Purdue Football: Short Yardage Failure...Yet Again.

Purdue Football: Short Yardage Failure…Yet Again.

Earlier I showed y’all the first play on this series of downs. It was a run that resulted in a 5 yard loss after center Gus Hartwig was pushed 5 yards into the backfield by Syracuse defensive tackle Kevon Darton. Purdue threw and incomplete pass on second down, and then complete a 12 yard pass to Charlie Jones (who made an amazing sideline wrestling, with toe drag swag) to bring up 4th and 3.

To my (and ESPN’s based on the announcing and camera work) surprise, Jeff Brohm decided to go tempo on 4th and 3 from the 11 yard line. I believe in aggressive play calling in the red zone. You don’t beat good teams kicking field goals inside the 20. At the same point, Syracuse is hardly a juggernaut. Even if Brohm believed he had to score a touchdown every trip inside the red zone to pick up the win, going tempo and running what looks like an inside zone play on 4th down when you need just under 3 yards doesn’t make any sense to me.

Purdue lost 5 yards on 1st down when Syracuse defensive tackle Kevon Darton used Purdue center Gus Hartwig as a blocking sled/escort to the running back and then Purdue went back to the same match-up on 4th and 3. For an inside zone run to work the center has to control the defensive tackle and give the running back the option of hitting the front side A gap or backside A gap (either side of the center). If the defense blows up the center, the inside zone is DOA and I’m sad to report that Darton blew Hartwig up twice in a 4 down series.

One thing to note is that Darton is a weird match-up for Hartwig, and pretty much any jumbo sized lineman (Hartwig is 6’5”, 310). He should be an inspiration for all you short kings out there because the dude is playing defensive tackle at 5’11” (which may be generous) 260 pounds. You don’t face many guys that can get under your pads and drive like Darton, which makes me question the play call even more after what I witnessed on 1st down.

Surprise!


Brohm rushing to the line and going for it on 4th and 2 34 was so much of a surprise that this was the live view of the snap. The announcer was also caught off guard and couldn’t remember if it was 3rd or 4th down.

Better View

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Insulted

Purple Circle – Right Tackle, Right Guard

orange-circle – Tight End

blue-circle – Left Tackle

Green Circle – Right Guard

Defense

Orange Box – Field Side Defensive End

Purple Box – Boundary Defensive End

Green Box – Boundary Linebacker

blue-box – Field Linebacker


I wish TV used this view more often on run plays because it’s easier to see things develop. A shot from directly behind the center would be ideal, but this works well.

I’ve got the basic blocking scheme color coordinated. The right guard and tackle (purple circle) block the boundary defensive end, the left guard (green circle) climbs to block the boundary linebacker (green box). The left tackle (blue circle) climbs to the field linebacker (blue box). The tight end (orange circle) comes across and blocks the field defensive end (orange box).

I can’t mark it on this view, but the center is the key to the play. He has to stand up defensive tackle, who is lined up directly over his nose.

*Note – I’m trying to knock this article out faster than usual because I spent a good bit of time on the Purdue run game yesterday. Forgive me if I’m using generic terms.

post-snap

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Insulted

Purple Circle – Right Tackle, Right Guard

orange-circle – Tight End

blue-circle – Left Tackle

Green Circle – Right Guard

yellowcircle – Center (Gus Hartwig)

Defense

Orange Box – Field Side Defensive End

Green Box – Boundary Linebacker

blue-box – Field Linebacker


This is right after the snap and things aren’t terrible for Purdue. They are blocking 5 Syracuse defenders with 5 offensive linemen and a tight end. That gives Purdue a 6-5 blocking advantage in the box. They use the advantage to double the boundary defensive end (purple circle). The gap on this play, based on the double team, should be between the center (yellow circle) and the right guard (purple circle). The back’s job is to run directly at the center and then cut left or right off his backside, depending on how he reads the A gap. This is a staple play in most college playbooks.

I’ve attempted to mark the line to gain with the red arrow. That’s a key factor in this play. All the running back needs to do is get to that line. Purdue’s numerical blocking advantage should guarantee success.

