'Coach': Despite missed tackle, KU dials 'exactly correct call' on Rice's fourth-down conversion


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

This week, I wanted to look at Rice's fourth-and-four conversion in the fourth quarter of Kansas' 25-24 loss to Rice on Saturday.

Though it initially looks like a bubble screen for the tight end, Coach says that's not the case because the receivers aren't blocking for the tight end at the bottom of the screen.

"They're running a combo route here, having all their receivers get to the sticks to try to get a first down," Coach says.


Routes by Jesse Newell

"This slot receiver (red arrow) is going to be the outlet receiver. (The quarterback) gets pressure, so he ends up having to throw to the outlet receiver, probably before he wants to."

Coach pauses the video at six seconds.

Six seconds

Six seconds by Jesse Newell

"That's an absolutely great picture if you're the Kansas defense," Coach says. "Both the KU defenders have an angle on the receiver. They just need to close to the near hip and not over-run it. They just need to make a tackle."

After that, everything breaks down.

The first man up is safety Dexter Linton, who was in following an injury to starter Lubbock Smith.

Coach says Linton's biggest mistake here isn't missing the tackle. He actually does the right thing by trying to tackle low against a bigger tight end.

Instead, Coach says it's the angle that he takes to the receiver.

Many coaches say, "Use the sideline as your friend," and in this case, Coach says that's what Linton needed to do.

By going "inside-out" on the tight end — starting inside and forcing the receiver outside — Linton would not only have a better chance at getting him out of bounds, he'd also have the added benefit of getting help from cornerback Greg Brown behind him.

Linton overruns the play, though, and misses the tackle while also allowing Vance McDonald to get back to the inside.


Linton by Jesse Newell

Though Brown also overruns the play, Coach says his positioning on the outside might be based on his expectation that Linton is going to force the action outside.

In that case, Coach says KU would have had play bottled up from both sides, with one defender on the inside and one to help clean up the tackle on the outside.

"It kind of looks like that's what No. 5 (Brown) is doing," Coach says. "He thinks 23 is going inside-out on it, so he's going to go to the outside and keep No. 88 in between both of them to make a definite tackle and get it on the ground before the first down."

Brown does end up making the tackle, but McDonald is able to keep his balance for two big steps before falling forward for the first down.

"That tight end does a good job of making a play, cutting back to the middle of the field and not giving up on the play and saying, 'I'm down,'" Coach says. "Going up and getting the first down ... that's an excellent job."

Coach says the missed tackle masks the fact that KU did a lot of things right on this play.

For one, the Jayhawks get almost immediate pressure on Rice quarterback Taylor McHargue.

That starts with defensive end Josh Williams, who uses a "Jet" technique — jetting straight up the field — to get pressure on the QB.


Williams by Jesse Newell

Notice also that, just a half-second before the play, it doesn't appear that KU is blitzing.

Coach says KU linebacker Tunde Bakare does a great job of timing his blitz, coming just before the snap to catch Rice off-guard.

Bakare comes inside of Williams and also helps bring an immediate pass rush.


Bakare by Jesse Newell


Pressure by Jesse Newell

"Those two really did a good job right there to get pressure on the quarterback, force the ball out," Coach says. "That's exactly what you'd like in short-yardage situation ... get the ball out of the QB's hands in a hurry, then let's go make a tackle."

Coach also says this is a good call by defensive coordinator Dave Campo.

KU brings five on the play — three linemen and two linebackers — which leaves KU with a single free safety to help cover the middle of the field.

Cover 1

Cover 1 by Jesse Newell

That leaves all KU's other defenders in man-to-man.

"A little bit of a risky coverage, but when you blitz, you absolutely have to get pressure," Coach says. "KU does get pressure right here. They get the ball out quick like we said. The ball's caught two or three yards behind the line of scrimmage. They have exactly what they want. They just have to make a tackle.

"KU dialed up the exactly correct call right here. You just have to execute."

Coach says there are times in football when a coach makes a poor defensive call, putting his team in a bad situation.

