Why pass protection is everything

If you were among those grinding their teeth into dust on Saturday, don't worry! The offenses failure to score was merely a systemic failure that lets inferior teams negate Texas' talent advantages and makes the skill players be perfect in order to score.

Really, it's nothing.

If you are among those people who have made their peace with the fact that we'll have this issue until the day Will Muschamp poisons Mack Brown, then, first, fuck your calm self right off. Second, you can focus on other things. Mainly, that our OL is all that stands between us and an MNC.

First, let's get rid of two myths. The first myth is that Greg Davis changes his offense to fit his personnel, and the second that 2009's offense is functionally different from the 2002 offense (which I watched again today on ESPN classic). Davis does change, but the offense as a whole doesn't. We added the zone read and ran more with Vince. We took out the zone read and run less with Colt, but it's all the same offense. Same plays, same tendencies, same weaknesses.

This means that our short, west coast, past first offense is just a slimmed down version of the old playbook, much like Vince's offense was (it just didn't matter then). Now I don't mean to imply that our offense now is bad, because it's probably as good as any Davis offense can be without a transcendent talent at QB.

So what Wyoming did was the same thing A&M did in 2006, almost to a T. Put four guys deep, allow nothing beyond 15 yards, rely on reads to jump short routes, and just try your best to stop our run game without safety help.

This worked to perfection for the first half because Greg Davis calls the same game every single week so it's easy to know what's coming. We did adjust towards the end of the half (picking on the edges and keeping all 4-5 receivers short), but we wasted the first half by just being ourselves, seemingly oblivious to our opponent (to be fair, Wyoming played with great discipline and intelligence. It's one thing to scheme us correctly, it's another to execute it, and they played extremely well. So credit them for that).

Wyoming, despite not scoring, had a much better gameplan. They used the spread, focused on our worst defender (Gideon), and purposefully attacked mismatches and holes in the zone. They didn't just run a normal play and throw it to the short guy like we do. They didn't have the talent to pull it off (hopefully showing how amazing Colt had to be last year that we scored so much doing that), stalling around midfield a couple of times before punting.

So what does any of this have to do with pass protection? Well, there are three levels to the passing game -- deep, short, and intermediate. Wyoming took away everything over the top and jumped anything short, which leaves one level. Our first big play -- to Kirkendoll on our last TD drive there before halftime) was an intermediate pass that he took on his own. That's what is going to be open against teams like this. The problem is that those routes take time to develop. The other problem is that we are a shaky pass protecting team.

If we want to have any success this year the OL will have to play much better than it has. OU has a tremendous line and this should be a worry against them, even though Bob Stoops is allergic to not giving up a ton of points against good passing attacks. If Colt has time to find those hooks and crossing routes, we'll march down the field and score on anyone. If we allow teams to basically sit 20 yards apart and gamble that they'll get to McCoy before he can throw then we can get shut out by anyone.

One more thing that'll help us moving forward is Colt's trust in Dan Buckner. You could see it develop on Saturday to the point where McCoy was throwing Buckner that little turnaround stop, which takes a lot of trust because it's so fast and there is no time to see each other. So far only Shipley, Collins and Quan had proven themselves enough to receive that ball, now Buckner is on that list. The more guys step up and establish themselves, the more variety we can offer underneath.

So watch these four things on Saturday against Tech:

- The playcalling. Do we attack at all three levels, and do we send guys to the areas of the field that Tech is forfeiting? (Big failure to do both against Wyoming)

- Do we purposefully run plays to attack underneath coverage, and are guys making the catch consistently?

- Can we protect well enough to allow time fort hose intermediate crosses, hooks, and slants?

- Can we run the ball against 6-7 guys? (probably not, just going on history. Cite stats all you want, but this is the measuring stick and we fail almost every time)

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