USF's jet sweep leaves opposing defenses in a heap

Published Sept. 20, 2016

TAMPA — As sure as Bulls pennants fly and Bloody Marys flow in the Raymond James Stadium parking lots Saturday morning, USF coach Willie Taggart will dial up the play that has evolved into a veritable GIF of his offense.

The GIF that keeps on giving. FSU has seen it on film. Then again, so did Syracuse. And Northern Illinois. And Towson.

At one time or another, the Bulls were able to sweep — or jet sweep — all of them off their feet.

"One of the reasons that we run it," co-offensive coordinator T.J. Weist said, "is because we've got the guys that can run it."

Though a description of each rushing attempt isn't included in the play-by-play of USF's official scorebooks, the Bulls (3-0) are believed to have run the jet sweep no fewer than 17 times — for 130 yards — already in 2016.

The play's catalyst, senior slot receiver Rodney Adams, has 11 of those runs for 104 yards and four touchdowns, including two in Saturday's 45-20 romp of Syracuse.

Backtrack to the Miami Beach Bowl in December, and Adams has five jet-sweep touchdowns in the past four games.

"Speed, execution — usually that's what it takes," Taggart said.

"You have some speed and guys execute the way they're supposed to, it usually works well for you. Rodney's pretty talented out there, you can't teach that. But I think our guys do a great job of blocking on the perimeter and that gets lost a lot in all the scoring and all those things."

At its core, the play is far easier to dissect than it is to stonewall.

Quarterback Quinton Flowers lines up in the shotgun, with a tailback beside him. A tight end (Kano Dillon or Mitchell Wilcox) lines up in front of the tailback as an H-back, or extra blocker.

Adams comes in motion, parallel to the line of scrimmage. The ball is snapped just before Adams runs in front of Flowers, who tucks the ball into his midsection. Adams then sweeps to the outside, following the blocks of his H-back and tailback.

Against Syracuse, both of Adams' scoring runs were jet-sweep primers.

On his 9-yarder, tailback Marlon Mack sprung him by cut-blocking a converging defensive back. Adams' 19-yarder about four minutes later was set up by a block from Dillon, followed by tailback D'Ernest Johnson's shoulder-to-shoulder block of strong safety Daivon Ellison.

"Man, (running backs) Coach (Donte Pimpleton) pushed us this spring and the summer, helping us get better with our blocking," Mack said. "That's one thing he said that we need to work on to get to the next level, and that's one thing I try to work on and get better at."

Break down a few of the other successful sweeps, and you'll find wideouts blocking with equal efficiency.

Against Northern Illinois, Ryeshene Bronson held up a defensive back at the goal line just long enough for Adams to complete an 11-yard touchdown.

"It's speed, but I've got great blockers on the outside," Adams said.

"The offensive line does a good job of continuing those blocks and the receivers in the perimeter do a great job blocking for me. So I just got to read off of them and I get my yards."

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Another sweeps week looms. To a degree, FSU can plan for it, but some unknown variables remain: Will the 'Noles be able to shed the perimeter blocks? Will Adams cut in or bounce outside? Or will Adams serve as a decoy while another wideout takes the handoff?

Only safe bet is, it's coming. Speed-dial it up.

"We're gonna go out and be the Bulls and try to be better at what we do," Taggart said.

Contact Joey Knight at Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.