“It was just one of those things where we were finally able to move the ball in the fourth quarter. We knew we had to get it; we credit our offensive line for giving us the ability to let us to what we had to do. We were able to execute when we had to execute.”
K-State traveled to #6 Oklahoma and came home winners largely due to the ability to run the football, mainly right at the Oklahoma defense. The Wildcats established the line of scrimmage early in the game, and despite struggling to finish drives, by the time the 4th quarter came around the ground game, mixed with some timely passing, finished off the win.
In charting the offensive formations and play calls of this game, K-State did an excellent job of mixing play calls and personnel groups. It was extremely difficult on OU’s defense and Mike Stoops, and surprisingly K-States empty (no back) formations caused extreme confusion leading to 4 Oklahoma time outs.
Run – Pass Balance
Nearly 2/3 of the time K-State ran the ball on the Oklahoma defense, and ended the game with 213 yards on 44 carries for 4.8 yards per rush. K-State relied heavily on Hubert or Klein with Wilson leading, but mixed in enough zone read action to keep the Oklahoma defense guessing. 3 times K-State ran read action in the backfield, but with a power blocking scheme. Twice the ball was carried behind 2 pulling linemen for nice yardage, but K-State’s biggest run of the day came off the same look with Klein giving the ball to Hubert for a 36 yard gain. OU’s tendancy to read our offensive line, especially when K-State pulled offensive linemen, contributed to the success of that run as well as several play action passes later on in the game.
In the passing game K-State took advantage of opportunities in both drop back passing and play action. Most of the drop back success came from empty backfield sets and led to several first downs as well as burned time outs for Oklahoma. However, play action passes off of zone read action, contributed greatly in the fourth quarter with 2 big pass plays to Tannahill in the flat.
This led to an efficient offensive performance and got K-State what it wanted; a chance to win the game on the road in the 4th quarter. When the game was on the line the offense stepped up and scored twice, then finished the game by running out the clock; nearly the perfect set up to win a tough road game.
One of the big ways Snyder and his staff continue to put pressure on defenses is the use of multiple formations and personnel groups. Oklahoma’s defense saw 13 different formations, and several of the those formations featured adjustments like varied backfield alignments or covered tight ends.
Snyder, Dimel, and Miller balanced their use of 1 back and 2 back formations well during the course of the game, and as they have all season mixed in multiple 5 receiver empty formations. These not only proved to be effective, leading to several converted 3rd downs, but as stated above led to confusion and burned time outs. The Wildcat offense used at least 3 receivers two-thirds of their snaps and only used 2 tight ends 3 times, which is a departure from typical game plans so far this season.
The End Result
As you look at the breakdown of the game, K-State’s offense was solid through 3 quarters, but only had put 3 point on the board. At the beginning of the 4th quarter the Wildcats had 229 yards on 47 plays, good for 4.9 yards per snap. However, it was the 137 yards on only 18 snaps (7.6 yards per play) that won the game. If any game exemplifies Snyder’s “keep sawing wood” philosophy, it was this one. The running game kept its game pace in the final quarter, gaining 65 yards on 13 carries, right at 5 yards per rush. However, the big difference came in the efficiency of the passing game and Collin Klein when the game was on the line. Through 3 quarters K-State’s passing game was a respectable 9 of 16, but for only 77 yards (4.8 yards per attempt). In the final quarter K-State gained 72 yards on only 5 throws (4 completions), good for 14.4 yards per attempt. The final scoring drive that put the Cats up by 2 scores saw play action throws of 21 and 13 yards to Tannahill and a huge 26 yard catch by Thompson on 3rd and 12.
K-State fans have seen plenty of big wins during the last 20+ years. Usually its been big plays, huge returns, blocked kicks, or some other spark that led to those wins. This time K-State simply won the game the way championship type teams win; a dominating performance by both the offensive and defensive lines, controlling the tempo for most of the game, limited mistakes, winning the turnover battle, and dominating the 4th quarter. All of that on the road. None of this is a guarantee the Cats will be able to repeat it every game in a very tough league, but at the same time its difficult for me to bet against it.