Tuesday, November 16, 2010

UGA & The Play Action Pass

The play-action pass, when used effectively, can be one of the most valuable offensive tools in all of football. Notice the phrase when used effectively!

I know a little bit about offense schemes, game plans, play design, and all things related to scoring points. I was a 3 year varsity starter in high school; had a few small college offers in football, but pursued baseball instead. Since college, I've coached football teams from peewee level, up to top ranked high school teams. I've never coached in college because I chose not too. Had I felt the passion to do so, I'm sure I could have, but I guess the world will never know.

That being said, I know a good bit about the play-action pass. Plain and simply put, it is a tool used to freeze linebackers and safeties by getting them to bite on a fake to a potential ball carrier. It works great when you use it sparingly, or at the right time. Hell you can even use it a lot if your running game is gashing the opponent on a consistent basis. The problem with UGA's system is that we use play-action pass on more than 90% of our passes, and even when the running game is a non-factor. It's as if we have certain plays that can only be run out of play-action. Why can't the same plays be executed with the quarterback doing a simple 5-step drop?

Thinking from a quarterback's perspective, I love to throw the ball on a straight 5 step drop. Why? When a quarterback doesn't have to worry about the fake, he gets to focus on the safeties and cornerbacks from the moment the ball is snapped. When faking, a quarterback has to take his eyes off the safeties for a moment, and then take to time to find them again after the fake. This may not seem all that difficult, but any quarterback will tell you it makes a world of difference to have to take your eyes off the secondary, and the look up and find the defenders again. Besides finding the secondary, it makes one hell of a difference when it comes to avoiding the rush. Think about it; wouldn't Aaron Murray have stood a better chance at avoiding Nick Fairley's body slams if he saw him coming a second sooner? Yep.

When I went back and watched the Auburn game a second time, I payed close attention to Fairley on every offensive snap. The kid was rarely, if ever, phased by a play-action fake, nor were the linebackers.

What are your thoughts?


  1. I cannot for the life of me understand why Georgia doesn't use more of a spread system. Murray has all the qualifications needed to prosper in a spread offense, he has very good athletically, he has a very strong arm, and he seems to make very good decisions. Playaction is "supposed" to be used occasionally when you are having success with your running. Georgia relies far too much on play action even when they cannot run the ball. Oh by the way, Andy we just talked about this.

  2. I actually think we use it as a tool to open up more holes for the RBs. I think bobo realized our o-line wasn't all it was cracked up to be, and had been using play-action on all our pass plays so that when we actually run the ball, the defense thinks it is probably just a play-action pass.

  3. Anon,

    That's a damn good explanation right there, lol! I never really thought about that. If it is the case, then Bobo is even worse as an OC than I thought he was.

    Now, can you explain running it on 3 & 17 Saturday? Seriously, we have done it for 2 straight years now since I have been paying close attention to it.

  4. P.S. Why did we need a running game again versus Auburn? We were torching them down the field until we stopped throwing it down field in the second half. It's like the onside kicked rendered us retarded or something.

  5. We also use the play action to draw the safety in for run support, if only for a step or two, to create a void to throw the deep cross or post route behind him. That is often what we were completing to AJ and Durham this year. Bobo's play calls were working fine, right up until we kicked the FG. The game had become ashootout, and we blinked, instead of keeping the pressure on.

  6. Andy, in case you missed it - we were kicking them in the teeth running the ball, too. We didn't rack up a ton of yards because we had few attempts, but both tailbacks had very good y/c averages. We took our foot off the gas at the end of the 2nd quarter, and that hurt us. We elected to go with the field goal, and that hurt us. We could not stop a speed sweep or a reverse to save our lives. That hurt us.

    The running game DID work, and that's why play action was effective.

    Did you know that through 11 games this season, we have more rushing yards than we did through 11 games LAST season?

  7. The waggle action has quit working too because the DEs/OLBs don't respect our runners' ability to cut back. Even if you are running well, play action ain't worth much when you are behind 2 scores in the 2nd half. Murray is clearly better in the shotgun but UGA can't run a lick out of it to slow the rush.



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