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Pet Play's: The Fighting Illini and Passing Triangles

Every playcaller has a play that they love. A situational play that they go to when they need a first down, or a big play, or a negative play on defense. This series is all about identifying and examining those schemes for each of the Bearcats upcoming opponents. Todays edition, Bill Cubit and the Illinois Fighting Illini


Bill Cubit was fired by the Western Michigan administration at the conclusion of last years 4-8 season. A respectible, if underwhelming mark. His teams were consistently inconsistant, but his offenses were usually potent in the MAC, particularly in the passing game.

From the point that Cubit took over in Kalamazoo in 2005 the Bronco's were almost always in the top half of the league. In 2005 the Bronco's were fifth in passing offense, in 2006 they were 6th. Then the passing game really took off. 2007 3rd; 2008 1st; 2009 3rd; 2010 1st; 2011 1st; 2012 3rd.

The offense that Cubit ran was complex, but it was not revolutionary in any sense. Like many coaches of his era much of his stuff had roots in the West Coast offense, but he was quick to adapt to the times. The Bronco's really liked to spread the field with receivers to stretch defenses, but also to make them show their hand early.

The concept that I am highlighting today comes out of a five wide set.

and the diagram of the routes.


To the strong side of the formation the quarterback has a triangle read. It is called as such because the concept has a vertical stretch, a horizontal stretch, and to defeat man coverage. For more on triangle's in the passing game see here.

This is a concept that should, ideally, result in a completion against any coverage scheme. WMU used it to great effect to confuse the boilers underneath coverages. Jordan White came into the the game as the leading receiver in the nation, and Purdue probably devoted a ton of time in devising strategies to curtail his prodcution.

There are two keys to this play as WMU used it. The first has to do with the way most defenses assign responsabilities to defenders. Even in a zone scheme defenders have to align to "cover" every receiver. Failing to do can give an offense easy money. So in the video above the nickle back is "covering" White, even though he will never threaten his zone, thats one point.

The second is the route of the inside man, which is a 10 yard out. What you have to watch is how the inside man attacks the linebacker vertically. That vertical push opens up a gap between one linebacker, who is covering the inside receiver, and the other, who is gains no depth and reads the QB's eyes. Its not a huge gap, but as fast as this play hits is enough for 10 yards a pop on completions.