Viva Las Vegas! A Diagnosis and Keys To San Diego

Brett RichinsSenior Analyst IOctober 16, 2009

Viva Las Vegas!  Diagnosis and keys to Sand Diego


Maximus had a great game!  21/27 320 yards and 2 td’s… “That sounds good… I’ll have that” (Dumb and Dumber).  He did not throw a pick!  Hallelujah!   The reason he didn’t throw any int’s this game is because he finally realized that he can dump it off to his running backs out of the back field.  He decided to let them make a play rather than putting the responsibility solely on his shoulders by threading needles.   I loved it, instead of just forcing it down field and possibly throwing a pick he’s finally realizing that 3 to 4 yards a pop isn’t too shabby either and that they add up to first downs in just 3 tries.

This also in turn opens up the middle of the field because the linebackers are worrying about the running backs making plays rather than the TE’s looping behind them. The other great thing about dumping it off to the running backs out of the back field is that they almost always have a linebacker pursuing from an inside out angle (in a 1on1 situation) and there is a good chance they can make that first guy miss and gain an extra 3-7 yards after the catch.   So when I see Tonga leading the team with 5 receptions for 62 yards, I’m rejoicing!

Just go back and look at what made John Beck so successful his senior season.  Our leader in receptions that year was no other than Curtis Brown.  How good was he at making that first, second and third guy miss?  Harvey, Manase and JJ all have that ability to a certain extent.  I think Kariya can break tackles rather than making someone miss though.

At any rate, we are the best in the country on third downs.  Did anyone else find it surprising that we ran the ball on 3rd and 9 early in the game deep in UNLV territory? Granted it set us up nicely for the field goal, but I wonder if it was Maximus that made the check figuring that “hey 3 points is good enough, let’s not force anything and make a mistake”?  It did seem that Max made a check at the line.

I’ve also enjoyed watching us get to the line of scrimmage quickly, give a hard snap count to see where the linebackers and defensive backs declare and move to pre snap.  Sometimes it’s difficult as a QB to get a pre snap read without that initial “hard” snap count.  They have to make their reads as their getting the ball in their hands, taking their drops, and going through their progressions.  Sometimes it’s nice to know what coverage’s or blitzes are coming.  It’s also an advantage for the O-line and blitz pickup of course.

Our screen game has also come leaps and bounds.   The delayed TE screen to Georgie Porgie would have been great had Alletto not held.  I thought it was a horrible call, but on the other side of the coin, if you are away from the play let the DE fall down and just flop on top of him with your hands up.  You know that Max is back peddling to create separation from the LOS for the dump off.   I also liked seeing the double screen where Max looks left and throws right and the fake jail break with the TE (pitta) on the wheel route (out and up route).

I also liked how we have implemented our patented goal line play into the middle of the field.   I form play action with the full back running an arrow out of the backfield to the right.  That play works all day… everyday =)


Our O-line once again looked pretty darn good, granted it was against a sub-par defensive front 7.

Running Backs:

Harvey is showing that even at 90 to 95 % he is still the best running back in the conference.  He also has one of the best offensive lines in the nation that make him look great.  Harvey continues to impress me with his vision.  UNLV was horrible at tackling, but Harvey also makes people miss when he does his patented lateral stop and pop shuffle and cuts back across the field.  I feel like Chris Burman when I watch Harvey because of all the “whups” I hear coming out of my mouth.  I was worried sick on those long runs though.  That is when the hammy could tear again, as he opens up into a sprint.  He still doesn’t look one hundred percent to me though.

The only way to really stop Harvey is to make him run laterally and have your safeties make tackles coming inside out.  This is where TCU will be able to hurt us.   They will clog up the middle and pursue inside out and Harvey will have trouble making plays.  I’m just hoping our O line and FB’s can blow their front seven off the ball and get a great push for some of the game.

I wouldn’t mind seeing Harvey jump over one of the db’s that are shooting at his ankles.  I think there are a few occasions a game that if he just ran straight at them and did a hurdle leap, that he would fly right over them and continue in his sprint Reggie Bush style.   I know… I might be asking too much and I’m sorry.  I just feel Harvey is a good enough athlete to do it.  And it’s not like it’s a surprise anymore when these DB’s are flying down hill.   They aren’t going to hit Harvey above the waist.

