For all the talk of A&M’s offensive woes, and it was certainly offensive, much of the credit goes to Todd Grantham. His NFL level pressure packages had Kellen Mond so confused pre-snap with coverages and pressures, the young qb had little chance in the passing game. No doubt in my mind that his mental confusion led to terrible physical execution. (And that is really where Ags OC Noel Mazzone fell short, by not having more easy reads available for Mond.)
But, credit to Grantham because State’s players were moving and dropping all over the place. And it was changing play to play. The few times the Ags did get a favorable look, they couldn’t make the basic throw. (First 2 plays of game and the slant to Ausbon that was picked are 3 great examples)
It was as good of a performance by a DC as you will see. (And we’ll just gloss over the plays where 4 STATE DL whipped 5 AG blockers) I wanted to show you one example of Grantham’s scheme. I could show you 15 that are similar.
It’s 3rd and 10. Grantham shows a man-free look to Mond. It looks like 1 on 1 coverage on his WRs, with a free safety over the top. There are 5 defenders at the LOS showing rush. This is the down and distance the Ags knew they had to avoid coming into the ballgame. Grantham is really really good in these situations.
But, as you can see, right as the Ags snap the ball, the nickel back comes off Kirk on a blitz.
Notice how for a brief moment it looks like Kirk in the slot may be uncovered. But, that’s not true.
The strong safety will now roll to Kirk in the slot, post snap. So he is really playing a robber type coverage and will look to pick off any quick pass to Kirk.
Meanwhile, 2 of the original down rushers are now dropping into underneath coverage. So STATE is actually only sending 4 on the rush. Ags should be able to pick it up with their 5 OL and RB in protection.
But the RB leaves his feet in pass pro and missed the blitzing nickel DB. Also note that the 2 players who have dropped are protecting the deep middle of the field. This is just a beautifully designed coverage package.
And Mond is forced to make an early throw. The WR on the topside of the formation, #13, to my eye looks like he should have sat down at the first down marker for a back shoulder throw. He continues going 5 yards beyond the stick, where he should have read blitz and broke off his route. That seem to be what Mond expects. But, it is impossible to know for sure.