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The Prospect Playbook: the 2009 Meineke Car Care Bowl - UNC v. Pitt (1st quarter)

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To this point in the Prospect Playbook series, we've looked at individual prospects; however, as I prepared to investigate which suspended UNC Tar Heel (or is it Tarheel?) to apply the next installment to, I couldn't decide. So instead of just looking at one prospect, in this edition of TPP, we'll look at some notable plays from the 1st quarter of the 2009 Meineke Car Care Bowl between UNC and Pittsburgh, rife with graduated alumni now in the NFL as well as prospects relevant to this year's draft..

Join me, as we say goodbye to the old Meineke Car Care Bowl, now called the Belk Bowl though the Texas Bowl will be known as the Meineke Car Care Bowl...aw screw it, let's watch some tape.

Reference

Current NFL players from game

UNC - Jordan Hemby, CB #23 (Indianapolis Colts); Kyle Jolly, OT #72 (Pittsburgh Steelers); Cam Thomas, DT/NT #93 (San Diego Chargers); E.J. Wilson, DE #92 (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Pittsburgh - Aaron Berry, CB #17 (Detroit Lions); Nate Byham, TE #80 (San Francisco 49ers); Dorin Dickerson, TE/WR #2 (Houston Texans), John Malecki, OT/OL #74 (Tampa Bay)

2011 NFL Draft prospects from game

School - First Last, POS (MTD scouting report if available, ranking on MTD big board, positional ranking)

UNC - Robert Quinn, DE #42 (report, 8, 2); Marvin Austin, DT #9 (report, 56, 9); Bruce Carter, OLB #54 (report, 57, 5); Deunta Williams, FS #27 (63, 3); Quan Sturdivant, MLB #52 (82, 4); Greg Little, WR #8 (83, 11); Kendrick Burney, CB #16 (report, 85, 12); Zack Pianalto, TE #17 (182, 9); Da'Norris Searcy, SS #21 (N/A, 9); T.J. Yates, QB #13 (report, N/A, 16); Johnny White, RB #34 (N/A, N/A); Shaun Draughn, RB #20 (N/A, N/A); Alan Pelc, G #70 (N/A, N/A); Ed Barham, TE #80 (N/A, N/A); Mike Ingersoll, OT #66 (N/A, N/A)

Pittsburgh - Jon Baldwin, WR #82 (report, 20, 3); Jabaal Sheard, DE #97 (report, 100, 12); Jason Pinkston, OT #77 (report, 116, 9); Henry Hynoski, FB #27 (158, 1); Dion Lewis, RB #28 (173, 19); Greg Romeus, DE #91 (186, 17); Dom DeCicco, SS #31 (N/A, N/A)

Game Analysis

14:48, 2nd & 9 from the PITT 36 (UNC 0 - Pitt 0)

Bill Stull (#11) throws a quick screen under center to Baldwin here. The play isn't anything special, but the development is worth analysis:

Before getting to the Baldwin-Burney moment, it's worth noting that Pittsburgh was visibly concerned with UNC's defensive line in this game and for good reason. With Wilson, Thomas (both of whom are already in the NFL), Quinn and Austin (who will join the aforementioned pair in a few weeks) confronting the Pittsburgh O-line, it's understandable why Pitt HC Dave Wannstedt and OC Frank Cignetti, Jr., would want to mitigate that threat. Onto Baldwin.

Notice that as WR Mike Shanahan (#87) motions to the weakside, Burney backs off. Obviously, the threat of Baldwin's deep skills create those extra yards of cushion. Once the screen exploits that cushion, Baldwin's stutter step and stiff arm create the space he needs to approach the first down marker. An effective play call and Baldwin's ability to elude the early tackle make for a first down play.

14:17, 1st & 10 from the PITT 45 (UNC 0 - Pitt 0)

Here, we get a bit of misidentification from Stull and a dropped interception:

Before looking downfield, it should be noted that Cam Thomas got into the backfield with ease using his strength against Pittsburgh's Chris Jacobson (#54). Had the play extended a moment longer, Thomas could well have caused a fumble coming on Stull's blind side. Still, the play action creates some room for Stull, and he has time to plant and deliver what should be an easy connection to Baldwin for the first down.

Instead, Stull either presumes Baldwin would cut his route deeper or just overthrows him. Either way, this one's on Stull. Baldwin perfectly cuts in between the two intermediate tiers of defense, slicing behind Bruce Carter and in front of Charles Brown (#12). On the back end, Brown is handed an incredibly interception and drops it. Sure, he's a cornerback (insert bad hands joke here), but that's a gift that Brown gives away. It should also be noted how much room Brown gave Baldwin just one play after the screen earned a new set of downs.

12:56, 1st & 10 from the UNC 42 (UNC 0 - Pitt 0)

This is a good look at a mistake from Deunta Williams who interferes with Dorin Dickerson:

First, Robert Quinn gets around Jason Pinkston far too easily. Had Stull not thrown it up for Dickerson, Quinn would have likely picked up the sack. Nevertheless, Stull saw Dickerson with room to work the single coverage from D. Williams, and he just blows it. He starts off by feeding too high despite Kendric Burney's presence for the outside post, and then applies a horrible surrender interference by drawing the penalty (justly) and still allowing Dickerson to play the ball.

Yes, Dickerson should have caught the ball, but he should never have been in position to. Like Chris Spielman says at the end of the clip, if you're going to draw the penalty, at least negate the opportunity to make the play. Not a good showing from Deunta Williams here.

