This week’s play was a a trick play, drawn up in Kingsbury’s office and deployed at the time when Coach thought he could catch the Kansas defense off guard. This play combined a strange formation and tempo as the offense lined up in for this play quickly after having the ball set.
(I’m using my phone to capture these gifs, so I apologize for the pause, skip, and notification bar in these files).
The biggest aspect of this play design is the change in formation. If you’ll remember last year against Arkansas, Kingsbury drew up a formation similar to this. Cameron Batson is actually lined up on the offensive line as a tight end or tackle (and has been proven, Batson was actually an ineligible receiver, but Big 12 refs), and last year it was Devin Lauderdale, although the ball didn’t go to Lauderdale against Arkansas (this was the play where Jakeem Grant threw the touchdown pass to Reginald Davis). Madison Akamnonu was moved out wide to the right with Dylan Cantrell and Ian Sadler. Derrick Willies and another receiver are lined up wide to the left.
Back to Batson being an ineligible receiver – the outermost player on the line of scrimmage is an eligible receiver. Any player along the line of scrimmage inside of that up to and including the center is ineligible as a receiver. As you can see from the screenshot above, Willies is lined up on the line of scrimmage as the far outside receiver to the top of the picture, while Batson is lined up in place of the left tackle. The Tech offense should have been flagged for an ineligible receiver downfield, which they were plenty of times throughout the rest of the game, and the ball backed up five yards. There would have been a couple of ways to make this legal play, one of which could have had the two receivers to the left of the formation both be off of the line of scrimmage. Batson would have had to indicate to the side judge to that side that he was establishing himself as the eligible receiver on the line of scrimmage, which may have tipped off the defense.
After the ball is snapped, the offensive line all move out to their right as if to get out in front of a screen, which is backed up with the offensive line placed out wide and Mahomes initially looking that way. If you’ll watch the linebackers in the gif, they all flow out to the outside to try to defend a possible screen pass to Sadler, leaving the middle of the field wide open. Tech was also able to draw three defensive backs away from the play during their pre-snap adjustments, which you can see in the last picture above. As the defense flows to the wide side of the field, Batson releases up the seam wide open and it’s an easy pitch and catch for the touchdown.