Pop Pass: Where art thou?

I see this question pop up frequently and I too am wondering. I have an idea and invite anyone else with insight to jump right in.

We're on tape and there are stats. Early on with a new QB and a fair number of new offensive players opposing DCs may have used a more balanced approach that did not assume the run was going to stuffed by the front 4 or that the long ball wasn't a threat.

The pop pass requires the middle of the field to be open because the linebackers are cheated up towards the LOS and the safeties have either also crowded the line, where drawn into coverage or are playing deep.

More specifically the pop pass is an RPO. Last year Sam Rogers was the typical recipient of this pass with any of Peoples, Cunningham or T-Mac staying back to block. This year T-Mac was the recipient of one that went for a nice gain. After that we more or less saw Sean Savoy as the recipient which was an interesting wrinkle and I would assume would keep defenses guessing but we really have not seen it used with our running backs recently.

Why? I think this comes down to knowing Jackson is not a running threat. Jackson has a read on the RPO and if I remember correctly the read is on a linebacker. If the linebacker steps up to take Jackson, Jackson pops the pass into the spot he vacated. If not Jackson pulls it down and runs. Here in lies the problem. The linebackers are sitting still on this play and not vacating the middle. Once again this comes to down to blocking both on the line and by the skilled position players. The loss of Nijman has been huge. I know there was lots of criticism of his less than stellar play but we went from having a less than stellar LT to a plainly bad LT. If your lineman are getting beaten on every play there's no need to get your linebackers involved because your DE's and DT's are living in the opponents backfield and that disrupts both running and passing plays.

Not having the threat of the RPO pop pass really hampers this offense because the RPO is part of what is used to keep defenses on their toes. When a defense completely ignores the RPO it creates ripples that affect the rest of the offensive game plan.

It would also seem that Bush is not really a true threat either because most defenses play him like he will never pass and so do we. In this case Bush has to make at least one person miss and that has not happened.

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Comments

Though he's not lightning fast, when JJ he makes his mind up quickly to keep it and run forward, he's gotten some decent yardage. I think it comes down to quicker decision making. This will open it back up again if he can consistently dive forward for 5-6 yards like Logan used to do. For me, it would be where art thou eye formation for short yardage plays? It makes me so nervous when it's 3rd and inches or 4th and inches and we're still lined up in shotgun formation. It just seems like to me (as it's been proven) your margin for error goes up tenfold. Also, I'd like to know where art thou quick slants and curls? These are two questions I'd love French or one of the X's and O's guys to answer for me.

"What kind of person would throw away a perfectly good dog?"

I agree running out of the gun seems like a good way to start at a disadvantage. I 🤔 the pistol was a compromise between the QB under center and being in the gun made popular by Chris Ault at Nevada. I don't think you will see us run out of the I as it is almost a dead giveaway your going to rush vs pass though it can set up some nice play action.

It is a dead giveaway, but if you only need less than a yard, I don't see why you don't take advantage of a QB sneak and just muscle across the sticks. Teams do it all the time and there's no secret to what the play's going to be. Sometimes you've just got to line up and use brute force. Most teams, on third and very short, line up quick and just plow forward. We would do that last year. Now it seems like we line up slow, give the defense time to substitute, do a lot of movement before the ball is snapped, and then finally snap it from the shotgun. I'd just love to see us go quick and bully it up the middle in those situations, that's all.

"What kind of person would throw away a perfectly good dog?"

Leg. I have often thought we should just line up with 9 of the biggest boys we have and just drop the hammer.

BC took us out that way a couple of years ago. QB, 9 linemen, and Andre Williams.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

It might be as simple as having more confidence in the QB-Center exchange out of the gun. If you're offense is designed around running plays out of the shotgun, why add in plays that require you to practice a whole different style of snapping? And while you can have snap issues with both, the shotgun snap is clearly the one we've practiced the most and if you fumble a snap under center, you've effectively lost the down because the only option is to fall straight down on it. With a shotgun snap, even if it's a bad snap there's a chance that the QB can pick it up and make a backyard play depending on how bad the snap is and how good the protection is.

Not mention the other disaster that happens which is the center getting confused when the QB is in the gun and just dropping the ball on the field.

Teams are trying to take away the middle of the field, daring us to beat them deep and outside. With that said, JJ missed two wide open down the middle yesterday.

"with all due respect, and remember I’m sayin’ it with all due respect, that idea ain’t worth a velvet painting of a whale and a dolphin gettin’ it on" - Ricky Bobby

The pop pass is a "constraint play" (term i came across reading an article by Chris Brown). Its not a play that can be relied upon as a staple of the offense because it requires an assignment or structural breakdown by the opposition. Tech has tried it a few times this year, but defenses have covered it fairly consistently.

Fuente and co. have added a few wrinkles to package RPOs together similar to the pop pass. I think theyre pretty clever and may write a piece during the off-season on the package if there is interest.

We actually saw some of that package in the pitt game (rewatch the sean savoy overthrow early). Might be the most interesting tactical package weve seen from Cornelsen this season. With a more frightening rusher at QB, it could become pretty formidable.

I would love to see a write up.

We completed one to Cunningham, right? Or was that not a pop pass?

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

I admit I did not watch the game all that closely. Do you know approximately when it happened? I can 🔥 up the dvr and take a look.

First quarter, first drive. Cunningham almost housed it.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

From what I can tell from watching the play that looked more like a designed crossing pass play than an RPO but I am not as good at this stuff as Mason or French.

You called it.

I counted 3 pop passes on the day, or at least plays that were very close

We can't pop anything on offense

What about fans' blood vessels?

"What kind of person would throw away a perfectly good dog?"

also missing dig, curl, slant, sluggo, post, flat, screen, wheel, screen, quick out, comeback, out, streak, corner.../s

"Take care of the little things and the big things will come."

There was also a sluggo... threw it to Kumah in the endzone. Kumah did a lousy job of faking the slant and it ended up being a jump ball.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

They ran one. That was a long completion to Cunningham. Inside zone right. HBack on the left side veer releases and is all by himself in the middle. Cunningham cut to the right and got tackled on the sideline. Opening drive of the game.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

French with the save! What are your thoughts on why we didn't use it more?

I think because they played Keene more as a lead blocker rather than zoning away. When they wanted to use an RPO concept, they usually slanted to Phillips off the run fake.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN