_FANframes has looked at a lot of different offensive schemes the last couple of years from K-State. As the seasons progress, fans should notice some of the subtleties of the game; many times game plans involve minor adjustments to plays that have already been run. This season we’re also seeing the adjustments that are being made as the personnel improves in Snyder’s 2nd tenure, and in addition we’re seeing the freedom Klein has been given in making checks at the line of scrimmage. This week’s breakdown will feature a few of those wrinkles of the game. 1st, we’ll see some adjustments made in K-State’s running game, particularly in blocking schemes and taking advantage of tendencies opponents have likely seen in K-State’s offense. 2nd, we’ll see a couple of passing game adjustments; one will show taking advantages of man coverage match-ups (similar to OU) and the other will show a similar formation to the infamous play from Miami, but this time with a much more conventional (and successful) run action pass scheme.
#1 – Outside Run Off Power Action (youtube link)
To start this play, K-State attempts to confuse KU with personnel and formation. We’ll see this again on another play later. The Wildcats align in a 2 TE, 2 WR, 1 back set, but with Wilson lined up at TE. Pre-snap, Wilson and the topside WR will shift, and Wilson will motion to the bottom of the frame. This is a shift/motion that K-State has used previously, but normally its used to gain a numbers advantage to one side of the formation. Here K-State will use that tendency against KU’s defense.
At the snap, KU only has 3 defenders on the top half of the field (purple line) and has 8 defenders committed to what has become the strong side of K-State’s formation. K-State has still been known to run at the teeth of a defense like this anyway (and have success), but here K-State will take advantage of the ample space made available to the top of the formation.
The play design is similar to a Hubert run from the OU game. (youtube link) In past games we’ve talked about how K-State has used an old power football scheme called the counter trey when they pull two offensive linemen to get bodies to the point of attack. In both this game and the OU game, they took advantage of a defensive tendency to read pulling linemen by giving the ball to Hubert going in the opposite direction. As the ball is handed you can see the counter trey action (purple arrow by the 20 yard line) along with Klein’s action pulling KU’s linebackers (red arrows) to the bottom of the screen. This leaves two defenders unblocked (red circles), but the counter trey action will pull both enough to let Hubert get the corner. The other KU defender is accounted for by the receiver at the top of the screen.
You can see the space created and the poor pursuit angles caused by the run action as Hubert crosses the middle of the field to the top of the screen. Both defenders are already beat.
Hubert does an excellent job at the end of the run with an inside-out move to set up his block. Even though Lockett doesn’t get a very good piece of the defender, Hubert is able to finish for K-State’s first score.
#2 – Quick Decision For Zone Read Success (youtube link)
Once again, K-State used an unconventional personnel/formation combination to create confusion and gain an advantage to start the play. K-State has 2 TEs in the game, but here one TE has lined up in a tight end trips with formation to the top of the screen with another TE inside and a WR to the outside. K-State will motion the TE across the formation to get another body at the point of attack for the zone read run action.
At the snap, you can see one of the stunts KU commonly used when they anticipated zone read in the backfield. K-State would see this again on the safety as KU tackled Hubert in the end zone, as the Jayhawks brought a LB to the edge and sent him at the mesh (the point where the QB/RB meet for the read action). While KU would be right on the goal line play, here Klein makes the correct read which leads to one of many big gains for K-State.
Based on other plays in the game (like the Hubert safety), it looks as though the LB was assigned to the back when coming off the edge on this stunt. Here Klein makes the correct read as the TE attempts to block the LB (who he almost blocks into Klein). This leaves the safety (red circle) to take Klein which puts him into a very difficult situation.
The safety takes a poor angle and Klein easily gets the corner.
Once again, Klein used great down field blocking by receivers. Here Harper does a great job on the KU corner.
The end of this play featured a Klein mistake (one of several uncharacteristic mistakes that Klein made in the first half) as Klein fumbled the ball. Fortunately Harper was in position to recover.
Harper made an attempt to wiggle into the end zone for the score, but was ruled down by replay at the 1.
#3 – Adding a Blocker to Power Run (youtube link)
K-State’s power running game has been talked about a lot, usually featuring a full back or pulling linemen to add bodies at the point of attack. Multiple times during the KU game K-State added a new wrinkle by motioning Torrell Miller to the formation and using him as an additional blocker, usually on one of KU’s defensive ends. Here you can see several of the key blocks K-State would need for Hubert to break this run. First, one of KU’s inside LBs fills quickly (red arrow at the formation) for Wilson to block. That leaves the outside LB and safety (circled) for Miller and the TE. KU’s corner (red arrow opposite the formation) will back pedal over the top of the TE.
As the play begins, you can see the 3 key blocks developing. Again, with read action the outside LB comes hard off the edge, but fits up on the TE as he heads down field to the safety.
