SugarBowl2 Sugar Bowl Thoughts #2
Image from


As I mentioned in my initial thoughts, Alabama makes a living putting their guys in the absolute best position.  It’s not that they’re so much more physical than everyone else, it’s that they’re so much smarter than everyone else.  Here out of a basic double tight formation, they gig a&m by alignment.  The aggies go a-5-9 to the right, but there is no backside 3, only a 5.  There should be a 3 backside as well as a 5, but since a&m lined up wrong, this is like taking candy from a baby.  Look at the lane I’ve outlined in blue.  That’s a heckuva wide gap already…

…it’s just a split second after the snap, and the lane is still there since it’s there by alignment.  Bama runs to numbers advantages, and they do it often. There are four players to the right, versus only two back to the left with a third barely entering the shot to the far left…
The center still hasn’t contacted anyone, and all we hear is Oh My God!  look at how physical Bama is.  While they’re very physical, all they had to do was wall those defenders off, since the defense created the hole for them BY ALIGNMENT.  THEY WERE JUST SMART ENOUGH TO SEE IT, AND EXPLOIT IT.  Something I wish we would do.
Now in the pass game, think back to the Texas Tech game.  Remember how I talked about how big sets open up things for your playmakers outside? The aggies commit 9 guys in the box with a seven man front and two linebackers.  It’s cover zero outside to the left, and Bama being so well coached sees it immediately.  There is no safety help up top and sometimes I really wonder what defensive coordinators are thinking or teaching.  Even with the two linebackers inside, where the heck are they lining up?
So being the smartest guys in the room, instead of being caught up in “we’re bama” and “we’re going to run over anyone all the time”, they choose not to even mess with the nine guys in the box.  It’s an easy call raising up and throwing over to that cover zero look.  A&M couldn’t have made it easier since both of the corners are playing off.  By being afraid of giving up the big play and playing off, they make Christian Jones’ block(blue) extremely easy.  They’re so afraid of getting beat deep that they create the room to operate themselves.  The only way to stop a bubble game is to suffocate it or basically pop the bubble for lack of a better term.  See bama counts on people to be so afraid of their run game that it opens up things on the outside and downfield.  Imagine what Jalen or Sterling could do with this much room outside.
Now look at how quickly it has become an isolation one on one game for the Bama offense.  10 guys were eliminated from the possibility of stopping the tide’s offense in a split second.  There are only two a&m defenders outside of the hash, and one of them is blocked.  The safety(blue arrow), has no chance.  If he commits to far outside, the receiver just cuts back off of him and it’s game over.  If he dips inside on him and forces the defender to yield the sideline it’s game over.  While bama has the best athletes, they also have the best coaches.  They really understand how to get people isolated and really stress a defense through simplicity and alignment.
The only guy who could have made the play didn’t, and it’s sportscenter time for Kenny Bell.  While Lundquist and Danielson are busy oohing and aahing over how fast Bell is, and he’s plenty fast, I’m just in awe about how Bama completely dictated to the defense how the defense was going to play them.
You want to load nine guys into the box on us?  That’s fine, we’ll go outside.  You want to play coverage on us with five db’s and only commit six to stop the run?  O.K., we’ll run it down your throat until you can’t take it anymore as a defensive staff.  The second you get tired of it and commit those safeties up into the box to stop that ground game, this is what’s going to happen to you.
To beat this Bama team, you have to be able to defend them with man coverage and a single high safety.  Mix up your coverages, and don’t make it easy for them to see what you’re doing pre-snap.  Anything you do, you cannot show early.  They’re so good at going where you aren’t, it makes them look better than they actually are.  Don’t get it twisted, they’re damn good.   They have a ton of faith in their kids, and using a baseball analogy, they’ll play small ball with you waiting for you to make a mistake out over the plate.  Go ahead hang a curveball.  Go ahead, put a fastball out over the plate.  They’re willing to let a few pitches go by until they get the pitch they want.  Just don’t make a mistake.  If you do, most likely it’s going to end up in the seats.
  • Swanny

    So what’s the answer? Do we play our base D against these guys and let them gash us for 6-8 yards all the way to the 20 then tighten up? Play bend but don’t break? Or do we play P.L. and try to match up outside one on one?
    My personal opinion is we do our best bend but don’t break. Make them run it, shorten the game, load the box as they get close to the tight zone. Make their FG team win it. This will only work if our offense is getting first downs though. I am unsure if we can do that consistently without Shead and Tyrus in the game.

