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Film Study: Kansas State’s Old-School Offense is Timeless



The Oklahoma State Cowboys will be facing one of the most unique offenses in college football when they take on the Kansas State Wildcats on Saturday. The Wildcats have long used the quarterback run as a major part of their offense, resembling the days of single wing football and Pop Warner’s A formation.

In this Film Study, we will analyze the Wildcats’ philosophy and what makes it so difficult to defend.

The quarterback run is difficult to defend for two main reasons. First of all, it gives the offense an extra blocker in the run game. On most standard run plays, the quarterback hands the ball off and doesn’t participate in the rest of the play, effectively wasting a potential blocker.

But if the quarterback is the ball carrier, the offense gets an extra blocker. The Wildcats’ quarterback run game is built off of gap schemes like power and counter. They’ll often pull a guard and have one or two lead blockers to get multiple bodies at the point of attack. This is where an extra blocker comes into play:

The second reason why the quarterback run is so difficult is because the quarterback is still a passing threat even in the run game. On most run-pass options, the quarterback can throw or hand the ball off but has to make the decision before the play starts or immediately after the ball is snapped.

With Kansas State, the quarterback is able to look downfield and throw the ball at the last second, forcing the secondary and backside defenders to hold their position and prevent them from rushing to the ball.

Does that play look familiar to you? It should; OSU uses it all the time.

Kansas State doesn’t just use power and counter. They use the quarterback run, whether with their quarterback or in the wildcat (pardon the pun), with multiple schemes and plays. They will occasionally pull both guards on a buck sweep:

Or use split zone with the back blocking the backside defender:

The offense might be methodical and painfully slow to watch at times, but it’s effective. It’s also, in my opinion, fun to watch for how it resembles the old days of football. It’s an old-school offense for an old-school coach.

Don’t forget how the Wildcats gashed the Cowboys for the majority of the game last season. And just because they have three quarterbacks who might play doesn’t mean OSU has the upper hand because Kansas State was able to effectively move the ball in 2015 with their third stringer.

The Wildcats are always able to mold their offense around their personnel and make it work, so expect nothing less from Snyder & Co. on Saturday.

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