The guard ended up stuck in no-man’s land. He correctly passed off Williams to the tackle, but by the time he did it was too late. Barnett had already exploded by him unblocked. The tackle, however, was bus blocking McNeil and let Williams go free as well. The running back was left with a choice between Williams and Barnett. He blocked Williams, and Barnett came totally unblocked for the sack in the end zone for a safety. With great coverage behind the play, the quarterback never stood a chance.
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