OSU Defensive Coordinator Bill Young’s plan was pretty simple; load the box and limit K-State’s running game, play extremely physical with the front 7 (or 8/9), and any time you have a shot on the quarterback take it. In some ways it worked, K-State’s running game struggled much of the night and Collin Klein left the game in the 3rd quarter, but K-State’s passing game also gashed the Cowboy defense for big plays and consistently took advantage of OSU’s aggressive play. This week’s _FANalysis showed Klein’s impressive numbers, finishing 16 of 22 for 245 yards and over 11 yards per attempt in less than 2 1/2 quarters. In _FANframes I’ll break down a play action passing scheme as well as a drop back passing scheme that K-State utilized multiple times in the OSU game for success. I’ll also look at K-State’s two biggest pass plays, the first to Lockett and the second to Harper. Finally I’ll breakdown K-State’s spread triple option wrinkle that they’ve utilized the past few weeks multiple times.
#1 – Read Play Action (youtube link 1, youtube link 2, youtube link 3)
K-State has used play action passing game to much success all season, and against OSU’s aggressive defense this trend continued. A key to the success of these plays is the action of the backfield and offensive line and as these clips show, K-State doesn’t just feature token fakes. The formations may change, but the key features are consistent; excellent mesh with Klein and the back (the back aligned in the pistol in each) along with the offensive line selling stretch run blocking action (black arrows). K-State also doesn’t run a lot of true bootleg, but this play has a some of that action as Klein rolls opposite of the movement from the back and the offensive line. Against the Cowboys, K-State also was able to isolate receivers against single coverage, in this case Harper against the corner on this hitch route. One of the keys to this isolation is the middle route from Tannahill which holds the deep safety. Also keep in mind the clips below are from K-State’s first play of the game, a clear sign Snyder, Dimel, and Miller knew they were going to be facing an aggressive defense and wanted to keep Young off balance with his defensive calls.
Another aspect of this play was a pre-snap shift that K-State often uses with Braden Wilson. The original alignment above featured 2 receivers and 2 tight ends, but here Klein is shifting Wilson back (which also means the top receiver is on the line of scrimmage). Generally Wilson then motions across the formation and K-State runs zone lead or power behind him, but here Klein leaves Wilson to help protect against OSU’s stand up defensive end. Again, notice the match-up with Harper on the corner (red arrow), and OSU’s main help at the deep safety (white arrow).
You can see the flow of OSU’s defense with the mesh action between Klein and Hubert and the movement of K-State’s offensive line selling stretch zone run blocking. After the fake, Klein will roll out to the bottom of the frame, keeping Wilson into block allowed plenty of space for Klein.
Unlike the coverages we saw when K-State gashed West Virginia’s defense, OSU’s corners often bailed deep, leaving plenty of space for K-State’s receivers to work underneath. The run action has pulled any OSU defender out of flat coverage, here Harper easily cuts back underneath the OSU corner (red arrow) after selling the deep route. Again, Tannahill’s route down the middle of the field holds the safety. (white arrow)
The other two clips show different versions of the same play. The last one is probably one of K-State’s most used play actions out of one of K-State’s most common formations; a 2 back shotgun set with the running back aligned in the pistol. I broke down this scheme in _FANframes from the OU game.
#2 – Drop Back Vertical Out Route (youtube clip 1, youtube clip 2)
Another scheme K-State used often against OSU, especially on 3rd downs, was a vertical route by the outside receiver(s) combined with an out route be the inside receiver. Again, OSU committed as many defenders to the box as possible and this simple route scheme was open for two reasons, a) K-State got a favorable match-up with Lockett or Thompson against a safety and b) OSU had no option to drop underneath the route into the flat to help. OSU tried to help with that by how they rushed their defensive ends, often trying to get into Klein’s passing lane and get their hands up to knock down throws. However, more often than not K-State was able to make a play, and this example is one from K-State’s first drive of the game. You can see OSU committing 6 defenders to the box; they rush 5 with the middle LB checking the back. They have one high safety (white arrow) which takes away K-State’s deep routes down the seams, but he can’t help on the out route. Harper runs a vertical below the numbers while Thompson gets to the first down marker and runs an out.
K-State gets good protection, but its a pretty quick route so Klein doesn’t need a lot of time. As Thompson goes into his break at the first down mark, he already has the safety on his inside hip.
Thompson is easily able to get open after he breaks on the out route and get the first down.
In the 2nd link above, K-State runs the same route scheme, but out of a trips formation. Both outside receivers run vertical routes, with the inside receiver again running an out and gaining 1st down yardage. You’ll notice OSU has an unblocked defender come off the edge, but the route is quick enough that Klein easily gets the throw off.
