Hey y’all, looks like I’ve got yet another Kansas State victory to discuss this week. I know people are lapping up Deuce Vaughn highlights and I figure it’s time to throw a film breakdown into the trough.
Deuce went nuts again on Saturday, carving up the tortilla filled Texas Tech defense for 113 rushing yards on 16 carries and a touchdown and 81 receiving yards on 3 receptions and touchdown.
There were plenty of highlights from the Tech game available, but one play in particular made me smile. When Messingham needed a 1st down on 3rd and 5 to ice the game, he dialed up an angle route to Vaughn. I loved this call, not only because it was the 2nd week in a row he took a seemingly safe underneath throw for big yards, but also because it was the perfect play call against a blitzing Tech defense.
This play is easy to break down, because it’s a simple play. At the same time, it has gutted the Oklahoma and Texas Tech defense in consecutive week. I expect it to be a staple in the Deuce Vaughn package, and that’s looking more and more like the primary offensive for K-State 3 games into the season.
On this route, the running back sets up his man outside, cuts hard across his face to the inside, and should be open somewhere around 8-10 yards from the line of scrimmage between the hash marks.
Like most plays in football, time and score are crucial factors in the success of this play. Tech is down three with 2:18 remaining and no time outs. If K-State picks up this first down the game is over. Tech used their last time out to stop the clock after the previous run by the Wildcats, setting up one play to either end the game or give the Red Raiders one last shot against the gassed defense.
If you want aggressive play calling in crucial situations, you love this play, because there are plenty of coaches who line up, run the ball between the tackles, hope for the best, and have their punt team on standby. A run here, even an unsuccessful run, leaves Tech with around 1:30 to get into field goal range with no time outs. An incomplete pass gives Tech the ball back with around 2:10 left.
The safe play is to run this up the middle and punt.
I was surprised to see K-State come out in a 4-wide look (Moore is a TE, but he’s lined up like a slot receiver). I assumed he would be the number 1 option on an out route from the slot up until Deuce went in motion. As soon as that happened, and the Tech linebacker shifted with him, I knew the angle route was going down, and Tech was in deep trouble.
I have the two most important players (other than Will Howard, who made the circle anyway) highlighted on the play.
Green Circle: RB - Deuce Vaughn - 5’5 - 170 - Human/Jackrabbit Highbred
Red Square: LB - Jacob Morgenstern - 6’4, 220 - Normal Human
Pre Snap 2
This is the moment I knew a good throw from Will Howard ends this game.
Deuce motions out of the backfield into the (I don’t know what to call this) tight slot (that doesn’t sound right but I’m going with it) just off the inside shoulder of the Phillip Brooks, who is in the traditional slot position and the linebacker (Jacob Morgenstern) follows. It was pretty clear that this was 0-coverage (no safety help), and man across the board, but Morgenstern moving with Deuce confirms that suspicion.
Tech is bringing the house and Messingham has them exactly where he wants them. The full out blitz makes sense, because if I’m a defensive coordinator, I’m geared up to stop Deuce on a run play. Even when he motions out, a run isn’t out of the question, because a QB draw with a bulldozer at quarterback like Howard also makes sense.
At the same time, this is a similar formation that K-State victimized Oklahoma with the previous week. In the above clip, you see the linebacker turn and check with the safety. Not sure what he’s hoping to get out of the safety, because it’s man across the board and the safety is matched up with the slot receiver.
The linebacker is on an island with Deuce Vaughn, and that’s never a good thing.
At this exact moment, the linebacker knows he’s cooked. Vaughn has a free release off the line because he’s trailing the slot receiver. He sets the linebacker up outside and then cuts inside across his face. Once he gets inside the linebacker, there is no help available. At this point, his only chance to influence the play is to grab Vaughn and hope it goes unnoticed. That’s tough to do when a first down ends the game.
This comes down to film study. The linebacker has to know the angle route is coming after the Oklahoma game, and under no circumstances can he allow Vaughn to cut across his face. If he’s playing coverage, he has to shade Vaughn to the inside and make him take the route to the sideline.
At the same time, I question the decision to put him in coverage at all. If I’m the Tech defensive coordinator, I put the linebacker covering Vaughn on the edge and blitz him into Vaughn at the snap. He has no chance in coverage, but if he can knock Vaughn off his route before it gets started, he has a chance to disrupt the play. It’s a risky, but no more risky than putting a linebacker on an island against one of the quickest players in college football.
I wanted to take a moment to show you how the play design opens up the middle of the field. Brooks runs a corner route, pulling his man out of the middle. Moore runs something close to a corner route out of the other slot position, pulling his man out middle. Will Howard has a clean passing window and a simple read. He’s either throwing it to Deuce on the angle route or tucking the ball and running, everything else going on is window dressing.
The Throw and Catch
Tech almost gets lucky, because this is an awful throw by Howard. Vaughn has two steps on the linebacker, and all Howard has to do is lead Deuce into the wide open yellow box. Instead, he throws the ball behind his target and Vaughn has to pivot inside and catch the ball while running full speed.
Folks, there aren’t many wide receivers that can pull off what Deuce manages on this play. The fact that he not only catches the ball, stays on his feet and is back to full speed two steps after spinning around to catch a bad pass is truly remarkable. Howard is lucky Vaughn has two (or maybe three steps) on the linebacker because this pass could either end up picked off or with Deuce flat on his back if the linebacker is a little closer.
All’s well that ends well for the true freshman on this play, but I’m sure that’s something the coaching staff will mention in film review.
There’s no need to break down anything else on this play because it’s mainly Deuce being faster than everyone and having a center of gravity somewhere around the top of the foot.
* I had to cut this after Deuce breaks the tackle because the Gif was too large. I promise he runs this into the end zone.
A different formation, and a much better throw by Skylar, against an OU defense in decent position, but a similar result from the Deuce Vaughn angle route. You’re going to see different variations of this play in most games over the next three or four years.