    • JY

      I think you have to make them earn everything. Nothing can come easy. We can’t give them anything cheap, and there have to be no big plays for them. The mentality that has to go into this is one that our guys know that they’re going to take some big shots, but we have to keep coming back. K and I were talking about it last night, and I think that our guys especially defensively have exactly the right mindset to go toe to toe with em. Eric Striker, Tapper and Colvin don’t and won’t back down to anyone. I’m not going to sit here and act like bama’s just going to mop the floor with us, because I honestly don’t think they will. We’re going to have to have a lot of things go our way, but this team is full of scrappers and fighters. Something that we’ll need in abundance to pull this off.

      • Sooner_Ace

        Draw a line in the sand/grass/turf…you shall not cross :)

        • JY

          Heck yeah!

  • connie usa

    Bama will stack the line and force OU to throw. Bell isn’t mobile at all, and I don’t think Knight is accurate enough. I think OUs only chance is to shut down Bama, doubtful, and keep the game in the 20s.

    • JY

      I think Trevor’s plenty accurate. He played very well against K-State and was playing well against o-state until he got hurt. The extra preparation will be much needed as well. How healthy he can stay will be big for us, but I have a crazy feeling about this game. I think we’re going to play well, and I think that Stoops will come out guns blazing. He’s at his best when we supposedly have no chance.

      • connie usa

        JY. As an old gal once told me, “From your lips, to Gods ears”.
        JY: As always, THANK YOU for you thoughts, insights, ideas, etc…

        • JY

          No problem, thanks for being one of our best posters!

      • Pokerman

        I’m really getting tired of this “Knight can’t pass” crap. He can – and he has a quicker release than Bell.

        • Gary Jackson

          I too get tired of hearing he can’t pass. He can pass or he wouldn’t have gotten a scholarship and wouldn’t have gotten the starting job this year. I just believe his confidence was lacking some and he is just now starting to show the dual skills that won him the job in the fall. Once his real time play starts to show what the coaches saw in practice I think he can be really special.

  • Sooner Ray

    Appreciate the time you put into film JY. Great job. You’re not building my confidence though. I think we will have to beat them with smoke and mirrors, give them looks and plays on the O side that they haven’t seen before and show them open spots on the D side which are immediately filled with stunts and twists. Someone needs to find the voodoo guy in NOLA and get us some good mojo.

    • JY

      Well, they’re a very good team. We’re not exactly chopped liver though. I think that if we limit their possessions we can stand up to them.

  • Justin Johnston

    I think we should rely on Colvin man to man and give Sanchez safety help leaving us an extra safety for the run game. Were used to good receivers so Colvin will win more than he loses. Getting ran on all game will wear us down. Let aj try to beat us with the pass. I personally am more concerned with how were going to score. I think the def will be ready to slow them down. Bomer sooner!

    • JY

      I agree. I think that we’ve faced as good or better passing games than what they have. If we’re able to shut down or at least limit their run game, I don’t think that they’ve had to throw it to win.

  • JD

    Nice job JY..hopefully Mike has a nice plan in place w some disguises…I’m wondering how much Julian will play. You think he will just be in on passing downs allowing us to go big?

    • JY

      I think we’ll see PL in a lot more than we have, but I think that Mike’s going to mix it up. I really think we may see Jordan Evans in there with Frank and Dom, because they’re going to give us a lot of double tight looks.

  • Indy_sooner

    What most don’t realize is that we are statistically the second best defense they have faced this year. I wanna go on a limb and say this will be Knights defining game. They will put soft coverage on WRs not called Shepard/Saunders and I expect some plays with Scooba /Neal. I think offensively stoops will be more involved in this one.

    • Indy_sooner

      …I Just couldn’t resist bumping this, for all the guys that called the win and put it on Stoops and his boys :)

  • red clay

    These articles are very helpful in understanding the small differences between the teams at this level.