#3 – Double Move Against Single Coverage (youtube link)
K-State’s first big play of the game on their 2nd drive was fairly simple, but executed well with a great route and good protection. OSU has 8 in the box at the snap, but only rushes 4 (red arrows). OSU is in man coverage on the outside, and Lockett’s great stop and go route combined with a Klein pump fake freezes the corner. Again, K-State uses Tannahill down the middle to hold the safety (white arrow).
The video in the youtube link that isolates Lockett shows his move better, but you can see Lockett’s stop in the top left corner of the frame here, along with Tannahill breaking his route down the middle to hold the safety.
Lockett easily beats the corner and Klein drops the ball over his outside shoulder. The safety is able to come off late and make a play, but only after a 50 yard catch and run.
#4 – Flea Flicker to Harper (youtube link)
On K-State’s first drive of the 3rd quarter, K-State is in one of their most common formations, 2 back shotgun pistol. K-State will successfully run a gadget play, and protection while not allowing any penetration (note Wilson picking up the LB) is a key to the plays success. You’ll see how the run action pulls OSU’s defense, allowing Harper plenty of room to work against the corner. Harper sells the route very well also, coming deep inside the defense to sell run block, before breaking into his deep route and reading the coverage of the corner to break off his route.
As Pease stops behind the line of scrimmage to turn and pitch the ball back to Klein, he has plenty of space to easily make the pitch. The biggest breakdown in K-State’s early attempts at similar gadget plays was allowing too much penetration which blew up any chance for the play to be successful. Note Harper is still selling run block at the safety while the corner continues to check run before dropping deep.
As Harper breaks into his route and Klein sets up to throw, notice that OSU now has 9 defenders in the frame. That leaves the 2 receivers on deep routes against 2 corners. As I stated earlier, OSU’s corners often bailed deep instead of trying to play tight man, especially on Harper, so you’ll see that Harper breaks his route into a deep corner.
As Harper breaks outside for the catch, the corner stumbles as he tries to reroute. This allows Harper to get by the defender and gain an additional 20+ yards after the catch.
#5 – Spread Triple Option (youtube link 1, youtube link 2)
The last few weeks K-State has gone to a form of modern triple option football, with a shovel pass instead of a FB dive and a bubble route instead of a pitch. K-State has used this play before, most notably on Carson Coffman’s game winner against Central Florida a few years ago. On this play the QB has 2 reads, in this case he will read the outside LB (#1 circled) for the shovel pass and the safety (#2 circled) for the bubble throw. K-State also pulls the backside guard to get an extra blocker for the middle linebacker.
As Klein gets to the edge, he sees #1 (representing Klein’s first read) come inside the block of Tannahill on the defensive end which keys him to keep the ball and run outside of Tannahill’s block. However, notice that Tannahill has a pretty tough blocking assignment; 1st to get the edge sealed so Klein has space to make the read, but also to give up a defender to the outside as #1 fills behind the DE. On this play #1 comes inside, so Tannahill releases the DE and blocks #1. The timing of the play is also difficult because Tannahill has to release in order to help block the inside defender in case Klein shovels the ball to Pease. Essentially this release makes the defensive end Klein’s first read instead of the LB, but by the time it happens Klein already has the edge angle against the DE.
That leads to Klein’s 2nd read on the safety. The safety has already widened to defend the bubble route, opening up the running lane for Klein inside the safety, but outside of the defensive end.
Klein was able to get a nice first down gain of 8 yards, but did take a good hit from another of OSU’s safeties at the end of the play.
For the third week in a row, K-State saw another defense try to beat the offense by forcing the Wildcats to pass. Klein responded by throwing for over 800 yards at 11.6 yards per attempt and 5 touchdowns with no interceptions, all while completing 78% of his throws in those 3 games. However, 0pponents have gotten more hits on Klein, especially in the OSU game which combined more called runs for the quarterback with very physical defensive play. As long as Klein stays healthy, there is no doubt that his play along with great receivers and solid offensive line play gives K-State more than enough to take advantage of these defensive game plans. K-State has showed they have multiple ways to attack aggressive play, and eventually Snyder, Dimel, and Miller will find a weakness. No doubt Patterson and TCU will likely use a similar strategy next week; as long as Klein is healthy, K-State should be able to ride a steady running game with big pass plays to more success. It will be interesting to see if the K-State offense, especially the running game, utilizes some different schemes to limit the hits on Klein.
Discuss this on the message board.