Welcome again to Set up the Enjoyable, the place soccer is enjoyable and we’re establishing that tougher than a Large Ten West group each Saturday. It’s spooky season, and with Halloween across the nook we now have one other three pack of methods and treats prepared on your viewing. So buckle in, all you ghouls and goblins and normal soccer followers, let’s have some enjoyable!
Kirk Cousins’ tiny chef: Kevin O’Connell
Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has been considerably of the barometer for common QB play over the previous few years. He was the definition of “mid” on the place: adequate to win with proficient gamers and playcalling on the place, however by no means adequate to win as a result of he performed very effectively.
Nevertheless, with the hiring of Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell, Cousins has performed noticeably higher and more durable than earlier than. By way of the primary portion of this season, his EPA/play is greater than it was in 2022, and it appears like he now has consolation inside the offense. This was on show within the Vikings’ victory over the San Francisco 49ers, and Cousins was on level, posting a 0.34 EPA/play and 48% success charge on the sport. It may not result in many wins this season as a result of development of the Vikings roster, however Cousins has performed very well, and his sport has gotten higher as he’s gotten older.
O’Connell has coaxed a bit extra aggression out of Cousins in his second yr as his playcaller, getting him to swing for extra doubles and homers as an alternative of merely taking the one. I actually like this play as a result of you possibly can see Cousins’ course of. He might take this little hook path to TE TJ Hockenson vs. cowl 2, however he decides to take the intermediate path to Brandon Powell. Certain, the one most likely would’ve been a sensible choice, however he could make the intermediate throw, and actually assault the protection. Good throw by Cousins, and a very good route by Powell.
Cousins was on fireplace on Monday, and while you watched him, he knew he was feeling it. He was assured in his passes and knew when to make performs out of construction or off the traditional timing of the play. This has all the time been Cousins’ largest subject; he’s so used to cooking by the e-book that he by no means tries something totally different. It’s like in Ratatouille, when Linguine and the opposite cooks are so used to cooking from Chef Gusteau’s cookbook that it takes Remy for them to lastly open their minds as much as the world of cooking.
So sure, Cousins’ Remy is Kevin O’Connell. Do with that info what you’ll.
On this play, the 49ers ship a blitz that usually Cousins would simply eat a sack on. Nevertheless, he is ready to course of the free runner and make a play on the fly, and get this ball out to proceed the drive with out taking a destructive play. An amazing off-script play by Cousins.
Maybe his most spectacular throw was a very powerful one of many evening. On third down, the 49ers get into Cowl 1, man throughout the board. The proper deal with loses across the edge, and Cousins makes a transfer within the pocket and steps up. From right here, he sees WR Jordan Addison (who had an enormous day in Justin Jefferson’s absence) breaking to his proper, away from the place his physique is. That’s when the little chef begins to prepare dinner. He’s in a position to get this ball off to his proper and transfer the chains. Exceptional by Kirk Cousins.
The Vikings are in a aggressive rebuild, and with Cousins enjoying like this, they’re actually emphasizing aggressive. They tackle the Inexperienced Bay Packers on Sunday, so look out for Cousins and his capability to proceed his good play.
UNLV arms out methods and treats on offense
Which of those numbers would’ve stunned you extra firstly of the season:
UNLV being 6-1?
Or UNLV being among the many prime 40 groups in faculty soccer by way of offensive EPA/play?
The Rebels have gotten new life breathed into this system this yr, with the arrival of head coach Barry Odom and offensive coordinator Brennan Marion. Sure, Marion of Go-Go offense lore. A number of weeks in the past I wrote about how Seattle was utilizing vestiges of it of their 12 personnel, however now we’re getting proper into the supply, and the way UNLV makes use of it as each decoy and a elementary a part of their offense.
What the Go-Go offense does is use the backfield alignment and misdirection to run what primarily is the triple choice however from out of shotgun. 5 gamers for UNLV have over 30 carries this season, and with as many mouths as they must feed within the run sport, it may well make opposing defenders’ heads spin. In UNLV’s 45-27 victory over Nevada, they ran for 259 yards, a majority of it utilizing the Go-Go offense. On this play, Nevada will get caught in a run blitz, however take a look at the area created as a result of the deep security doesn’t need to overcommit to the surface zone run. The velocity and the area the run sport performs with helps create that massive achieve on the bottom.
