Trench Warfare | Sugar Bowl (1st Quarter) (UPDATED: 8:15 Tuesday)

I’ll be updating this later today but I wanted to start this off…

1. To start things off, regardless of what anyone says, Alabama did not come out flat.  They scored in four plays on their first offensive possession, and had a huge tackle on the kickoff.  They were bouncing and clowning and having fun.  Right away you could tell they had a very fast physical team.  However, our guys were prepared for the adversity and the challenge.  A group I really thought was prepared was our offensive line.  On the first play we see Savage “anchoring” to hold off the bull rush of the big nose tackle.  It was a very clean pocket, and Trevor stayed upright all night.  There were some good signs on this first drive.  I really like having that big tank in the middle like Savage.  The difference in this game was the fact that they couldn’t squeeze the pocket on us, while they had no pocket for A.J. McCarron to step into.


2. On the 3rd and 1, we went with motion.  Oddly it was the same formation we ran out of on the 4th down in the 2nd quarter.  We started in diamond, and quickly shifted to having Brannon at TE and Rip at Wing.  Kirby Smart has a huge check system where he tries to get in the perfect defense, so the new formations and motion played a big role for us.  By motioning left, we caught them slightly out of position.  We had numbers 5-4 on the left whereas it would have been 4-3 back right.  What I really liked was that we were playing on their side of the line of scrimmage.  This was so big showing that we could run the ball in short yardage on them early.


3. Brennan Clay didn’t lose a matchup all night.  Right after the first down, we go with a little swing pass to Brennan who was lined up in the slot(another nice wrinkle).  He initiates contact after having only two yards, but turns it into a gain of three more.  The offense coming out and having early success was big for the overall confidence of the team.  In my redshirt year I’d hear the defense talking about how hard our offense was playing and it inspired them.  When you get a team playing at a team and not individual units, the sum of the parts far outweigh the whole.


4. Even though this was a play for no gain I want to point out what coaches sometimes see.  We fake the fly sweep to Finch, and come back with the qb counter to the left.


4. (cont.) You see Finch carrying out the fake, and look at all of the green grass he has to work with had we given it.  No doubt that seeing Hubbard(small blue arrow), crash so hard on the qb and not respect the contain at all played into the decision to go with the reverse in the 2nd quarter to Shepard.  Little in game adjustments and notes that Coach Heupel made, were gigantic.


4. (cont.) Couple that with the physicality of our fullbacks, tight ends and o line, and it makes a oc’s job easier.  From left to right Bronson got his tortilla maker early and planted this cat, and Ripkowski sent a message early that he was steamrolling folks all night.  That’s the Butkus award winner C.J. Mosley he’s blocking too.  Not bad for a no-star walk-on.


5. Another nice clean pocket on 3rd and 4.  Trevor steps up and hit’s Jalen for the 1st down.


6. This was an Auburn wrinkle we added this game.  Really a triple option off of the zone read with the third option being to throw it out wide to Shepard.


6. (cont.) Clinton-Dix commits a cardinal sin here in giving Shepard the sideline.  All of his help is working from the inside-out.


6. (cont.) Shep jukes him out of his shoes and gets nine yards.  Shepard had a huge game.  Alabama could not tackle him.  Oklahoma boy doin work.


7. After this play I started getting excited.  On 2nd and 1 we get five yards.  A good indicator early is whether or not you can run the ball.  Look at the push and that lane up inside there.  We just out-physicaled them up front on both sides.


8. If the pass is an inch lower or Jalen makes this catch, he most likely scores.  #26 Landon Collins is the deep safety, and there’s no one else.  He just made a great play on the ball after the deflection.


9. After Gabe Lynn’s interception, we’re across the 50 again.  Another really clean pocket, and Trevor came off of his initial read to Saunders.  The protection allowed Trevor to come off of the initial read and give Bester time to clear.  Without protection this clean, the play never happens.


9. (cont.) Trevor zipped a pass in a very small window, and it was only by an inch or so that Collins missed it.


9. (cont.) Once Bester had the ball, this little head fake back inside allowed him to score.  You can see the safety’s feet are frozen, and it gave LaColton just a split second and a little more space to get up the sideline.


9. (cont.) And it paid off on a magnificent catch and run to tie the game early.


10. Another huge play by Sterling.  While a lot of people will point out the reverse run and Montana to Clark td in the fourth quarter, Sterling made plays like this all night.  Sometimes you just need your players to make plays.  Shep did with regularity.


