Trench Warfare | Oklahoma vs. Kansas State

Hey all!  Hope your week is going well.  I had meant to get this going earlier this week, but as I was driving home from work Monday, I decided to call Mama and see how her and Man-Cub were doin.  So we’re chattin’ it up and all, and all of a sudden a scene unfolded in the house apparently that would’ve rivaled the squirrel goin berserk.  As he’s grown up a little, ol Man-Cub has developed what I like to call “Hands-Free Bottle Technology”.  You see this way he can run his IPad and watch Paw Patrol with both hands free while holding the bottle in his teeth by the nipple, you know just in case he needs to play with a fire truck in the mean time.  Well I guess the nipple popped out (keep in mind I’m on the phone hearing all of this unfold) of the top of a full bottle, and milk proceeds to start go everywhere in the living room.  Mama let out a yell, and the boy got excited and grabbed what was left of his bottle and commenced to run around spraying milk all over the place.  When I asked what was goin on, I was the first casualty of the battle as Mama let me have it since he’s of my lineage and I happened to be within the blast radius.  As the smoke cleared, the second casualty was the trusty IPad that had got a full dairy baptism.  Needless to say, we’re back up and runnin, everybody survived and we’re ready to roll on this sunny Wednesday.

As far as the Sooners go, the trend continued with the fact that when Oklahoma runs more than it passes, it wins the game.  Last week it was 33 runs vs. 32 passes, and while the margin was slim, it was enough to get it done.  As you all know, I wish the Sooners would’ve ran it 50 times, but with Samaje getting dinged up early on, Riley still fed the ball to Mixon on 20 separate occasions.  Rumor has it that Abdul Adams will be ready to step in and spell Mixon this week, and frankly they’ll need to keep Mixon healthy down the stretch to secure the Big XII.

Starting out, it appeared that Samaje was going to be the bellcow of the offense again this week after that stellar 35 carry 214 yard performance in the Cotton Bowl.  Perine looked in rhythm early, and was goin for about 5 yards a carry before he had to step out.  On this play from top to bottom(of the picture) we can see Powers with his head turned to see and block the backside player.  Wren is working up to the safety, while Samia and Evans are moving their guys out.  I’d like to see Bobby get his head and his hips on the inside half of the defensive end here.



A tick later you can see Samaje working up through the nice gap.  You can see the defender throwing Evans aside, but Bobby got just enough on the defender to give Perine time to get through there.  If Evans gets his head and his hips inside that player, he can drive him on a 45 degree angle down towards Andrews and widen the hole.



I noticed early that K-State was going to play the Sooners very close to how TCU did a couple of weeks ago.  Since Westbrook has gone off for two weeks leading up to this, the Wildcats only put 5 guys in the box(red) while having what I call a “shade” player on the outside.  If you see the two arrows, he’s looking inside for run, but he’s there to help in case the ball is thrown out in the screen game.  “The Westbrook Effect” has demanded that defenses respect him.  It’s really stressing defenses by having them leave less players in the box to stop the run.



If you remember I had spoke about how difficult it is to defend when both Mixon and Perine are in the backfield together.  Damned if you do, damned if you dont…pick your poison or any other cliche’ that you wanna use, this is really hard to stop.  If you notice here, Mixon is getting ready to get up in there behind a well blocked play….



Or do they?  At the last minute, Perine peels off of his block, and he’s wide open.  Because of “the Westbrook Effect”, there’s no one out there to pick him up.



As Samaje turns and gets ready to get upfield, he sets up the defender really well.  He executes what is known as a “soft-shoulder cut”.  As Samaje is leaning outside, all of the defender’s weight and power is to the bottom of the screen.  Samaje cuts up back inside towards the defender’s “soft shoulder”.  Samaje made a hell of a run and scored on the play.  Getting him and Mixon in the open field in one on one situations with db’s is a winning proposition.



By dropping so many players in coverage , there again are only 5 players in the box to defend against Mixon and a running QB.  I know Bill Snyder gets a lot of credit for being a great coach, and no doubt he does a lot with not a lot of top flight talent, but some of the things he does defensively are the same things that Mike gets roasted for as the Sooners DC.



