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Playbook Review: Georgia Southern

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The option is back in Statesboro.

Massachusetts v Georgia Southern Photo by Chris Thelen/Getty Images

After showing a condensed playbook last week against SC State, Georgia Southern continued with their bread and butter rushing attack to the tune of 5.7 yards per carry against the UMass Minutemen. Most of the damage came on the dive off the option as Southern showed several looks to open up holes.

Veer - Triple Option

Read - last man on line of scrimmage to the safety/gap player If the last man stays still or gets wide to the outside, the quarterback will hand the ball off. If he pinches down the line, the quarterback will keep it and then look for his second read to determine if he will pitch to the pitch man.

Offensive Line assignments

  • RT fan block DE out
  • RG combo block DT and work to LB
  • C down block on NG
  • LG combo block DT with LT and work to LB
  • LT reach block DT
  • TE wrap around and locate LB

In this play the LOS is the defensive right end #5, who stays at the line of scrimmage and forces the give to Garrett. Good blocking at the line as well as Garrett making a defender miss opens the play up for a big first down run.

HB Dive - RB Trap

The blocking assignments remain the same from the above play with the difference being that instead of a TE wrapping around to look for the LB, the running back not getting the ball becomes a blocker and kicks the DE out. Fields actually had two holes to choose from and looks to have cut back after seeing the backside of his line collapse the defensive line. By removing the TE from the play and putting in a slot receiver, GS helped themselves further by taking a defender out of the box and away from the play.

HB Dive - TE Influence

Once again the blocking assignments are similar to the above plays with the RB acting as a trap blocker to block the DE inside this time. It looks like this is designed for the cut back, with the added wrinkle of the TE influence. In the video, watch the TE run out to the flat - he didn’t forget his assignment or run the wrong way. With the option look in the backfield, his job is to sell that option by “influencing” the defenders to get wide. This is done perfectly, as he manages to pull both defenders out of the play.

Counter Option

Read - pitch player, typically the safety or wide LB

Offensive Line assignment

  • LT fan block DE out
  • LG pull around to cut last man on line of scrimmage
  • C cutoff block to DT
  • RG reach block to DT and seal off
  • RT combo block DT and get to LB
  • TE false counter step and get to S/LB in alley

At this point in the game, Southern has already run several veer and speed options. Right out of the gate in the second half they pull out the counter option. The QB sells a fake read going to the offenses left. There is never any intention of giving the ball here. In the meantime, the backside guard (LG on this play) is pulling around to cut block the last player on the line of scrimmage. The TE gives a false step to his left to influence the defense, and then gets outside to pick up the “alley” player which is the first non-pitch man read to show up in the play. In this play, #30 is the pitch read man and stays wide to take away the pitch and leave an alley for Werts to turn up and run for the first down.

Texas Tech East - The Passing Game

But the real surprise so far out of Southern has been their effective passing attack. The Eagles are slinging the ball effectively in Statesboro, as Shai Werts leads the league in QB rating and yards per attempt.

Y - Corner

The attack kicked off with Air Raid staple Y-corner. The innermost slot receiver runs a 10 yard flag, aiming for the sideline in front of the safeties. The two outermost receivers run double ins to ensure the CB’s don’t get deep. If the CB’s stay shallow, as they did here, the QB will loft the ball over their heads and drop it to the corner route.

Four Verticals

Now that Kliff Kingsbury is calling plays in the Boro, we see another Air Raid favorite - 4 Verticals. As the name implies, everyone is running straight down the field with the goal for the QB to find the open man. Here, the slot does a great job stemming the safety and selling a head fake to open the middle of the field. Werts sees the opening from the safety cheating on the outside and underthrows a seam route to set GS up for their second TD of the game.


OC Bob DeBesse did a great job setting up this play over the past couple of weeks. Run last week against SC State and earlier this game, the only play GS has run out of the true flexbone is the rocket sweep.

Lining up quick and showing the same motion, Werts fakes the toss and shows bootleg waggle. Waggle consists of three routes: a deep route to clear space, a deep drag, and a shallow drag. In this instance, the A back runs the shallow drag, the playside receiver is running the deep clear-out route, and the backside receiver is running the deep drag. The QB’s read is the playside LB. If he drops deep then the QB will dump it to the shallow drag. If the LB comes up for the shallow drag, throw it to the deep drag. Both the LB and S on the playside stayed shallow, leaving a wide open touchdown for Southern.