No screen shots for you this week, instead I'd like to hit on a bunch of themes from the weekend.
This should not have have happened. 768 yards of total offense, 600 of it rushing. Such futility is inexcusable. Kansas is not building much of a case for their program in the midst of major conference realignments. KU is obviously a hoops school but football pays the bills and now is definitely the time when marginal football programs want to be padding their resumes, not making a case for systemic impotence. Considering where Mangino had exhumed the program from, the Turner Gil era has been an absolute disaster so far. No Big 12 team should be so strapped for resources that they can't field a team that allows fewer than, I don't know...500 rushing yards? I don't care who the opponent is.
I was able to catch a replay of Florida St. vs. OU and was pleased to find that this is the exact same OU team that we see every season. They have a system on offense and defense and they just plug in different pieces. This is one of the better iterations of the evolving Sooner machine but it has the same weaknesses as any other. We'll get to those weaknesses at a more timely moment but I'll give you this for now.
Landry Jones is as dependent on pre-snap reads as any OU QB not named Josh Heupel. They also don't appear to have a real playmaker at RB but more of the Chris Brown/Allen Patrick variety (where is Finch?). The OL really struggles in goal line formations and pass pro on 3rd & long. It's early but they just don't look like a very powerful unit.
But they have some of the best skill position talent in the country. Kenny Stills is a tremendous downfield threat and Broyles is the most polished WR in the country. On defense, the linebackers are all fast and mean, Nelson is a beast at safety, and the defensive ends can really get after it. FSU had a smallish Center so OU lined up in odd fronts all day and swallowed up the Seminole running game by winning the Nose-tackle vs. Center battle on most snaps.
OU is perfectly designed to overwhelm Big 12 teams who can't handle the pace while trying to keep tabs on Stills and Broyles. The defense is well designed to create turnovers with their pressure and speedy defensive backfield. However, unless they get out to a big lead on us I foresee a dog fight because they aren't really well designed to handle a running game like ours and I think Shipley and DJ Grant over the middle can cause some problems for them.
In another topic relevant to Texas, Chris Brown briefly discusses whether quarterbacks can increase their arm strength after high school. You would think that the answer would be a resounding yes, since most high schools don't have the facilities to match college strength and conditioning programs. Surprisingly, the list is small.
After my first viewing of our UCLA game I was ready to transplant Case's brain into Gilbert's body, but I was then steadied from that decision by the horrifying possibility of instead being left with Gilbert's brain in Case's body. With Garrett electing to have season ending shoulder surgery, our QB depth chart just became razor thin and frightfully young. But it's winning games...
Case showed great ability in managing a collapsing pocket and finding open receivers. The slippery nature of some of our receivers makes this kind of playmaking pretty dangerous for opposing teams, much like we saw with Colt & co. in 2008. Combined with the physical nature of our WR blocking this season and you have the potential for some off-schedule highlights over the course of the season.
In a post over at Brophyfootball, a coach mentioned the rise of pattern-matching in football and discussed an unintentional consequence of the style. The upshot of the post was that if your defenders are converting to man-defense once the routes develop than you are as vulnerable to a mobile QB as a man-coverage defense. A coach is quoted in the article as suggesting that against pattern-matching, Vince Young would have had over 2,000 rushing yards with defenders having to reverse their course and attempt to deal with his speed, cuts, and power in the open field from miserable angles.
Sadly that holds no significance for Case McCoy and I'm curious how teams will handle him once they decide to let him try and find his way scrambling past the line of scrimmage rather than allowing him to draw defenders by leaving the pocket only to deliver the ball to an open receiver.
His deep shot to Mike Davis was absolutely the correct read but was badly underthrown and if we were running the Colt McCoy-no running game offense, teams would sit back in Cover-2 and make Case complete deep outs and beat zone coverage with laser beams or timing routes. Could he do it? I hope we don't have to find out. And thankfully we're not running that offense anymore.
As it happens though, we have a powerful and diverse rushing attack (look out Kansas!), and if teams can't slow down Malcolm Brown and our sweeps it will be very hard for defenses to make Case or Ash do much more than complete a few play-action tosses over the middle, hitches and screens. As Scipio pointed out in his QB preview before the season, Case is particularly adept at finding the holes that defenses leave open as they sell out to stop our running game.
I was amazed at how much we were able to improve from the BYU game on offense and I suspect much of that had to do with UCLA's complete lack of discipline. The packaging of the WR sweeps with our Power and Inside Zone game is really punishing teams who can't handle Monroe/Shipley/Goodwin's speed or Malcolm inside with honest fronts. If you have to sell out to prevent one we will murder you with the other.
For their solid level of team athleticism, UCLA could not handle all those assaults on their front and did not play with discipline, letting DJ Grant get wide open for much of the game. Maybe it's because they had no TE film to study over the past two years? UCLA also got gashed by lead draw plays with Malcolm (at last! a draw play is featured in the offense!).
This is the genius of HarsinWhite and the hope for our season is that our staff can continue to attack different parts of the field in specific situations with our cast of young playmakers despite having two QBs with hardly any experience. The development of McAsh and an expansion of the pass plays is going to result in an offense that is hard to control between the 20's.
Inside the Red Zone we have as potent a combo of options as we've seen at Texas since the VY days and do not fail to discount the impact this could have in major games this season when the difference between scoring 3 vs 7 will determine whether we win or lose. We have our normal offense with Malcolm as the featured back, the Wildcat, and the goal-line formations with Berryhill and Cody Johnson, as well as the option game with Ash.
Our defense proved that we can handle a physical AND talented running game (UCLA had 34 carries for 141 yards) and the confusion we wrecked upon Prince was a tasty appetizer for what will happen to many Big 12 QB's on 3rd and long this season. Nice to see some sticky fingers in the defensive backfield as well.
Gametape heroes who stood out on review include: E. Acho, who was extremely difficult to deal with on blitzes; Blake Gideon, who in addition to avoiding any open field misses, made some punishing hits and was involved in 2 turnovers (tipped a ball and recovered a fumble); Marquise Goodwin, who fought hard on O and brought the wood on that crushing block across the middle (I love the physicality but the NCAA is absolutely right to try and take hits like that out of the game); and Kenny Vaccaro - if he's back next year it's because scouts weren't paying attention.
Gideon in particular, who is maligned by the majority of our fanbase on a regular basis, deserves accolades for a great play against the option in which he came from the opposite side of the field (recognizing that his assignment was under no threat) and nailed the QB who had to pitch to the RB, whom was already covered by Vaccaro. I suspect that Gideon has been encouraged to provide more support in the alley as the deep safety, or he was just pissed about getting worked pretty good in last year's game. Either way, solid play in this game from the lone senior in our secondary.
You have to encouraged by the development we've seen at defensive tackle, in the secondary, and in the entire offense which is embracing its identity as a diverse, smashmouth football team. Iowa State will test our QBs to beat a more disciplined base defense and it should be a good tune-up before Stoops attempts to expose all our deficiences, limited as they currently appear to be.