I’ve also highlighted Gus Hartwig’s post leg. That’s going to play a key role in the play. Notice how it starts right in front of the 13 yard line. For this play to work, at minimum, it needs to stay where it is right now. If Hartwig can get a little push, it’s even better.

Blocking Sled Time

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yellowcircle – Purdue Center (Gus Hartwig) vs Cuse DT (Kevon Darton)


I took the other markers away. This play fails because of what happens in the yellow circle. Everything else is blocked up well enough to gain the needed long 2 yards.

The first sign of trouble is Hartwig’s post leg. Notice how it started on the 13 yard hash in the clip above, and how it’s outside the 13 yard has now? That’s not good. It means Hartwig is about to get used as a sled for the 2nd time in 4 downs.

I’ve marked the 2 potential paths for the running back on this play. Kevon Darton is about to take one of these paths away.

Something In the Way

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yellowcircle – Purdue Center (Gus Hartwig) vs Cuse DT (Kevon Darton)


Look at the other linemen and look at Gus Hartwig (yellow circle). The other linemen are moving forward and Gus is moving backwards. To make matters worse, the Syracuse defensive tackle is moving Hartwig into the front side A gap. The back is supposed to have a 2 way option on this play. If you look to the right of Hartwig, the double team is blowing the boundary defensive end off the line. If the back can get to the front side A gap, he should be able to pick up the first down.

Instead of hitting the A gap hard and powering forward for the first down, he loses momentum avoiding Hartwig 3 yards deep in the backfield. The inside zone needs the running back to hit the A gap with speed. It helps him to run through the trash and arm tackles omnipresence in the middle of the line. This is the worst case scenario for an inside zone run.

Textbook Defensive Line Play

yellowcircle – Purdue Center (Gus Hartwig) vs Cuse DT (Kevon Darton)


I spend a good bit of time discussing what Purdue does wrong, but let’s talk about what Kevon Darton (yellow circle) does right. He not only pushes Hartwig into the front side A gap, keeping the back from getting to the double team, he keeps his inside arm free. This could be an instructional video. He’s blocking the front side, with his body (and Gus Hartwig, notice how far back and outside his plant leg is at this point) while keeping his inside arm free (highlighted) to tackle the back cutting to the backside A gap).

Everything else on this play looks fine. If Hartwig keeps Darton from pushing him into the lap of the running back, this is a first down.

stuffed

yellowcircle – Purdue Center (Gus Hartwig) vs Cuse DT (Kevon Darton)


Darton (yellow circle) single handily keeps Purdue from getting a first down. In fact, this play has potential touchdown if Hartwig doesn’t get dominated. The backside A gap is available, and there is nothing between the back and the end zone if he hits that gap. Instead, Darton wraps up the back with his free inside arm, making contact behind the line of scrimmage.

No Momentum


The line to gain (purple arrow) is still in play, but since the back had to redirect in the backfield, he doesn’t have any forward momentum. Instead of being able to extend the ball he face plants with the ball (yellow highlight) underneath him.

No Points


The line to gain is right at the 8 yard line, the running back is down at the 7 1/2. He’s clearly short of the line to gain, no need to measure (the 8 yard hash gives you the perfect marker on the field).

In Summary

Purdue ran the ball twice in the red zone on this possession and netted -3.5 yards. The first attempt ended in a 5 yard loss on first down after the right tackle forgot the play and 6’5”, 310 pound Gus Hartwig got dump trucked by 5’11”, 260 pound defensive tackle Kevon Darton.

The second attempted run in this series of downs gained positive yardage (a solid 1.5 yards), but once again Purdue’s best offensive lineman, Gus Hartwig, was dominated by Kevon Darton. Subsequently, Purdue comes up 12 a yard short and turns the ball over on downs inside the 20 yard line in the 1st quarter.

The Boilermakers come away with 0 points from an otherwise exceptional drive and goes on to lose the game by a field goal. There is plenty of blame to go around, but Purdue’s refusal to take control of the game early, caused them problems late. This thing should have been over at half time, instead, Purdue leaves Syracuse with a loss.

Anyway, that’s enough of this game. On to FAU. I still think Purdue has a 50/50 shot to win the West, despite their familiar early season struggles, but they’ve got to the run game figured out…or abandon it all together.

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