Breaking Down the Mickens Touchdown Run

Wanted to change it up this week and see if we could try something new. As I was watching the game on Saturday at Husky Stadium I found myself very pleased with the play calling. It has been 2 weeks in a row where the play calls seemed to flow and make sense. There were even some plays that were just missed that could have been big plays as well. It was a great effort on Saturday and I wanted to break down a play sequence that really stood out to me.

Early in the 4th quarter with UW facing a 3rd and 2 leading 23-13 from the Beavers 43 yard line UW ran what seemed to be a pretty simple pitch to Deontae Cooper for a gain of six yards and a first down. However, I think Jonathan Smith was thinking one play ahead on this play call. So let’s break down the two play sequence.

DiAndre Campbell is flanked to the left on the play with Kasen Williams flanked right. At the end of the line on the left are Michael Hartvigson and Josh Perkins. Campbell starts his sprint motion showing the defense a fly-sweep look. At the snap Hartvison and Perkins block down on the outside linebacker and defensive end and effectively remove them from the play. Cyler Miles fakes the fly-sweep hand off to Campbell and pitches it back to Cooper as he is running left to the short side of the field. Micah Hatchie pulls and forces the corner to get up field which allows for the gain of six yards and a key first down.

The reason I love the first play is that it completely set up the defense for the second play. UW goes hurry up on the next play. This time Jaydon Mickens comes in for Kasen and lines up to the left on the short side of the field (same place where Campbell was on previous play). Cooper is the tailback with Miles under center, giving the same backfield look as the previous play. Campbell is now in Kasen’s spot on the play and Perkins has moved over to the right side of the line in an H-Back set. Mickens shows the fly-sweep motion that the Beavers saw almost exactly the same on the previous play. This time Miles hands it off to Mickens who is able to reach the edge thanks to a wonderful block by Campbell who crashes down the safety who was coming up to defend the fly-sweep and also slows down the left outside linebacker (#40) in pursuit.

My favorite part of the play however is the effort from Josh Perkins. He actually pulls like a lineman on this play, he gets around Campbell’s block and is able to reach the field corner and make a diving block at his feet and take him to the ground. Not only that, but when he gets up he also is able to slow down the safety (#8) from the opposite side of the field who was pursuing on the play.

Usually, when fly-sweep motion happens, all the defenders start flowing that way. But if you look closely at the play you can see how the previous fake sweep greatly improved our numbers advantage on the play. Watch at the snap of the ball how the middle linebacker and right outside linebacker slide to their right. This slide is because of the way the line is blocking on the play, but also because the previous play is still fresh in their minds. Because of that false step, there is no way for them to pursuit the play and stop the touchdown, but just in case they had played it right you can see Atoe getting ready to block the MLB while Mickens is turning the corner.

Great play calls, awesome job thinking one step ahead, and wonderful execution by the players involved. It’s almost like they are paying attention to details or something!

I have a few other quick thoughts to get off my chest. The first is that I have been calling for a decade for coaches on all levels to pooch kick on kickoffs when the other team is assessed a personal foul before a kickoff. Chris Petersen is the first coach I have seen that actually did this. After our first touchdown OSU was called for a personal foul on the play. UW elected to enforce it on the kickoff, so they were kicking from the 50 yard line. I have seen so many times where the opposing team just kicks it through the endzone and gives the ball to the other team at the 25 yard line. Petersen and Jeff Choate, however, employed a pooch kick and OSU got the ball at the 17 yard line on the possession. So thank you Coach Petersen for making me look smart!

Also, to the lady that sits near us who freaks the hell out when UW gets a four yard play on first down: A FOUR YARD PLAY ON FIRST DOWN IS A GOOD PLAY. NOT ALL PLAYS CAN BE TOUCHDOWNS. 2ND AND SIX IS A VERY GOOD SITUATION FOR AN OFFENSE TO BE IN!! CALM DOWN, LADY!

This will be my last post-game week article of the season. I will likely be writing a few articles leading up to signing day in February. I hope you enjoyed my articles, and if you didn’t, I don’t really care anyways.