Inside the playbook: Blackmon vs. Cover 0

Click here for the entire Inside the Playbook series.

Let’s go back to the Fiesta Bowl and take a look at Justin Blackmon. The top WR prospect on the NFP Big Board, Blackmon is strong at the point of attack, can produce in the open field, and displayed sub 4.5 speed on his Pro Day on campus. Add that to his game tape and you are looking at a Top 10 pick.

In this video, Oklahoma State is facing seven-man pressure from Stanford with the secondary playing Cover 0 (blitz-man with no safety help). Check out at the replay and then we will get into some coaching points on Blackmon, the route scheme and the technique of the DB playing off-man.

- Oklahoma State is in a 3x1 set to the field—with Blackmon aligned as the “X” receiver into the boundary (sideline). A basic route scheme with the option-9 (fade) combo and the short inside curl to the closed (strong) side of the formation. To the open (weak) side, we see a inside Smash route (short square-in) from Blackmon. Release with a vertical stem and work back inside of the numbers.

- I don’t have the Oklahoma State playbook in front of me, but this looks like a “sight adjust” from QB Brandon Weeden and Blackmon. Identify the pressure at the line of scrimmage and run a 3-step combination to get the ball out quickly. Simple read for Weeden when he sees off-man coverage vs. Blackmon.

- The secondary technique. Look to the DB aligned over Blackmon. I like his footwork (flat-foot read), but he has to identify the route and take a downhill angle to the “cut-off” point. By taking a lateral angle (and not closing initially on the break of the route) Blackmon can win to the inside. And in Cover 0, there is no safety help for a DB in man-coverage. Use the sideline, take away the angle and drive on the ball.

- The production after the catch is why so many scouts saw Blackmon as a Top 10 pick even before he ran the 40 on his Pro Day. The ability to break a tackle and separate from the defense down the field. You don’t need a stopwatch for that. Just turn on the tape and watch him play.

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