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K-State Football: Blowing Up The Run Game

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Texas stopped the K-State run by blowing up blockers at the line of scrimmage.

Kansas State v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Hey y’all, this article has brewed in my brain for awhile, and I’ve finally found the time to get it onto your screen.

I’m frequently asked, “How can K-State’s run game look so good against some teams, and so bad against others?”

There’s no simple answer to the question.

Every game is different. Every team has different schemes and players. The way K-State tries to attack different schemes varies from week to week. What works against a team like OU or KU doesn’t work against UT, and visa versa.

With West Virginia on the docket tomorrow, I want to look back at the Texas game, and give you something to key on while you watch.

What went wrong against UT?

UT’s Defensive Line

I’ll show you in a second, but Texas came into the game with a solid game plan. They used 3 giant DT/NT’s to blow up K-State’s blocking scheme. The Texas linemen on the front side weren’t chasing the ball. In fact, I’m not sure they cared much about the ball. All they cared about was blowing up blockers.

Texas is uniquely suited to blow up blockers:

DE/DT - #49 - Ta’Quon Graham - 6’3, 300

NT/DT - #99 - Keondre Coburn - 6’2, 340

DE/DT - #32 - Malcolm Roach - 6’3, 290

DE/DT - #98 - Moro OJomo - 6’3, 280

Blowing up Blockers

The Wildcat’s run game relies on pulling guards. Texas blew up front side and didn’t let the pullers get into the play.

5 Man Front

Green Box - 8 man front

Red Triangle - Single Safety

Purple Circle - Man Coverage CB’s

Why can’t K-State run against 3 man fronts like Texas?

Texas didn’t play a 3 man front on running downs. This is a 4 man front with a stand up edge rusher to make a 5 man line. Throw in 3 linebackers, and you’ve got a 8 man front.

Texas did what Baylor and Oklahoma State did on defense. They played 1 safety, straight man on the outside, and challenged the Wildcats to beat them deep.

Front Side - Blow Up Linemen

Green Circle - Tra’Quon Graham vs Tyler Mitchell

This still is a little less than a second after the snap, and Graham has blown Mitchell off the ball.

The action is going right, with the center and backside guard pulling behind the line and the backside tackle pulling in front of the line to pick off linebackers.

Back Side - Cutting Off Pullers

Green Circle - Pulling Center Adam Holtorf

Yellow Circle - Where Holtorf should be on this play

As we saw in the first clip, right guard, Tyler Mitchell got blown up at the snap. Center Adam Holtorf is supposed to pull right off Mitchell’s backside, straight down the line. He’s supposed to lead the play.

The black line is the line of scrimmage. Holtorf should be no more than two yards off the line for this play to work. He’s 4 yards into the backfield, and is still getting cut off because Mitchell is in his way.

Backside - Following Pullers

Red Circle - Keondre Coburn vs Evan Curl

When you play teams that pull guards, one way to get to the ball carrier is to follow the pullers to the play. After Texas blew up the right guard, nose tackle Keondre Coleman cut straight down the line, through the hole, essentially racing the pulling Evan Curl to the spot. Coburn is heading to where the running back is going to be, he’s not even looking at the back.

Pullers Stuck

Red Circle - Keondre Coburn

Green Circle - Mess created by blowing up the front side guard

The benefit of blowing up the front side guard is obvious now. The green circle contains 3 K-State linemen. The right guard that was blown up, and the pulling center and guard that can’t fight through the trash to get in front of the play. In essence, #49 Ta’Quon Graham took out 3 Wildcat linemen on this play.

Coburn is able to cut straight down the line behind the trash and is unblocked. In theory, the center or guard should be able to pull around and pick him up, but they’re stuck, and now you have an unblocked 340 pound linemen in the backfield with an eye on the ball carrier.

That’s not good.

Can’t Turn The Corner

Red Circle - Keondre Coburn - Adan Holtorf - Jordan Brown

Holtorf got pushed off his path because the front side guard was blown up on this play. At this point, he should have his shoulders square toward the line, looking to clear a path for the running back.

Instead, he’s still running parallel to the line and doesn’t have any power. Coburn pushes him into Jordan Brown’s path, and the Wildcat’s lose 5 yards on a first down run.

The Good News

I don’t expect West Virginia to blow up the line like Texas’s monsters up front consistently blew up the front side of runs last Saturday. If you’re looking for a sign on how the running game is going tomorrow, watch the front side guard (regardless of which side the play is being run to). If he’s still at the line of scrimmage, things are going well. If he’s in the K-State backfield, it’s going to be a long day.