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Texas - Oklahoma State Preview

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Foley: Mayo, I want you D.O.R.
Mayo: No sir. You can kick me outta here, but I ain't quitting.
Foley: Get into your fatigues, Mayo. By the end of this weekend, you'll quit.

Why am I writing a preview about Texas-OSU?

Why did Richard Gere refuse to quit in an Officer And A Gentleman?

Because I've got nowhere else to go!

.....I got nothin' else. I got nothin' else.

Offense

T Boone Pickens Mike Gundy hired Dana Holgorsen in the offseason and we all chuckled. Nice hire, but OSU's problems were on defense, right? Well, sometimes doubling down on good is a solid way of making bad less prominent. In one spring and summer, the Rogaine Rebel rolled in from various Stillwater nightclubs talking like Nicholas Cage in Wild At Heart and scheming like Don Coryell, installed a fantastic, creative offense utilizing the full talents of a failed minor league baseball player, several wide receivers featured prominently on recruiting lists like The Tulsa Penny Saver, and an OL that had lost its best players. Add an elite RB in Kendall Hunter, who is thriving more in a pass heavy spread than ever before (wait, I thought it's IMPOSSIBLE to run with 3-4 receivers on the field?) and you've got a guy who deserves to win the national coordinator of the year award.

And will actually deserve it.

Justin Blackmon owes Dana half of his NFL signing bonus, at least.

They're putting up Playstation numbers - 550 yards per game, ranked 3rd in the nation in passing, 25th in rushing, and are dropping 46 ppg. Are they playing good defenses? No. In fact, if they run into the wrong bowl opponent (SEC Cotton Bowl, holla), the sound you hear will be their talent deficit hitting the wall of offensive outperformance, but would you rather have average talent playing great or or average talent playing horribly? They're doing a lot of this with smoke, mirrors, and scheme, but that's not criticism - it's praise.

Holgorsen has taken Leach's base teachings, added some complexity and very cool option routes, and beefed up his commitment to the run, resulting in one of the most interesting offenses in football. Their uptake was immediate, results off of the charts, and Holgorsen is the reason Oklahoma State - a team I thought I would occupy the Big 12 South basement - has a good shot at a 10 win season.

Kendall Hunter is 203-1240-14tds on the year at 6.1 yards per clip. What's intriguing to me is that as good as Hunter is, his backup Randle has 400+ yards and is averaging 5.7 per carry and serves as a dynamite 3rd down back. That suggests some nice schemes as much as Hunter being a great talent.

Justin Blackmon is the king of the receiving corps (75-1285-15tds) and his amazing stat line communicates his dominance. Crabtree, basically. He's a baller and Aaron Williams will have his hands full. The complementary receivers - Bowling, Cooper, Moore, and 3rd down back Randle (22-278, watch for him out of the backfield and in the slot) - know their role, run great routes, and catch the ball.

Recruiting matters? Yep. Coaching matters, too. Jimmies, Joes, Xs, Os. Sometimes Jimmy and Joe become household names because there's a Dana calling the shots.

Does OSU have a weakness on offense? Yes. As I wrote, this is scheme-driven offense. They don't have overwhelming talent. Just well-coached guys playing their asses off. They will surrender negative plays in the passing game in sacks and they will give up tfls in the running game when their traps and option draws don't hit. We actually match up with these guys well. Extremely well if we had players at safety. The elephant in the room is this: will the defense play their hardest? Will they try to do much? Will Muschamp overblitz trying to create a score instead of lay back when appropriate? Can this defense play to a standard, irrespective of what our offense and special team do?

Have we already D.O.R'd?

Defense

OSU has a bad defense, but they're not terrible. They're surrendering 28.4 pgg and 400+ per contest, true, but when you adjust for pace, surrendering 5.04 yards per play isn't as bad the last three defenses we've seen. Bill Young knows what he's doing, but OSU is short on players right now.

The best players are LB Orie Lemon - very solid player and their leading tackler. DL Jamie Blatnick and DE Ugo Chinasa are capable DL if slightly underachieving. This might be just the sort of matchup that will get their attention: Texas, favorable personnel match, struggling offense. They're matched up with Paden Kelly (Hix concussion) and Britt Mitchell, so I wouldn't be surprised if they're able to mount a pass rush. This is reason #133 to work the running game, but we've abandoned it in three straight games and then lamented it after the fact as if it was something that just happened to us inexplicably. WHY HATH YOU ABANDONED US RUNNING GAME? WE CANNOT CALL RUN PLAYS WITHOUT DIVINE PROVIDENCE.

GD helps his OL the way Munchhausen By Proxy mothers help their children.

The OSU secondary has some athletes, but they will readily concede passes in front of them all day. They refuse to surrender the deep ball and opponents average a very weak 9.9 yards per completion against them. To point out that this feeds into Greg Davis' pathologies is obvious. Yes, there will be some dinking and some dunking, Longhorn fans. The 14 of 16 for 58 yards stat line should be awesome in the 1st quarter.

Now, more bad news: we've just finished playing three bad to awful defenses in rapid succession and managed 19 ppg. Against traditional juggernauts Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas State. Our per play average has been garbage, no matter how many extra possessions we create with 50+ passing attempts per game. Additionally, Gilbert has thrown nine interceptions in those three games and, amazingly, our offense actually seems to be regressing as the season wears on. To start bad and finish worse is a real feat of human willpower.

So, analysis here means very little. Let's be honest. It's just a question of whether we can play average football (no turnovers, run the ball, convert short fields into points) and give us a chance to win.

Special Teams

We know the deal with ours, obviously. This week's goal is fair catch punts cleanly, convert field goals for any red zone turnovers our D forces, and see if we can get DJ Monroe a return past the 30. Baby steps.

OSU's Dan Bailey is 18 of 19 in field goals. OSU has the #3 net punting game in college football and their other measures are adequate, with Justin Gilbert a very solid kick returner. No rest for the weary here, I'm afraid. We would be fortunate to come out even in the special teams battle.

Final Words

Mayo: I never would have made it without you.
Foley: I know.
Mayo: I'll never forget you.
Foley: Get the hell out of here.