How a two-hand tug and a positioning error helped Texas convert on fourth and six


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

This week's Breakdown will look at Texas' fourth-and-six conversion against Kansas in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 21-17 victory. Video is below. (Note: Lubbock Smith's interception is at the end of the YouTube clip, but we won't be discussing it).

KU elects to rush three on this play while dropping eight into coverage.

Let's start by looking at KU's defensive line, which Coach says does a decent job.

If you look, Texas — after using its running back to help block — has six players in protection.

That essentially means each of KU's rushers are double-teamed on this play.

KU double-teamed

KU double-teamed by Jesse Newell

Despite this, Coach says KU still is able to get some pressure.

KU's left defensive end Josh Williams is able to get upfield to condense the pocket for Texas quarterback Case McCoy.

Josh Williams

Josh Williams by Jesse Newell

Meanwhile, Texas center Dominic Espinosa — after getting early double-team help from right guard Mason Walters — isn't able to stop penetration from KU defensive tackle Keba Agostinho.

Agostinho gets his hand up to deflect the pass, and the only thing that appears to stop him from doing that is a two-handed tug by Espinosa.

Keba Agostinho

Keba Agostinho by Jesse Newell

"It looks like (Agostinho) gets held just a little bit right there at the end of the play," Coach says. "He does a nice job."

Coach even notices that Espinosa, at the end of the film, puts both hands up as if to say, "I'm innocent."

Innocent Espinosa

Innocent Espinosa by Jesse Newell

"That's the last thing you want to do, really," Coach says, "because that's an indicator of, 'Hey, you did just do something.'"

Let's take a look at the back end of the defense, as Texas has four primary receivers to go against eight KU defenders in coverage.

Coach says this is a Cover 2 zone defense from KU. This means the cornerbacks cover the flats, the safeties have the deep halves of the field, the outside linebackers have the "hook/curl" zones on the outside and the two inside linebackers have the two middle holes zones in front of the safeties.

Here's basically what this should look like, using a video-game screenshot from

Cover 2

Cover 2 by Jesse Newell

The goal of dropping eight into coverage is to make it difficult for the offense to find any place to throw the ball.

Texas still finds a soft spot in the zone behind KU inside linebacker Huldon Tharp and in front of the safeties.

Coach says Texas is running four vertical routes here, with Jaxon Shipley bending to the middle to find an opening in KU's setup.

Texas routes

Texas routes by Jesse Newell

Remember, Texas had a little extra time to come up with this play, as receiver Mike Davis was hurt after third down.

"If it's a third down and long or fourth down-type of play, you might expect to find a Cover 2," Coach says. "That's what you prepare for throughout the week (when you) understand a team's tendencies."

Coach says in a Cover 2, teams want to attack the middle of the field. The reason for this is because the linebackers are there, who tend to be the least athletic when it comes to coverage.

Though Tharp is technically in the correct area, Coach says he could have done a better job or reading the play.


Tharp by Jesse Newell

"He should really work with the eyes of the quarterback right here," Coach says. "See, he's got a corner out to his outside. You see No. 33 (Tyler Patmon) is the corner on his outside? When that receiver starts to work to the middle of the field, and the quarterback's eyes are going with that receiver to the middle of the field, now you can start to squeeze it down, because you know you've got a corner on your outside to help. That way you make this throwing lane a lot tighter for the quarterback and the receiver."

We get a great view of it with the end-zone camera angle, as McCoy never takes his eyes of his primary receiver Shipley.


McCoy by Jesse Newell

Coach says one of the big advantages of playing a zone defense is that defenders can "see the ball off" — watching the quarterback and reading him to help make better decisions.

In this case, Tharp got out a little bit too wide in his zone based on the information he had.

Tharp in coverage

Tharp in coverage by Jesse Newell

"Try and close this throwing lane down by using your eyes, seeing the quarterback and also feeling the receiver behind you," Coach says. "You're not going to see the receiver cut behind you, but you just have to feel him coming to the inside by where the quarterback's looking."

