Kansas Jayhawk Football Film Study: The Wheel Route

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In our second installment of my Kansas football film study series (and the last before the season starts), I will be taking a look at a wheel route play from the 2007 season. Completely different set of players, but I feel like with our talent and versatility in the backfield, this could be very successful in 2011. Let's break down this Reesing to Sharp gem, and take a look at how we could execute this same play in 2011. Plus, you know you love that Orange Bowl season nostalgia. Pre-snap after the jump:

 

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The Jayhawks line up in a shotgun set, three wide receivers and two running backs in the backfield. Nothing unusual on Nebraska's end, as the corn counter Kansas' spread look with a pretty standard looking nickel package. The only two Husker defenders to note are the defensive back at the bottom of the screen and the linebacker towards the bottom of the screen.

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After the snap, the Nebraska defender at the bottom of the screen blitzes, leaving his WR to be solely covered by one of the safeties (who is currently out of the screen). Remember this, as it will come into play later. In the backfield, Kansas sends Jake Sharp out on a route while keeping Brandon McAnderson in to block. McAnderson moves over to intercept the blitz.

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McAnderson's blitz pickup is perfect, as he not only protects the quarterback, but he knocks him towards the outside, which allows Reesing the opportunity to step up and move forward. KU's offensive line has done its job as well, and now Reesing has time and a huge pocket to throw in.

Now, pay attention to Sharp. The beautiful wrinkle of the wheel route is that it catches defenders off guard, especially linebackers. Most running backs that come out of the backfield don't sprint downfield; they go into the flat and serve as a check-down/emergency option for the QB. Here the linebacker, who is likely sensing that Sharp will break off his route, is late getting his hips turned and getting downfield. There is no way that he is going to catch the speedy Sharp, who maintains a dead sprint towards pay dirt.
 

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With the ball in mid-air, you can see that Sharp has easily beaten his defender and gotten open. Also, remember that Nebraska's blitz forced the Huskers' safeties to pick up the WR at the bottom of the screen. With the safety worried about the KU WR who is uncovered, no help over the top will be available.

 

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Finally, we see the end result. The safeties are in no position to come over and help, and Sharp has beaten his man by a mile. McAnderson's blitz pick up has allowed Reesing to have all the time in the world and a clear throwing lane - and he takes advantage with a throw right on the money. Touchdown Jayhawks.

After watching this play, I immediately thought of how the Jayhawks could use this in the 2011 season. We have a wide variety of talented running backs, and it appears that several will be seeing playing time. Why not use the two back shotgun set, and get as much talent on the field as we can? Kansas could match a RB with Sizemore, or line up two RBs together (such as a Sims-Miller combo). Take advantage of the speed we have and create mismatches downfield. Kansas' passing game really struggled last year, so hopefully the coaches can throw in a few wrinkles such as the wheel route to help us add some homerun ability to the offense. Someone send this article to the coaching staff!

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