11. We mixed it up offensively more than I’ve seen in the past two years.  Nakeds, reverses, go routes, counters…this was just a masterful job by Heupel and the offensive staff.  Look at the clean pocket again on the roll out for Trevor.  Getting him going early with short quick passes was a big deal.


12. Alabama really struggled early keeping up with the tempo.  We’re already lined up with trips(three wide) left, and they only have one defender outside of the hash.  It’s an easy pitch and catch for Trevor and Bester for a gain of five.



13. You can barely see the top of Keith ford’s helmet, but look at the lane that’s in between Bronson and Ripkowski.


13. (cont.) On 2nd and 5 Keith doesn’t get contacted until he’s got seven yards, and then he gets five more.  We definitely had them on their heels.



14. Tell me that ain’t pretty.


15. Going back to tempo again after Ford’s big run, the linebackers for Alabama are more discombobulated than I’ve ever seen em.  Saunders is clearly in their zone, but they’re both still dropping.  Another easy pitch and catch to Saunders and he goes for seven.



16. Is that a tight end?!  McNamara did a great job catching this thing, because it was on top of him as soon as he turned around.  Getting him involved will be huge for his offseason.  I wouldn’t be shocked if he has a breakout year next year.  Remember he’ll only be a sophomore next year.



17. This was an extremely creative play.  We pull Bronson and Nila back to the left on an influence sweep.  Never seen anything like it.  #93 crashes hard after Trevor, and the middle linebacker is frozen because the action on the two o linemen pulling.


17. (cont.) Before you know it, Brennan’s out on the edge for a gain of 12 and since the receivers are blocking so well, we made it look easy.



18. On 3rd and 10, the pass rush came so hard, that this almost looked like a qb draw.  The protection wasn’t bad, it’s just no one stayed in their lanes defensively.  All our guys had to do was run them upfield.  Trevor goes and gets the first down.



19.  As Saunders went in motion, I saw Collins going in motion with him.  The other safety(far right red circle) stayed, so I knew that it was man coverage to the left with no help…


3rd and 5


20.  …Trevor knew it too, and it’s good that he did.  He had a rusher bearing down on him quickly.  He threw the ball to Jalen as soon as he was coming out of his break.  Here you can see that he doesn’t even have his head turned.  It wasn’t bad coverage, Trevor just put it in there.





21.  And Jalen made a heck of a play.





22.  Touchdown good guys!



  • Sooner Ray

    Appreciate your work JY. Every time I watch the game I’m more impressed with the protection Trevor had and how it was the key to our success.

    • JY

      It was huge for sure!

  • Ed Cotter

    Thanks JY, fantastic as always. Love seeing how clean the pocket was for Trevor. You don’t get near that clear of an indication while you are watching the game. Much appreciated.

    • JY


  • DrZemus

    Always awesome! I had serious reservations about Heupel after some games this year, but he really showed what he can do as a play-caller vs OSU and Bama. The Bama game, in particular, was as you mentioned, masterful. But now I’m gonna be expecting a masterful performance against Texas every year he’s here.

    • godman

      I agree about the concerns over Heupel but this game kind of shows that the issues were not so much Josh but the execution. When people do not execute, nothing looks good. When they execute everything looks good and it opens up the playbook and the creativity which was realized in this game and so well revealed here by JY!

  • Bish

    Trench warfare is my favorite kind of game recap. Can’t wait for Qtr 2-4! Thanks for the piece JY!

    • JY

      Thank you!

      • Ace Rix

        Agree, this analysis is simply incredible!!!
        Cannot thank you enough!

        • JY

          likewise 😉

  • AlexOU

    #10, run by Sheppard, huge diving block by Ford really saves this play. Really opened my eyes to how good & violent of a blocker he could become. Loved it!

  • JSam

    YES! Been waiting for the TW article. Excited to see the rest.

    To the point of playing the game team on team – look @ picture #3. Look at just the posture of the guys on the sidelines – they were in it from the beginning. Just seemed like the whole team was on edge for this one. Great to see.

  • Adrian

    I was at the game and that last pic. When I saw we had trips left and only one safety covering I was screaming like a maniac to snap the ball. It was a curl route but if they had a little more chemistry and recognition Bester could have ran a flare and scored, no doubt. Still a good play

  • CyberSooner

    Atta boy Bronson Irwin! Best game of the year in my opinion, with some nasty attitude thrown in. Also loved the way the line played together on pass protection.

