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Tanner Hawkinson adds to highlight film with block on James Sims' 30-yard TD run

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For this blog, I have consulted a Div. II offensive assistant coach, someone we'll just call "Coach."

I figured this week would be as good as any to break down a good play for Kansas, so here's running back James Sims' 30-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of the Jayhawks' 20-14 loss to Oklahoma State.

Coach says this type of run is called an outside zone, or "stretch" play.

Coach says the play is designed to give the running back three different options. He can "bang" it up in the middle if he gets some good blocks there; he can "bend" it back to the inside if the defense overpursues the play; or he can "bounce" it all the way to the outside if the blockers pinch down and keep the defenders logged in the middle.

"It's definitely a play where your running back's got to have a little bit of patience," Coach says, "and use some of his vision to make sure he hits the right spot."

In this instance, Sims chooses the "bend it back" option, which ends up being the right choice.

Let's get back to some of the blocking, though.

Coach says the technique used by the offensive linemen here is called "pin and pull." Basically, KU's right tackle Gavin Howard pins the defensive lineman to the inside, while right guard Randall Dent and center Trevor Marrongelli pull around him.

Coach gives the first kudos to Howard.

"The pin block is very good by the right tackle," Coach says.

Gavin Howard block

Gavin Howard block by Jesse Newell

"The right tackle does a nice job of pinning the three-technique (defensive lineman outside the guard) all the way down right there."

As Marrongelli and Dent pull around (red arrows above), there aren't many people in the hole for them to block.

Coach says there are two reasons for this. For one, KU has a bunched formation, putting all of its players close to the ball without putting any receivers out wide.

Bunched formation

Bunched formation by Jesse Newell

That formation gives KU's outside players an advantage, allowing them to get inside of OSU's defenders to drive them to the edge.

The other reason KU's linemen don't have many people to block is because of KU's outside players: receiver Tre' Parmalee (No. 11, top of picture) and tight end Jimmay Mundine (No. 41, bottom).

Outside blocks

Outside blocks by Jesse Newell

"The tight end and the outside receiver there on the right side both do a nice job of blocking the defensive end and the outside linebacker," Coach says, "and getting those guys kicked outside."

Coach says Sims gets an OK block from Marrongelli — "Probably not his best block," Coach says — but the defender that Marrongelli is blocking ends up overrunning the play.

Marrongelli block.

Marrongelli block. by Jesse Newell

When Sims sees this, he decides to "bend" it back to the inside.

Sims "bends" back.

Sims "bends" back. by Jesse Newell

Two things to note from the picture above. For one, OSU's No. 8 is totally unblocked on this play, but he overruns the play as well. Coach says that's the beauty of a stretch play — sometimes you don't always have to block everyone, as defenders often run themselves out of the play.

The second thing to note is OSU defensive linenman James Castleman (No. 91). From looking at this screenshot, you might expect him to make this tackle, as he appears to be in the hole.

This is a good time to chronicle his path throughout this entire play thanks to KU left tackle Tanner Hawkinson (No. 72).

Hawkinson drives Castleman all the way across the field, then finishes the block by knocking the D-lineman to the ground.

"That's a great finish," Coach says. "In football terms, that's what's called a pancake, when an offensive lineman pretty much flattens a defensive lineman like that. He's getting some props in the film room for that one.

"That's great. He really finishes — runs his feet and finishes. He gets the guy on skates, then finishes it and lands on top of him. That's awesome right there."

Sims gets one more block, this one from receiver Kale Pick.

Kale Pick block.

Kale Pick block. by Jesse Newell

"Big plays happen outside and deep," Coach says. "(Pick) right there is doing a nice job of getting downfield and getting the defensive back covered as well."

Sims does the rest, as following a nice cut, he uses his speed to get to the end zone.

"Just a good football play," Coach says. "Good design. Nice job with some good blocks and finishing things off, and of course, a good run by the tailback.

"But of course, he didn't do everything on his own right here. He owes his teammates a lot of credit as well."

Roughing the punter

I wanted to get Coach's quick thoughts on JaCorey Shepherd's failed punt block attempt at the end of the KU-OSU game.

Coach says, with better technique, this is a ball that would have been blocked.

Shepherd punt block attempt.

Shepherd punt block attempt. by Jesse Newell

Coach says his team teaches punt blockers to put their hands down onto the football. The coaching staff also teaches its players to put their hands together to get greater surface area and teaches them to block the ball low — aiming to take it off the punter's foot.

As you can see from the photo above, Shepherd extends his arms too high into the air and also isn't in a position to block it down, leaving his fingers up high.

Had he blocked down — and tried to block the ball lower — Shepherd would have been in a better position to come up with a game-changing play for the Jayhawks.

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