Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska Film Study: Turner Corcoran’s Pass Protection

June 06, 2021

Turner Corcoran is the highest-rated recruit Scott Frost’s staff has landed in Lincoln, and after one year spent playing behind Brenden Jaimes, Corcoran is poised to step in as Nebraska’s stating left tackle for the next few years.

The 6-foot-6, 300-pound tackle from Lawrence, Kansas, got a few snaps in Nebraska’s games against Ohio State and Illinois, but Jaimes’ decision to opt out of Nebraska’s season finale at Rutgers proved Corcoran with an opportunity to make his first start.

With Corcoran holding down the left side, Nebraska racked up 620 yards at a 7.2 yards-per-play clip. For this piece, however, we’re focusing on the passing attack. Adrian Martinez was 24-of-28 passing for 255 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions while taking three sacks.

By my count, Nebraska called 33 designated passing plays. I’m not offensive line play expert, so I can’t offer you an advanced breakdown of his technique on every play, but based on what I saw I’d say Corcoran at least did his job on all but a couple of the plays.

Frost didn’t ask a great deal from his true freshman tackle. Of the 28 passes, seven of them were screens, seven were fairly quick throws and one was a shovel pass, none of which require tackles to hold up in coverage for more than a second or so. Even so, Corcoran did put some solid pass pro plays on tape against the Scarlet Knights.

This first play is from the second quarter. Nebraska is facing second-and-10, a passing down, which means the defense should have the advantage. Nebraska starts the play by sending Wan’Dale Robinson from left to right on a jet motion, taking his defender across the field with him.

As Robinson crosses in front of Martinez on the jet motion, Dedrick Mills crosses in front of the quarterback in the other direction for the fake handoff, giving the defense plenty of things to look at. Meanwhile, wide receiver Levi Falck works up the field just inside the numbers while the defensive end rushes at Corcoran, trying to get past him and turn the corner.

The defender looked to be gaining an advantage on Corcoran, but the tackle drove him right where he wanted him to be. As the end took a step past Corcoran, Mills hit him, knocking hm to the ground.

As the end tried to regain his feet, Corcoran reengaged with him to finish the play while Martinez scanned the field and prepared to let the ball fly.

Because of the pocket the offensive line created for him, Martinez had plenty of space to step into his throw a deliver a strike, finding Falck well beyond the sticks to move the chains.

The play went for 15 yards and a new set of downs. Corcoran wasn’t perfect, but he did what he needed to in order to let Martinez make the play.

On the next drive, Rutgers gave the young tackle something to think about, but Corcoran was ready for it. On another second-and-10, the defensive end lined up across from the left guard while an outside linebacker stood across from Corcoran.

Instead of both defenders simply bull-rushing, Rutgers ran an end-linebacker stunt. The end first engaged with the guard — Trent Hixson at this point — while the linebacker went around looking for an opening to get after the passer.

The stunt failed as Corcoran picked up the end and Hixson slowed down the linebacker. The end kept battling to get around the edge and get after Martinez, but Corcoran wouldn’t let him past.

Corcoran kept sliding and maintained the block until Martinez saw his big tight end, Austin Allen, coming free downfield.

Martinez put the ball on the money and Allen caught it then fell forward for an extra couple of yards.

The play went for 16 yards and shows Corcoran’s ability to react in the moment and make the proper plays when the defense throws games at Nebraska’s offensive line.

The final play I’ll break down here shows Corcoran’s determination, motor and ability to recover. Fast-forward to early in the fourth quarter and the game is suddenly tied. On second-and-6, the defensive end pinned his ears back and looked to rush off the edge.

Corcoran engaged with the defender but the Scarlet Knight hit him with a shuck move, creating separation.

As you can see here, the defender had him beat. From this screenshot, it looks like Rutgers is going to have a free shot at the quarterback. Martinez’s eyes are downfield as tight end Travis Vokolek ran a post route on the right side.

However, Corcoran managed to keep his balance and he got his hands back on the defender, slowing him down without drawing a holding penalty. That second effort gave Martinez the time he needed to find his target.

Martinez hit Vokolek wide open in the middle of the field nd the tight end caught it and ran forward for another couple of yards before the defenders converged on him.

The play went for 16 yards. Five runs later and Martinez found his way tine to the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.

One-one-one in a simple drop-back, I did not see Corcoran get beat. He was not responsible for any of the three sacks nor did he surrender pressure on Martinez’s interceptions. Corcoran showed some power, driving defenders back on a few plays and holding his ground an several others.

If there’s one area in which I noticed him struggling, it was playing in space. He struggled to get in position and make the block when the play called for him to pull or get downfield for a screen play. His worst rep also involved some lateral movement as Corcoran got caught in his slide and knocked back out of the play as Rutgers blew up a shovel pass to Chris Hickman from the 2-yard line, dropping him at the line of scrimmage for no gain. The man that washed Corcoran out of the play was the first to make contact with Hickman.

Corcoran is going to face better defenses than Rutgers this coming season, and if Nebraska’s desire to take more deep shots in the passing game comes to fruition, he’ll have to hold up in pass protection longer than he did most of his first start. However, for hist first time playing extended snaps, Corcoran looks like he has a chance to be the cornerstone of that offensive line as he continues to add strength and refine his technique.

  • Never miss the latest news from Hail Varsity!

    Join our free email list by signing up below.