How the Vikings can best utilize Irv Smith Jr. in 2019
By Chris Schad
Getting Smith out in space
A lot of times, you’ll hear how offensive coordinators will want to get their best players out into space. In these scenarios, said coach will be talking about a running back like Dalvin Cook or even a wide receiver such as Diggs or Thielen. However, at Alabama, offensive coordinator Michael Locksley did a great job of getting Smith into space and using his uncanny athleticism for a 6’4, 241-pound frame.
One example of this was on the first play of Alabama’s game against Arkansas this year. With the Crimson Tide on the road, Smith runs a simple flat route to the far side of the screen. When he catches the pass from Tua Tagovailoa, he uses his speed to shoot up the sideline past all Razorbacks for a long touchdown.
Alabama ran a similar play for Smith against LSU. With the Crimson Tide facing a 3rd & 16 situation in the third quarter (Can be seen at 15:12 of the video), Smith sells blocking for a screen and quickly pops out away from the zone blocking assignments of the offensive line. With the defense sucked in one way, Smith has all sorts of room on the other and uses his speed to pick up the first down.
While it seems like this is a page out of the John DeFilippo screen fest that went down last year, it’s a situation that should work considering the playmakers the Minnesota Vikings have on offense. If Smith can get the ball with plenty of room to work, it should create big plays into the second level of the defense.