For the first time in quite a few games, let's take a look at a positive play in our film review: Dylan Thompson's game-winning TD run.
The play here is a simple variation on the inside zone-read that utilizes our two-TE jumbo package for help blocking. Thompson is reading the left side of the defensive front, here Florida's DE Dante Fowler (6) and especially LB Alex Anzelone (34). Carolina shifts TEs Busta Anderson and Cody Gibson to the left side to block on the play. For Thompson, the decision is to hand off to David Williams if Anzelone gets outside contain and to pull if Anzelone attacks inside. If Anzelone had tried to get outside position, Busta Anderson could have sealed him outside, allowing Thompson to hand off to Williams for a likely easy touchdown. However, undoubtedly because Thompson almost always hands off on this play, Anzelone is playing Williams all the way, leading to an easy pull and touchdown for Thompson. It was probably unnecessary, but Williams helps pave the way by blocking Anzelone as Anzelone breaks free from Anderson's block.
This play relies on a simple concept but one that almost always yields yardage if the QB makes the right read. The problem has been that whether due to his own reluctance or because he's being told not to, Dylan rarely pulls even when easy yards are available. He pulled once in the first quarter against Florida and got a few yards, but there were a couple of a third-and-short plays later in the game where he could have easily run for the first down but instead handed off to a tailback who was quickly stuffed for a loss.
For all our carping about those decisions, it was probably precisely Florida's assumption based on the earlier plays that Dylan wouldn't pull that made this such an easy TD. We might not have needed overtime, though, had Dylan converted those earlier third downs, and I would like to see Dylan more aggressive pulling the ball on the zone plays against Clemson. Clemson has a very solid defense, and we'll need to be dynamic on offense to move the ball well. Dylan can instantly make the zone plays more effective by being more willing to pull, as the QB run has been there on these plays all season. If the concern has been keeping Dylan healthy, then I think it's time to shelve that concern. It's the end of the season, so it's no longer necessary to worry about whether we can weather several games with a backup QB. Moreover, a win over Clemson will provide a modicum of redemption on this season. I expect Dylan to pull out all the stops in order to leave Death Valley a winner for the second time in his career.