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Breakdown: KU's successful iso running play, and how to build off it


Welcome back to "Breakdown," where we'll look at some KU plays each week and try to go a little more in-depth into why they did or didn't work.

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

This week, I've put together some of KU's successful running plays from the first half of the Iowa State game.

We're going to be concerned with three of the plays on the video, the ones starting at 9, 19 and 29 seconds.

This running play — called an iso play — is something you should watch for this week against Colorado and could be the key for KU if it has offensive success this weekend.

So what is an iso play? Let's take a look at the play starting at 9 seconds.

As you can see, KU tight end Tim Biere goes in motion. Instead of making it all the way across the formation, though, he stops just to the right of the center.

From the photo above, you can see that ISU does not shift its defense at all to adjust to Biere's motion.

From here, it's a numbers game, Coach says.

"(The Cyclones) still technically only have six guys in the box, the four defensive linemen and the two linebackers," Coach says. " ... KU does have them outnumbered here with their five offensive linemen and the one tight end who comes in and essentially is a lead back in this play."

Before we go any further, notice that the ISU nose tackle below is lined up ever-so slightly to the left side of the football.

This will be important later.

Let's skip ahead a second to show the blocking.

Because ISU's defensive tackle is lined up just to the left of the football, KU's center Jeremiah Hatch and right guard Duane Zlatnik double-team the block on him. Every other KU blocker, except for Biere, simply blocks the man directly in front of them.

Here's where the isolation block from Biere comes into play.

Biere is essentially serving as a fullback, working upfield to clear out a linebacker.

But which one does he take? It all goes back to where the defensive nose tackle lined up.

Because the defensive tackle lined up just to the left of the ball, KU's center and right guard double-teamed him. After establishing the double-team, KU's center Hatch has the responsibility of getting to the second level and making a block on the linebacker to KU's right. He does a great job with this.

Because that linebacker is going to be taken out by Hatch, Biere's responsibility is to take out the linebacker on the opposite side of ISU's defensive tackle.

As we can see, Biere does his job well, going to his left to take out ISU's other linebacker.

If the ISU defensive tackle had lined up just to the right of the football, KU's players would have adjusted the opposite way. KU's center and left guard would have double-teamed the defensive tackle and Biere would have went to his right to block the other linebacker.

The result of the play is a seven-yard run for Angus Quigley.

The play at 19 seconds is very similar.

ISU makes it a little easier for KU this time, as the Cyclones' right defensive tackle runs a stunt, going behind ISU's other defensive tackle in an attempt to get to the quarterback.

As we can see, he runs himself right out of the play, making a bigger hole.

Because the defender in front of him has run away from the play, KU left guard Sal Capra does a good job of clearing out one linebacker, while Biere takes the other.

KU gains seven again, and Coach sees one possible modification that could help KU.

ISU's cornerback No. 22 above (circled) ends up making the tackle after going unblocked.

To get him blocked, KU could shorten receiver Daymond Patterson's split, putting him closer to KU's linemen. If there, he'd have a better chance at getting to No. 22 to block him.

Patterson also could just set his sights immediately on No. 22 after the snap, taking an extreme angle to get up to block him and take him out of the play.

So KU has had this success with this particular running play, which it hadn't run before last week.

The problem is, ISU made adjustments in the second half to stop it.

Coach says one way to adjust would be to bring a safety up closer to the line of scrimmage.

"He could roll down to linebacker level, bump both of those linebackers over, so you have a good old-fashioned 4-3 alignment," Coach says. "Right now, they’re in a 4-2-5 alignment."

If that happens, KU needs to be able to take the next step: having a counter play to this successful iso play.

"One great thing off this play is you can run play-action," Coach says. "When they roll their safety down into the box, now you’re putting a lot of pressure on your cornerbacks to cover one-on-one deep."

Though KU hasn't had a lot of success throwing it deep this year, this would be a favorable matchup, as KU would nearly be guaranteed single coverage.

Coach says KU could also throw a wrinkle in the running game with a misdirection play.

"Instead of just running it straight up the middle, you can run some split zone-type of plays where the fullback goes to block one way and the tailback cuts the other way," Coach says. "There’s just a lot of variations that you can run off this play."

KU offensive coordinator Chuck Long admitted that he didn't run the iso play in the third quarter last week, expecting ISU was going to make the adjustments to stop it.

"It was a good little iso play," Long said, "and we’re going to try to do some other things off of that this week."

When you see Biere motion to the middle of the line against Colorado, take note to see if KU mixes it up to take advantage of its success with the iso play.

If the Jayhawks can take one successful play and turn it into many successful plays, they'll greatly improve their chances of taking down the Buffs this week.


FredGarvin_MP 7 years, 6 months ago

Toben Opurum???????????????? What a shame not to have this guy running the ball.

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