Against the Utah Utes, we didn’t have to wait very long to see where Braxton Burmeister’s game has improved. On the first drive of the game we saw a good amount of growth in the passing game from the young quarterback. In this analysis, we take a look at four plays in the game’s opening drive that show how Braxton is becoming more comfortable with the speed of college football.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article touching on the areas of the game where Burmeister was struggling. Today I want to stress just how far he has come since then. Of course, some credit has to be given to Head Coach Willie Taggart, who has found ways within the playbook to put Braxton in good situations. But for his part, Burmeister is showing he’s got the stuff to keep this growth going.
The video above shows the very first snap of the game. Here the Ducks run a bootleg with a flood concept. With the flood, the outside receiver is going to run a go route, the 2nd receiver will run an out route and and Royce Freeman is going to banana to the flat underneath the out. The bootleg design is going to alleviate some of the defensive pressure on the QB. Burmeister gets to his second receiver in his progression, which is the out route, and fires a dime to Charles Nelson. It’s an easy read for Braxton as the corner carries the go route, leaving a hi-lo read between the out and the banana.
The next passing concept we see from the Oregon offense is a type of spot concept. Above you can see that the inside receiver is going to run a go route, the 2nd receiver in the progression is running a banana to the flat, and the outside receiver is going to run a “spot” route. The spot route is like a quick slant, except that settles in the void between linebackers in zone coverage. This is the third read in the progression and Burmeister has the patience to here to get to that read.
This is the second concept in a row that has a go route incorporated into it. In games past, it would seem like Braxton was just throwing the go or taking off with his feet. Versus Utah, he was restrained and made good decisions with his progressions.
We all know that Braxton has the legs to make things happen, but against the Utes, he demonstrated that he is learning to trust his teammates to do their jobs, and choosing the right moments to run. In the clip above, Utah is going to run a delayed blitz with their OLB. Burmeister stands in the pocket and trusts his running back, Kani Benoit, to pick up the blitz. Only when he has exhausted all of the options in his progression does Braxton take advantage of the running lane that opens up, scooting for a first down. Trust is huge in football, and Burmeister is starting to find it in his teammates as the game slows down.
The final passing play of Oregon’s opening drive is a variation of the smash concept. The Taggart again called this concept on a bootleg, allowing Braxton to get out of the pocket and read one side of the field. The read on this play is a very simple hi-lo progression, and the cornerback is key.
The TE is going to get a chip on the DL and release to the flat, while the WR runs a corner route. If the CB goes high and takes away the corner, the QB goes to the flat. If the CB comes in on the flat, the QB hits the corner. The Utes CB decided to take the corner and Burmeister puts the ball on Cam McCormick for the touchdown. Ending the opening drive with a TD pass likely did a lot to increase Burmeister’s confidence, and was a great move by Taggart.
Though a 47-yard day in the passing game is not something to get excited about, the growth of our freshman quarterback is. I believe that the rushing attack will continue to be dominant, allowing Braxton to be a game manager while he continues to learn. We all want to see Justin Herbert return as soon as possible, but if Burmeister can keep growing, he’ll be a more than serviceable backup in the short term, and a dangerous starting quarterback in the future.
Coach Eric Boles
Top Photo Credit: Eugene Johnson