Key Plays: 4th and Goal: Texas Tech and TCU

Texas Tech and TCU staged an immensely entertaining game, complete with an outstanding finish.  Here is TCU’s go ahead touchdown with 23 seconds left

The Situation

TCU had driven down the field, but they stalled on the goal to go series.  It was 4th down and goal from the four yard line.  TCU trailed Texas Tech 52-48.

The Formations

TCU lined up with an empty backfield in a five wide set.  An empty backfield means there were no running backs with the quarterback in the backfield.  Five wide means there were five wide receivers in the formation and no tight ends.

Texas Tech had four down lineman to rush the passer.  All of the receivers were covered in tight coverage, as they had to be since nearly any completion would be for a touchdown.



Texas Tech was in man to man coverage.  There was nothing more complicated; they weren’t playing any sort of inside, outside banjo-type coverage.  It was a simple coverage.  There was a linebacker in the middle of the field who had no coverage responsibility.  He was the spy for the quarterback.

TCU Coverage

The spy has responsibility for making sure the quarterback cannot run the ball himself.  If the QB takes off on a draw or scrambles, it is the spy’s job to tackle him.  There was also a safety in the middle of the field.  His responsibility is unclear, but at the snap he moves to the short side of the formation to help in coverage.

The Patterns

TCU Routes

On both sides of the field the TCU receivers are running crossing patterns.  These plays are designed to create separation from the defenders by bumping into them or causing them to bump into each other.  Alternatively the receivers can get open on the patterns by making good breaks.

Pick 1

Screen Grab Credit: Fox

Bumping into a defender on a pass play on purpose is not, strictly speaking, legal.  It is called a pick by those who defend it, or a rub, by those who practice it.  Either way, it is offensive pass interference.

Pick 2

Screen Grab Credit: Fox

The inside receiver on the trips side of the formation appears to be out there solely to pick the defenders.  He manages to contact the defender covering him and then free the next receiver from coverage by picking his defender.

The Result

To the wide side of the field, the middle receiver broke wide open, but the quarterback didn’t see him.  On the short side of the field the outside receiver was covered as well.  His man had stayed with him, and the safety was there too.  The quarterback still threw the ball there, but he threw the ball high.

TCU Play 2

The ball was tipped up into the air, and the middle receiver from the wide side was there to come down with it, just in bounds.  The receiver who caught the ball got so open because his defender was picked at the start of the play.  That’s a tough way to lose a game.


About Billy Koehler

Billy Koehler is the founder of and a contributing writer at He has been covering college football since 2006. You can follow him on twitter @billykoehler.
This entry was posted in Concepts, News, Schemes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Key Plays: 4th and Goal: Texas Tech and TCU

  1. R. Stoddard says:

    Nicely done!!


Comments are closed.