If I had a wish it would be that someone in the Sooners program could come up with a plan to do a two play check at the line of scrimmage.  There are 6 players to the right vs 5 blockers while it’s 3 on 3 to the left.  If you pull Flowers around to the left, you have a plus one, and if you go QB run game left you have a plus two.  Nevertheless, the Sooners ran right, and the unblocked player made the play for a short gain and a first down.  Yeah, I know they got the first down, but damnit, they coulda had Mixon high steppin’ untouched into the end zone if they check back left here.



Early in the game offensively, the good guys were doin pretty much whatever they wanted.  You can see here again that as the Sooners are goin counter right, they got everybody blocked for another Mixon big play…



Well it is a Mixon big play, but this time it’s him up and throwin a nice pass downfield to Westbrook who was wide, wide open.  This offense is really, really hard to defend.



On the snap of this one, it’s counter left with Samia pulling to kick out that defensive end.  Orlando Brown has to get straight off the ball to prevent the d end from closing down and closing the gap that Samia is trying to create with the kickout.  Brown will then get up to the linebacker, and if the linebacker scrapes all the way outside of Brown, then Orlando has to keep going over to #9 for a big kill shot.  If he chases #52 outside, then no one will block 9 coming across.  If he can catch #52, then #9 would have to work around that block, and he would effectively cut off both of em.  Evans as he pulls around has to be ready for the first person who shows, most likely inside…i.e. #9 scraping across.  If he doesn’t show, then he works up, and then out.



Orlando messes up, and comes off too high(stands up)and turns his hips.  It tips off the d-end who closes down and crashes that gap that Samia is trying to create.  If Brown’s shoulders are square and he contacts that d tackle over powers with his right shoulder, it widens the gap.  It’s tough though because he has to keep his eyes upfield and seeing if that linebacker is going to come down in the gap, which he does.  It’s a lot of information to process.  The hole is supposed to be between Samia and Brown, but it isn’t.

The great ones see things that most people don’t, and have the ability to do something about it.  Mixon sees that gap up in behind Wren.    You see why if Brown comes off square, he or powers could disengage as they feel that combo and get backside to #9.  If they chase 52 outside, nobody blocks #9.



What makes Joe special is that he has the vision to see things and then get in there and go.  What made this lane open up is the power of Erick Wren.  His height or lack thereof works to his advantage.  It gives him natural leverage and his power helps him keep that D-tackle from squeezing the hole.  Joe gets #9 flat footed and the fact that Brown wasn’t able to get there doesn’t matter…



A split second later Joe makes a soft shoulder cut and leaves this guy in the dust too…



Great ones also have eyes in the back of their heads too.  How quick this happened is amazing.  The arm I have circled to the left is the other defender he just shook.  This guy flies all the way across and is gonna earhole Joe, but somehow Mixon feels him coming, stops dead in his tracks and ole’s him too.  He gets to this guys soft shoulder and keeps goin…



You saw all the stuff that Joe did to make it go on the last play, and here it’s more of the same.  There are 5 defenders left with three to the right.



As the play develops it’s counter left with Samia and Evans coming around again.  Abdul adams is going to block the backside d-end.  Joe starts out straight and can see all of this unfolding in front of him.  The linebackers are already coming left to beat the play…



As Joe gets the ball, He can tell that there isn’t anybody back to the right.  While the lane is there, and he could have gone left, his play recognition is astonishing.  Vision is far too underrated for a running back, and Joe is basically telling the guy I notated in red, I’m going to outrun you to the sideline..



It’s probably good that Joe went right because Samia didn’t get a lot on 22.  While I think his mind was made up already, the last two plays go to show how much it helps being a student of the game.


I’m looking forward to seeing Adams get some reps this week and see what he can do after a full week of practice.  The Sooners will need to run the ball in Lubbock at night, and we all know crazy things can happen out there.  Hopefully we see the Mixon/Westbrook show Saturday night.  It’s gonna be a shootout.  Boomer!