_FANframes: Locked In

I just had to focus on getting open. It was little things. Jake was throwing me the ball. I had to make the most out of every opportunity. That’s what I did. – Tyler Lockett

237 Yards. 19 Targets. 18.2 yards per catch. 13 Receptions. 9 Formations. 6 Texas defensive backs. 1 Penalty drawn. 1 K-State game receiving record.

Unfortunately, Lockett’s record setting day wasn’t enough. Mistakes and penalties caused K-State’s offense to sputter in the first quarter when Lockett only had 2 catches for 16 yards. By the time the offense really got going K-State was already in a 17-0 hole. Lockett had 5 catches for 101 yards in the 2nd quarter, 2 of those for 69 yards on K-State’s first touchdown drive. In the 3rd quarter Lockett finished with only 3 catches for 24 yards and one drop. For the fourth quarter Lockett had 3 catches for 96 yards, but the Wildcats wasted his 52 yarder late in the 4th quarter when Waters later fumbled inside the 5.

This week’s _FANframes will break down the multiple ways K-State found to get Lockett open during the course of the game. Texas played a mix of man and zone defense, and throughout the game Lockett was matched up with at least 5 different defenders and no one covered Lockett well. Of the 5 incomplete throws, only 1 wasn’t close to being caught. That throw was the only miscommunication between Lockett and Waters on the day; Waters threw a backshoulder ball (which was the correct throw based on the coverage), but Lockett reacted late and couldn’t make the catch. One incompletion was a clear drop, one was high (but went off of Lockett’s hands), one was knocked down at the line of scrimmage, and one was on what looked like pass interference on the Texas defender that was not called.

Outside Receiver in Twins, Quick Screen

The opening play of the game (click for video link) was a play that K-State has used periodically over the past several seasons, a quick screen to the twin receiver side of the formation off of run action. Texas only had 1 defensive back directly over the two receivers with the safety 10 yards off the line of scrimmage. A quick throw to Lockett and solid block from Thompson started the game with a 9 yard gain.

Single Receiver Opposite of Tight End Trips, Out/Dig/Skinny Route

One aspect that has always been a staple of K-State’s passing game is the use of “read” routes. These routes rely on the receiver and quarterback being on the same page, and both reading the defense/coverage and adjusting their routes/throws accordingly. The clip above is one of 7 versions of this formation/route combination that K-State ran during the game. As Lockett began his route, the corner’s hips turned inside (cover 3 zone), so the route was curled outside at the first down marker. In addition to turning the corner, sitting outside gave Waters the window to throw the ball outside of the safety who dropped late into the flat trying to get underneath Lockett’s route.

Here is the 2nd example of the same route concept. The Texas defender is able to get the ball knocked down (even though Lockett was open) because a) Rooks whiffed on his cut block and then b) Hubert tried to take on the defensive end high instead of attempting to cut a 2nd time (which would also bring the defenders hands down).

Another version with an outside route, but Lockett catches the ball short of the first down.

Later in the 2nd quarter, K-State made an adjustment and swung Hubert out to the flat (again, same formation). This allowed an easy read for Waters to see man coverage, and Lockett made an adjustment by running a inside/dig route at the first down marker. Because the coverage was man, Texas didn’t have the defender underneath to help with Lockett’s route which made the inside/dig cut available.

On K-State’s first scoring drive, the same dig route defeats man coverage with a blitz. This time Texas tried press man, and Lockett still made the defender look silly.

Early in the 2nd half K-State used motion to isolate Lockett opposite a tight end trips formation, but this time Lockett had his only clear drop of the game.

The final example of using Lockett in this alignment resulted in a failed attempt at a back shoulder throw. Texas was in man coverage, but Waters and Lockett weren’t on the same page with the route. While throwing the fade (what Lockett appeared to be running) wouldn’t have been a bad option, Lockett also had the defender clearly beat with a good back shoulder cut. Its also possible that Waters made the throw a little too quickly, before Lockett got his head around on the fade, which made it too difficult to change his route.

Outside Receiver in Tight End Trips, Vertical Route

While this example wasn’t from K-State’s typical tight end trips alignment, its still essentially the same formation, the tight end was just lined up in the backfield instead of on the line of scrimmage. K-State ran 3 verticals, Waters did a great job looking at Sexton to pull the free safety, and then made a great throw to Lockett.

Slot Receiver in Tight End Trips, Vertical Route

Lockett’s final two catches of the game came from the slot receiver spot in the tight end trips formation. This time the outside receiver ran a short underneath route, and both times Lockett was able to get open on the fade. The first time Lockett made a great catch and nearly scored. Lockett’s last catch appeared to give K-State a chance to cut the Texas lead to 3, but Waters fumbled a couple plays later.

Outside Receiver in Tight End Doubles, Rub Route

Another favorite formation for K-State is basically doubles, but with a tight end and receiver to one side and twin receivers opposite. The next two examples used Lockett in the outside spot and Thompson inside. In the second half Lockett gained 13 yards and gained a first down. Thompson wnet first on the quick out and Lockett went underneath on a slant using Thompson as a pick to get open. On this play Texas was in a zone coverage though, the linebacker was just late getting out to Lockett. In the first half K-State ran the same concept, but against man coverage. The defender definitely contacted Lockett on the route, but no call was made.

Slot Receiver in Tight End Doubles, Slant Route

In the 4th quarter, K-State twice went to a formation/route combination that they’ve used with Lockett near the goalline in the past. This time Lockett lines up as the slot receiver in tight end doubles and runs a slant near the endzone. The first time Lockett was grabbed and pass interference was called, but the next play Waters fumbled. On K-State’s final desperation drive, the same route was called, but a high throw went off of Lockett’s hands.

Slot Receiver in Doubles, Out Route

K-State attacked the outside with Lockett a lot, and the next two catches were quick throws to the sideline. This example is a 4 receiver doubles formation and a quick out route underneath from the slot underneath a fade from the outside receiver.

Split in Diamond, Quick Curl

This example was one of two pass plays from K-State’s Diamond formation. Here they’ve already shifted; Nemechek is up near the tight end spot on the right, Hubert is on the left, and Gronkowski on Waters’ right. This is the same formation that Hubert scored on in the first half with stretch read. Lockett made a catch on a quick curl route here.

Outside Receiver in Trips, Deep Curl Route with Bubble/Slant

K-State only ran a handful of plays out of trips formations, this example shows a 4 receiver version of trips with a single receiver to the top. The two inside receivers in trips ran a slant/bubble combination which helped widen the zone for Lockett to sit down at the first down marker.

Outside Receiver in Trips, Curl Route

The final variation from the Texas game was again from a Trips formation, this time with a tight end to the top of the formation. Here the inside receiver presses vertical while Thompson and Lockett both sit on quick curls.

This game showed that there is a chemistry between Waters and Lockett and that K-State has a pretty diverse package in place to get them connected. However, the Wildcats still lost the game, finished -3 in turnovers, and only managed 3 scores, so there is a lot of work to do if Waters is going to be the main option at quarterback. Snyder still contends that this will be a 2 quarterback system, so we’ll have to see how the situation evolves. Overall, (assuming Waters remains the quarterback) this game could be a step forward if the offense continues evolve, but the efficiency of the offense must improve for this team to salvage something from a terrible beginning to the season.

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