RSP Boiler Room No.25: RB Wendell Smallwood & The Craft of The Gap Play


Gap blocks require its own brand of patience from a runner. A Smallwood run versus Texas illustrates the importance of pacing to set up blocks. 

Walter Payton. O.J. Simpson. Thurman Thomas. Watch highlights of some of the great runners in football history and you’ll see plays where they extend an arm to the back of a lead blocker.

Even great backs have flaws. Not what you expected as my response to this introductory observation, was it?

I don’t blame you, we deify great players on the field. But, especially with the three mentioned above, great players are as human on the field as they are off it. Perfection is an unattainable goal, especially amid the chaos of up to 11 pairs of confrontations happening simultaneously on a play at any given moment.

Wendell Smallwood has done impressive work at West Virginia. I’m still working through his tape as of this post. This analysis shows a play where Smallwood can become a more savvy runner on a specific style of gap play. It’s also a broader lesson on running back patience that may change the way you look at the position and play development.

For analysis of skill players in this year’s draft class, download the 2016 Rookie Scouting Portfolio – early-bird purchase for April 1 download available now. Better yet, if you’re a fantasy owner the Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2015 RSPs at no additional charge. Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 apiece.

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