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On By In - Offense

For the first Concept Wednesday of the Scott Frost era, we’re going to look at one of Frost’s favorite vertical passing concepts: Saints. Saints is yet another play in the Frost playbook that can be traced directly to Chip Kelly. It was Kelly’s preferred vertical concept in Philadelphia and San Francisco, and I expect it will feature heavily in UCLA’s offense as long as Kelly is in Los Angeles. Saints is also responsible for several of UCF’s explosive plays in 2016 and 2017, as Frost used his speed at the skill positions to kill defenses down the field with one-on-one matchups.

For now, let’s take a look at the core Saints concept and then a variation Frost ran in the Spring Game that led to Jaevon McQuitty’s first touchdown in a Husker uniform.

Saints is a three-vertical play action pass based off the Huskers’ zone run look:

The blocking up front looks like a standard zone run, and the Huskers can block inside or outside zone depending on what they’ve used most in the game. But this is pure play action, as the RB makes an initial run fake before running a flat route. If he gets pressure from that side, he’ll abandon the route and look to pick up any blitzer unaccounted for by the offensive line. If the defense is particularly adept at rushing the passer, you will also see the offensive line convert this into straight pass drops rather than giving a zone run look.

To the RB’s side, there are two primary receivers. This can be a combination of a TE and WR or a slot WR with another WR outside of him. The #1 WR (labeled “S” above) will run a skinny post that may convert depending on coverage. If he gets soft coverage and can’t get on top of the CB with the post, he can convert the route to a comeback after initially breaking to the post. The #2 WR to the same side (labeled “Y”) will also run a route that converts depending on the coverage. If he gets a single-high safety that closes the middle of the field, the #2 WR will run a deep crossing route. If he gets two-high safeties and the middle of the field is open, he will stay vertical and split the safeties’ coverage drops.

On the other side of the field, you’ll get a high-low combination from two WRs. The most typical route combination is the one seen above, a go route from the #1 WR (labeled “X”) and a bubble from #2 (labeled “Z”) underneath him. This is designed to vertically stretch the CB. If the CB sinks with X, the ball goes to Z. If the CB triggers down on Z, the ball is thrown to X in the hole before the FS can widen. You will also see Frost run this with a quick out from Z rather than a bubble, which is just another way to get into the high-low combination.

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Root growth in the field is often slowed by a combination of soil physical stresses, including mechanical impedance, water stress, and oxygen deficiency. The stresses operating may vary continually, depending on the location of the root in the soil profile, the prevailing soil water conditions, and the degree to which the soil has been compacted. The dynamics of root growth responses are considered in this paper, together with the cellular responses that underlie them. Certain root responses facilitate elongation in hard soil, for example, increased sloughing of border cells and exudation from the root cap decreases friction; and thickening of the root relieves stress in front of the root apex and decreases buckling. Whole root systems may also grow preferentially in loose versus dense soil, but this response depends on genotype and the spatial arrangement of loose and compact soil with respect to the main root axes. Decreased root elongation is often accompanied by a decrease in both cell flux and axial cell extension, and recent computer-based models are increasing our understanding of these processes. In the case of mechanical impedance, large changes in cell shape occur, giving rise to shorter fatter cells. There is still uncertainty about many aspects of this response, including the changes in cell walls that control axial versus radial extension, and the degree to which the epidermis, cortex, and stele control root elongation. Optical flow techniques enable tracking of root surfaces with time to yield estimates of two-dimensional velocity fields. It is demonstrated that these techniques can be applied successfully to time-lapse sequences of confocal microscope images of living roots, in order to determine velocity fields and strain rates of groups of cells. In combination with new molecular approaches this provides a promising way of investigating and modelling the mechanisms controlling growth perturbations in response to environmental stresses.

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Plants require a root system that delivers adequate water and nutrients for shoot growth, and to anchor them in the soil. The optimum distribution of root length depends mainly on the distribution of water and nutrients in the soil. In dry seasons plants may require long main root axes to access water stored deep in the soil profile, whilst if abundant water and nutrients are available, only a small fraction of the root length may suffice. Roots of individual plants may experience a wide range of soil conditions, and as much variation has been recorded within 0.5 m of the stem base as across a 100 m 2 field plot ( Jackson and Caldwell, 1993 ). Soil matric potential may be drier than −1.5 MPa (permanent wilting point) at the soil surface on a summer day, but saturated at a depth of 1 or 2 m, if a water table is present. Soil physical stresses may limit root elongation; for example, if the soil is too wet with insufficient oxygen diffusion to the root tip resulting in hypoxia; insufficient water availability if the matric potential is too negative; and mechanical impedance if the soil is too hard due to compaction or soil drying ( Taylor and Ratliff, 1969 ; Blackwell and Wells, 1983 ; Sharp et al ., 1988 ; da Silva et al ., 1994 ). Soil physical stresses have sometimes been found to interact to decrease root elongation more than predicted from the combination of stresses acting independently. Interestingly, this effect has only been observed in maize roots ( Gill and Miller, 1956 ; Barley, 1962 ; Mirreh and Ketcheson, 1973 ; Goss et al ., 1989 ) and not, as yet, in other species ( Taylor and Gardner, 1963 ; Taylor and Ratliff, 1969 ; Greacen and Oh, 1972 ). It is a considerable challenge to evaluate the most important factors limiting the growth of the crop, and to understand the mechanisms underlying the root growth responses.

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