Needless to say, Saturday was not a good day for the offensive line. The Mississippi State defense dared the Wildcats to pick up the blitz and beat them deep, and with one exception, K-State couldn’t pull it off. The line and running backs couldn’t hold up long enough. The wide receivers didn’t get off press coverage, and didn’t make any route adjustments.
This key play from K-State’s 1st drive was a microcosm of the rest of the game.
3rd & 3 - 1st Drive
Mississippi State showed their game plan on the first Wildcat drive of the night. It’s simple and devastatingly effective. Rush 4, Blitz 2, Man Across, Cover 1 (safety deep middle). They may have changed up where the blitz was coming from on occasion, but this was the general template for the Bulldogs on 3rd down, and K-State had very few answers.
Several different players (or possibly coaches) failed to execute on this play.
The most obvious breakdown was in offensive line.
Mississippi State is running a B Gap blitz, with a subsequent “green dog” blitz. This is a basic concept and K-State blows the pick up.
I’ve marked the basic blocking assignments.
RT (Blue) vs RDE (Blue)
RB (Yellow) vs LB (Yellow)
QB (Red) vs LB (Red)
As far as I can tell, this is a total bust by the RT. For reasons only known to him, he moves inside to block the blitzing LB and ignores the defensive end directly in front of him.
The running back makes an aggressive blitz pick up in the B gap on the same linebacker. He’s obviously in for pass protection, so you get a “green dog” blitz from the linebacker that’s supposed to be covering the RB out of the back field.
Thompson’s job is to get the ball out before the “green dog” gets home. He’s got plenty of time to accomplish this if the RT doesn’t bust.
The WRs do nothing to help the QB
What might go unnoticed, but something that should be equally concerning, is the fact that you didn’t get a route adjustment out of either slot WR.
This is a time where I’m going to freely admit that I don’t know enough about the K-State scheme and coaching to know where to place the blame.
I can tell you at Clemson (you’ll here me talk about Clemson a bunch, it’s just my frame of reference. You’ll hear less and less about Clemson as I become more familiar with K-State.) At least one of the slot receivers (usually Hunter Renfrow) will immediately go to a “man beater” when he sees blitz.
In this case, the QB has to get the ball out quick, but there are no quick options.
I’ve highlighted the man coverage and circled the parts of the field the wide receivers should be looking to attack on a 6 man blitz with only 3 yards to go for a 1st down.
A quick slant or a quick out would be ideal in this situation for the purple receiver.
A stop route, allowing the QB to make a back shoulder throw to the 1st down marker would be ideal for the yellow receiver.
Instead the QB gets this look
The QB should be getting the ball out right now, and it should be an easy reception to either slot receiver. Instead, he’s looking at the back of both of their heads and has no options. He’s got to hold the ball and wait for the primary outside route to develop.
Speaking of the primary outside route. The receiver makes no attempt to change his route, despite the blitz.
Generally speaking, when the outside receiver sees an all out blitz, he should check from the go route to a comeback. This doesn’t happen.
The QB actually does an amazing job of getting the ball out of his hand just as he’s being demolished, and he throws the proper hot read to the wide receiver, but the receiver hasn’t made an adjustment to the blitz. The receiver is running a route the QB can’t possibly throw with a 6 man blitz on the way.
This is where my lack of knowledge about K-State specifics comes in, because I’m not sure if I should blame the coaching staff or the WRs for this breakdown.
It’s possible the coaches don’t want the WRs to check their routes. If that’s the case, in my opinion, that’s bad coaching.
If the WRs can check their routes, and just didn’t have the awareness to do so, that’s probably also on coaching, but it also falls on the WRs.
No one helped the quarterback on this play, and that was a trend all game long. Mississippi State provided the rest of the teams on schedule with a 3rd down template. Expect a heavy dose blitzes until the Wildcats prove they can make adjustments.