Usually, UNLV will run zone schemes with their alignment within the Go-Go offense. Nevertheless, they threw a pleasant counter (actually) at Nevada with the guard and the H-back each pulling, and one of many backs working in the identical course. The motion by the again each pulls the cloud nook and the linebacker out huge, making a pure crease after the H-back blocks the already widened LB. Watching this offense go to work is so cool.
On an extended TD run for UNLV, Nevada will get caught in a run blitz, however watch how the blitz utterly opens up the opening UNLV is attempting to run into. Nevada slants their defensive position away from the numbers, in the direction of the dive a part of the triple choice, if you wish to name it that. Then the MIKE linebacker has the QB duty, and the nickel nook has the pitch man. It ought to all be coated. Nevertheless, the WILL and bottom nook each get caught up within the backfield motion and go away their areas unmarked, and subsequent factor you realize, UNLV has a landing. There’s the trick a part of the trick or deal with offense UNLV runs.
I additionally thought this play stood out not solely due to how UNLV ran it, however due to how comparable it appears to one thing the NFL is working this yr. That is how UNLV bought into the play:
And it is a play the Miami Dolphins ran on Sunday in opposition to the Philadelphia Eagles:
Soccer is a copycat sport, people.
UNLV takes on Fresno State this Saturday on FS1 at 10 pm. In the event you thought Pac-12 After Darkish was enjoyable, get your popcorn out for this one.
The Falcons’ Soiled Hen Protection
By way of seven video games this yr, it’s not the Atlanta Falcons offense that has impressed a lot, however their protection. In response to Sumer Sports activities, the Falcons are eleventh in defensive EPA per play and fourth in success charge allowed. After hiring defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen away from the New Orleans Saints and signing gamers reminiscent of Jessie Bates and Calais Campbell, the Falcons protection has undergone a serious facelift.
It begins up entrance with Atlanta. They’re first in EPA allowed per rush, and while you watch them it is sensible. They’re massive and bodily up entrance, and may actually put groups behind the 8-ball on offense. Think about being a good finish and having to dam 300-pound Calais Campbell out on the sting. They play heavy on run downs, with greater guys out on the sting, so then they’ll get into extra artistic packages on second and third down.
Nielsen has been actually good with sending strain and blitzes that can get dwelling. The Falcons are twenty third in blitz charge, however fourth in strain charge. They don’t ship 5 or extra rushers lots; per Sports activities Info Options they’ve solely completed it on 48 go makes an attempt this season, twenty second within the NFL. They’ll get dwelling with numerous forms of strain appears, and it makes them extraordinarily troublesome to gameplan for. On this play, they line up in a double mug look—each linebackers are standing within the A spot. The Buccaneers transfer their RB up and ask him to assist the OL type out the double mug strain. Nevertheless, Atlanta brings their nickel off the sting and drops the LB that’s lined up straight in entrance of the Bucs RB. The Bucs safety can’t type it out instantly, and it ends with a strain and incompletion.
That double mug look was so good that the Falcons ran it once more, and bought the identical consequence. This time, it was Bates who got here flying off the sting from his security spot, and the Bucs by no means touched him. Atlanta will get Tampa Bay to waste 2 blockers on a LB and Bates flies in, forcing Baker Mayfield out the pocket and into an incompletion on 4th down.
Bates has been a essential a part of the Falcons’ defensive resurgence, and Nielsen has not solely used him in a conventional centerfield function, however has additionally made him the rock of the Falcons’ secondary. CB AJ Terrell will get many of the consideration (as a result of he’s additionally good at soccer), however Bates has been phenomenal this yr. The Bucs are within the pink zone right here, and watch the eyes for Bates, realizing the place Mayfield desires to go along with this ball. The Falcons have a double group on Mike Evans to the highest of the display, and Bates is aware of they need to run a hi-lo with Chris Godwin. So Bates turns his physique to remove that choice, and you then mix that with two nice go rushes up entrance and also you get a sack.
The Falcons protection has the chance to place collectively one other stable defensive efficiency in opposition to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, so while you flip in your TV, look out for the Falcons’ protection and what they do.
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