There are other times when a coach makes a good call — putting everyone in the right position — but a player just doesn't make a play.

"Both times are very frustrating for a coach," Coach says. "Actually, the first one not as much frustrating as the second one."


JayHawk_from_SWKS 10 years, 2 months ago

It's awesome to read these for a change, and see all the good things the team is doing. I remember during the previous administration, "Coach" would have a whole laundry list of things gone wrong, both from the players and coaches. Definitely looks like we are starting to turn a corner, and just need to progress on player development.

Ron Prichard 10 years, 2 months ago

Love the breakdown (analysis). Hate the breakdown (missed tackle).

These are one of my favorite articles each week, Jesse. Please keep them coming throughout the year.

Patrick Leiker 10 years, 2 months ago

Hope Lubbock Smith can make it back for TCU. We'll need him.

I like that our CBs are up on the line of scrimmage more under Campo.

Andy Hess 10 years, 2 months ago

at least here we know the blame lies with the players' failure to execute and not on coaching.

KGphoto 10 years, 2 months ago

With all due respect to "coach", I think Linton was afraid of getting beaten to the corner and dragged for a first down. The tight end made a great move and had the advantage of seeing the hole behind Linton and the also overcommitted Brown. I don't think Linton could've known Brown would be right there if he'd forced him toward the sideline, and I'm not sure he could've stopped the big TE in that direction either, so he committed hard to making the tackle on his own. To me it looked like both guys thought he was going to take advantage of a tackling mismatch and go around, instead of using a quick move. It's a big TE after all.

IMO, the mistake happened a couple seconds earlier. It seems like Linton took a little too long to get there. He sits and waits about 6-7 yards away instead of going ahead and getting him covered. It was his guy all the way. Why not get up on him a little on 4th and 4? Then you have time to break down and make a sound tackle.

Also Williams made a great play to force the pass, I just wish he could've gotten a hand in there and finished it. He was standing right in front of McHargue.

Bville Hawk 10 years, 2 months ago

With all due respect, KG, this was a breakdown in fundamentals by Linton. If your team is not fundamentally sound then sh*t like this is going to happen. Nice to know the coaches called an appropriate defense. Now, coaches, get back to work on the fundamentals.

KGphoto 10 years, 2 months ago

Maybe so, but if he would've covered him tighter he could've made the tackle easily. Why give the big guy a 7 yard running start? There was absolutely nobody between the two.

WNatHawk 10 years, 2 months ago

There was another defender behind him. It was a great play call; we had 2 D-backs on one tight end, first contact 6 yards before the first down line! He was in perfect position and just missed. 'Tackling mismatch' is the worst term I've ever heard. It is football. You hit people.

kujayhawk 10 years, 2 months ago

At least this is better than the "I have no idea what they are trying to do" analysis we got on Gill's teams.

John Myers 10 years, 2 months ago

Inability to tackle is SOOOO frustrating too. Because everything looks great and then all of a sudden, BAM, 20 yards.. 15 yards.. 60 yards.. We couldn't tackle last year and it seems that's carrying over a bit.. Although, I must say it does seem at least somewhat improved..

Fototherapist 10 years, 2 months ago

Man, that makes me sick watching it again.

Sam Constance 10 years, 2 months ago

When I watched this play live, and every time I re-watch it, I cringe at the play-by-play guy's "nice move in the open field" comment.

Yeah, it was an alright move, but it was not some Barry Sanders style, juke-the-defensive-player-out-of-his-shoes type move. If Linton had come at the TE under control and forcing to the sideline (as I thought was common practice when a player catches the ball on the outside), then we aren't having this conversation and KU is 2-0. If he forces the TE to the sideline and isn't able to complete the tackle, he still has the sideline to use to his advantage, since it's much easier to push someone out of bounds than to tackle them to the ground. Not to mention the fact that his belief that he is responsible for bringing down the TE on his own shouldn't change his course of action, and I think therein lies the problem. He was afraid of having to make the tackle all by his lonesome and was overly-aggressive as a result, which allowed the TE to get past him with what was essentially a slight change of direction. The play-by-play guys said he "stopped on a dime", but in reality, the TE wasn't at a full sprint to the sideline (another clue that Linton shouldn't have been flying full-speed towards him).

