I wanted to quickly run through what I observed Kansas State doing in the running game last week that gave Oklahoma’s defense so much trouble.
In quarterback Alex Delton’s first start in place of the injured Jesse Ertz versus TCU, KSU didn’t deviate much from its standard offensive scheme. The Wildcats primarily based their offense out of 10 (one running back and no tight end) and 11 personnel (an RB and a TE). Like Ertz, the majority of Delton’s involvement in the running game came off of read plays in which he had the option to give to a back or pull it and run.
A week later against the Sooners, wily KSU coach Bill Snyder seemingly conceded that passing isn’t Delton’s strong suit. Instead, the Purple Wizard appeared to build his offensive game plan around Delton’s legs, as the second-team QB carried the ball 27 times for 142 yards.
The Wildcats frequently deployed 21 personnel that included a running back, fullback Winston Dimel (who is somehow only a junior) and inline tight end Dayton Valetine. Snyder called for a steady diet of designed runs for Delton in which the QB would head downhill behind a convoy of blockers. KSU’s most effective play was QB Power, with the two running backs, a tight end and a pulling guard leading the way - think Belldozer.
Here’s just one of multiple examples of the Sooners getting steamrolled by this play (and stick around for the breakdown by Joel Klatt):
By my count, KSU ran some variation of QB Power eight times in the first half alone for 108 yards. Add in Alex Barnes galloping 75 yards for a touchdown courtesy of a linebacker bust, and you get one hell of an ugly half of defense.
It was a typically crafty move by Snyder – notable for the simplicity of just adding an extra blocker to the mix – that caught OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops off-guard. K-State only ran that version of QB Power once versus TCU, so far as I could tell, which makes me wonder how often it came up during game prep in the preceding week.
I certainly don’t feel qualified to judge if there was much that could have been done in the way of adjustments on the fly prior to halftime. Luckily for the Sooners, whatever tinkering Stoops and the rest of the coaching staff did in the second half paid off.