In the first quarter of today’s Virginia Tech-Old Dominion game, a defensive misalignment resulted in Virginia Tech’s first touchdown of the 2022 season. Virginia Tech ran slice read, an adaptation of slice or split zone, and QB Grant Wells ran untouched to the end zone for a 7-0 lead. It was a basic mistake by the Monarchs defense, and a costly one at that.
Play Concept And Misalignment
Slice read combines elements of slice (direct handoff to RB off inside zone with H-back blocking backside DE) and bluff (DE is unblocked and QB reads for give-keep decision) into one play. On slice read, H-back motions across and blocks backside end, and QB reads a defender. Normally the read is a second-level defender like a LB or NB. As you can see from the diagram above, there is no one aligned on the right side.
The Monarchs are so concerned with outnumbering the three receivers to the strongside, they leave the weakside wide open. ODU has four defenders to cover two receivers and the H-back. The tight end is covered and is an ineligible receiver. Offense showing a seven-man line necessitated seven in the box by the defense. The Monarchs needed to rotate a CB or LB to their left edge to keep contain. Lack of rotation by the defense led to the misalignment.
Slice Read Play Execution
.@GrantWells__ with his first TD as a Hokie 👏
📺: ESPNU | 📱: https://t.co/L7MlQzEqFh pic.twitter.com/mJVklrb2n8
— Virginia Tech Football (@HokiesFB) September 2, 2022
Both receivers push vertical and stalk block. H-back slices weakside and blocks backside edge. TE and LT double-team SDE. LG and center double-team the 1-tech. RG zone blocks down on the 3-tech. RT climbs to second level and blocks PSLB. Both PSLB and BSLB bite on inside zone and attack inside. QB Grant Wells has easy keep read outside. Third-level defender, the safety, should be playing outside-in. Safety bites on inside run, too, so Wells has a free run outside.
Second-level read is the PSLB. He bites inside so it is an easy keep read. Third-level read would be the safety but he also bites inside. A scrape-exchange, where the edge attacks the RB inside and LB takes QB outside, expected here. Even with slice block, LB can scrape outside to contain the QB. Monarchs are misaligned and the defense pays the price.
Play result is an 18 yard touchdown run.
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