How Cam Akers and the wildcat formation sliced up the Syracuse defense

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Syracuse expected Cam Akers to be good. It knew he could break tackles and cause problems in the open field. What the Orange didn’t know was that he could throw. And it most certainly didn’t expect him to play as quarterback repeatedly. “It was very interesting to have Cam Akers out there trying to throw the ball, playing quarterback,” Syracuse linebacker Lakiem Williams said. “I mean I’ve never seen that before.” Akers lined up at quarterback several times in Florida State’s 35-17 win over the Orange at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday. The Orange (3-5, 0-4 Atlantic Coast) said they hadn’t seen that many direct snaps to Akers at quarterback on film. Its lack of preparation from SU showed. Akers completed two passes for 26 yards on his first series at the position. He’d only throw once more but the threat opened up the ground game, where Akers finished with 144 yards and tied a school record with four touchdowns. “When you’ve got a first round draft pick and you’ve got 10 guys blocking, that’s a really really good formation,” Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said. “I would be very surprised if they don’t consider to use it throughout the year.” Babers explained the mismatch by saying that Akers now had less tackles to break than before. Instead of breaking three or four tackles, Akers had less players to go by to pick up big yardage. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFSU created this predicament in part not only by using a direct snap to Akers but also through its blocking scheme. On many plays, the Seminoles sent one or two offensive linemen pulling out in front of the nation’s 12th leading rusher. Then came a crack-back block, meaning someone, who lined up outside the offensive tackle, would come back inside and seal the edge. “I got to find a way to get through the double team then I got to identify who’s trying to crack back on me and got over the top of him,” Williams said. “So it just makes it difficult…It was kind of like a push everybody down and let him bounce it and hit it in a way.”The plays often featured another back lined up next to Akers, whom he’d either handoff or at least fake the ball to. On one play in the second quarter, he kept the snap, ran wide right and with a block from quarterback Alex Hornibrook, dove into the end zone for a touchdown. The next play, Akers faked a pitch to the running back beside him and waltzed into the end zone untouched for a two-point conversion. Both Williams and defensive tackle Josh Black noted that the hardest part about defending the wildcat was that it was something the Orange hadn’t seen on film. Syracuse’s defense would’ve normally set rules to fall back on but those became murky as the quarterback was really a running back. Unsure of assignments at times, Syracuse failed to fill their run gap responsibilities. Akers hit repeatedly off tackle, frequently cutting up field between the tackle and slot receiver. Then, he often broke a tackle, sometimes two. It was a wrinkle Syracuse wasn’t prepared for, and it paid the price. “This game is like a game of chess whoever has the move ahead is going to get the advantage,” Black said. “And they were able to do that on us.”  Comments Published on October 26, 2019 at 10:23 pm Contact Josh: jlschafe@syr.edu | @Schafer_44last_img read more

TRIPLE CROWN CHAMP VICTOR ESPINOZA TO ACCEPT 2016 SANTA ANITA GEORGE WOOLF MEMORIAL JOCKEY AWARD ON SUNDAY; MEXICO CITY NATIVE SELECTED BY A VOTE OF JOCKEYS NATIONWIDE

first_imgWOOLF AWARD TROPHY TO BE PRESENTED AFTER THE 6TH RACE SUNDAY AT SANTA ANITA ARCADIA, Calif. (March 10, 2016)–As America’s first Triple Crown Champion jockey in 37 years, Victor Espinoza helped Thoroughbred racing project a positive image far beyond the confines of the Thoroughbred industry throughout 2015, thus elevating the sport’s exposure and acceptance to a level perhaps not seen since the 1970s. Accordingly, Espinoza, a 43-year-old native of Mexico City, has been selected by a vote of jockeys nationwide as the winner of Santa Anita’s highly coveted 2016 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award and he will accept the award in a Winner’s Circle ceremony following Sunday’s sixth race.“It’s quite an honor for any rider to be selected by his peers as the winner of such a prestigious award,” said Terry Meyocks, National Manager of the Jockeys’ Guild. “And I would like to congratulate Victor on this great achievement.”In addition to numerous national television appearances through the 2015 Triple Crown and last fall’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Espinoza also remained tireless in his efforts on behalf of cancer-stricken youth, donating 10 percent of his winnings to support pediatric cancer research at City of Hope, in nearby Duarte.With the Bob Baffert-trained American Pharoah providing the horsepower, Espinoza gleefully proclaimed himself “The luckiest Mexican on earth,” on national television following their win in the Belmont Stakes June 6.In addition to winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, Espinoza and Santa Anita-based American Pharoah won last year’s Grade II Rebel Stakes, Grade I Arkansas Derby, Grade I Haskell Invitational and, in a performance for the ages, the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic by 6 ½ lengths on Oct. 31–all the while elevating the profile of jockeys nationwide and generating tremendous ratings on a consistent basis.Born on a dairy farm near Mexico City, Espinoza is the 11th of 12 children. A three-time ESPY Award winner, Espinoza has three career Kentucky Derby wins, three Preakness victories, three Breeders’ Cup wins and he’s taken 11 Southern California riding titles.First presented by Santa Anita in 1950, Espinoza is the 67th winner of the Woolf Award, which seeks to honor riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and Thoroughbred racing. The remaining four finalists for this year’s award, which can only be won once during a rider’s career, were Joe Bravo, Javier Castellano, Gerard Melancon and Joe Steiner.last_img read more

SANTA ANITA ANNOUNCES 2016-17 WINTER MEET STAKES SCHEDULE; GRADE I MALIBU & GRADE I LA BREA HEAD OPENER DEC. 26; PRESTIGIOUS GRADE I AMERICAN OAKS TO BE RUN DEC. 31

first_imgA TOTAL OF 58 STAKES, INCLUDING NINE GRADE I EVENTS, TO BE OFFERED THROUGH  SANTA ANITA DERBY DAY, APRIL 8                 For a complete roster of Santa Anita’s Winter Meet stakes, please visit santaanita.com. ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 5, 2016)–Santa Anita Park, which will offer 58 stakes races beginning with opening day of its traditional Winter Meet on Dec. 26, has announced that the prestigious Grade I, $300,000 American Oaks, which was most recently run in May, 2015, will now be run on Dec. 31. Santa Anita’s 72-day Winter stand will conclude on April 9 and be followed by its Spring Meet, which will run from April 14 through July 4.A blockbuster card consisting of four graded stakes will await fans on opening day, with a pair of Grade I, $300,000 races at seven furlongs–the Malibu for 3-year-old colts and geldings and the La Brea, for 3-year-old fillies, highlighting a 10-race program. The Grade II, $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile (turf) and the Grade III, $100,000 San Simeon Handicap, at 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course, will round out the graded stakes action.Heading Santa Anita’s Grade I Winter Meet stakes lineup is the $1 million Santa Anita Derby, which has produced 17 Kentucky Derby winners, and will be run on April 8. The Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap, to be contested for the 81st time, will be run on March 11.Additionally, there will again be a similar number of $75,000 overnight stakes as well as a robust menu of California-bred stakes offered throughout the meeting.HERE IS A COMPLETE ROSTER OF SANTA ANITA’S GRADE I WINTER MEET STAKES:                Dec. 26                  $300,000 Malibu Stakes                Dec. 26                  $300,000 La Brea Stakes                Dec. 31                  $300,000 American Oaks                March 11             $400,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (turf)                March 11             $400,000 Triple Bend Stakes                March 11             $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap                March 18             $400,000 Santa Margarita Stakes                April 8                   $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks                April 8                   $1,000,000 Santa Anita Derbylast_img read more