Let’s go through the last two plays. I know that’s probably what you’ve been doing [He just finished a lengthy phone interview –A.], but what I really want to talk about isn’t the last play but the second to last. When they motioned what were you thinking, and did you expect that to happen?
“I mean, you can kind of tell by an offensive lineman’s demeanor what kind of play to expect, and they were all in loaded stances the whole game when they were coming off a run and they were sitting back. I was kind of confused at first when they were in their tight bunch set and everyone’s like really close splits but didn’t look like they were ready to fire out.
“So the center I was going against was a pretty big guy so I could barely see the quarterback. So I hear him say something and he moves back and I’m like, ‘What is going on?’ so I’m trying to peek around and see what set he’s in. Was he in empty? I believe he was in- was he in an empty set?”
“Yeah, yeah. Eventually, yeah.”
He starts with a back in the backfield and then motions him out.
“So then we’re like- my thought process was this is either going to be a QB power, a QB draw, or a QB run of some sort or it’s going to be a pass because I know they like to sprint out. I decided to come off the ball as hard as I could when I saw the ball snapped and Mo Hurst, being as quick as he is, shot right in the backfield on their sprint-out play, and Willie [Henry] discarded his guy pretty quick, too, and he decided it wasn’t a good idea to hold onto the ball much longer.”
“James [Ross] was glued to his guy, the guy he was trying to throw back to, the tight end, which we had prepared for that all week. So yeah, Mo basically made that play and Willie and James, and I was really confused on the empty spread thing. I could barely see where the quarterback was so yeah, that’s about the second to last play.”
[After THE JUMP: Breaking down the goal-line stand]
So when something like that happens [the line shift and motioning] it doesn’t so much change your actual assignment as it changes your approach to things?
“Yeah, it changes the mentality of what’s going to happen because when you do something like that there’s only so many plays that they can run out of that set now. They don’t have a running back [so] can’t speed option, can’t do much with that.
“It’s either going to be a QB run or pass, so that’s the two things you prepare for when they have three running backs in the backfield. Could be off tackle to him, still pass, or QB sneak. There’s not a bunch of other things, so it kind of narrows down your thought process for what’s coming.”
On the last play, we’ve heard that coach Durkin knew it was going to be a sneak. First, can you tell us what the actual play call was, and what was your particular assignment on that play? Or, in a goal-line situation, is it not so much an assignment as just getting push?
“The way Minnesota likes to run QB sneaks is they like to run to a particular side, so Mo’s job was to stand up the guard who he likes to run behind. My job was to slant into the A gap and try to get in between the center and the guard. Willie’s job was slant into the other A gap and try and get between the center and the guard and just knock it back, create a wedge and push them back.
“And then- I mean, but when something comes down to that everyone’s coming off the ball so hard you can’t really get a good stab. It’s just all about explosion and pad level and just trying to keep your feet moving, so yeah.
“And coach Durkin and the defensive staff drew up that play earlier in the week. We practiced it half speed a couple times to try and get our steps through it and it ended up paying off.”