All 22 Tuesday: Saban’s Last Play Breakdown

By FirstDown PlayBook on Oct 10, 2022
All 22 Tuesday

It is not lost on us that by this time there are few if any who have not seen this video. Nick Saban gave us a detailed explanation of the last play of the game vs Texas A&M Saturday night. We still think it’s a great opportunity to use a detailed play drawing to explain Saban’s last play breakdown as well.

Coach Saban’s last play breakdown is pretty unique. Rarely do you see any coach, much less a head coach talk X’s & O’s like this immediately following a football game. It is great opportunity to see how much work goes into situational football at that level. It is also a glimpse into the importance of personnel in a situation like this.

As Saban references in the video, this last play situation is almost exactly the same as a 2 point play. Texas A&M had already scored from a 3×1 formation earlier, when they played trap coverage and played the receivers inside out. Because of this they adjusted here on this final play.

On this play they have #9 as their rat in the hole coverage player. He is essentially reading the eyes of the quarterback and playing any pass inside out to the three receiver side. #14 and #13 are playing outside leverage with their man, but as you see in the video, not much. Every defender is only slightly outside with the leverage.

Click On The Diagram To See Another Video Of This Last Play

Alabama Red Zone Defense

This allows them to still make a play if the rat doesn’t get there. Let’s face it. The rat is only going to be help to one of those defenders. You will see that in this case it was on the crossing route of the Hammer concept. #14 for Alabama did a great job of playing physical on #7 from A&M.

If The SEC West Comes Down To Bama vs Ole Miss, Kiffin Will Need This Creativity

At the end of the day, this defense was well designed and well executed. However, when you have the remote in your hand, it’s easier to see where you would attack it. The one player that had inside man coverage on him was #2 for A&M. He was lined up wide on the three receiver side. Granted, it was to the wide side of the field and the one on one matchup may have been in Bama’s favor, but a fade ball to him would be a viable option.

The other thing that tends to throw kinks into tight red zone coverages like this is motion. When defenders have to trade off assignments and suddenly it becomes a 2×2 or an empty set, players can get out of position. This is when you see a defensive back think he has help but the help is not there. Think you have it? Alabama could have decide to bring pressure too. That’s a whole new can of worms.

Finally, and I know you offensive line coaches are waiting on this. There is often merit in handing the ball off in this situation. I am sure many of you can see two or three run plays that look good to the field side of this formation and defense. Those plays look better because you are not running at #31 for Alabama. He is probably the best player in the country right now.

You know what though? As we just mentioned. We have watched the tape over and over multiple times. These coaches and players make a call and execute the call in that moment. Hats off to both coaching staffs and players for a great game that came down to this football play. Also thanks to the University of Alabama Athletics for this rare insight with coach Saban’s last play breakdown.

Harlod Goodwin