Wilson fits up on the inside LB and turns him out, opening up the lane for Hubert to start inside. Hubert’s movement will help set up the block on the safety as he moves inside. Miller takes over the block on the defensive end, leaving the TE to release to the safety.
As Hubert gets to the line of scrimmage, he reads the blocks by Miller and the TE and breaks to the outside. The corner has also gotten himself too far inside of the ball (which is a mistake on his part because he had the other safety to help) which will give Hubert the corner. By the time the corner sees Hubert’s outside cut, he’s too late.
Hubert’s speed takes over from there and he has another untouched dash to the endzone on his 4 touchdown afternoon.
#4 – Speed Option Adjustments (youtube link)
K-State ran more speed option against KU than they have in any game all season, and often they would use a tight end or full back as an added blocker. Here, full back motion across the formation gives them an extra body at the point of attack. K-State also changed the read from what you typically see in most speed option schemes. Generally teams will read the defensive end (or the last man outside the offensive tackle here indicated by the red arrow), but on this play the read for Klein is the outside LB (red circle) lined up wide on the inside WR of K-State’s twin receivers. While the read is still in play, this play ends up essentially becoming a power run for Klein. The purple lines show how K-State will block to the play side, putting the guard on the tackle and the OT on the defensive end while the center pulls to pick up the inside LB.
As the blocks develop, you can see an inside running lane open up for Klein. The pulling center is able to pick up the inside LB, which is really the key block for Klein to score. On outside runs like this defensive ends are often taught to widen with the reach block of the offensive lineman, which is what KU’s defensive end does here, widening the hole. The inside WR avoids the outside LB (the read for Klein on pitch) which allows K-State to get both receivers down the field to pick up KU’s last two defenders.
By not blocking the outside LB, K-State enhances the play because he also has pitch responsibility on speed option. By the time Klein makes his cut inside the OT’s block on the defensive end, the LB’s movement (red arrow) has taken him out of the play. The inside WR’s block (purple arrow) will open the play for Klein to score.
Lockett gets enough of the defender and by the time Klein gets into the 2nd level he has an easy cutback down the open center of the field for the score.
#5 – Taking Advantage of Man Match-ups in the Passing Game (youtube link)
In the OU game, we saw K-State use empty formations to get WRs matched up on LBs which led to several K-State first downs. Against KU, Klein noticed another match-up advantage; Lockett against a safety with no help. Klein checks the play at the line of scrimmage and its up to Lockett to execute his route and Klein to make the throw. As has been discussed, notice how KU has their outside linebacker lined up outside the tackle and their tendency was to send him off the edge to account for the RB in zone read. That leaves the safety to account for Klein, which means the safety on Lockett is likely on his own in man coverage.
Lockett has to use a few things on his route for him to get open. First he closes the safety’s cushion quickly; within 10 yards he’s closed from 7 yards to 3 1/2. Then he uses a slight outside move to keep the safety’s hips square. By doing this, the safety will be unable to turn and run in an attempt to take away the vertical down the hash.
That leaves the safety only one choice; an attempt to make contact and knock Lockett off his route. Lockett is easily able to absorb the contact and then get off on his route.
Lockett is able to get separation, but Klein still has to make a difficult throw over the safety. Lockett makes the catch for the score to tie the game which takes away KU’s surprising 2nd quarter lead.
#6 – Involving the TE in Play Action at the Goal Line (youtube link)
On a key 3rd and goal early in the 3rd quarter, K-State used a two tight end formation and blocking WR Torrell Miller to load the box, opening up the end zone for play action. Before Miller’s motion to the formation (again, note the use of Miller earlier in the game multiple times as an extra blocker) KU already has 10 in the box, and Miller’s motion will put all 11 KU defenders there. In addition, no KU defender is more than 4 yards off the line of scrimmage
As Miller motions into the formation, KU has all defenders in the box and near the line of scrimmage. In addition to pulling the KU defenders up to defend run, Miller’s movement into also confuses the KU defenders with their coverage assignments, just by adding an extra body. Notice that two KU defenders move with Miller as he crosses the tight end into the formation. The outside LB bumps inside, then back out as the corner stays over the top.
K-State uses the combination of zone read action, Wilson moving hard to the top of the frame, and the entire offensive line selling outside zone blocking to the top of the screen. As the TE releases, no one picks him up. Miller’s route to the flat behind the line will pull any outside flat defender up as well.
No KU defender is within 5 yards of Tannahill as Klein makes the soft throw over KU’s defense for the easy touchdown throw. KU’s two inside LBs, one of which likely had coverage responsibility, are still between the hashes.
As _FANalysis showed, K-State’s offense generated plenty of big plays against KU last Saturday. The interesting thing to note is the variety of schemes K-State used, in addition to the slight tweaks to some schemes that K-State has used in the past. The talent and experience of this offense, combined with the solid game planning Snyder, Dimel, and Miller put together on a weekly basis will make things very difficult on opposing Big 12 defenses the rest of this season.