Trench Warfare | Oklahoma vs. Texas

Gotta admit that crow never tasted so good.  I had picked the horns last weekend, because i didn’t believe that Coach Riley would go max protect, that Charlie’s blitz package would give the Sooners fits and Riley would elect to throw more than he ran.

In the 5 games playes so far this year:

Two losses: 38 rushing attempts or 19/game per for Mixon and Perine Combined at an average ypc of 5.61

Three Wins: 130 rushing attempts for RB’s or 43/game at an average ypc of 5.87

Simply put, no one has shut down the thunder and lightning duo, and when Riley calls their number more than he does a pass, the Sooners win and average 52 points doing it. When he decides to pass more than calling on these two, the Sooners average 24 points and a loss. Saturday, the Sooners called 55 runs and threw it 31 times while amassing 672 total yards.  It seems that the formula for high offensive output has been discovered…


Jumping right in, I noticed that a unique variation of the wr screen game has been to use Bobby Evans to get out and help block on the screen.  Screen game is a lot like the regular run game where it’s about a hat on a hat and matching up numbers wise…



As Bobby Evans engages, you can see Erick Wren from his center position get out there and help too.  Human instinct says that as you run outside to help like Erick, you look outside.  What makes a successful screen most of the time is picking up that inside out player.  You all know how big of a fan I am of Coach Bedenbaugh, and the little things like this is what separates good offensive lines from great ones.  If you look closely you can see Erick’s head turned back inside to pick up that player working from the inside out.




Another sign of an offensive line starting to gel is that they all look the same in doing their jobs and contact the defenders at the same time.  Below you can see the two guards working up to the linebackers.  That unblocked defensive end up to the top, has to stay at home to account for the qb.  If he crashes down on the back, then Mayfield can pull it, and it’s a lot of green grass outside.



Unless he’s Lawrence Taylor, he ain’t getting across the formation to get to Perine.  The Sooners got a hat on a hat and this was one of many plays where Samaje and his band of merry men flat out gashed the longhorns.



This formation where Mixon and Perine are in the backfield is damn difficult to defend.  The d end backside has to account for Mayfield again, and that in and of itself makes it impossible for him to force the issue and try to tackle Perine.  There’s so many things you can do off of this formation, and unless you attack it defensively while hoping like hell you guessed right, it’s death by a thousand cuts.



A tick later you can see Bobby Evans getting up on the linebacker with big Orlando Brown coming around to clear out that playside backer.  The two tackles I thought played lights out on Saturday along with Erick Wren.  It looks like that Samia’s still settling into his new role as a guard, while Ben Powers isn’t quite sure of himself just yet.  Nevertheless, they really played well in the Cotton Bowl last weekend.



Going back to my entree of crow I’ve been munching on all week, I didn’t think that Riley would go max protect as I’ve not seen him do it much.  On this play Mark Andrews is lined up as a traditional tight end with Perine in the backfield…



By condensing the formation, it requires the defense to line up over the players you have on the line of scrimmage.  In today’s game everyone’s in love with the four wide, five wide sets that allow defenses to get a ton of db’s on the field with it.  I love the old traditional I formation with a tight end that forces a defense to account for those players.  In essence it creates a ton of space for your receivers to operate within, while limiting the number of athletes the defense can put on the field.  On this play Mayfield found Westbrook for his first touchdown.  You can see the players I have circled who are less than 10 yards off of the line of scrimmage.  Westbrook is down at the bottom of the screen getting ready to handle his first victim.



Keeping with the theme of max protection, since the run game was working so well, the horns had to bring eight guys down in the box.  That only leaves three in coverage.  Note that Perine, Flowers and Andrews are lined up in the backfield…



So again they can rush all of em they want to if you have enough people to block em all.  Not a single player besides the db’s are more than three and a half yards beyond the line of scrimmage as Mayfield prepares to let it fly…



Dede must have missed breakfast cause he made a lot of Longhorn toast all day Saturday.  He just needs a little bit of butter to go with this batch.



A lot of little things stood out as indicators that the Sooners are really getting comfortable up front.  You’ve heard me talk about pre snap body language before, and to the left, you can see  that it looks like that all three of em are coming.  If you look closely you can see Wren has his head turned ready to get out there.



The horns ended up bluffin a little bit, but Wren had the right call on.  Evans is one on one to the right, and everyone else slid over to handle it to the left.  Erick borrowed Bronson Irwin’s tortilla maker from a couple of years ago, and if you notice the db’s I circled, their heads are turned away from Mayfield, and he’s got nothin but green grass.



Another nice wrinkle was going double tackle left(Samia lined up outside of Brown) while having Andrews lined up to the right in the tackle spot.  Basically this is a tackle eligible play.  It looked like Andrews tried to make himself smaller so the db’s wouldn’t notice him.



As a result it’s a big play to Andrews down the hash.  Basquine was open as the trail player too.  Baker could pick either one of em and be o.k., but Riley got em with this formation.



The Sooners ran a lot of power on Saturday too.  What makes a counter or power play go is the front side down block by the tackle(Evans) and the guard(Samia) stepping with his right foot first to come off of the line of scrimmage straight.  It forces the D tackle to account for him, and it allows him to keep his eyes upfield in case that linebacker comes into that A gap.  If the backer shows, he peels off and crashes down on him.  Notice Powers shuffling to his right…he can’t turn and run because if he does, his shoulders won’t be parallel to the line of scrimmage.  As he stays square, his power stays intact in case someone fills up hard into the hole.



So you see Evans does a great job on his down block while Erick Wren “blocks back” on the backside A gap player to allow Powers to get around there.  You can see it a little more clearly why it’s imperative for Powers to be parallel to the line of scrimmage and have his eyes searching for whomever shows first up inside.  It happens really fast in there, and a good tackle will cave that side down as Evans is doing so the distance the guard has to travel isn’t far while allowing the Back to get pretty much straight upfield and not flatten out at all.



So if you go back to a couple of shots before, you can see where the end of the line started and where it ended up.  By allowing Perine to get straight up in there, the guys executed really well in short yardage.  While the longhorns aren’t the 85 bears, they did shut the Sooners run game down last year.  Nobody has shut it down this year, and this offensive line just keeps getting better.



Finally, a great benefit to running the ball so much is that it allows an offensive lineman to move around more than just doing kick slides and really helps them get into a rhythm.  As you gain experience as an O lineman, there’s a lot of things you just have to feel during the game.  In this case, most people if they were Orlando Brown on the left would engage that defender on his outside.  Orlando in his 2nd year as a starter, “feels” that the defender isn’t coming outside.  He also “feels” that defender flying up into the b-gap.



So while the rest of the O line handled everything going on to the right, Orlando made one of the best blocks in the game by peeling off on that zone blitzer and getting just enough on him to allow Mayfield to escape to the left to get the ball out to Geno Lewis.  It was a great block and a great read by Orlando.  Based on everything I can see, if the Sooners trust this offensive line and the running backs to bring it home every week, then the big plays off of play action will be there for the receivers.