Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 67

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Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 67
By Gir Todafunk
Special to The Daily Magi
November 5, 2055


Hey readers, how ya doin'? I'm Gir Todafunk, the ace cornerback for Tatsuya Kaname's Mitakihara Magi, back with my next weekly column for the Daily Magi and the Magi Football Blog. Another new face is joining this season: it's tackle Tony Bright, a 6'7", 261-lb giant from Enid, Oklahoma. Schools like LSU, Minnesota, Miami and Louisiana Tech wanted him, too, but we decided that we wanted him first, so he ended up joining us. 

Tony's the son of a farmer's daughter and a businessman from Oklahoma City. Keep in mind that a number of these face may not make the final cut next year, so while it's good to have then on the team, they may not make the final roster next fall. Keep your fingers crossed...I don't understand why we start the month of November as the No. 6 ranked team in the country. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense. We need five upsets to take place this month to put ourselves in pole position, and I don't see that happening, but I can dream, can't I?

I want to talk about checkdowns and screen passes. In American football, a checkdown pass is when the quarterback attempts to complete a short, accurate pass to a running back or tight end as a last option when the wide receivers are covered. The term means that the quarterback has "checked down" his list of receivers. Because the quarterback does not look for the checkdown pass until after he has scanned for open wide receivers down the field for about 3–4 seconds, the defensive line has had time to enter the backfield and so a checkdown pass is often thrown in the face of pressure from the defensive line. Alternatively, if the defensive team has sent a blitz, with linebackers and/or defensive backs also looking to sack the quarterback, the checkdown may also turn out to be the quarterback's second or even first look. For this reason, the ability to complete checkdown passes, while not as dramatic as longer completions, is often seen as a key sign of an effective and efficient quarterback. These plays often result in significant yardage gain, because most of the defensive players are either in the backfield in pursuit of the quarterback, or deeper in the secondary covering receivers.

A screen pass is, in many ways, a scripted checkdown. A screen pass is a play in gridiron football consisting of a short pass to a receiver who is protected by a screen of blockers. During a screen pass, a number of things happen concurrently in order to fool the defense into thinking a long pass is being thrown, when in fact the pass is merely a short one, just beyond the defensive linemen. Screens are usually deployed against aggressive defenses that rush the passer. Because screens invite the defense to rush the quarterback, they are designed to leave fewer defenders behind the rushers to stop the play.

A screen pass can be effective, but can also be risky in that it is rather easy for a defensive player, even a lineman, to intercept the pass if a defender gets between the quarterback and the intended receiver. If the pass is intercepted, there are often few offensive players in front of the intercepting player, thus making it much easier for the intercepting team to earn a large return or to score a touchdown.

A screen pass can be effective, but can also be risky in that it is rather easy for a defensive player, even a lineman, to intercept the pass if a defender gets between the quarterback and the intended receiver. If the pass is intercepted, there are often few offensive players in front of the intercepting player, thus making it much easier for the intercepting team to earn a large return or to score a touchdown.

Screens come in many forms. A screen to a running back to either the strong or short side of the field in the flats is often just called a screen. Screens to wide receivers come in four forms: the bubble screen, middle screen, slot screen, and slip screen.

The bubble screen was essentially created by Don Read when he was head coach of the Montana Grizzlies, and Lou Holtz, head coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, brought the play into prominence after calling Read and asking for the play. The bubble screen involves a receiver taking a step forward, then darting toward the quarterback to receive the ball while the offensive linemen release to clear a path for the receiver. The benefit of the bubble screen is that it works against either zone or man-to-man coverage. A downside is that it is dependent on proper timing; a zone blitz or defensive end dropping into coverage can disrupt the timing, and may result in the quarterback being sacked.

The middle screen is similar to the bubble screen, except that the receiver continues his route to the middle of the field. The linemen release up the middle of the field in front of the receiver.

I'll talk a bit more about screen passes next week. I'm Gir Todafunk, Mr. Wonderful, signing off. Oh, one more thing: I also got national player of the year honors and conference player of the year honors. Hopefully I get more. See you next week! You are not alone!

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