_FANframes: 6 Key Plays Against North Texas

“I think that we need this because you never know how we are going to play against Oklahoma coming out. Just because we came out slow in this game, we were able to respond to adversity, so that really helped us going into next week against Oklahoma.”

This was Tyler Lockett’s response after the game last week when asked about K-State’s slow start on offense. In the first quarter K-State ran 6 plays for -1 yards. Its a speculative opinion, but based on that comment its pretty clear that the focus might not have been where it needed to be, but the offense still recovered to perform fine. Over their next 6 possessions, the offense gained 375 yards on just 38 plays gaining nearly 10 yards per snap. Mixed in with 4 touchdowns was an 86 yard drive that ended in a questionable fumble and a 1 play drive before half that ended in a bad throw/miscommunication that resulted in an interception. While its clear the offense was far from perfect, during the course of the game K-State did many nice things to exploit the North Texas defense. This week’s _FANframes will breakdown 4 nice pass plays and 2 successful runs against the Mean Green.

#1 – Corner Route Off of Power Run Action http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=HmD0bn4ejcM#t=2111s

Last week I broke down a Hubert run in which K-State used a covered tight end and motion to create a numbers advantage in the power running game. This week early in their first successful drive of the game, the Wildcats came out with the same formation and the same motion. You can see with Harper’s motion (purple arrow) that North Texas is in man coverage as the defensive back crosses the formation (red arrow).

At the snap, the defensive back is already at a huge disadvantage because of the space between he and Harper.

The run action fake (purple circle) holds the outside linebacker (red circle). This will open up the entire outside of the field from hash to sideline because the linebacker can’t drop into the flat. The outside receiver (off the screen) will run vertical to clear his defender; Harper will simply have to run a good corner route to take advantage of the 11 yards of separation he already has between he and the man defender.

Harper easily catches a well thrown ball in front of the defender along the sideline. You can see the outside linebacker reacting late (on the 30), he’s over eight yards underneath the route at the catch giving Klein a huge window to throw.

#2 – Inside Vertical Off Run Action http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=HmD0bn4ejcM#t=2962s

Sometimes success comes from being in the right play at the right time. Klein’s 1st touchdown to Thompson was a clear example. K-State is in a trips formation with 3 receivers to the top and a tight end the bottom of the frame. North Texas has two deep safeties (red circles), but their alignment already creates a huge window before the snap (red lines). The outside two receivers simply run outside hitch routes and the Mean Green defense has no one to defend the middle of the field.

The zone read run action helps hold the linebackers and allows neither to get a hand on Thompson as he releases vertically. North Texas’ only hope with the safety and the corner moving toward the outside two routes is to knock the inside receiver completely off his route. The tight end releasing vertically at the bottom of the frame will hold the other safety leaving the entire middle of the field open.

Klein makes a good throw leading Thompson and no North Texas defender has a chance resulting in an easy touchdown.

#3 – Run Action with a Full Back Seam http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=_dfJ1lPtcr4#t=958s

Its common for K-State to use motion and/or run action to create advantages in the passing game, we’ve already seen that in the first two plays. However, its rare for the throw to go to the fullback out of the backfield. On a crucial drive after North Texas drove the field for a touchdown to start the 2nd half, K-State pulled out a new wrinkle to get a chunk of yards on 2nd down. Wilson comes in motion and gets himself in position for a seam route down the middle of the field, which once again North Texas has left open.

K-State will use run action to pull the linebackers up (red arrows) while also using vertical routes by the tight end and receivers to drop the secondary and create a huge opening for Wilson.

Besides the run action and routes, the key to the opening was how well Wilson sold his lead block. He went right at inside backer and only at the last moment ripped his right arm through to avoid contact, similar to how a good linebacker or safety would avoid a block. None of the three linebackers have any chance to recover.

As Wilson makes the catch, no one is within with 10 yards, leaving a huge opening down the middle of the field to run to.

The North Texas safety is only able to recover and make contact 12 yards after the catch, setting up K-State’s offense for a key touchdown to go back up by 8 on North Texas.

