How Did Julian Wilson Look? (And Additional Defensive Notes)

Image via Streeter Lecka/Getty Images North America

Julian Wilson is a 6’2 200+ lb DB that made the switch from nickel to outside cornerback this past off-season, and in doing so he’s faced some skepticism. Earlier this summer I did a brief review of some of his film at nickel to see how it might translate at CB (HERE). Now that Julian has played his first game at outside corner, I wanted to take a closer look at how he did.

The “Bad”

I went through the whole game and to be quite honest, I really only found a couple “mistakes” one of which really was just a great play by the WR.

1. The play everyone probably remembers is when Julian comes down to tackle a receiver, gets juked, and the receiver breaks up field. If you go back and watch that play, I actually think it was less of an error on Julian’s part and more just a tremendous cut by the WR. Julian came down quickly, broke down, and really almost made the play showing off some good ability to cut. Again, this is something that didn’t bother me.

2. A play where Wilson does make an error is when he gives up a deep pass in his zone. OU is going to initially show a Cover-2 press man under look, and then Julian is going to bail as it appears he’s in match man zone. Meanwhile, the outside LB is going to be asked to re-route the slot WR and then play the curl flat.

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The problem with that being the outside WR is going to sit in the flat, while the inside WR is going to get up field into Julian’s zone. But Julian is going to sit on the short route for too long. You’re going to see the OLB reroute the WR and at this point, Julian needs to be giving more ground. If he does that then the deep route is taken and Bond is probably plastering the WR in the flat, because that’d be the only place to go with the ball.

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Instead the WR gets behind Julian and even with his speed, he can’t turn and stay with the WR. Fortunately, the ball is overthrown. Again, that’s about all I could find to pick on.

The Good

Julian showed everything you want to see from a corner. He showed the ability to back pedal, drive, and stone the run. He showed the ability to turn & run with a receiver, find the ball, and the ability to press and be physical.

1. Here is a great play where Julian is in a backpedal and drives on the ball to stone the WR. The outside WR is going to run a deep route and the insider receiver is going to run an out.

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Below, you’re going to see Julian T-step and drive, come off the outside WR, and close the yard gap in no time. Pay attention to where the WR is in the image below just before he catches the ball…

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Now look at where Julians hits the WR. The receiver only takes about a step before Julian is in his face, and if you continue to watch the play the WR gains no additional yardage. In fact, Julian’s size shows up. He’s able to drive the receiver backwards.

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2. This play shows your classic cornerback ability. Julian is lined up in man coverage at the bottom of the screen.

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As you can see below, the WR gives Julian an outside release and Julian has the hips to turn through the release and stay on top of the route throughout the release.

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Then he shows a quality that is one of the most important traits in a corner and much more rare than one might image…he turns and finds the ball to make the play. This is just textbook corner coverage on a fast senior receiver from Florida who actually led Louisiana Tech in reception yards last year.

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3. This next play is the play where Zack Sanchez picks off the LA Tech quarterback. But one of the best things about this play happens away from the ball and probably went unnoticed by most. This is where you see how the size f and physicality of Wilson at outside CB makes life difficult for WRs.

OU is going to initially show a Cover-2 shell, but then go to a Cover-1 robber defense. This is important because while Julian has a safety deep, he isn’t playing with bracket coverage so he’s still playing this like he’s on an island. The free safety is going to drop to the deep middle and the strong safety is going to come underneath. Notice at the bottom of the screen where I’ve circled Zack Sanchez, he’s already turned and his WR is running along the sideline. Meanwhile, by this point in the play, Julian’s WR (circled at the top) has attempted an inside release and he was jammed like Smuckers. So he tries to go outside and again…Smuckers…a second later he’s going to try to go back inside and again…Smuckers.

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Look at the play here a tick or two later and you can see Julian’s man STILL trying to get into his route (I seriously starting laughing out loud!) and while Sanchez plays his route beautifully, his man is now well into his route.

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Final Note

It’s still early but in his first game, Julian looked good to me. Coach Stoops praised his performance and, in my opinion, it was well deserved. I’m excited to see him go against some Big 12 WRs. In fact, I believe Tulsa has a couple good WRs that could pose a challenge.

Additional Defensive Notes

– I went back and watched Steven Parker play and I really feel like, for the most part, he looked very comfortable. He had an indescribable ease about him on the field that you don’t normally see in a freshman. There was a great play at around 1:19:28 on the YouTube upload of the game where Mike Stoops shows you why you want great cover safeties. Parker and Ahmad Thomas show of some great cover ability and demonstrate the flexibility they give the defense.

OU is going to show an off man Cover-2 shell and then at the last minute the nickel back and EVERY Single LB is going to blitz forcing Parker and Thomas to play man on their inside WRs. This is going from looking like Cover-2 to Cover-0 man across against a four WR set. That means were going to bring seven and they’ve only got six to block. Thomas and Parker stay with their inside WRs, and Thomas actually almost picks the ball off and you can see Parker right there.

