“The Block”

As @RowdyTalk mentioned on Twitter as I was drafting this post, this play will be known as such until something even worse happens to usurp its namesake. While our program is still taking its baby steps, we have already developed a bitter moment of infamy. After a very strong showing against a solid South Alabama opponent, the Roadrunner marched down the field as regulation time dwindled, setting up a chip-shot of a field goal with mere seconds left on the clock. As South Alabama attempted to ice Sean Ianno, my blood pressure mounted to near-death levels. Damn Chachos’ nachos, man.  Even though the kick was practically a PAT, I think everyone in the Dome had a small sense of dread in their hearts as Jesse Medrano snapped the ball to Seth Grubb. The Jaguars’ defensive line put a very strong push on UTSA’s offensive line, freeing up Clifton Crews and Gabe Loper to take a couple of steps up on the line and leap to, well…

From the stands, it seemed that the blocking was to blame for the block. And it was. But closer inspection will reveal that Sean Ianno had a huge part in allowing this season-defining kick to be blocked. Notice the way the ball bounces back behind the line of scrimmage after it is blocked. The ball goes directly south, indicating that Crews’ and Loper’s hand(s?) were completely above the football. This post would have a completely different tone had South Alabama barely graced the ball, sending it off course. Instead, the trajectory of the block shows us that Ianno’s kick was inexcusably low– destined to be blocked.

It would be foolish to pin all of the blame on Ianno. This was without a doubt a complete failure of the entire field goal unit. First off, notice how quickly South Alabama comes off the snap. It’s tough to have an honest shot at containing the surge when you’re getting beat off the ball. With the clock stopped, UTSA should have employed multiple phantom hikes or a silent count in order to prevent USA blowing them off the line. Instead, you can hear Grubb verbalize the snap count after he looks back at Ianno. This is just making it too easy for South Alabama.

Secondly, UTSA’s offensive line got stood the eff up. Watch the video a couple of times while keying on the blue helmets. Draw a line on your monitor from where the helmets start and where they end. While blocking on a field goal attempt, you want your line to stay as low as possible in order to force the defensive line to keep their hands down. Rather, the UTSA offensive line attempted to block USA while standing up. Combined with USA’s ferocious acceleration off the line, the offensive line really stood no chance. They were blown back off the ball, allowing USA’s secondary to come in closer to the hold, lowering their necessary height to be able to get a hand on the ball. That’s simple geometry.

Finally, Ianno has to put more loft under this kick. It really shouldn’t even be a question on such a short kick where kicking power is at a minimum demand. Would the kick still had been blocked if Ianno had elevated it two feet higher? I can’t tell you, but I can tell you that it would have been a hell of a lot harder on the Jaguars.

About jared

A UTSA alumnus that has been cast away to Austin, Jared enjoys live music and a craft beer. He thinks four verts is the best play in football but loves a QB sneak on fourth and inches. Twitter