Mississippi State Football Spring Film Study: Bulldogs ready to "score from far"

Jeff Lebby gave fans a glimpse of his high-flying offense in the spring game, and Mississippi State football is already embracing his "score from far" mentality.
Mississippi State Spring Football Game
Mississippi State Spring Football Game / Justin Ford/GettyImages
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Stealing points in the redzone

So much of the design of Jeff Lebby's offense centers around scheming things open to make life as simple as possible for QBs. Every play-caller sets that as the goal, but few do it as well as Lebby in the college game.

And it doesn't take complex play designs to achieve that goal. Sometimes it's as simple as taking a base concept you run regularly and having a counter off of that meant to fool the defense into leaving wide open space to attack.

State showed this on a pair of occasions down in the red zone. The first was with a pop pass to TE/H-back Justin Ball. As mentioned earlier, Insert/Iso is a common run scheme used in this offense. It's a quick-hitting, downhill run concept, which is ideal in the super spread formations Lebby uses. Here's a look at Oklahoma running it.

With Insert, the H-back is paving the way for the RB through the gap, attacking the LB. Once those LBs start triggering on Insert, it's time to hit them with a pop pass to the H-back. The H-back sells the run action before slipping past the LB, where he should be wide open for an easy completion. That's what happens here with Chris Pason's TD to Justin Ball.

Lebby loves to call pop passes to his TEs and H-backs, often for TDs, down in the redzone. Another red zone staple from Lebby is a simple double-move off of quick game. Jeff Lebby doesn't call much true quick game, as most of the short passes in this offense are off of RPOs. But he will occasionally call quick slants, and hitches are frequently run as RPOs.

In either case, defenses get used to seeing these quick hitters underneath go for positive yardage. As much as Lebby wants to throw deep, if the defense is conceding an easy completion by playing back, he wants his QBs to take the free yardage. Eventually, defenses start to sit on those routes, and that's when the double-move comes.

Lebby has both his slot receivers run a slant-and-go while his outside receiver to the bottom runs a hitch-and-go. All three of these guys win. The slot to the top of the screen gets held, the slot to the bottom of the screen is left completely free, and the outside bottom receiver burns his man.

Kevin Coleman (bottom slot) is practically ignored by the defense. The underneath zone defenders pass him off once he turns vertical, expecting help over top. The problem is there's only one high safety, and he doesn't even notice Coleman until it's too late. He was left so wide open that Blake Shapen waits almost an eternity before finally throwing him the ball, and he still scores.

There's nothing special about these play designs. It's all basic stuff. But it's incredibly effective and an example of how Jeff Lebby will steal points as a play-caller.

More than anything, Mississippi State fans wanted to see an exciting offense in the spring game. That's exactly what they got. The buzz around the potential for that side of the ball will only continue to grow as we inch closer to the fall.