Welcome to this week’s addition of Film Room Focus. The play today comes from the Pittsburgh game, even though ODU game fell between UNC’s exciting win at Pitt and now. But analyzing any part of the Old Dominion game would be too easy. UNC scored 11 touchdowns. 11! For example, anyone could say, “Look at how much better and faster (enter any UNC offensive player) is than their ODU defender!” But that wouldn’t be much fun, and poor Old Dominion has suffered enough. This week’s breakdown comes from an option stretch play with Khris Francis and Marquise Williams. Welcome to the film room!
The image below is an oversimplified diagram of a stretch play that UNC might run. The idea is for the running back, in this situation Khris Francis, to run to the sideline while the QB pitches him the ball. It is a crafty play because it neutralizes the offensive and defensive lines, making the battle between the three pairs of defenders on the bottom of the screen. If UNC’s wideouts hold their blocks, the Heels have a nice gain of seven or eight yards. UNC would use this a lot in the early part of the season with Bryn Renner in at QB and Romar Morris at RB, trying to jumpstart the running game with speed attacking the edges of the defense.
The image below is a close up of the play. The blue arrow is the route Francis runs, and he is looking back at Marquise awaiting the pitch of the ball.
But something else sticks out from the image below. Look at Marquise’s head and the blue line illustrating his line of sight. It happens to connect to an orange-circled Pitt defender… oh no! Its another read option! Here Marquise Williams looks into the eyes of the defender and reads his shoulders, like he would if running a “normal” read option run.
In this case, the Pitt defender crashes after Khris Francis. Had Bryn Renner been quarterback, this play would have been stopped for a big loss. But with Marquise Williams in at QB, the read option takes over and Marquise keeps the ball for a big gain of his own. The blue line follows the path Williams ends up taking on his way to a first down. All the orange circles and lines show all the out of position and confused Pitt defenders who are angled towards Francis. It was a good decision from Marquise to keep the ball for himself and his legs did the rest. Not a bad play design either.
UNC is incorporating more and more read option into their playbook. Outlined here and in the last two editions of Film Room Focus is what the future of North Carolina’s offense looks like with a dual threat quarterback, like Marquise or Mitch Trubisky, playing full time. In the past, there has been a traditional running game and passing attack, but now, the lines between the two are blurred. UNC’s offense under Coach Fedora will be better with a dual threat quarterback because of the extra options and doors the QB’s extra weapon will open. Expect to see more and more read option in different parts of the playbook going forward for Carolina.