– Around 1:56:44, it’s 3rd and 2 and La Tech has the ball. Charles Walker absolutely destroys the offensive lineman here. He throws him into the backfield and then wraps up the ball carrier for a loss. This is exactly the kind of play he in made in high school. You’re looking at the future here.

– Around 2:07:00, Devante Bond shows tremendous speed with backside pursuit and a tackle. What I really like about this play is that the left side of the defensive line doesn’t give any ground so the play was stopped on the strong side. But Bond is so fast that he’s actually able to make the play from the weak-side before anyone play-side is able to.

– Around 2:17: 45, Steven Parker makes a difficult play look easy for a young safety. Parker is manned up the inside WR. The WR gives him a four or five yard stop route and Parker is able to back pedal, T-step, and drive on the ball. And he stones the receiver immediately. Again, looks simple enough but young DBs might trigger slow or play too far off in fear of getting beat deep. In fact, just making the tackle in space for a young DB is noteworthy. Again, Parker just looked seasoned for the first game.

  • Thanks man. Good write-up and really good thoughts. Much appreciated.

  • Ed Cotter

    Good stuff Super K, thanks. Love reading your analysis. Have a great week.

  • Cary Newman

    Thanks for the analysis. Lot of conversation out there concerning Wilson’s performance.

  • Doobie74OU

    LOL! I won’t be able to see Julian Wilson play all year without thinking “SMUCKERS!” I know it isn’t a “post of the day” but it is definately worth nominating for “Quote of the Day!” Just out of curiosity what flavor do you think it was grape, apricot, or maybe Boysenberry! Thanks for a great read and breakdown and a smile that will last all day! SMUCKERS!

    • Super K

      *bows* thank you kind sir 🙂

      • Doobie74OU

        15 Hrs later and I’m still telling people about “SMUCKERS!” and smiling from ear to ear!

  • BR

    Great stuff “K”, thank ya sir…I was wondering if you could elaborate on what happened later in the game when Tech got their 2nd TD…seen coaches getting on to both Byrd & Parker…IF theres enuff game footage for you to be able to tell what happened…Thanks again

    • Super K

      I saw that as well and what it looked like to me was there were in quarters match man coverage and you had trips to the offenses right side and the two inside receivers on that side ran routes that were in Steven Parkers deep zone vicinity. But I think Byrd was too far over and had to recognize that he needed get over and deeper in order to be there and Parker could have perhaps left the number 2 receiver and come off and taken the 3 receiver because it didn’t look like the outside WR ran a deep route so Stanvon could have picked up the number 2 WR in his zone. Essentially, I think you can fault Parker and Byrd. Byrd was lined up correctly at the snap but when you see pass and you’ve got two inside receivers running deep on the opposite side…you’ve gotta get deep and over in a hurry.

      • BR

        Gotcha K…that makes sense now…Thank ya sir for explaining

      • Doobie74OU

        Yeah it looked like Mike talked (to put it lightly) with both of them but he talked a little longer to Parker. I think it is because he let somebody get behind him as a safety. Even if there are two guys in his zone he can’t let anybody behind him! Mostly I chalk this up to one of those “feel” things. It was Byrd and Parkers first real playing time and first game time playing together. After a couple games they will have a better feel for playing the position in live action and playing with each other and those incidents should become fewer and farther in between!

        • rphdenton

          .interesting that during the recruitment of parker, it was reported that he preferred the coaching approach of not getting in your face …..supposedly one of the reasons he came so close to tam, but that coach ended up leaving

  • Krys Allen

    Any chance we can get one of these analysis on Blake Bell? Been hearing some people were down on his performance, but every time I noticed him he was making a nice looking block.

    • Exiled In Ohio

      That would be super. I noted several missed blocks, but like someone (JY?) noted yesterday: O linemen can’t be expected to bat 1000.

      • JY

        I expect them to be as close to perfect as possible, and I know that Bedenbaugh’s expectations for these guys are much higher than mine.

    • Super K

      I’m sure JY will talk about him more. I gave him a surface look on some plays and felt like he was up and down. Had some nice blocks and had some where he looked uncomfortable. Didn’t get his feet positioned correctly or didn’t put use his hands well, if at all. He definitely seems willing to block and I think there was plenty of good to warrant optimism. I think it’s just about live reps. He’s more athletic than I would have expected and I think as he gets more comfortable in general he could be quite good.

    • JY

      Krys, it wont be a full post about Blake, but there are a couple of plays going up in Trench Warfare for the 3rd quarter today about him.

