He ya’ll, hope this article finds you in some sort of air conditioning, or at least on the way to some sort of air conditioning. The dog days of summer are upon us, but fret not, cool fall nights aren’t as far away as they feel. In the meantime, I thought a few Treshaun Ward clips might help while we’re being braised.
After forcing myself to skip through Florida State games looking for Ward highlights (the things I’m willing to do for you folks) I came away impressed. Treshaun brings a solid combination of power and speed to the field. He accelerates into contact, erasing angles and making life difficult on tacklers. If you’re looking for K-State comps....I see Ward as combo of 2019 backs James Gilbert and Jordon Brown. He has Gilbert’s ability to maintain balance and pinball off tacklers paired with Brown’s ability to hit the gas. If you want the dreaded Drew (we get it we all know you went to Clemson) he reminds me of former Tiger and Arizona Cardinal Andre Ellington. Like Ellington, he’s a receiving threat out of the backfield who plays bigger than his listed weight because of his ability to convert speed to power while running. Once Ward bounces off a tackle, he has the break away speed to take it to the house.
Take any college running back with vision and patience and put them behind the K-State offensive line and they’re going to average 4 or 5 yards a carry, even if they lack every other physical trait. Ward has vision and patience and pairs it with the ability to create yards above and beyond what the blocking provides. If a play is blocked up for 4 yards, Ward is usually going to get you 4, but he has the ability to turn that 4 yard play into a 20 yard play on his own.
Strong Side B Gap Run
Note: I try to keep the terminology as vanilla as possible in these to reach a wider audience. Also these Ward articles will focus mainly on his ability. I don’t care about the Florida State O-Line.
This is the first Ward play that caught my attention because he shows everything he needs to be successful running behind the K-State line in one play. In fact, if this were K-State he walks into the end zone, but I’ll get to that later. I also like the fact that FSU is playing OU, giving me a chance to watch the Sooners fail, while also seeing Ward against allegedly good athletes.
This play is simple. Ward (purple circle) lines up in the pistol (RB behind QB in the shotgun) and presses the front side of the play, while waiting for the front side pulling guard (green dot) to get in position to pick off a linebacker. It’s not blocked perfectly, but Ward is able to turn a 4 yard gain into a 20 yard gain on his own.
Oklahoma’s strong side linebacker (red square) is the key to this play. They’re lined up in the Venables 4-2-5, and in classic Venables fashion, blitz the weak side backer, leaving the strong side backer on an island if the play makes it through the line of scrimmage.
OU shows the weak side B gap blitz pre-snap. That plays into FSU’s play call because this play is going play-side. They want to cut off the back side entirely.
We’re at the mesh point. I assume FSU QB Travis has the option to pull this if he sees the back side end crash, but he stays put and the play goes to the strong side. It’d a little hard to see, but under the green dot is the strong side guard pulling. His job is to wrap around the play side offense and pick off the strong side linebacker.
Ward is set on his path now. He wants to push the front side of the play and wait for the b-gap hole to develop (inside the left tackle who is the furthest FSU lineman down field).
FSU pulled the front side guard (green dot) and their center and back side guard wall off the weak side. In theory, FSU now has 3 to block 3. That’s ideal. It helps that their 6’4”, 270 pound tight end is able to handle the left end on his own.
Oklahoma guessed wrong and fired a weak side blitz into nothing, leaving them exposed at the second level. The play side linebacker (red square) is keying on the pulling guard, and following him to the point of attack. The weak side safety (blue box) is also starting to show interest in the play and needs to step up to give OU another defender at the second level.
This is the crucial moment. The hole opens off the left tackle’s (#52) rear end, but there is a problem, in the process of kicking out his man, the left tackle cuts off the left guard responsible for the play side linebacker. With the free linebacker in decent position, this play, more often than not, goes for a quick 4 yards, before the back gets hauled down, maybe 6 if the back finishes strong. The guard getting hung up is the limiting factor. If he gets around clean, this thing is blocked up for 20+.
Venables lives and dies by the blitz, and this time, they’re going to die. Sending a 5th Sooner crashing into the weak side B-gap (between the guard and tackle) has done nothing for the defense. The play side linebacker (red box) is in good position, but is maybe a step too far to the outside. I assume he’s still watching the guard. The weak side safety (blue box) is crashing hard to help out at the point of attack.
This is what makes Ward special. He accelerates into the B-Gap, off the left tackles rear, with such speed and conviction that he catches the OU linebacker leaning toward the C-gap. The pulling guard has nothing to show for his jog down the line, but it doesn’t matter. Still, this should be a 4-6 yard play. The play side backer (red box), if nothing else, should be able to get into his legs and let the crashing weak side safety (blue box) clean up the tackle.
This is where running backs make their money. The O-line (despite the miss by the guard) blocked this up for a 4-6 yard gain. It’s up to Ward to turn it into something more. In order to do that, he’s got to break a tackle. Keep in mind, this is OU, he’s going up against 6’4”, 240 pound starting linebacker Danny Stutsman, a 4* linebacker out of the 2021 class. He also has weak side safety #5, Billy Bowman, closing hard. Bowman was a 4*, to 40 player also out of the 2021 class. If Ward has intentions of continuing down the field, he’s going to have to go around and through some top level talent.
Speed and Power
Tre beats Stutsman by simply running past him. As I mentioned above, Stutsman is maybe a step too far outside, and Ward makes him pay by hitting the gas. This is now looking like more of a 6-8 yard run because even if Stutsman makes the tackle from behind, Ward is going to finish the run. Bowman, #5, is looking to clean up whatever Stutsman leaves and possibly push Ward sideways instead of forward.
This is where Ward’s power needs to show up. If Stutsman slows him down, Bowman is going to clean him up. He also has #25, Justin Broiles, yet another former 4*, top 100 safety flashing into the screen from his deep middle position looking to get involved in the play.
Look at this screen shot. You’ve got 3 former 4* players attempting to tackle one former walk-on in the open field. Ward has already left Stutsman, who by all rights should have stopped this play after 4 yards, eating turf, and he’s got #5 Bowman in a bad spot as well. I don’t think Brent teaches the “reach with one arm and hope” technique, but Ward’s ability to pull out of the Stutsman tackle attempt without slowing down has Bowman a step behind as well. Luckily for the Sooners, Broils is in perfect position to limit the damage and make a tackle.
I Guess They Needed 4?
Ward has Stutsman on the ground, Bowman in the air and Broils reaching with one arm and hoping. This is why Treshaun Ward could be one of the most productive transfers in the nation. K-State is going to block things up and Ward has the ability to turn 3 high level players into the 3 Stooges in the open field. At 5’10”, 195, he still has the power to run through arm tackles, and the speed to leave would-be tacklers in the dust.
The K-State Difference
Tre put in the hard work, beating 3 tacklers in the open field, but his receiver lost focus and forgot to block the corner. K-State turns 20 yard runs into touchdowns because their receivers lock up defensive backs down the field. He walks into the end zone in Manhattan, instead he has to deal with a defensive back with an angle.
Ward turned a 4 yard run into a 20+ yard run but got chopped down at the 5 because his wide out didn’t block for him. Still, not a bad return on a play where the lead block whiffed.
Most places, backs are asked to turn nothing into something. In Manhattan, backs are asked to turn something into something great. The blocking is going to create seams and Ward has the talent to turn those seams into points. Deuce is irreplaceable, but Treshaun and DJ Giddens have the talent to not only ease the loss, but write their own legacy behind one of the best lines in the nation.