Last week I said that we shouldn't have been in the conversation with a top 5 team and I probably should have left it at that. Although we certainly aren't as far away from that realm as the score suggested, we have a lot of developing to do to legitimately threaten a team playing at the Sooner's precision level.
There are a couple of memes that have the developed in the aftermath of the game that I think are off base after reviewing the game. First, the offensive line isn't nearly as bad as is being suggested some places. I don't think we were not physically dominated on the lines on either side of the ball. Where we were beaten was in the timing and awareness between their QB and receivers contrasted with a lack of the same from ours. Most of the protection issues we had were because we didn't have routes coordinated with our drops and protections. Since I have seen an incredible display of coordination in these same areas on Boise State's offense, I can say with confidence that this was about us going to plan B in the middle of the season and deciding to develop our running game first and foremost. This is a stage in development issue, not a architectural one. Simply put, our QBs (both of them) have extremely limited field awareness pre and post snap at this stage and they aren't getting help in the form of hot routes from the wide receivers. Hence, regularly bringing 6 or more against our protections is a fairly good game plan right now if you do it with any hint of guile.
As I said, the offensive line did not get physically dominated by OU. In fact I would say we handled their front pretty well in the running game in our base concepts. Where we got into trouble was with some mental errors on assignments and I've included a few examples of that in my breakdowns. The other area that was problematic was when we got into obvious passing situations I thought our tackles struggled with speed on the edge, Hopkins probably the most. However, both of those problems paled when compared with our lack of awareness from the QBs and wide receivers when the defense brought numbers. That's somewhat correctable in the short term and I hope we have made some progress there this week.
Anyhow on to the action. This week I've also included a few breakdowns on the defense. My intent with the film this week was to focus on some things that I think will be part of the storyline against OSU rather than dwell on every thing went wrong against OU. I also tried to point out a few interesting developments on offense. If I had more time I would have recorded some of the dynamic from the second half but as usual I bit more than I can chew in a week.
I think the game against Oklahoma State this weekend boils down to two main dynamics. First we need to disrupt the Cowboy's offensive flow by using press coverage frequently and trusting our young corners (despite some rough patches against the Sooners) and we need to audible on the field with regularity to avoid getting targeted by Weedle based on our initial alignment. On the other side, we need great seal blocking from our tight ends this week and really focus on our off-tackle run game and play action passing. Going into the Oklahoma game we were very efficient passing the ball because we were not forced into passing downs. We must eliminate tackles for loss in the run game and avoid being a QB centric offense at this stage to have a decent shot at the upset. This team is not built for a significant comeback but even if we get behind we need to stick with the running game which is more likely to produce a big play for us right now that the dropback passing game.
As we've been saying since the Spring, this season is about development. I am hoping that our experience last weekend sets the stage for us to perform significantly better across the board this week. Hope every enjoys.