  • Exiled In Ohio

    Spot on with the topic. For some reason, I haven’t been worried about the safeties; Wilson was the big unknown on D. It’s great to see/hear that for the most part he did well. I had noted the missed tackle, but hasn’t historically been a big problem for him.

  • Super K

    By the way y’all, after a game…feel free to send us any questions or players you specifically want us to look at. We can’t promise we will but we’ll try. We’ve got some really good x’s and o’s guys that are going to start working with us…one is a former college coach that really knows his stuff.

    • BR

      do you have any insight on what happend between Bryd & Parker later in the game when we had busted coverage and La tech got its 2nd TD?

      • Super K

        Yeah, take a look below and you’ll see my reply to your initial post bud. Hope it helps 🙂

    • Stats

      Super K, Two things I would like to see some analysis on:
      1) I haven’t seen any discussion on the fact that at least 3 of Trevor’s passes were blocked or tipped at the line of scrimmage. That seemed like a high number relative to the overall success of the OL. Normal/concern/something easy or difficult to address?
      2) The other thing I noticed was it looked like Trevor went something like 1 for 8 towards the end of the game. Was that because of the inexperienced receivers? I noticed it was Mead and others out there at that time.

  • cpearc00

    Great write-up, K. As a fan who didn’t get to watch the game, I was curious how Wilson played. Thanks again for all you guys do here.

    • Super K

      You’re very welcome! I didn’t get to watch it live either. I was on a business trip and couldn’t get the stream on Soonersports to work from my hotel room but it’s now up on YouTube for you to check out.

  • Brian

    On Dimon’s sack towards the end of the first half…What was Obo doing? He was acting like the play had been blown dead…

    • Super K

      I noticed that too Brian. I think he thought the play clock ran down on them but they got it off just in time. That’d be my best guess.

      • Brian

        Better to pull up right in front of the QB’s face than just stand there awkwardly…I’m sure the coaches point that out.

      • OUknowitscomin

        Saw that just last night. I swear that someone blew a whistle, hear it on TV quite well. Right when it happened he stopped. Apparently only he & I heard it, because no one else stopped.
        I replayed it a few times, it definitely sounded like it.

    • vargo05

      Obo looked a bit lost out there more than a couple times. As I read somebody else say, he needs to be a situational rush guy right now, because dropping into coverage and making plays from there is not good for him right now.

      • Super K

        This was something I noted in my first half bullet points posted a couple days ago: “Obo is going to need some time so that he can really become a complete pass rusher and defender. There was a play where he just didnt get deep enough in his drop and another player where he didn’t appear to know what he was supposed to do. But again once he gets more reps he’ll be difficult to deal with.”

        • vargo05

          Gotcha K. I didn’t see that article. Been a crazy weekend and missed a few things here and there.

    • OUknowitscomin

      Saw that just last night. I swear that someone blew a whistle, hear it on TV quite well. Right when it happened he stopped. Apparently only he & I heard it, because no one else stopped.
      I replayed it a few times, it definitely sounded like it.

  • leatherneck1061

    Lol…..”smuckers!”……love it!

  • soonermusic

    Hate to take up the bandwidth, but I gotta join in the chorus: great job SK

    • Super K

      Thanks Music! Always plenty of room for compliments my friend :).

  • boomersooner

    Was just thinking…what about grades? I wouldn’t want y’all to grade each guy(call em out or whatnot) but what about position group grades? How you felt the dline should be graded etc

    • Super K

      thanks for the suggestion boomer! we’ll talk about that as a possibility.

      • boomersooner

        Appreciate it

    • LXXIV

      I don’t think letter grades do much. If you want an accurate evaluation, or score, letter grades have too much lee-way. If you want grades, percentages are better. People are quick to assign grades but do not spend enough time in good evaluation and they rush to judgement. K’s in-depth evaluations are the kind that would be needed, and then letters would be too broad. Then, there is the time required to do the over-all evaluation. This is just my opinion. 🙂

      • boomersooner

        My thinking was at the end of his evaluations or JY’s even or even its own post. This guy did this, this guy did this but a few missed assignments equals B- or 7.8 out of 10 or 82 out of 100. And you make a valid point. You can tell in my use of the English language I wasn’t a B- student. Thanks for responding. I was hoping for some folks to give feed back ranging from go poo in your hat to yeah sounds cool

  • JB

    Excellent analysis. You put in words what I was thinking…Parker looked very comfortable for a new player. I thought Mead & to a lesser extent Quick had that deer-in-headlights look. I felt the same about Jordan Thomas on plays I watched him. Parker looked like he was in his comfort zone.

  • CDC

    Excellent article. Thank you!

  • rphdenton

    ….perhaps a little heavy on some terminology for this ‘unwashed’ but thanks for the defensive view……….with jy doing oline and o, perhaps you, or someone, can do a dline and d breakdown weekly or for the bigger games……….anyway, appreciate the effort…..thxs