There is no amount of discussion or dissection of that play that makes the first missed tackle "okay".

Sam Constance 10 years, 2 months ago

"Though Brown also overruns the play, Coach says his positioning on the outside might be based on his expectation that Linton is going to force the action outside."

Seems like Brown was expecting Linton to force the TE to the outside as well. Again, isn't that sort of standard practice?

texashawk10 10 years, 2 months ago

That's the point this coach is making about what happened. Linton overran the play and gave the TE a cut back lane which made Greg Brown look out of position as well. I have a pretty good feeling we can blame what Linton did on his lack of in game experience and playing too fast and that if Lubbock Smith had been in the game, this wouldn't be the play that is being broken down this week because Smith would've knocked the TE out of bounds or at least slowed him down enough for Brown to finish him off before reaching the first down marker.

Sam Constance 10 years, 2 months ago

Agreed. Not trying to call Linton out, as I know he was thrust into a situation he doesn't typically find himself in.

Kevin Crook 10 years, 2 months ago

I sure hope this play doesn't define the way our year goes...missed tackles, missed opportunities, dropped passes, missed field goals, etc. That can snowball and build really bad momentum the wrong way. It seems like we have a lot of players playing new positions and switching offense/defense. It makes for a better and more athletic unit, but in these close games and crunch time football savvy has been what a lot of our teams in the last two or three years have lacked. We need players to step up and make plays. I could have done without this film breakdown, I'm sick all over again...

Jack Jones 10 years, 2 months ago

This is really great feature - being able to have another "coach's' analysis of key plays of a game. My only suggestion would be that each of you who have commented on this particular play, give Coach Weis a call so he might have the benefit of your very informative analysis as he prepares for our next opponent.

Micky Baker 10 years, 2 months ago

It was the right play and Greg Brown was in the right place. In that situation the momentum had the receiver going towards the side line and only about 2 feet further inside and KU gets a stop and wins the game. It was that close.

Micky Baker 10 years, 2 months ago

This was a break down in fundamentals and maybe even in decision making. Had Linton been a just a yard away from the receive when he caught the ball and had the inside angle, there would have been no chance for the Tight End to even stop before being hit with Greg Brown coming in to finish him off. Also, it could have been a situation where the Tight End has to make the play and a Turn Over could have been forced here, which wouldn't have mattered that much on 4th down, but on 3rd down it would be huge.

The defender also needs to keep his head up and not necessarily dive for the feet but go below the waste and wrap up. It was a do or die for Rice and our guy was just 24 inches out of position to the outside. If he had been closer the Tight End wouldn't have been able to look up before being hit and then everyone else closes in much quicker. It certainly looks like the right play call.

However, this could come down to not getting enough reps in practice which is a coaching responsibility. Everyone on the team needs to play fundamentally and that can offset some of the lack of speed because Linton didn't need to be fast, just needed to react sooner or play closer up on the line, especially when he say the receiver run straight to the sideline. It could have resulted in a sack if he had played 2 yards off instead of 7 because and being that close could have been an Pick 6. Greg Brown had the back side covered.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 2 months ago

99 yds in the 1st game was a result of 2 defenders to the outside as well, wasn't it?

Reminds me of the comment from '07 of players always being in their lanes. Didn't understand that nearly as well as now seeing it not happening.

Micky Baker 10 years, 2 months ago

Turner Gill is who set these players back this far. The fundamentals were abandoned the previous two seasons.

rastameta 10 years, 2 months ago

If he breaks down to make the tackle, it is highly unlikely he makes a first down without dragging them to do it. Very poor fundamentals. It happens when you are trying sooo hard to get the win because you are not used to winning.

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