Looking for ways to add more creativity on offense, Fort Hays State brought back a weapon that the Tigers utilized frequently during its MIAA championship run last season.
For the first time this season, the Tigers broke out the wildcat formation during Saturday's 50-21 win over Pittsburg State, showcasing junior receiver Harley Hazlett in the backfield.
FHSU found success in the handful of plays it used the package, including a 1-yard touchdown plunge and a 28-yard pass play from Hazlett.
Tigers' coach Chris Brown said it was the right opportunity to bring back the wildcat.
"For us, we need to get a little more creative on the offensive side so we just try to come up with a few things to help us out," Brown said. "We know Harley's good in the backfield because we used him last year. It was just time to use him and take advantage of his abilities, and so we did and it worked out well for us."
Hazlett, who had 20 yards on four carries against Pitt, said he was eager to see the Tigers return to the formation.
"Being able to run the ball again, I got excited just because I knew how much success we had with it last year and how it could help the team," Hazlett said. "I'm a dynamic change because teams know that I can run it or I can throw it, so they have to respect both sides. It makes it easy."
Hazlett, a former high school quarterback at Abilene, also enjoyed the chance to show off his throwing ability. He hit quarterback Chance Fuller in stride on his only attempt.
"Oh, I was excited all week," Hazlett said. "In practice I got to throw it a lot. Every time I completed it, 'I told the coaches, 'I'm four for four. I'm five for five now.' I just kept telling them I didn't miss. They let me throw it in the game and I was able to put it on Chance."
Hazlett said there's some different wrinkles to the Tigers' version of the wildcat this year but the general idea remains the same.
"It is different but it's still kind of the same concept," Hazlett said. "I get to run into between the tackles or they put me on the edge and I get to make a few guys miss."
The attention Hazlett attracts for opposing defenses helps open up plays for the Tigers' other weapons, Brown said.
"There's just so much you can do with him," he said. "You can put him in a lot of different situations and teams have to prepare for him all the time on where he's going to be. ... Who knows where we're going to put him at. We're just going to keep adding to the package and make teams prepare for him and know where he's at. By doing that, you open it up for other guys."
Hazlett, who sparked the Tigers with a 75-yard touchdown reception on the first play from scrimmage against Pitt State, has a team-high 37 catches for 401 yards with three TDs in his second year with FHSU.
"The first year it was a lot of learning and taking a lot from (Tyler) Bacon," Hazlett said. "This year it's kind of teaching the guys that came in, knowing the playbook already. I just feel more comfortable knowing everything."
The 5-2 Tigers, who remain a game back of first-place Northwest Missouri in the MIAA standings, will take on Nebraska-Kearney (4-3) at 11 a.m. on Saturday in Kearney.