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The Q&A: Texas vs. Oklahoma State

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Texas Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Howdy, Barkers! Welcome to The Q&A, where after an off week of 90’s football fashion dissection we’re back in the present day and looking forward to Saturday’s epic, program-defining, earth-shattering, panic-inducing game with Oklahoma State. As always, these are real questions from real fake Barking Carnival readers. If you’re a real reader with a real question, throw it up in the comments...and since I’m rolling to ACL right after posting this, prep yourself for possibly having your answers come in the form of drunken gibberish.

Which actually isn’t all that much different than the norm.

Q: Are you worried about D’Onta Foreman being able to roll for a hundy against an Oklahoma State defense that was considerably better last season?

A: We probably have to get Vincent Taylor doubled with some consistency, but other than that, not really.

Q: OK, what about Chris Warren? Feels like we might need a 1-2 punch to win this one on the road with a banged-up Boo, and Warren has had some punchless runs so far.

A: Things clicked pretty well for Warren against Cal as well, but where we really showed some promise with him was when we got him moving in his preferred running style - Outside Zone (which we ran with a five-man line by looping the backside guard around) - got some seals and let him cut up the field. It was almost stealing against the five-man front that Cal rolled out at one point against our 10 personnel, but even with Perkins (who was our lead puller on a couple of those plays against Cal) out we could work up a variant that should make money against OSU’s likely alignment. A four-man front can be a pain in the ass to block in OZ without an elite tackle or an extra blocking surface, and since this one’s going away from Willams let’s roll with Blueitt as our EBS and see what happens:

Assuming OSU takes a page from Cal’s playbook and defends us with some loose/off man coverage we should see slant opportunities for days if we keep overhang guys out of the throwing lanes. The backside end and Mike can be a pain in the ass on this play, so we’re going to make them hold position for a second by giving this one an off-the-bat RPO element with Heard running a three-step slant from the slot. If Buechele gets the snap and sees those guys crashing hard after the flow of the run blocking, he can fire that slant to Heard in a wealth of open space. If they’re anywhere near the throwing lane, give the ball and let Warren go to work.

The key blocks here are Blueitt getting their end sealed inside (he should be working with a leverage advantage at least) and Williams being agile enough to work over to the nose and get engaged with him enough that Shack has time to climb and cut off the backside pursuit from the Mike (which is why we wanted that Mike held in place for a sec). If they pull that off, we’re off to the races – I’m a big fan of the old Alex Gibbs zone blocking theory of “fuck the corner one way or the other,” so I’m all for having Burt release, fake a stalk block and then make a beeline to crack the strong safety. As Vahe (a smart, agile puller who can make good adjustments on the fly) comes around he can see if he needs to help on penetration from the end, turn up and get a scraping linebacker or just smile and blast the corner into the bench. When trying a solo tackle on a 260-pound runner head on is the better of your two options…the corner be fucked.

Q: You talkin’ loco and I like it. How do we keep their corners from fucking us Cal-style by just hanging out in loose man or quarters, killing our deep game and jumping our hitches?

A: Well, a few things. The second half of the Cal game wasn’t the apotheosis of the playcaller’s art from Sterlin Gilbert, but with Buechele hurting and Swoopes essentially un-trustable as a thrower of the football we found ourselves kind of discombobulated and sticking to a very shallow selection from the playbook. There’s plenty of built-in options to deal with that approach from the D that we should be ready to roll with assuming that Buekelele and his handy flak jacket are ready for disco.

The first, of course, is just kick the shit out of them with the run game when they’re off in Quarters - they’re a stouter run D than Cal, but there’s plenty of hay to be made if we aren’t unloading an entire clip into our own feet with pre-snap penalties and the like.

When it comes to the passing game itself, the easiest solve is just cooking them with some play action double moves. Our good ol’ Slot Shot/Triple Stretch works just fine as a pure play action with some double moves thrown in - see where the safety drifts and light up whichever corner is singled up and nosy:

Another way to punish loose/off coverage is with the Play Action Double Rub.

It looked like we actually tried this once against Cal, but an overhang defender was in one of the slant throwing lanes and then Shack got ruined by the NT and forced Buechele to bail and scramble. Get this blocked and it should be money against loose man/quarters coverage - if we’re holding linebackers with RPO/play action and the interior pass defenders are carrying the vertical shots then you should have a ton of green grass to throw a slant into. Even if they switch it, you’re looking at a slot guy flying upfield with inside leverage against one of the Cowboys’ so-so corners - we can work with that.

Q: How would you describe OSU’s offense - I’m scared that they may be too two-dimensional for us to shut down on the road?

A: I’m pretty comfortable calling it between 5/6ths and fully one dimensional, but I’m not sweating the second.

Q: But haven’t both Rennie Childs and Justice Hill broken off some long runs this season?

