'Coach': KU players not physical enough during Oklahoma's 100-yard kickoff return


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

This is the second "Breakdown" blog this week, with this one focusing on Roy Finch's 100-yard kickoff return for touchdown against Kansas last week. (The "Breakdown" blog on Justin Brown's 90-yard punt return was posted Thursday.)

Before looking at the film, Coach says there's one main truth when it comes to the kickoff team.

"The kickoff team, from the beginning of football until the end of football is always going to be about the players that you have on it — from your kicker to the 10 guys you have running down there," Coach says. "You can draw up every fancy scheme and place the ball on the right hash, the left hash, in the middle, whatever you want to do. But it will always, until the end of football, be about the guys you have running down there to make the play."

One of KU's mistakes, Coach says, comes early.

Coach says that during the first 20 yards of sprinting to cover a kickoff, one of the main objectives for KU's players should be trying to avoid blockers to the blockers' "butt side."

The reason for this is simple: KU's guys are trying to not get blocked to the lanes that the Sooners want them to be blocked into. By going to the butt side, KU's players will be going the opposite way of where the Sooners want them to go.

We see when Finch catches the ball that KU's players have not succeeded in getting to the "butt side" very well.

That's especially evident at the bottom of the screen, where KU's Nick Sizemore (No. 45) and Tyler Hunt (No. 49) are blocked toward the side of the field closest to us.


Blocked by Jesse Newell

"Those guys should both be on the other side of the Oklahoma players, who are pinning them to the field (the side of the field away from the returner). Them getting pinned to the field causes No. 47 (Brandon Bourbon) to be pinned to the field."

Coach also says KU's Josh Ford (No. 8 above) doesn't do a good job, either.

On this play, Ford's responsibility is to "fold" behind blocks to make a tackle.

"Basically, you send seven guys to the ball, then maybe you have two or three guys that are still going to the ball, but sometimes they motor down five or eight yards behind it, so they're more like a linebacker," Coach says. "The front guys take up more blocks, then your fold players can jump in there and make the play after some of the other blockers have been taken up.

Josh Ford

Josh Ford by Jesse Newell

"He should technically motor his feet down and 'fold' a little bit sooner right there. He knows he's not going to be able to run and make the play on the 15-yard line right there. But 'fold' underneath those blocks (blue arrow below) and try to make the play on about the 25-yard line."

Coach says the other major failing for KU comes when its players are approaching blockers.

If you're one of the first men down, Coach says it's important to 1) stay in your lane as long as possible, and 2) be physical when you get to the block zone.

On this play, the Jayhawks aren't physical enough.

Coach singles out two players: Ray Mitchell (No. 26) and Michael Reynolds (No. 55).

As we can see at the 20-second mark of the video, Mitchell gets knocked off his feet — "absolutely destroyed" as Coach describes it — by OU's Tyler Fields.

Ray Mitchell

Ray Mitchell by Jesse Newell

Reynolds, meanwhile, slows down to contact after sprinting the entire length of the field and allows himself to be blocked.

Michael Reynolds

Michael Reynolds by Jesse Newell

"Those guys need to continue to sprint and try to run through those two Oklahoma blockers," Coach says. "Don't slow your feet down. Run through those guys, and blow those guys up back into the return man."

By not moving those blockers, Reynolds and Mitchell not only are putting themselves out of position for a tackle, they're also making it tougher on their "fold" players, as Finch can now choose from more openings.

Those blocks on Mitchell and Reynolds, along with more blocks from OU players to the boundary at the top of the screen, result in a huge lane for Finch.

Finch lane

Finch lane by Jesse Newell

"Those Oklahoma blockers are doing an excellent job right there," Coach says. "Oklahoma's got good players on their kickoff return team. They've got a solid scheme. It's not a scheme that is very difficult to see what they're trying to do.

"Basically, they're just whipping KU right here."


Michael Luby 5 years, 8 months ago

Hey Jesse, I respect what you do, I love reading your posts. But frankly the football team is depressing this year as it has been for a few seasons and Basketball season is upon us once again. Will you and the other guys start doing more articles on Coach Self and his team? I really missed your flash back posts from years ago too. Great stuff, missed it all summer.

hailtoku 5 years, 8 months ago

Your post is depressing.

It's football season. Homecoming is this weekend for God's sake. You are the KU fan I despise.

Brad Farha 5 years, 8 months ago

Agree with hailtoku. I go bonkers when someone says "at least we have b-ball soon." Hate that crap. I love football, I love basketball, and technically I support football more because I'm a season ticket holder for football but not for basketball.

Ron Prichard 5 years, 8 months ago

If you don't want to read about football, then don't. If you do ("I love reading your posts") then don't ask for fewer football articles and more basketball articles. Football is in the middle of the season. Basketball is still practicing and hasn't even had an exhibition game yet. Still, there is at least one and sometimes two or three basketball articles each day. I happen to be thrilled about basketball coming up but am still really into supporting this football team and watching them (hopefully) improve each week. I agree with hail's comment...part time KU fans are disappointing.

Dale Stringer 5 years, 8 months ago

I think, Coach is in the MIAA - the deepest, toughest division in college football. Ask him, "Now after ESU's beatdown last night, is Western MO the best team in the league?" and "What's happening to PSU the last two games?"

John Beck 5 years, 8 months ago

Jesse- another good breakdown by "coach". I learn a little football with each one of these, like butt side. I am not sure personell was the issue so much on this kick off where on the punt there were a too few many "bigs" out there when speed is the name of the game. Down 38-0 the intensity seemed lacking on the KO coverage imo.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 5 years, 8 months ago

I think "coach" needs to breakdown a different play.

We've analyzed this one twice this week. We get it....

John Beck 5 years, 8 months ago

Reuben, the other was the punt return by OU for a TD. Same but different.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 5 years, 8 months ago

Ah. Sorry. It's all just blurred into one massive beatdown.

Patrick Leiker 5 years, 8 months ago

Mitchell getting blown up was the thing that stood out to this amateur watching on TV. Got completely turned around.

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