Ok, y’all, I’ve been in the middle of some crazy (extended) family stuff and I’ve been derelict in my BotC duties. Good news is that barring any additional crisis (fingers crossed) I’m back in the land of the internet and (somewhat) sane people.
I’ve got a backlog of things I want to talk about, but I wanted to start with the Oklahoma State game and move on from there.
I’ll admit, I was overly optimistic about this game, but the Cowboys were able to put the clamps on the Wildcat running game by loading up the box with linebackers and safeties and daring K-State to attack 1 on 1 coverage on the outside without Malik Knowles (although I’m betting this is the same game plan they would have employed even with Malik available).
Oklahoma State vs the K-State Spread Formation
This look from the Oklahoma State defense on the 2nd play of the game told me everything I needed to know about the Cowboys defensive game plan.
I call this the “throw it you cowards” defense.
A closer look at what’s going on with the Ok. State defense.
What looks like a six man box is actually an eight man box. I’ve circled the two safeties and they are playing run all the way.
Pre Snap Secondary
What you need to notice here is that the ball is snapped and 10/11 players aren’t moving. Oklahoma State is dropping off one corner into a deep zone. Everyone else is on the defense is standing their ground and looking into the backfield.
Football is a numbers game, and if ten defenders are looking in the backfield, the numbers dictate that you throw the ball, because they have more run defenders than you have blockers.
6 vs 3
As you can see, James Gilbert has nowhere to go. Six Cowboy defenders are attacking three Wildcat blockers. Running against this look is like banging your head against a wall. You’re not going to get anything more than a headache.
Throw it Deep I Dare You!
The Oklahoma State D.C. is inviting Kansas State to throw the deep ball. He’s locking up the middle of the field and making the Wildcats prove they can throw it deep down the sideline against 1 on 1 coverage.
1 on 1 outside the numbers
I’ve circled the two matchups K-State should be looking for on this play. Oklahoma State is flooding the middle of the field with defenders and allowing their corners to both play out on islands. You never see this defense against a team with elite wide receivers.
If Clemson (since I’m familiar with their scheme) has man coverage with no safety help on both Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross, Lawrence is either throwing the deep go or the back shoulder stop every single time.
This is a simple read for the quarterback if you have confidence that your receiver will win against man coverage.
This is what you want on the outside.
In the first three games, the Wildcats were able to complete some easy first downs across the middle. Oklahoma State was not going to allow that to happen. You’ve got six defenders covering three receivers (two slots and the RB).
You’ve got 1 on 1 outside.
Skylar is looking at the match-up on the outside, but doesn’t pull the trigger. This has to be the read 10/10 times. If Knowles is the outside receiver, I have no doubt that Thompson lets it rip, but with Knowles out, it doesn’t look like he has confidence in his outside match up. Regardless, he still has to throw it and give his receiver an opportunity to make a catch or draw a flag. Sometimes just throwing it that direction will induce a holding or pass interference call.
It’s easy to blame the offensive line when the quarterback gets pressure. On this play, however, Skylar has to throw the ball now, and he has to throw it to the outside receiver in man to man coverage.
That’s the read. It’s simple. He has to throw it and let his receiver make a play on the outside.
Instead of trusting the wide receiver to win the 1 on 1 match up, Thompson dumps the ball off to the running back underneath. You’ll notice that he’s double covered. Also note that the linebacker in the blue triangle is a spying Thompson so he can’t break out of the pocket an run.
Oklahoma State was daring the Wildcats to throw the ball. Most of the time I believe that you shouldn’t allow the opposing defense to dictate your offense. In this case, however, you’ve got to throw the ball outside the numbers. If you can’t win outside, they are going to flood the middle with enough bodies to make the short passing game and run game impossible.
I’ll be back soon with a look at how Oklahoma State handled the Kansas State power run game out of tight formations. I thought the Wildcats could win the game by using tight formations and punishing the Cowboys 3-3-5 defense, but it didn’t come to fruition.