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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 6

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 26, ISSUE 6 59 EXPLOSION Left tackle Austin Schmidt had no chance. When Jake Replogle noticed the angle of the left guard's shoulders pre-snap on a second-down play in the first quarter last year, he had an idea Illinois was running a play to the right. So, at the snap, Replo- gle exploded off the ball, us- ing his quickness to zip past a seemingly shell-shocked Schmidt. Schmidt did all he could: Grabbed on to Replogle's right arm, the one closest to him after Replogle slipped quickly into the backfield and turned down the line of scrim- mage. Replogle made a beeline for back Josh Ferguson and buried him for a TFL. Schmidt still was holding Replogle's arm all the way to the ground. Replogle stepped over Schmidt, got his feet set and then whipped his left arm through the arm in his signature celebratory flying fist pump. "What makes that play is my first step," Replogle said. "Just reading that pre-play and knowing that B gap is moving down and I'm going to have to follow and stay in that B gap and just get my shoulder down and the running back was there, so it was an easy play to make." Randy Melvin said Replogle "surprises" with that quick first step. That even happens to players who know it's part of the package. At center, teammate Kirk Barron has been victim to Replogle's incredibly quick get-off. So he under- stands Schmidt's instinct to hold. It seems like the only chance sometimes. "He's incredibly fast," said Barron, shaking his head, seemingly flashing to a moment in practice. Of course the first step is only the start. More goes into the very important "explosion" piece of Replogle's game. A play against Virginia Tech last season may show- case it best. On a third-quarter zone-read play, Replogle was in charge of the B gap between the guard and tackle. In a perfectly timed jump, Replogle was bursting off the snap, leaving left guard Wyatt Teller only able to clutch at him. Replogle just kept shov- ing Teller into the backfield — so much so Teller near- ly bumped into the running back. By the time Replogle got that deep, he simply shed Teller and wrapped up the back for the tackle. "What makes that play is getting into that guard and exploding into him and then locking out and pushing him back," Replogle said. "That's something I try to go for, especially on zone plays, is getting in that guard's chest and locking out and kind of handling him. "I think that's something that I really work on and it's something I see in film a lot — or expect to see — is my explosiveness. I'm trying to be the first one to contact. I'm trying to really explode and get my hands on a guy before he gets his hands on me." j

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