12:17, 2nd & 6 from the UNC 23 (UNC 0 - Pitt 0)

Time for a UNC defensive win. Here, they blow up a toss to Dion Lewis:

Speed. You can sum up this defensive play in that word alone. Look at Da'Norris Searcy. He comes up on the line, facing Jon Baldwin, slices inside and almost knocks Dorin Dickerson over before coming all the way outside to help tackle Dion Lewis from behind. Bruce Carter makes a similar great effort, knifing inside Baldwin's block attempt to get out to Lewis.

11:31, 3rd & 6 from the UNC 23 (UNC 0 - Pitt 0)

In this clip, we get a good sense of the line battle with a C. Brown-Baldwin clash in the end zone:

Two key blocks to look at. First, Jason Pinkston does a great job holding out Robert Quinn. His initial move is to the inside to allow Marvin Austin, who comes around his back, to have some room to charge up into FB Henry Hynoski. Quinn tries a late spin move, but when he turns his back, Pinkston gets a great push to open up space for Stull. The second block is Hynoski's on Austin. He stands Austin up with a huge power block, and Stull has time and space to go downfield for Baldwin.

Without a replay, it's tough to get a sense of how the route developed between the line and the contact at the end. You can see, though, Brown has great inside position and is playing the ball starting at least at the 5-yard line. Neither of them were going to get to that throw, in all likelihood; much of the credit on that has to go to Brown's coverage.

Pittsburgh would miss the field goal, and UNC would take over for their first possession at the 23.

11:20, 1st & 10 from the UNC 23 (UNC 0 - Pitt 0)

First play chicanery. What's not to like?

The real key here is the seal blocks from OT Kyle Jolly and WR Erik Highsmith (#88). Jolly turns out LB Dan Mason (#40) and Highsmith takes on SS Dom DeCicco to give the whole sideline area to Little. It's worth noting that Greg Romeus bit completely on the handoff; he was pulled too far inside by the fake to even touch Little on the end around. Good effort by CB Jarred Holley (#18) to come across the field and get around a block from Mike Ingersoll (#66) to take Little down.

10:16, 2nd & 13 from the PITT 49 (UNC 0 - Pitt 0)

Hands anyone?

Great pocket, great timing. The throw makes it a tough catch, but man does Little pluck that one out. The second replay angle shows how much lift Little got off the ground to get up and make a tough reception. ESPN noted the play in their scouting report on Little. If nothing else, he's got some hand skills.

8:48, 1st & G from the PITT 5.5 (UNC 0 - Pitt 0)

Some more line analysis to be had here:

First, I really like UNC G Jon Cooper (#64). He's got a strong trunk, and uses it very well for a relatively light guard. Here, he turns DT Myles Caragein (#94) over, and just mauls him through to the strong side, opening up room for Ryan Houston (#32, who recently underwent surgery; he should be good in time for the season). Travis Bond (#76) also shows some solid power here, locking up DT Gus Mustakas (#93).

8:19, 1st & G from the PITT 10.5 (UNC 0 - Pitt 0)

Ignoring the penalties called on the previous clip and this one (both for illegal formation), this would-be TD play is worth a look:

Good job by the O-line allowing the defensive line to buy the run fake. LB Dan Mason decides to go after the QB instead of sticking with the TE too early, leaving time and space for Yates to throw to Pianalto. The throw is high and outside, but Pianalto does a great job bringing the ball in with his outstretched hand and bobbling it four or five times. After the referees convene (not in the clip), Wannstedt gives Dan Mason an earful. He was a freshman at the time, so you can chalk it up to inexperience, but the Panthers were lucky this one didn't count. Not that it ended up mattering much, because...

7:02, 3rd & G from the PITT 15 (UNC 0 - Pitt 0)

Ball skills + immaturity=Greg Little?:

Out of the I, Yates just tosses it up and hopes Greg Little can make a play, and man does he. The punt after the TD is stupid and immature, yes. That's something that can (and should) be dealt with early on, having not played a single down since this game. There's not a whole lot to analyze here though. Not enough time for defensive line pressure, just an offense using the sideline for an athletic WR. And CB Ricky Gary (#26) never turns to play the ball. Guys with two first names are doomed to fail.

6:48, 1st & 10 from the PITT 37 (UNC 7 - Pitt 0)

Thanks to Little's punting skills, Pitt started off with decent field position that got even better after this:

Baldwin just curls in between the two tiers into a huge hole in the zone. E.J. Wilson almost got to Stull in time, but the coverage was too loose.

4:21, 2nd & 4 from the UNC 26 (UNC 7 - Pitt 0)

Warning: Dion Lewis explosion forthcoming:

A couple notes beyond the obvious. First, E.J. Wilson with ridiculous commitment on this play. Great effort. Second, Baldwin's soft block on Deunta Williams is enough to give Lewis space. You have to hold on here. Lastly, it's a great playcall to counter UNC's speed, as both WIlson and Da'Norris Searcy get so far upfield, Lewis works behind them for the initial lane.

UNC's next drive would end with a fumble by Erik Highsmith, and as the quarter close, Pittsburgh was in the red zone looking to tie the game. Good action to break down.

So who stands out? What are the key points to take away? Obviously, this is just a single quarter, albeit from a meaningful game, but is there anything concrete that these plays tell you?

Holler.