Penn State Straight T Short Yardage Play

By FirstDown PlayBook on Nov 14, 2022
All 22 Tuesday

We have chosen this Penn State Straight T, 4th & 1 play today for our All 22 play for several reasons. The first reason is that it is a rare occasion when we can draw a football play or defense from Saturday or Sunday that is suited for youth football coaches. This play is a nice exception.

This play is also a good example of how simplicity can be an ally in crucial situations if you trust it. The balance that this Penn State Straight T formation gives them does not allow a defense to cheat before the ball is snapped. Perfectly balance formations give you this advantage on offense.

The final point is that even though you would have to describe this as a physical run play, you don’t see any fullbacks on the field. Instead the Nittany Lions lined up with 23 personnel. They are using two running backs and three tight ends. Although one of the tight ends is used as a fullback in the straight T. Keep in mind that Maryland does not know this prior to lining up.

Penn State Knew Who They Did Not Have To Block Too

This Penn State Straight T play that they ran on 4th & 1 ended up going the distance for a 55 yard touchdown. See how.

Let’s set the stage. Penn State has a 7-0 lead over Maryland with 1:34 left in the first quarter. It is fourth and one yard to go on their own 45 yard line. It is important also to note that Penn State had used this very same straight T formation on third and one the play before this.

Getting enough blockers to the point of attack was obviously Penn State’s goal here, as they needed less than a yard for the first down. However, it is also of note how they understood who they could leave unblocked. You will notice that we have #2 and #19 identified as unblocked in the play diagram. The quarterback can hold one of these defenders but not both.

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The important thing to note here is that play is designed to go outside. If this ball hits anywhere inside the backside linebacker, #19 will make the play. As it was, he could not. Even some leakage with one of the backside cutoffs did not hurt the play.

Odds are that when Penn State lined up in this Straight T formation, they knew the Maryland corner would contain. A lot of defenses would wrong arm this play and make it go sideways. Corners don’t like to wrong arm blocks and this created a seam in the D gap. Maryland’s inside defenders were heavy A and B gap conscious. This made the play ripe for a seam between the tight end and fullback.

So if you are looking for a simple short yardage or even goal line play, this might be it. An argument could be made that you could run the same play and use a pin and pull scheme if you wish.

Calvert HS Rick Snead