The Film Room: West Virginia Mountaineers – Kansas State Wildcats

West Virginia avoided critical mistakes, played with sustained effort and didn’t let a handful of setbacks linger or affect it on ensuing plays. That, as much as the tactics which we look at here, was responsible for the 37-10 win over Kansas State, but that doesn’t mean there was nothing to watch and learn from in our film study, even though it was done sans comfy recliner or catered snacks.


I’ve written about West Virginia’s increased use of tight ends recently, and this K-State play would be a nice addition to the Mountaineer playbook. WVU has thrown these sorts of routes to its slot receivers, and getting a tight end working on something similar could be a big call to hold for a key situation.

Note that K-State uses a back in motion and a flare route to draw the attention of the underneath pass coverage, allowing Wildcat Briley Moore to get some clearance downfield. It’s one of just a couple of errors by the Mountaineer defense on the day, though.


This West Virginia screen pass should have worked. In fact, it looks like it should have gone for big yardage. The distraction of a fake screen to Leddie Brown on the right draws three K-State defenders, and two more are sucked in by an apparent open path to QB Jarret Doege, who hits Bryce Ford-Wheaton. However, the play is stopped for an eight-yard gain when all three WVU blockers downfield fail to get a piece of K-State opponents in the area.

This play wasn’t a failure, but it could have been an explosive one.


Bryce Ford-Wheaton was asked to list the keys to making these quick slants work. His answer of “get separation” was good, but I’d also include the importance of a clean release, which keeps the timing of the play intact, and a very accurate throw which doesn’t require an adjustment.

Either finding a throwing lane or getting the hands of the defensive line down is also important, as oege doesn’t have a high release point on some of his throws. The action of the two receivers is simple, with the slot running a downfield route to help clear out, while Ford-Wheaton runs the quick inside break.

The hidden key here, though? Two K-State defenders (55 and 90) bump into each other, and while one runs through the contact to cover Leddie Brown on his swing route, the other falls down for a moment. He’s not in any position to interrupt the route or the throw, providing plenty of open ground for a big Mountaineer play.


Random observation of the game: Kansas State turned the ball over twice in the first quarter. When they got the ball back after each ensuing WVU possession, they had gained a total of 28 yards of field position.

The Wildcats threw an interception from their own 19-yard line on their first possession, but held WVU to a missed field goal and got the ball back at the 34.

The Cats threw another pick while in plus territory at the WVU 49, but K-State stuffed three WVU plays for a net loss of nine yards, and returned the ensuing punt to the Mountaineer 36.


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West Virginia used motion, both pre-snap and at the start of the play, extensively on the day. Tight ends were lined up wide and then brought in to the line, receivers lined up in the backfield and motioned out – it was a plethora of the “window dressing” head coach Neal Brown refers to in describing how to make plays look different.

The shoelace motion of Winston Wright on this play is a personal favorite – it opens up options for a jet sweep, a screen, a backside screen and who knows what else. On this play, WVU has reset the tight end, eliciting a bit of compression on the K-State defense, and Wright’s field reversal gets him some open space.

The big finish, though, is Sam Brown’s block at the goal line, which Wright takes full advantage of to soar into the end zone.


WVU has been on the hunt for receivers that can turn third downs into first downs. Ali Jennings has made three catches in such situations over the past couple of weeks, and maybe we can add tight end Mike O’Laughlin to the list. This spin move left a K-State defender on the ground and resulted in a Mountaineer first and goal situation.

Note that WVU has the same two receiver set to the left as it did on Ford-Wheaton’s play, but this time it’s O’Laughlin in the slot. K-State looks like it is anticipating the same action as on that previous play, as the defender head up on the slot jumps outside, perhaps to try to jam a slant that he thinks is coming. Instead, O’Laughlin is running the quick in, and he has some room to make the grab before unleashing his move.


West Virginia was in a base alignment for much of the day, with three down linemen along with its bandit set up on the line of scrimmage at the snap. This changeup late in the game was a direct departure, and will give offensive coordinators something else to think about.

The Mountaineers go with two defensive linemen and a will ‘backer on the line, and with Akheem Mesidor (90) lined up where the mike backer usually is. At the snap, the will drops out, Darius Stills and Jeffery Pooler run a distracting stunt and Mesidor rushes from the second level. No K-State lineman picks him up, and the freshman sprints home for an uncontested sack. His “peek-a-boo, you can’t see me” celebration emphasizes the excellent design of the play, which yielded a sack with only three rushers.


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Home Page forums The Film Room: West Virginia Mountaineers – Kansas State Wildcats

Home Page forums The Film Room: West Virginia Mountaineers – Kansas State Wildcats