How to Neutralize Hager
Add speed option to the list of things Texas' LBs don't know how to defend. This was a good playcall that had no business working.
Kansas State is reading Hager. Hager is best when he can play "see ball, hit ball." Opposing offenses would do well to make him make decisions, just like this. After his initial excitement at being unblocked, he gathers himself and diagnoses the play, which is good. But one thing he can't do is leave a running lane inside. He's so excited about the chance to hit two guys on the same play that he hits neither. It's a shame, because Wheeler had avoided the cut block and was in position to make a play on the pitch man. Had Hager forced the pitch, this probably would have been a negative-yardage play.
Get Bonney Out of There
Pro Football Focus said he allowed seven catches on nine targets for 53 yards and a touchdown. At one point the coaches decided they had to make a change and put Sheroid Evans in... for Kris Boyd. Whatever they're being paid, the person who made that decision is overpaid.
First of all, this is a very well-executed RPO. They combined their pass concept with QB draw, but it's so well done that it almost looks like Ertz is just scrambling on his own. But notice that the back and right guard release to block for him. It's going to be a positive play, but Texas still has a chance to keep it to about a 4-yard pickup. Unfortunately, the 6'4" QB who posted a 4.94 shuttle time coming out of high school broke Bonney's ankles.
But we're not done yet.
Texas is playing man, and every receiver except the back (who's running a flat route) runs a slant. As a corner in this situation, you're really only worried about two routes: the slant and the fade. The harder of the two to defend (and the easier to throw and catch) is the slant. The football 101 solution (KSU will illustrate later) to that problem is to align with inside leverage so that the receiver has to run behind or through you to run a slant. Line up to take away the slant, play the fade. If you don't, it looks like this.
The 'Forced' Fumble
It goes down as a forced fumble, but this was not a great play; it was lucky.
There's nothing fancy here. Everything Wheeler's seeing should be telling him to get downhill and scrape over the top of the guard. Instead, he hesitates — likely because he's contemplating trying to go underneath the block, as Texas' linebackers frequently do — and finds himself squarely in the guard's path. He's driven back 3 1/2 yards into the end zone. He flails wildly and accidentally knocks the ball loose. A "great" job would have stopped this play at the 3- or 4-yard line. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.
Backup Linebackers to the Rescue
This, on the other hand, was a solid play by Ed Freeman.
Texas' go-to on 3rd and medium or more is Cover 2. Kansas State calls a Cover 2 beater. Freeman let the slot receiver (corner route) go and got his eyes on the next receiver, who was running right into his zone. He looks like a guy who used to play safety, probably because he did. Freeman had some nice plays but he got lost against the run a few times (all of the linebackers did).
Also, there was an egregious hold by the left tackle that wasn't called. I wasn't looking for them but I saw four egregious holds (three by KSU) that affected the outcome of plays that weren't called. Brick needs to spend a couple minutes teaching the DL how to sell a hold; sometimes you can't fight through it.
Duvernay: Still Fast
I don't know why he didn't get more usage. K-State ran the same coverages all game. Texas ran the concept he scored on one more time after the touchdown... with Jake Oliver running Duvernay's route. I don't know.
This is the same concept we looked at a few days ago in the Iowa State film review thread. Buechele (maybe) got his rib cracked trying to run it against Cal, then checked it down like a champ against the Cyclones. Here's what it looks like when the defense eats up the fake. The corner should be staying over the top of any outside vertical route, but he bites hard on the screen route and that's that. This offense is fun.
The 18 Wheeler Is Out of the Ditch
Some folks were ready to bury the 18 Wheeler package, but all it needed was to be run more intelligently.
Observe who is on the field besides Swoopes, Armanti Foreman (split out wide) and the offensive line. For some reason, the offense in recent weeks had been moving in the direction of trying to spread the defense out with the 18 Wheeler by adding more receivers. This time, they added 1,127 pounds of blockers. #52 from K-State tries to get cute and sneak inside Beck's block, but that only creates more space outside for Swoopes and helps Bluiett release to #22 quicker. Swoopes does the rest. This package works if Sterlin doesn't stray from what it is.
A New Goal-Line Play
It's not really "new" — they were running it in fall practice — but I don't think we've seen it in a game yet. Or if we have, it hasn't been executed.
Situationally, it's very similar to the slant play Kansas State scored on earlier. AND LOOK WHERE THE CORNERS ARE LINED UP: WITH INSIDE LEVERAGE. To get inside, Dorian Leonard has to go around the corner. The O-line gives Buechele a nice, clean pocket, which is great because, without an inside release, it takes time for the play to develop. The ball is on time and on target. Beautiful execution.