In today’s episode of Film Room Focus, we will take a closer look at the play that opened up Khris Francis for his first career touchdown against Virginia. The play call from Blake Anderson appears to be a simple screen pass or check down from Marquise Williams to Khris Williams, but the play entails more parts than first meets the eye. In the picture below, you can see the original pre-snap formation for the Tar Heels. Notice how Ryan Switzer sprints to the far sideline pre-snap, noted with the blue arrow.
Switzer running to the left is an important component of this play. The defenders are led to believe a screen pass is being set up with Switzer, but really this is just some window dressing on a screen pass to the running back. Marquise does have the option to throw to Switz if he likes the matchup on the outside. So really, this play is a read option just like a zone read handoff concept. The two options, circled in blue, are the screen pass to Switz or the short throw to Khris Francis. In the image below, you can see how the blocking sets itself up in blue, and how the defenders react in orange.
The simple checkdown to Khris Francis is actually a very complicated procedure. It requires a lot of timing, only acquired through many reps in practice and in game experience. The key for the QB is to find the balance between giving your blocking time to set up, and getting rid of the ball quickly so the unblocked defensive linemen don’t sack you. You can see this timing in action above. Notice how one D-Lineman recognizes the play while the rest dart after the quarterback.
In the image below, you can see how UNC’s lineman did a great job of blocking and how much room Khris Francis has to run. Also notice the helpless defenders in orange who were left unblocked in the play and are out of position now to make a tackle.
Khris Francis would scramble into the endzone untouched on this play for his first touchdown. To reiterate, the key to the play was the good downfield blocking and screen pass option play that misled the defense. Great job by the entire UNC offensive squad for correctly executing this tricky yet explosive play.