When I asked Tharp Wednesday about that particular fourth-and-six play, he admitted that he wasn't happy about it after going through film sessions with the linebackers.

"Like they always say, 'Football's a game of inches.' That's very true," Tharp said. "You can be a little bit out of position and end up — especially against athletes in the Big 12 — you can end up looking a lot worse than you thought you might end up looking.

"But that's definitely one I wish I could have had back. But you learn from it."

When talking about the final drive in general, Tharp said that KU's defense would be better prepared for a situation like that in the future.

"Looking back at the film, you just kind of hate yourself for seeing some of the stuff that you gave up," Tharp said. "But there's always room for improvement, and that's something we can build on."


texashawk10 10 years, 1 month ago

For those of you who have been complaining about KU dropping 8 into coverage on that play, that's what Campo had done on the majority of obvious passing situations all game long so this was not a prevent defense. Very frustrating though to have two mistakes at the end of a great performance be what cost KU the game.

Brent Fry 10 years, 1 month ago

What frustrates even more is that after that play I thought we actually blitzed 5 there. That was when watching it live from the stadium. After the snap I only followed the receivers, so I didn't realize we only sent 3. Now I feel like an idiot after watching the replay.

Ron Prichard 10 years, 1 month ago

That play was frustrating enough before realizing UT was guilty of a hold that wasn't called! One of these days a play like that is going to go our way. I just hope it happens sooner rather than later!

Great analysis, Jesse. Even though it is frustrating to relive, the breakdown of this play is fantastic. I love reading these each week. One of my favorite parts of the LJW football coverage (along with Tait's coverage of practices).

741hawk 10 years, 1 month ago

It was Texas. Tell me one time that you remember a "break" going against the tee-sips. I can't!

texashawk10 10 years, 1 month ago

I can tell you a major break that went against them, but KU wasn't involved in it. The 2008 season when OU went to the title game instead even though UT beat OU that season. That was a pretty awesome middle finger to UT.

Curtis Stutz 10 years, 1 month ago

Too bad that hooked the SEC up with one of their titles they like to brag about. UT would have killed UF that year, but no, Stoops had to embarrass Big12 football again.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 1 month ago

but that was also the year UT lost to TT, so that really wasn't any sort of break. That was just the rules that were agreed to ahead of time. They were just pissed that they were forced to acknowledge another Texas school.

utahjayhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

.....and they got the break of the century the next year in the Big XII title game as NU got hosed, and started the mass exodus.

Bville Hawk 10 years, 1 month ago

Excellent again, Jesse. Fun and interesting to read and see, painful to relive.

741hawk 10 years, 1 month ago

Jesse: Predict a time when we'll learn who "Coach" is? I enjoy this feature. Very interesting.

texashawk10 10 years, 1 month ago

Since Jesse does this every week, that means the coach has be pretty close to Lawrence and since he says it's a D2 offensive assistant, my guess would be an assistant at Washburn since that's about a 30 minute drive away from Lawrence.

Dale Stringer 10 years, 1 month ago

Washburn is the closest (30 min). In order of nearness using google maps, the other D-II schools are: Emporia State - 1hr 20 min Missouri Western (St Jo)- 1hr 20min Central Missouri (Warrensburg) - 1hr 38min NW Mo State (Maryville)- 2hr 2min Pitt State - 2hr 20min

Cool thing is, all but UCM are ranked in one of the two D-II top 25 polls. And UCM spent the first half ranked two before being beat by those that still are.

Baker is NAIA just like Haskell, different conference though.

Lucas Town 10 years, 1 month ago

You can probably call holding on every single play during the course of a game. That one call/no call did not cost us the game against Texas. It's history, now lets beat Baylor.

Dyrk Dugan 10 years, 1 month ago

you talk about a game of inches....two back breaking, just out of position plays, and we have two wins....this game, and the Rice game when Linton took the bad angle on another 4th down. (Lubbock Smith, if healthy and on the field, makes that play, i'm positive).

so 1-7, instead of 3-5....based on two plays. throw in the near comeback vs. OSU and a blown wide open receiver in the UNI game, and now we're talking 5-3. so literally, a handful of plays has us scraping the bottom of the Big 12, instead of talking about bowl eligibility.