JJ Diluigi has that same ability in making defenders miss, he’s a bit smaller but he is faster.  I’ve also enjoyed watching in him do kick off returns.  His quick feet and vision will get us to the 30-35 yard line more often than not.  And this game is all about field position.

Kariya didn’t look too bad either with his speed cuts and breaking some arm tackles.  I wish he would lower the shoulder and bring his center of gravity down a bit.  Seems like he run a little too high.

I can’t believe Manase actually dropped a pass.  I love watching Manase jaw jack with opponents, he’s always been very vocal on the field.  Manase should get first team All MWC due to his blocking abilities.  He will be an NFL fullback in the near future… “Si Dios queire” (God willing).  I’m not sure if any of you served Spanish speaking missions, but I apologize for this insert, it just came to me and I had to put it down.  I hated when I would invite Hispanic investigators to church and they would say “yes, yes, yes of course we will come…… “si Dios quiere”.

The quick dive is one of the most effective runs when the defense is on their heals and setting up.  I love seeing Manase and JoJo get the rock and just run up that A gap as hard as they can.  I hope we continue to do this and catch some defenses off guard with our quick hitting full backs.

And right before half the game was still quite close and I had an eerie feeling come over me.  We were deep in our own territory lined up in I formation and we ran the ball to Harvey… did anyone else have that eerie feeling come over them again?

Wide Receivers:

Thompson is great receiver.  Both his post and slant patterns that he caught were fun to watch.  The key to dominating as a receiver is to get the defensive back to turn his hips.  This causes the DB to either baseball turn or post his leg into the ground while trying to turn his body towards the receiver.  The former is the more effective way to stay close to the WR, but either way will usually create separation.

The screen play to Luke Ashworth was a nice play call.  Although I’d like to see the distance between Max and the receiver shortened a little bit.  Max has a decent arm not a great arm and for that screen play to be most effective you have to get the ball to the WR much quicker.

I really enjoyed watching Oneil and his YAC (yards after catch).  It still boggles my mind that defensive backs are trying to go toe to toe with this kid.  It usually takes 2-3 guys to take him down.

Tight Ends

Pitta and George are amazing.  Pitta sets up his routes to perfection.  He stems the defense and then uses his body and hands to create separation.  On top of that… he moves like a gazelle.  Georgie boggled my mind as he laid out, caught the ball then protected himself and the ball as he went towards the turf turning his back to the defender.  That’s talent my friends.

I’m glad to see Anae running a fake screen wheel to Pitta.  We’ll see if we can be effective against a better defense in the future, but I just like where this offense is heading with all these new play calls.  I wouldn’t mind seeing the quick bubble screen to our TE’s either.  Harline had a lot of success running that play and it seems like we have gone away from it.

San Diego St. keys to success offensively:

#1:  Maximus needs to keep hitting his RB’s out of the backfield.  Getting 4 yards a pop is a great way to run an offense.  And if our running backs can make that first guy miss, we are looking at 5-10 yards after the catch.  The risk reward is great because it’s a high percentage throw that can turn in to big yardage with playmakers receiving the ball.  Aginst TCU and Utah we won’t see as many big plays because of their defensive speed, but even if we get 3 yards a pop, we will be looking at 3rd and short.  The way we have been converting on 3rd downs.. I’d rather not have TO’s because Max wants to force things.

#2  We need to get more reps to JJ.   We are going to win this game.  We need to develop some of the players that can turn into playmakers once they get enough confidence.  JJ is one of those players.  He is a changeup from our traditional backfield that we have had the last 2 years.  And he needs the rock in his hands.  I’d also like to see Thompson get more passes thrown to him.  He is a better route runner and an even larger target than OC.  I like OC, but I think Thompson’s potential is greater.

#3  We need to get out of this game Happy and Healthy.  We will win big, but we shouldn’t do it at the expense of putting some of our key players in danger.

The defensive analysis is coming later today as well as those keys.

Tell me what you think about this article and once again.. sorry for the scattered thoughts and run on sentences..

Cats and the Criddle and the silver spoon.