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Penn State Football: The Anatomy Of A Touchdown

by on April 19, 2015 1:00 PM

For nearly everybody who watches football, a play unfolds quicker than they can fully process.

The real advantage coaches have over everyone else: the knowledge of what is supposed to happen on any given down.

Simply put, when you know what's supposed to happen, it's easier to look for it.

As for the rest of us, maybe we all recognize bits and pieces of a play as it happens. It's not as though understanding football in realtime is impossible, but it does take time, patience, and effort to do so.

The point is simple, for all of football you may have watched in your life, nothing beats slowing down the film and watching a play again. With 22 players on the field all at once, chances are pretty good that you missed something.

And that goes for Akeel Lynch's 22-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter of the Blue White game on Saturday. It was a play that involved good blocking, a decoy route and Christian Hackenberg working with his eyes until the very last second.

--The Play--

As you can see below, the play opens with Lynch set behind Hackenberg to his right and Kyle Carter to Hackenberg's left. Geno Lewis is split out left while DaeSean Hamilton and Saeed Blacknall are to the right.

At the snap of the ball linebacker Von Walker immediate crashes down the right side of the line unblocked as Hackenberg turns to Lynch as if he's going to hand to ball to him. Kyle Carter pulls to the middle of the line as Hamilton runs just slightly out ahead of Blacknall as if he is getting ready to set his own block.

From here two things happen, the corner and safety covering Hamilton and Blacknall recognize this incoming play as a screen play Penn State frequently runs. Anticipating Hamilton to get the block and Blacknall to get the ball they both stay on their side of the field even as Lynch continues to close in on the handoff. Malik Golden even works in closer to Hamilton as if he's ready to engage on the incoming block.

But the pass never comes. Hackenberg holds the ball until the last possible second freezing Walker as he waits to see if Lynch will get the ball or Hackneberg will pull it out for a pass.

By the time Lynch finally gets the ball, there is one player within 10 yards that remains unblocked: linebacker Matthew Baney. It doesn't stay that way for long though as offensive lineman Brian Gaia peels off of his double team to engage Baney. The result, a wide open field to operate in.

Once Lynch gets past the line there are two players left to contend with. Jordan Dudas and Desi Davis. While Lynch would eventually break through their tackle attempts and score, it's worth noting that Geno Lewis never actually blocks Davis during the entire play. A block down the field by Lewis would have made it a one-on-one affair between Lynch and Dudas. That's not an automatic touchdown, but those are favorable odds overall.

Either way, Lynch goes essentially untouched until the final five yards of his run and neither Dudas or Davis make great contact that will slow Lynch down enough with a full head of speed.

For a scrimmage that had a lot of ups and downs, this was a high point of the afternoon. Good blocking, good ball control by Hackenberg and good running by Lynch to hit the hole and go; and a lot easier to watch happen when you get a second chance to see it.

Click though the gallery below to watch it unfold for a second time. (Tab left and right on your keypad or click the right box on the photo to advance the play forward.)



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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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