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KU's Taylor Cox burns South Dakota State on similar play to SDSU's 99-yard TD run
For this blog, I have consulted a Div. II offensive assistant coach, someone we'll just call "Coach."
For this first week, I wanted to look at two different plays from Kansas' 31-17 victory over South Dakota State on Saturday.
First, let's examine KU's breakdown on Zach Zenner's 99-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Coach says this is a basic "One-Back Power" play, where offensive linemen on the right side down block — or block in the opposite direction of the run — while the left guard pulls around.
I found a good illustration of this play in this article by X&O labs.
We get a good view of this blocking on the replay starting at 15 seconds.
One of the first things to notice is that KU defensive end Josh Williams, who starts on the hashmarks, gets knocked out of the play by SDSU tight end Seth Daughters.
"Basically, the tight end, for lack of a better term, whups that kid," Coach says. "He gets after that defensive end pretty bad right there."
Even with that happening, KU still should have enough defenders on that side of the field to make the play. The Jayhawks are in an "over" front, meaning they have more defenders to the side of the field of the tight end (in this case, the right side).
When asked about the breakdown, here's what KU coach Charlie Weis said after the game:
"We had two guys flow to the outside, and one was supposed to be inside, one was supposed to be out."
It's pretty easy to spot from the film, Coach says.
KU linebacker Huldon Tharp (No. 34) and safety Lubbock Smith (No. 1) are occupying the same gap.
"That linebacker, No. 34 (Tharp), he should hit that downhill and hit it inside of the pulling lineman," Coach says. "When the guard comes to pull, he should hit inside of that, and then the safety will come in and fill outside of it."
In essence, Tharp should be coming down where the red line is below, forcing the action to the outside, where he has Smith's help.
Instead, Tharp is caught on the outside of pulling left guard Taylor Suess, creating a hole up the middle for Zenner.
That gets Zenner to the second level, where KU cornerback Greg Brown is unable to make the tackle.
Though Brown starts in good position ...
Coach says Brown comes too far upfield before diving almost straight backwards as a last-ditch effort.
"He takes a bad angle right there," Coach says. "He just needs to take a better angle and put it on the ground for a 10-yard gain instead of a 99-yard touchdown."
KU safety Bradley McDougald is unable to catch up to Zenner, but part of that can be credited to SDSU.
Did you notice what happened at the top of the screen on the play?
SDSU's receivers fake a bubble screen. McDougald and KU cornerback Tyler Patmon have to honor the possibility of a screen there, moving closer to the line of scrimmage ... which takes them farther away from the run on the other side.
Let's take a look at KU's fourth-quarter running play now.
Instead of "One-Back Power," though, KU running back Taylor Cox's 39-yard run in the fourth quarter came on "Two-Back Power," as the Jayhawks had a pair of running backs in the game.
Just like SDSU above, KU's offensive linemen "down" block, or block their men in the opposite direction of the run.
The only difference is that fullback Brandon Bourbon comes through the right side to throw a kickout block in addition to left guard Duane Zlatnik pulling.
Coach says KU's players on the right side do such a good job that Zlatnik doesn't have anyone to block for a while.
That starts with KU tight end Jimmay Mundine, who lines up in the slot and drives SDSU's Doug Peete out of the hole.
"That’s a great job by the slot receiver taking care of an outside linebacker," Coach says. "If you could get that every time, you’d be pretty happy if you’re coach Weis."
Coach says Bourbon throws a nice kickout block on SDSU linebacker Ross Shafrath ...
which allows Zlatnik to continue running.
Here, Cox shows some maturity and patience, waiting behind Zlatnik instead of running past him.
"He sticks his arm, lets 67 lead him up to that second level," Coach says. "Then he continues to use that arm and has a nice stiff arm on 19 there to gain some extra yards."
Coach says the play could have even been better with an improved block from KU receiver Kale Pick on the opposite side.
Pick starts by getting his hands on SDSU cornerback Winston Wright.
"One thing you would like to see No. 7 get No. 14 sealed off," Coach says. "Just continue to run to 14’s inside shoulder right there, so then No. 14 wouldn’t even be able to be in the play at the end."
Instead, Pick loses contact ...
and Wright eventually slows Cox down a step before No. 19 Bo Helm later makes the tackle.
"It turns out being good effort by 14 here from the backside to get in on the play," Coach says. "He kind of gets stiff-armed at first, but he saved that from being a touchdown."
After taking an early lead against KU with a huge run, SDSU was essentially knocked out of the game late with Cox's 39-yard run.
Now you know the rest of the story.
"It’s essentially," Coach says, "the same play."