clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Pete Carroll says he took Seahawks' pop pass from Auburn's Gus Malzahn

College football innovations continue to make their way into the NFL.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Early in the Seattle Seahawks' 36-16 romp of the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night, the Seahawks ran a nifty play that resulted in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Ricardo Lockette.


If the play design looked familiar to certain football fans, that's because it was a play straight out of college football. Our Ian Boyd broke the pop pass down in detail just a month ago:

Diaz zeroes in on a play by Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, one ending 31 seconds before Chris Davis' 109-yard game-winner.

"It's the most significant thing to happen to college football," the 17-year coaching veteran says. "The most important play of last season was the touchdown that tied the game at 28."

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll admitted to lifting the play from Gus Malzahn's Auburn playbook, according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King:

"We'll go anywhere to find a play," the Seattle coach said afterward. "And that one—uh, Muschamp at Florida, no ... Auburn. They ran it. Give Gus Malzahn credit. That's a great play. I kept telling them [the offensive staff and players] this summer, ‘It'll work, it'll work.' But it didn't work all summer."

The play was designed to look like a read option that started with Wilson faking an inside handoff to Marshawn Lynch and then taking off to the left. But when cornerback Sam Shields came off Lockette to help in run support, due to the line's apparent run blocking, Wilson stopped and fired a pass to the wide-open Lockette. The receiver then beat rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and galloped into the end zone for the score to give Seattle a 10-7 lead.

It does appear the Seahawks' line got away with being too far downfield, since the NFL rule calls for a penalty against blockers more than one yard downfield during a pass. However in college, the rule is three.

Carroll and Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell saw Auburn run the play to tie the Iron Bowl against Alabama last year (when Clinton-Dix was also one of the victimized defensive backs), and they liked the play because of how it threw a wrinkle into the normal read-option assumption that either the quarterback or running back would run the ball:

"We practiced it a little," said Bevell. "But it came from college tape. We just thought it fit another dimension off the zone read and could enhance the play. We're committed to find the best plays for the players we have, and that certainly looked like it fit our players."

Having a quarterback like Wilson certainly allows the Seahawks to open up the playbook to incorporate these designs being seen more and more in the college game, and Carroll and Bevell are two coaches not afraid to show some creativity with their play-calling. Wilson executed the play to perfection, displaying yet another reason why Seattle is such a force to be reckoned with.

Our Auburn site has a series of breakdowns on more of Malzahn's play-calling, more of which could be making its way to the NFL.