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August 28, 2013
By now, the video of Jabrill Peppers breaking a big run - and several tackles along the way - in scrimmage action against Red Bank (N.J.) Catholic has been analyzed and over-analyzed. What's one more breakdown?
The five-star Michigan commit shows why he's the No. 2 player in the nation, and why his college projections to the defensive side of the ball shouldn't overshadow his ability on O.
Paramus Catholic lines up in a standard formation and will run a standard play. The Paladins are in an I-form slot-left, with Peppers as the tailback. The play is one that Brady Hoke is sure to be very fond of - Power-O left.
The offensive line will block down on the defensive line (away from the play), leaving the playside defensive end unblocked. The fullback will kick that DE to the outside, and the right guard will pull around the left end to take care of the linebacker to the playside. The priority for the four linemen who block down (particularly on the right, away from the play) is to move the defensive linemen out of the way and get to the second level to block linebackers and defensive backs.
Little do they know, their services will hardly be needed.
The first broken tackle comes behind the line of scrimmage. The fullback's kickout block is only somewhat successful, allowing the defensive end to get to the inside and making a lunge for Peppers. The block is effective enough that he can only make a weak arm tackle attempt on the five-star.
The second broken tackle is a similar story. The slot receiver, who has an outside linebacker lined up over him, can not get a clean block. He does manage to wall off the defender just enough that, yet again, the attempt is a diving one at Peppers' feet that he easily runs through.
The first truly impressive broken tackle comes when Peppers reaches the second level. The safety and cornerback have him bottled in. If he can break through both defenders, there is plenty of open space on the way to the endzone. However, Peppers employs a spin move in shaking off the safety's attempt (and bounces off the corner in the process), which sends his momentum back across the grain left-to-right.
After cutting back to the middle of the field, Peppers seems to be in another unwinnable situation. He's wrapped up by a defensive lineman this time, with another right there to finish the deal. What does he do? He hits the "X" (that's "square" for those of you on playstation) button again. He spins out of the defensive lineman's grasp, and bounces off the other converging player. Once again, this alters his momentum, but now he's headed back straight upfield.
It looks like our hero is about to get into another situation where he'll be forced to spin out of a tackle. This time, he makes a pre-emptive strike, spinning before the defenders even reach him. That leaves two defenders grasping at cloth, and a third (not numbered here) grasping at thin air.
Not satisfied - which clearly he won't be until he finds the endzone - Peppers turns that spin move from a standard single rotation into 720 degrees of terror for the opposing defenders. The final revolution helps him shake off a safety grasping at one of his legs (the ninth broken tackle on the play thus far). As he grasps that ankle, the ballcarrier comes to a near complete stop. Against the 6-1, 210-pound back, the tackler stands no chance to bring him down, though he is able to force Peppers to slow his momentum down. That also gives a teammate a lane to get a clear grasp on Peppers, perhaps the last legitimate chance for the Red Bank defense to prevent him from scoring.
Peppers, however, has the burst to get right back up to speed, and needs to simply fend off the final remaining player for about eight yards. That player gets a grip on Peppers, and little else outside of a free ride to the endzone.
Peppers gives a stiff left arm to the center of his chest, and that defender rides him into the endzone, unable to drag him down. Peppers, in beast mode, runs through one final diving attempt at a tackle as he crosses the goal line.
The AftermathPeppers' run went viral yesterday, and even earned the top spot on SportsCenter's top ten list. Just as impressive as his ability to break the tackle attempts of the RBC defense, of course, is the ability to avoid those defenders altogether and make them miss with his agility and vision.
With as tough a running style as Peppers shows, it's clear that whether or not he uses that vision, he's likely to make it to the endzone anyway.
See a video interview with Peppers shortly after the run here.