Marshall 96 Yard Fake Reverse Kickoff Return

By FirstDown PlayBook on Sep 24, 2021

Appalachian State fought off an upset bid last night by the Marshall Thundering Herd by a score of 31 to 30. One of the plays that kept Marshall in it all the way up until the end was a 96 yard fake reverse kickoff return. It was a well designed return that fooled the camera man enough to where ESPN had to show the wide view angle on the replay.

Whenever FirstDown PlayBook sees a huge return in the special teams area we like to look at who did not get blocked. That’s right. Not who got blocked but who did the return team not even have to block. There were three and maybe four Mountaineer cover guys who fell into that category on this return.

Marshall did a good job of getting hats on the coverage at the point of attack. The R1 and R2 (as Marshall sees it) were kicked out and logged very well. Marshall tried to double the R4 but he fought through it. Not enough to make the play though. The R3 slowed down when he saw the reverse fake flash and that was a big mistake.

When R3 slowed it allowed the Marshall right Guard to get outside leverage to the side of the actual return. Other than the R3, who is a point of attack cover guy not getting there, App still should have been in decent shape here. The backside or the field coverage is where it gets interesting.

App Should have Been In Good Shape On This Fake Reverse Kickoff Return

Appalachian State is using a very common kickoff coverage in college football these days. They are kicking the ball back into a corner and every cover man is inside the far hash at the kick. App is even looping their 1 to the side of the kick. It also looks like their field 2 and 4 have free reign to to ball.

They are looping the 3 outside for contain to the field. What really got App in trouble is that most of the field coverage got nervous and either slowed down or played the reverse. There are at least four players on this coverage (in red) who were unblocked or slowed down. The fake reverse kickoff return caused this.

Covering a kickoff is almost identical to playing defense. You have to do your job, not someone else’s. It was the L3’s job to contain the reverse and he was there. The other cover guys to the field should respect the reverse but play hard to the ball with outside leverage.

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If you are a looper like the L1 you are now committed to other side. You can’t de-commit half way through the play. And of course the R3 is right at the point of attack. That reverse fake or even a real reverse has no bearing on his job. He needed to be right where the ball hit.

Now, having said all of this, hats off to Marshall for the scheme and the execution. We do not know their personnel but evidently they substituted #22 Rasheen Ali as the returner just for this play. Good move and one that paid off big dividends in the special teams phase last night! Let’s take a look at this fake reverse kickoff return for 6!

Tap On The Play To See The Video Of The Return!