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Film Room: Minnesota

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Another great screen play, a young QB mistake, and some power running in this week’s film room

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time this season we really got a nice mixed bag of good and bad to take a look at. The Spartans controlled the first three quarters of this game, but they had more than a few struggles in the fourth quarter. We are going to take a couple of good plays and a couple of bad ones. There are definitely some things for them to work on in the next week.

Lewerke Interception

This play was a combination of inexperience on the part of Lewerke and a nice play by the Minnesota defender.

It’s first-and-10 to start the drive and MSU comes out in the shotgun. They have two receivers out to the right on this play, with Scott in the backfield and the double tight ends on the left side.

Lewerke is going to play action to Scott and look to the tight ends for his primary read. This is a design MSU uses fairly often, especially in the red zone. It’s pretty simple, the tight end on the inside (Noah Davis) is going to run corner route, while the tight end on the outside (Matt Sokol) is going to trail a little behind and run a post route.

The approach is obvious, force the defender to make a choice on who to cover, and throw to the other one. Or get two defenders to “pick” each other and someone should be open.

Here it is from the sideline angle. What you can see in this that you don’t see from the rear view is the defender on the outside (orange circle). So Minnesota has a defender for each of the tight ends. But this can still work if they are playing man because you can hope to get that traffic jam effect when the routes cross.

Here is where the two TE’s are making their cuts. Instead of the corner on the near side following the outside TE across, he picks up the inside TE cutting out.

That leaves the safety to cover the inside route, and he is all over it. This is as the ball is released and the safety is already jumping the route. Sokol doesn’t help the fact by running kind of a sloppy route drifting backwards as he goes. But this is on Lewerke. He was going to Sokol before the ball was snapped, and the defenders had it played perfectly.

Here is the sideline shot again as the ball is picked off. You can see that Davis is covered down low as well.

This was a great play by McGhee but it was also a poor decision by Lewerke. That is an example of a young QB not going through his reads. He has got to recognize that the safety is there watching his eyes and move on to the next option.

Scott TD run

This was a beautiful piece of running and blocking for MSU’s second touchdown of the game.

It is nothing all that complicated, it’s a counter play with the right guard (Jarvis) and the fullback (Lucas) pulling to the left to seal off the running lane for Scott.

The right side is sealed off, with Jarvis ready to do the same on the left. Lucas is going to lead the way and take out the next defender. Scott does a great job of being a patient runner here and letting the blocking clear out space for him.

Here you see Jarvis has the outside blocked off and Lucas is about to take out the linebacker, Scott is ready to get to the outside and break into the open field.

Here’s that same point in time from the wide angle. Scott sees the open space ahead but knows he’s got to let Lucas make this last block. Very good patient running.

After he gets through the line Scott continues to follow his blocking. He picks up a pair of blocks, first this one from Stewart that he uses by cutting back inside after getting outside initially.

And then this one from Matt Sokol. Scott and the players downfield both deserve credit for this play going for a touchdown rather than a 10-15 yard gain. The players did a great job blocking, and Scott did a fabulous job of reading and using those blocks.

It also helps to be able to basically outrun those three guys chasing him and then run over the last guy at the goal line.

Scott Screen

Here is a play that didn’t end up leading to points, but was the second very nice screen play executed by Michigan State in the last two weeks.

It is third-and-8 from MSU’s 29 yard line. They are going to bring Rison in motion across the formation pre-snap. They wont directly fake a hand-off to him but the timing is close enough that you get the effect of a fake anyway. The motion brings the defender with him to the other side.

There is a little fake to Scott, who then flares out to the left side. Felton Davis is going to cut in and drive up field to take his defender out of the play.

Lewerke then fakes the throw to Rison, drawing the attention of most of the defenders on that side of the field. Meanwhile, Scott leaks out to the other side, along with Brian Allen, while Cole Chewins seals off the edge. Davis is engaged with his defender as well.

Scott is ready for the ball and he’s got help on his side. Allen is out ready to block and as long as Chewins holds his defender off Scott long enough for him to catch it and turn, this has big play written all over it.

That is exactly what happens, and Scott is up the sideline and isn’t touched until he ducks out of bounds 26 yards up field at the Minnesota 45 yard line.

Tyler Johnson TD

This was the first Minnesota touchdown of the game, coming two plays after L.J. Scott fumbled.

There is nothing all that complicated about this play. Three receivers to the one side, MSU has two corners, Layne (inside) and Scott (outside) along with safety David Dowell (off the line) to cover the wideouts. Dowell is going to take the inside receiver while Layne and Scott take the outside receivers.

There are no receivers on the other side of the formation, one back in the backfield with the QB who is in shotgun.

The middle receiver runs a quick out, and Layne follows him. The other two receivers basically run the same post pattern, at different levels.

Johnson makes a nice move at the line to get inside of Josiah Scott, who gets turned around and starts to chase. Right here Johnson is making his cut and you can see the separation he has from Scott. What you will also see is Kari Willis (red circle) who is the deep safety on the play. Willis is supposed to be the help on the play. You might also notice he doesn’t appear to be all that sure of where he should be helping.

The ball is nearly to it’s intended target here, who is still running towards the middle of the field and has a ton of separation from his defender. Willis, for some reason, tries to come to the outside, around Dowell and the other receiver.

He tries to recover but there is no chance. What makes this all worse is that the ball was juggled by Johnson, as you can see here. If Willis is where he is supposed to be this play 1) doesn’t go for a touchdown, 2) might be broken up incomplete or 3) could even be an interception.

Instead it’s a touchdown. The first of three for Johnson in the fourth quarter.