  • Shifty

    What took you so long JY!? JK…nice work…I was happy to see Savage have a pretty good first game on the line. I def feel better about our line next year w Sheads question mark. Ikard and Irwin had really good seniors and I’m happy for them…Knight had good timing w all of his receivers…SHep is showing why we thought coming in he was Broyles 2.0…man I’m excited about this team moving forward..both sides made a big jump (especially the O) from early in the year and last year (the D)

    • JY

      Yeah sorry bout that. I’m cracking on the 3rd quarter today. I was flying high after the game just soaking it all up. Plus since we don’t have another game until September, I thought that I’d take my time a bit.

  • L’carpetron Dookmarriot

    OU did a very good job at nullifying Mosley and DePriest. Mosley was running sideline to sideline and up and down field all night. DePriest was absent large parts of the game.

    From the defensive side of the ball, OU’s 3-man line collapsed the pocket time after time. What I saw was that their O lineman were big, strong, but slower than OU’s. I can recall Wade and Tapper doing a straight bull rush and driving their man right into McCarron’s face. They did this several times. If you watch the last play of the game, Tapper runs a stunt to the inside where he drives his man straight back into McCarron. With Striker coming around the edge, McCarron could have stepped into the pocket to avoid him, but not with Tapper driving his man into McCarron’s face. He had nowhere to go. And add in that we had tight coverage to allow for Striker and Tapper to do their work.

  • Josh

    Anyone saying Alabama didn’t come to play or was flat is trying to make excuses for why they thought Bama would roll OU easily. I was so proud of the team for taking a punch right in the nose and coming off the ropes and throwing our own haymakers. Great job on the analysis! Love the Rip pic of him putting on the LB.

    • JY

      Thanks. I thought that was really important seeing him take the butkus award winner down.

    • jdotkimmy

      OU’s defense is built on speed, mainly because of all the spread offenses in the conference. Alabama had faced defenses as fast as OUs. Most of the SEC defenses are built on power and strength. Alabama still had a ton of talent on offense, so they scored, but in the end, the speed was too much.

  • Indy_sooner

    One of the unsung heroes in this game was the O-Line, perhaps because we’ve became accustomed to them being good. Being able to buy TK time to make his progressions was a huge part of his impressive showing even though he still had very quick releases.
    You also cannot understate the advantage of a QB that can run AND throw and I am tickled at all the Bama folks complaining about the read option “ruining” the game…LOL

  • bjwalker82

    The question I wanna pose to Heupel and co. is…where was this all year? Is it a harbinger of things to come? (I certainly hope so)

    • JY

      You and me both!

    • jdotkimmy

      Another thing, Knight had a career game. He was fitting passes into perfect locations all game. Even that tipped pass interception in the beginning of the game. He hadn’t shown that kind of passing skill all year. Even in high school, his accuracy was never a strong suit. My question is, “Is this the real Trevor Knight or was this just one of those career games?” I’m hoping it’s the former and not the latter. Hopefully the spring and summer practices help him become a better passer.

      • bjwalker82

        Yes, this exactly. He was dropping dimes like Drew Brees. Can we realistically expect him to replicate that performance? Time will tell. If he does, then wow. I mean who can beat that?

  • Eric Hoffpauir

    I want a poster of the last #4 pic.

  • JSam

    More praise for Rip in the #4 series: Note that Moseley is around the 47 / 48 yard line as Rip engages him. In the next pic as he’s finishing him off, he’s around the 44. THAT is big time.

    Meanwhile, is that Savage that is flat burying his dude behind Bronson? Dang.

  • Super Keith

    Great work JY! I’m SO glad you pointed out #17, because I had to rewind that play several times to make sure I was seeing things correctly. At game speed, I thought it might have been a miscommunication, but clearly that wasn’t the case. Well designed play to pop when the Bama LBs were already starting to second guess themselves.

    • JY

      Yeah it kind of threw me too!

      • soonermusic

        not sure, and I imagine you can set me straight, but it looks to me like a read on #93 and if he doesn’t crash hard, and instead tries to contain Clay, Trevor can follow the pulling big boys for a good gain that way…pretty nice play.

  • boomersooner

    awesome, JY. these are so fun to read. i’m sure its time consuming but probly so much fun especially after an effort like this. thank you for doing these. and thank you to all the brainiacs just for being here

    • JY

      Thank you for stopping by! These take me about 10 hours per game to do, and then K putting them up is about the same. They’re time consuming but really cool once you see them up.

  • jdotkimmy

    People that don’t exactly know all the nuances of football don’t understand why coaches run fakes on plays and whatnot. People are like, “what’s the point of carrying out a fake if you’re not going to use it?” Well, the reason those fakes are carried out is to set up plays later in the game. Coaches want to see how a defense is going to react when you do a certain thing on offense. So the coaches will run a few plays and mark down what the defense did and mark it down for later use.