My point is, we've been really close this year...and yet, so agonizingly far away. it just goes to show how important experience is in the system, and better football players .....make all the difference in the world.

we'll get there...but our pain, may not be over until after this year. let's get them Bears! Go Jayhawks!

clevelandjayhawker 10 years, 1 month ago

mv=mill valley?

We are getting there, its just not as easy to take in when the record isnt there yet.

The hold upset me when I saw it live on tv and worse during the replays, now I am even more upset because the ref is looking at it and he is 10 yards away.

I feel bad for the students, they have had 11am games the past 3 home games (?). Keep fighting, Rock chalk

Terry Sexton 10 years, 1 month ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Ron Prichard 10 years, 1 month ago

Let me say, "Bazinga!" before this gets removed. Good stuff.

clevelandjayhawker 10 years, 1 month ago

thanks for the chuckle, glad i read it before it was removed

ArgyleJayhawks 10 years, 1 month ago

I assume rockchalker52's joke is similar to the one I was about to make. I will say, positioning is especially important when employing a two hand tug.

Justin Anderson 10 years, 1 month ago

You should at least mention the fact that the texas reciever(#1) who caught the ball on 3rd down pretended to get hurt so Texas could have a "free" timeout(the whole team went to the sideline). Then after not even limping off the field he came back to catch the long pass two plays later. They won but they cheated.

AirCapJay 10 years, 1 month ago

Agree. I could not believe the kid came back after a so called injury a play later and was so athletic. Brown cheats. But I guess a lot of coaches probably tell their kids to get up slow when they are out of time outs.

VaJay 10 years, 1 month ago

Wow. A missed holding call. They call that, then they're looking at 4th & 16 to go. I believe in that situation (most likely) the game's over.

So that's two UT games we should have won, but for a missed or wrong call. Oh how I wish we could catch some breaks going the other way...

Great play to look at Jesse. It educates us all a little bit more about the game of football. Really interesting stuff!

Dale Stringer 10 years, 1 month ago

4th and 16... But then you would expect to have the 'hitting a defenseless receiver after he's caught the ball' penalty go against us.

hawkdds 10 years, 1 month ago

When you are not suppose to win , you'll never get the game altering or close call. Texas has done it to us twice. Mangino was right in his rant!

Chayse Patrick 10 years, 1 month ago

That ain't the first time we got screwed playing Texas if you can recall the year with Mangino coaching and they beat us on a KU holding penalty or maybe a pass interference call whish was a BS call

actorman 10 years, 1 month ago

It was an offensive pass interference call -- and one of the worst calls I've ever seen. I didn't blame Mangino one bit for ranting in that situation.

Doug Fogleman 10 years, 1 month ago

What really hurt us was in the first quarter when we had 1st and goal from the five and did nothing with it. But I feel we have made huge strides forward this year. We are much improved from the past few years. Looking forward to a brighter future. Go Hawks

Joe Joseph 10 years, 1 month ago

"and a positioning error." uh huh huh uh huh

KGphoto 10 years, 1 month ago

The fake injury is all that matters. Mack Brown is a joke.

HAWKS1 10 years, 1 month ago

Wasn't it also in that Texas game that we were called for "assisting the runner" on a touchdown play? I have never seen that call made in any other college football game in my somewhat long lifetime! If ever there was a time to call it, it would have been in THIS last week's Texas game against them on their rushing TD on the North end! We routinely get calls (or no-calls) against us on our own field that the officials would never make against the home team at OU, UT, aTm, NU or even KSU. Until we start earning respect by winning and get a more vocal/rabid fan base at the stadium this situation will continue! With what Charlie is paid, were it me, I would gladly pay the fine to protest some of the terrible calls/no-calls against us on our OWN field!

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