Because everyone can see that Georgia State’s defense is significantly improved from the Liberty game, but no can explain why, I tried to take a different approach to figuring out the reason.
With that in mind, I asked Panthers defensive coordinator Jesse Minter if he could think of a particular offensive play or route combination that teams run that they had trouble with earlier in the season that the Panthers are handling better in the past few games.
Before I tell you the play, I have to share this: Unprompted by me, Minter chose a play run by Troy in last Friday’s win that after I saw Georgia State defend it, I walked up to Allison and said that would have been a touchdown last year or earlier this season.
The example is a post/wheel route. On this route, there are typically two wide receivers to one side, and a running back in the backfield. The outside wide receiver will run a post, the inside will run a go route up the sideline and the running back will go in motion down the line of scrimmage before turning up field to run a wheel route
If the post and sideline routes aren’t open, the receivers should have cleared the zone for the running back running the wheel route to be open for a decent gain.
When Appalachian State ran it earlier this year the quarterback threw to the post. Minter said they had guys there, but they didn’t make a play.
Minter said they have seen that combination several times since. Typically, Georgia State has either defended it well or have gotten enough pressure on the quarterback that he can’t throw it.
Troy tried it on first and 10 at the 43-yard line in the first quarter on Friday. They tried to set it up on the previous play by using the same formation with the quarterback handing the ball of the the running back, instead of using play action.
Safety Tarris Batiste rolled left and covered the receiver running the go route up the sideline, with another defender running underneath. Because of the coverage, a completion would have required a pretty good throw and catch, and the Troy receiver, pinched into the sideline, didn’t make the catch. If you watch the video, you will see the play around the 29-minute mark.
Why did I think that play would have been a touchdown last year? I think the Panthers secondary would have likely got caught watching the ball instead of running the scheme, which would have allowed the receiver on the go route to be open. Giving up big plays was a problem for the defense, one that is has made significant strides in.