Hey, Messingham: Go Long

Hey, Messingham: Go Long

Take a chance on third downs. Set up the slant route, then have the receiver break it off in symphony with a Richardson pump fake and go deep

Some things we learned about Sam Richardson on Thursday against Tulsa:

  • He has no problem trusting just about anybody to make plays. Ten different receivers caught a pass in the win. Even after tight end E.J. Bibbs dropped the first three balls his way, Richardson went back to him.

  • He's icy on third downs. Seven completions on 12 attempts (six yards per attempt), for a touchdown. On fourth down, 1-for-1 with six yards, the necessary amount.

  • He can take a hit. In situations in which the pass was all but inevitable — third-and-four or longer — Richardson was blitzed 21 times. Two sacks on third down. His average time in the pocket in those circumstances was 2.44 seconds. That's just enough time to wait for a longer route or one involving a double-move to develop. Richardson's touchdown pass to Jarvis West right before halftime against Tulsa was an example of the latter. West faked like he was running a smash route to the outside then cut back in.

    Offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham: "To me one of the biggest plays we had against Tulsa was Jarvis on the touchdown right before half. Sam did a great job, stood in there — knew he was going to get hit because they brought more linebackers than we could block but he also knew that if he gave it a chance Jarvis was going to get open."

  • The slant route might be his favorite. Quenton Bundrage scored running a one-step slant against Iowa and Richardson was inclined to throw to the route again Thursday. It's quick, easy, safe. When the blitz is coming, and Richardson finds a throwing lane, it's automatic in one-on-one coverage.

    So here's my idea for this week: "Sluggo".

    Take a chance on third downs. Set up the slant route, then have the receiver — Bundrage would be my preference — break it off in harmony with a Richardson pump fake and go deep. It should open up an alley on the outside against man coverage. Against Cover 2 it could be a deeper route. Against Cover 3 it'll be more intermediate. But take a chance, Cyclones, and throw it longer than 10 yards in the air. It might drop Richardson's completion percentage on third downs. It may result in a sack or two. But when you can't matchup with the athletes Texas has across the field, you've got to be a bit riskier. Texas' cornerbacks are as likely to lead a Fundamentals of Tackling 101 class as you or I. Make them make those stops in the open field.

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