#4 – Corner Route Against Man with One Free Safety http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=_dfJ1lPtcr4#t=1076s

Play 4 featured an excellent check by Klein a few plays after Wilson’s reception. After recognizing North Texas’ man defense across the doubles formation, Klein checks the play and moves Hubert over to get extra protection to his right side. The North Texas defenders, particularly the two inside safeties, make an weak attempt at trying to disguise their coverage. The key to trying to figure out the coverage of the defender is to watch their helmet and where they are looking. As a general rule, if the defender’s eyes are on a receiver, they are in man coverage, and if on the quarterback, they are in zone.

North Texas does have a free defender, their deep safety in the middle of the field. However, he really has no chance to make a play on a ball thrown outside the numbers, which is K-State’s scheme here. On both sides of the doubles, the outside receiver runs a short hitch route while the inside receiver runs a corner. Its simply up to the receiver to beat his man one on one.

As Thompson stems his route from a vertical breaking to the corner of the end zone, the North Texas defender is already beat. He hasn’t even turned to run (purple circle) and Thompson is already even with him. As stated above, the deep safety has already dropped off the frame (red arrow) making it impossible for him to break on the route and cover 25+ yards of space to get to the receiver.

The combination of an excellent throw by Klein with an excellent catch by Thompson gives the North Texas defender no chance to make a play on the football.

#5 – Zone Read Wrinkle; Reading the Nose Guard http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=_dfJ1lPtcr4#t=1805s

Previous _FANframes have broken down numerous ways K-State has run option football, from zone read to speed option, to stretch read. Most of the time you see zone read, the quarterback is going to read a defensive end, which the offensive tackle leaves  unblocked. Here K-State releases the center and both guards to the linebackers leaving the nose guard (red circle) as the read for Klein. Also notice the wide splits on the offensive line, which creates even more space in the middle of North Texas’ defense.

In addition to a quality read, a big play on zone read requires great blocking and K-State gets that across the board on this play. First, the offensive tackle executes a great influence block on the defensive end. As edge rushers, defensive ends often align outside and rush hard up the field, the tackle uses this to his advantage letting the end rush, then engaging and forcing him outside. This opens up a huge hole in the North Texas defense. The purple lines show the excellent blocking angles that the K-State players have across the field. Its simply up to Klein to make the right read on the nose (red arrow) find the running lane.

Klein easily gets the running lane available past the nose guard. An excellent block by K-State’s inside receiver (just to the right of the circled nose guard) opens the running lane into the secondary. The #2 receiver makes another excellent block (on the PowerCat).

Harper’s final block on the hashes allows for a nice run for a first down to become a big play. Harper gets the angle on the defender as Klein cuts to the outside.

The only unblocked North Texas defender, the backside safety, isn’t able to run down Klein until he’s 20+ yards down the field.

#6 – Zone Blocking Handles a Defensive Twist/Stunt http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=_dfJ1lPtcr4#t=1894s

This week’s final play shows a couple of small adjustments that are often necessary to lead to successful plays. First, K-State uses motion by Harper (purple arrow) to move a North Texas defender (red arrow) and create better blocking angles down the field. Also, this play illustrates how offensive linemen have to work well together and communicate in zone run blocking schemes. North Texas here executes a simple defensive line twist, sending the tackle outside  and the defensive end inside. The movement is intended to a) confuse the offensive guard and tackle and possible mistake or b) (more likely) open up space for a run threw by the inside linebacker.

However, the zone read action pulls the inside backer the opposite direction. Also, K-State’s offensive line handles the stunt well (purple circle). Harper also has an excellent angle on the corner which will allow him a head up block and Hubert to cut either direction off of his block.

The tackle and guard finish their blocks on the twist opening up a nice running lane for Hubert, he will now run to Harper’s block on the corner. Again, the threat of Klein on the run has pulled the North Texas defenders as well, widening the running lane.

As Hubert gets to the edge, the corner widens and Harper takes him to the sideline. Hubert then cuts underneath the block and has to beat the backside pursuit (#44) down the hash.

North Texas’ pursuit isn’t able to run down Hubert until he’s inside the 10 yard line. A few plays later Hubert will score on a well defended play in which Hubert does most of the work on his own.

The North Texas game featured plenty of miscues by K-State’s offense, but there was still plenty of success mixed in. It will take eliminating those kinds of mistakes and avoiding a slow start to win in Norman, but K-State’s offense continues to show it has threats all across the field and a defense must be sound up front, at linebacker, and in the secondary or Snyder will find the weakness and exploit it.
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