10 Man Ride: The Fullbacks of Lacrosse
CLEAR! The ride is on. It’s football season. Today we’re reminiscing with some PLL players’ glory days clips, discussing “the fullbacks of lacrosse,” and more. Let’s go!
1. Football is back
The NFL returns tonight at 8:20PM ET as the Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans.
And I’m hoping that free agents Alex Collins and Stephen Hauschka find homes soon.
2. Friday Night Lights memories
Some clips from PLL players’ gridiron glory days:
- Brendan Fowler was a nasty linebacker (who also played football at Duke). The lack of a song in his highlight reel leaves you with the sound of him crunching opposing quarterbacks and anyone who dares to come across the middle. Listen to this hit at 0:29. Ouch!
- Here’s Bryan Costabile throwing 24 touchdowns and rushing for another nine.
- To nobody’s surprise, Joel Tinney’s highlight reel begins with him turning a jet sweep upfield then catching a slant across the middle. Dude does not shy away from dangerous areas.
- I can’t imagine many high school football teams had success with sweeps to Pat Harbeson’s side of the field.
- Deemer Class's deception sets up this screen. Stay for the concentration at 2:30.
- And, of course, here’s eight-plus minutes of Connor Farrell shedding blocks and burying running backs.
It's easy to see how each of those players' lacrosse skill sets influenced their role on the football field, and vice versa.
3. Crease attackmen, the fullbacks of lacrosse
For a few years the NFL was trending toward spread offenses. Three- and four-wide receiver sets dominated. The Los Angeles Rams’ rushing attack out of its 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end) seemed revolutionary. With slot receivers who can block like Cooper Kupp plus head coach Sean McVay’s misdirection, who needs fullbacks to run the ball?
That trend didn't last long. Fullbacks are back.
Per Warren Sharp, the most efficient personnel grouping in the NFL last year was 21 personnel (two running backs, one tight end, two wide receivers).
21 personnel finished first in yards per play, EPA per play, and success rate. Six of the seven teams that deployed 21 personnel most frequently made the postseason. As defenses have substituted size for speed to respond to spread offenses, offenses are now bulking up to play physical.
We’ve seen the same boomerang in lacrosse with crease attackmen. Attack lines with three dodge-to-shoot threats were en vogue, especially at the pro level. Now, the spacing that an inside threat provides has pushed most coaches to swap one dodger out for a finisher.
Looking in the rearview mirror, the turning point for this change came in the 2019 Championship, when the Whipsnakes substituted Jay Carlson for Ryan Drenner, and the Redwoods put Wes Berg on attack to run Jules Heningburg out of the box.
The trend continued in 2020. The Whips inserted Carlson into the lineup full-time. Chrome added Matt Gaudet, whose hands and jaw each have a gravitational pull on two slides. Chaos’ season turned around when Miles Thompson took Connor Fields’ spot. Those three have a knack for both getting open and for getting their teammates open.
4. Dominique Alexander on The Inside Feed
Lisa and Emma grilled the Archers SSDM and expecting father on everything: Who the biggest bromance on the team is? Who’s the nicest player on the team? Who would he want to be trapped on a deserted island with? Who would he let babysit his child? Who is the smartest Archer?
Listen to the full episode on Spotify.
5. Crease Collapse of the Week
The Archers slide (or switch) and recover multiple times per possession – and they’re always ready to go again. Scott Ratliff sells out to land a “hello!” check here.
6. Two-pass pick-and-rolls
One way to counter defenses that trap pick-and-rolls: Bring a third player into the two-man game!
My Boston Celtics are playing an unselfish brand of basketball right now. Daniel Theis’ passing has hit a new level in this postseason. This touch pass for the oop to Jaylen Brown is handsome.
7. Flying Solo
Speaking of Nations looks – Jamie Munro has been recording some solo podcasts. They’re a must listen. His latest is on what he has coined the hang-up two-man game. Once you listen, you will never look at pick-and-roll play the same.
8. Best of Grant Ament
Grant Ament finished his rookie season with 1.91 times more assist opportunities than shots. That’s nearly double! We don’t have a nickname for that stat (AO-to-shot ratio), but it might go to Ament eventually. That’s an unheard-of level of unselfishness.
Check out his highlight reel for feeds, split dodges, and on-the-run fakes as he crosses GLE.
9. The Jump from College to Pros
The 2020 rookie class impressed during the Championship Series. Tari Kandemiri caught up with two of the best: Atlas LC midfielder Bryan Costabile and Chrome LC LSM Reece Eddy.
10. Best of Josh Byrne
There’s a reason why Jake Watts predicted Josh Byrne would be an MVP candidate way back in February. Few players can create and convert their own shot like Byrne. In his pro career he has shot 35.5% off the dodge.
Come for Josh Byrne’s between-the-legs, #SCtop10 finish, and stay for the rest of his ridiculousness.
Thanks for reading!
Spread the word, submit any questions you want to see answered in this space to me on Twitter (@joekeegs), and I’ll talk to you next week!