Trench Warfare (Tee-Dub) | OU vs. ULM

Hey everyone!  Welcome to week two of our annual Trench Warfare Series.  I think there were good things that we saw against Louisiana-Monroe, and I think there were some things that you have to chalk up to ULM simply being overmatched.  I was glad to see the Sooners able to run the football in short yardage, and I was also glad to see the first team defense hold the Warhawks scoreless in the first half.  I like the lineup of Brown, Ford, Alvarez, Samia and Evans.  I thought Samia looked really good at guard, and I thought that Bobby Evans played really well in his first start.

I was encouraged by the reps that all of the young guys got and were able to make the most of it.  Neville Gallimore looks amazing, and I thought the trio of Mykel Jones, Abdul Adams and Austin Kendall looked more impressive than I’ve seen a group of skill position freshmen in a long time.  I was equally encouraged that the Sooners didn’t come out flat and look past ULM to the big matchup with Ohio State coming soon to a theatre near you either.  So without further ado…

Coming out of the open set we can see 4 players to the left in the box, and I’ve resigned myself to accept the fact that the Sooners simply don’t or won’t scheme to numbers.  Against the ULM’s of the world I suppose it really doesn’t matter, but still against a more talented opponent, it has and will continue to be a problem…

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This play is a basic counter play that has RG Samia kicking out #45 at the bottom of the frame with big Bobby Evans pullin around and lookin pretty up into the hole right behind Orlando Brown’s down block.  If Orlando and Cody don’t get good down blocks, plays like this one don’t go….

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They do however, and it looks like that Bronson Irwin loaned Cody his tortilla maker he used so much from a few years ago.  I’d like to see Alvarez stay on his block (top left green arrow) and cut that defender off, and I’d like to see Big O get his guy on the ground.

This play really encapsulates the growth and evolution of Joe Mixon.  Last year we’d see him widen on this play and not be patient enough to set up his blocks.  Here, However, Joe stays tight to the down block of Orlando and on the inside rear of Bobby Evans who’s sealing the hole.  What that does is it forces the defender to go through Evans to get to Joe…

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And simply put there aren’t many people on earth who can make that play.  The unblocked backer has to come around Bobby Evans’ block, and he ain’t catchin’ Joe Mixon.  If you remember a frame or two ago I said that I’d like to see Alvarez finish off his block.  His guy spins off the block and hustles to bring Joe down.  Mixon still gets the first down, but it could have been a bigger play if Jonathan finishes his guy off.

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This was a sweet play action pass to Dmitri Flowers.  You’ve heard me many times talk about how as an offensive team, you have to learn how to read pre-snap body language.   I circled the safety who’s coming downhill in a hurry to support the run game before the snap.

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When the ball is snapped, neither the safety whom I pointed out a frame ago or the linebacker are paying any attention to Flowers.  The o-line, along with Flowers are doing a great job selling the fake.  The O line can’t go more than 3 yards downfield, so as an o lineman you basically turn on a 45 degree angle like you see here, and really make the defenders think you’re running a zone play to the side you’re heading.  It’s the same action on a naked play.

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Mark Andrews to the bottom is running a stop route to open up space, and at the point of the fake for Mayfield and Perine, Flowers has come wide open right down the middle of the field.  You can notice, the OL still hasn’t gone across the line of scrimmage still selling the fake.

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Finally, you see the space that’s opened by running everyone to the right, and keeping Andrews’ route outside of the bottom hash.  Running the early reverse and this play action are going to make Ohio State be aware of this kind of stuff.  It will force them to play disciplined and not over-commit to the run fakes.

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Here we have an instance where the good guys really outnumbered the Warhawks nicely.  With 4 guys to the right defensively and three left, the Sooners pull Samia and Flowers around to the left giving them a plus one…

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Since the D-End crashes hard, Samia executes what’s called a log block.  Instead of trying to dig his guy out, he hooks the defender’s outside shoulder and pins him into the great downblocks of Brown, Ford and Alvarez.

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I’m really impressed with how technically and fundamentally sound Flowers is on this play.  If you notice how tight he is to Samia’s log block, he has to work inside out.  His left shoulder has to contact the defender’s right to dig or kick him out, and open the lane for Samaje.  If Flowers isn’t tight to the line and comes back toward the 30 any at all, then that defender will be able to close down and cut off the run path.  Since the Sooners schemed to numbers here, the unblocked defender can’t get across the formation and is a non-factor.

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A microsecond later, Flowers kicks his guy out, and Samaje absolutely destroyed the safety in the hole.  In a nutshell you want to have your backs one on one with safeties and corners.  Unless you’re playing against an Eric Berry, Troy Polamalu etc., normally it’s a good matchup.  You can still see the unblocked defender have to belly back to get in on the play.  Keep in mind that the down blocks make this type of play go.  Brown and Cody have to generate movement and cave that side down to make it work.

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I know I’m a broken record, but look at all of the defenders left of center…

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Again, going off of wanting your Rbs to be one on one with safeties, especially in short yardage, the linebackers go with the cross-buck action that Mixon takes to the left.  You can see the mass of humanity that is to the left of center while if you get even with the goal post and to the right, there are only four ULM defenders…

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To finish it off, Samaje predictably steamrolls the safety again, who becomes an honorary member of the PBS (Poor Bastard Society).  Seriously who wants to take on Perine on the goal line one on one?  The point of the numbers game is that you can see the Sooners don’t knock the group of defenders back into the endzone, but because they walled it off, and sealed the backside (Evans), there’s a gaping hole down on the Goal Line.

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I have to admit that I was encouraged by the Sooners ability to run the ball at will Saturday night, because there have been times even against opponents like this where they haven’t been able to.   I was glad to see that Samaje and Mixon doubled their carries from the previous week and only played one half.  It was also good to see Abdul Adams running hard and showing us that there’s some quality depth there…I’d expect him to get more involved as the season wears on.  It was nice to see a lot of guys get some clock, and overall I thought the Sooners cleaned things up really well from the previous week.

Which Sooner team shows up on Saturday remains to be seen, but we’ve seen it before where OU loses a headscratcher and goes on a tear from there on out.  I’m not on the bus just yet, but if they come out and beat a very good Ohio State team, then this thing may get interesting.