A: Childs’ 67-yarder against Pitt (which is the carry that elevated the TEAM to a smooth 3.1 YPC mark for that game) came on a simple zone play where the Pitt DE looped inside, the weakside linebacker pulled a Tim Cole by running right up his own DE’s ass and abandoning the C gap like a crack baby in a fire department drop-off box, and the corner displayed the heretofore unseen breakdown technique of leaping forward, landing in a sumo squat and then falling backwards on his own ass as Childs strolled by. Hill has some open-field zip and turned in a few nice runs against Baylor...while they sat in a 3-2-6 putting the clamps on Washington. We can’t play the run with total dishonesty, but it’s not the thing to be scared of.

Q: But they lit up Pat Narduzzi’s tits to the tune of 540 yards passing! And Narduzzi was a defensive genius at Michigan State, right?

A: Whatever he was for Sparty, he was sharty through the entire first half of that game when the Cowboys jacked 31 points. He sat in a base 4-3 the entire half despite OSU presenting zero credible run threat. His safeties stayed tight to the formation and all the linebackers hung out, getting continually sucked in by play action fakes that were less convincing than Nic Cage in The Wicker Man as their four DL got blocked by six or seven guys since the Cowboys always kept their oafish TE’s in to block. You ended up with three linebackers and two safeties standing dumbfounded in the middle of the field play after play as their corners got cooked 50 yards downfield while getting no help from anyone, ever. Texas has been messing up reasonable plans because guys have blown assignments, but this was the worst plan I’ve ever seen. He started doing sane stuff in the second half and the Cowboys managed 14 the rest of the way.

Q: So what do we worry about?

A: We worry about #28, James Washington. They’ve got a decent speed guy opposite him in Jhajuan Sales and a reasonably nifty slot in Jalen McClesky, but their O goes as Washington goes. If he’s getting free shots down the sideline or running to green grass underneath, they’re hell on wheels. If he’s covered up and Rudolph has to start making reads with a bit of heat on him, this O becomes very ordinary.

So let’s stop Washington.

They tend to like him lined up wide on the right side as a Z receiver. If he’s isolated out there, one thing Texas can do is roll to a three-deep that keeps a safety over the top while the corner plays tight, disruptive man underneath - this would normally be a Cloud (corner force) to that side, but we’ll let Malik worry about the C gap and let the corner totally focus on Washington:

We could also flip the script on that coverage and use a safety to rob underneath while the corner drops back and plays high and outside:

We can take our chances with straight man coverage if Hill or Davis are feeling their oats, but there’s little reason to risk giving up the farm when we can get away with underplaying every other aspect of their O and overplaying Washington.

Q: OK, I think that’s a plan we could live with. Finally, what do you make of the “make or break” concerns this game as it relates to the season and Charlie’s future at Texas?

A: On the one hand, the strikethroughs above should give you some clue as to my overall thoughts on the hand-wringing panic that our fanbase loves to leap into. So on that score, I think those thoughts are overblown. In fairness, though, if two weeks haven’t given Charlie the time to correct the basic assignment busts and screen ID problems that plagued Texas against ND and Cal, it’s a pretty bad sign. Holding OSU to 17 at home isn’t necessarily a realistic baseline goal, but if they ring up 45 it’s an ugly scene. So let’s call those concerns...properly blown.

Speaking of things that were properly blown, as the calendar turns to October it’s always nice to reflect back on the atrocity that should have resulted in trials at The Hague controversial officiating that wholly and wrongly decided influenced the outcome of last year’s Texas-Oklahoma State contest:

We were fortunate enough to get some reflections on last year’s apocalyptic goatfuck of naked criminality game from head official Alan Eck, who has since moved on to call games in the NFL (!) but was kind enough to swing by for a quick chat.

Q: Alan, thanks for taking the time to be here. Let’s start off with the question everyone’s been asking - how in the blue hell did you essentially get promoted to a higher level of football officiating after taking part in the most corrupt college game since Grant Teaff’s denouement?

AE: Well, I certainly won’t admit to any wrongdoing on my crew’s part, and...between you, me and the fencepost, I may not have been the Big XII’s leading light when it came to accuracy. But it’s not without precedent to see someone promoted with, shall we say, less than sterling qualifications for success at the next level? Surely you’re acquainted with the Peter Principle?

Q: As a matter of fact, Peter comes up frequently when the Barking Carnival crew discusses you.

AE: So we’re on the same page, then.

Q: Well technically, we were talking about how nice it would be to see you crucified upside down. Between that and the thirty pieces of silver we could toss Disciple references around all day, but we also had a quick question about Big XII Head of Officiating Walt Anderson. He gave your crew the thumbs-up after reviewing the s***fest we saw above - any thoughts on that?

AE: Oh, Walt’s been a good friend for some time. We actually met at a party at Jeffrey Epstein’s place back in 2008. I managed to snap a couple of iPhone pictures at the time, and ever since that day Walt has been the very soul of accomodation when it comes to any review or disciplinary matters with me or my crew. But aren’t you running 20 minutes late to get down to ACL right now? Shouldn’t we go ahead and cut this short?

Q: Dammit, you’re right. You’re off the hook, Eck - just do me a favor and tell me which way to bet Colts-Jags this weekend, OK?

AE: You got it.