To provide a clear picture of the offensive line’s responsibilities on the Counter Trap play, I’ve found two endzone shots that I was fortunate enough to find of Nebraska running Counter. One is from this past April’s spring game, while the other is a QB Counter play from the Nebraska vs Wisconsin game in 2015. Although there is the obvious semantical difference in the QB being the ball carrier rather than the tailback, the concept of the play is identical and the assignments for the offensive line remain unchanged. In addition to the embedded videos, I will also have still shots of the play with the blocking assignments superimposed on them.
Nebraska vs Wisconsin 2015
As you can see, the frontside of the offensive line, Dylan Utter and Alex Lewis, work in tandem on a Doctor call, with Lewis chipping and climbing to the #2 playside linebacker, as the 2i technique defensive tackle does not slant outside. On the backside of the play, right guard Chongo Kondolo and Andy Janovich pull as the trapper and the wrapper, while center Ryne Reeves blocks back on the 3 technique with the help of Nick Gates and Cethan Carter. Normally you won’t see a TE work to the 3 tech too often on a cut-off block, but nonetheless backside pursuit was effectively closed off on the play.
As for the pullers, Kondolo and Janovich, they both get a clean pull over to the frontside because of the excellent job by Alex Lewis and Dylan Utter of not allowing any penetration. As Kondolo approaches for the kick-out block, #58 Joe Schobert has stepped down in pursuit of the run to the opposite side of the field. Although stepping down in pursuit may seem like the correct response by Schobert, he does not keep his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage. Essentially, Schobert lucked out into closing down space for the kick-out block.
Adjusting on the fly, Kondolo converts his kick-out block to a log block, leaving Andy Janovich to redirect around in his block to exchange responsibilities as the trapper and the wrapper. As described in Part II, gap exchanges must be just that, exchanges. On this play, #50 Chris Orr does not scrape outside. Instead, Orr becomes another satisfied customer of the Counter Trap, as he initially flows toward the Outside Zone fake to Devine Ozigbo, before filling the same gap as Schobert’s pursuit, a series compromise of gap integrity.
The over-pursuit by Schobert and Orr toward Ozigbo’s Outside Zone path was set up by Nebraska running Outside Zone multiple times from this same formation earlier in the game, one of which was popped for a nice gain by Terrell Newby. In conclusion, if memory serves correct, this was the first time that season that the Huskers showed the QB Counter Trap out of this particular look.
2017 Spring Game
Tailback Counter Trap
Thanks to the excellent camera crew during the BTN broadcast of Nebraska’s spring game, there were a plethora of endzone shots over the course of the game. On this play, the Huskers again pair the Bunch set with the open-side/weakside Counter Trap. Because of the Over alignment of the defensive line with the 3 tech aligned to the field and the strength of the offensive formation, we once again have a Doctor call executed between Jerald Foster and Nick Gates. The 1 tech does not slant towards Gates, as Foster does a textbook job of pinning #75 Fyn Anderson to the inside, so Gates climbs to the second level and Avery Roberts. Roberts initially flows with the misdirection and by the time he recovers, he effectively flows back into a block from Nick Gates.
On the backside of the play we see Cole Conrad and David Knevel working in conjunction to account for the 3 tech, #58 Joel Lopez. Lopez penetrates directly upfield into Knevel’s check and hinge block, where he is kept at bay until Conrad can reach him.
The pullers on the play, Boe Wilson and Tyler Hoppes, both get clean pulls and reach the POA anticipating working in tandem on the kick and wrap. However, the defense has other ideas. The 5 technique defensive end, Matt Jarzynka, steps down once he reads down block by Nick Gates, while the WILL, Jacob Weinmaster, scrapes to the outside in this gap exchange. Wilson does a fantastic job of trying to kick Jarzynka out and only using the log block as a very last resort. Once Wilson has logged Jarzynka, TE Tyler Hoppes looks to kick Weinmaster out to open the hole for Devine Ozigbo. However, as he is on the path to kicking Weinmaster out, Hoppes collides with Wilson and knocks Wilson off of the block. Because of this, Ozigbo has to dance around a bit, but still does a good job of making something happen.
As you can see, both the QB Counter and the Tailback Counter are executed upfront in identical fashion, just with differences in playcalling pathology and ball carrier. I’m looking forward to charting the various adjustments that Danny Langsdorf will employ to ensure that the Counter Trap can efficiently be ran against the wide array of defensive alignments and wrinkles we’ll see in-season.
Thanks for reading and GBR!