10 Things I Expect to Happen in This Game!

I’m hoping it will be like some big games in OU’s past seasons where OU comes out firing from the opening snap and lays it on them all game. But, this is what I believe to be most probable based on past experience:

1. Ignore the first couple of drives for each team. I expect our offense to struggle the first part of the game and we will likely see some scary bigish plays from Clemson’s offense to start the game. Mike and Lincoln will get the new wrinkles figured out and the game will really start. What’s important is that we are not down 14+ points when that happens.

I think we need to survive the first 4 drives of the game.

Conversely, if we come out looking dominate in the first 4 drives of the game it’s important we don’t get overconfident and let up a bit because it is usually not indicative of how the rest of the game will go. Essentially the game usually starts over after the first 4 drives and things often get reversed.

2. I expect the offense to score considerably more points in the 4th quarter than any other quarter. This is how Riley roles. He seems to wait until the final 1/3 of the game to really figure out how to beat the defense. I wouldn’t be surprised if at least half of our points come in the final 1/3 of regulation.

3. I expect a couple of personal fouls, but I’m really hoping the guys have learned their lesson. They will be fired up for this game and emotions are going to be high. It’ll get nasty. We absolutely cannot have stupid fouls, especially on offense or 3rd and long with the defense. A personal foul on offense is basically taking points off the board.

4. We must avoid 3rd and long at all costs. I expect there’s only two ways we pick up 3rd and longs. Either Baker runs the ball himself to pick it up or we run that shallow cross screen. I fully expect we will run that cross screen at least a couple of times on 3rd and long. Without question we’ll run it at least once.

5. With BV running a lot of man coverage and liking to bring pressure I expect Baker will be able to get some big runs up the middle of the field. I suspect Riley will be calling plays that clear out the middle of the field in order to allow Baker room to run. That said, I can totally see BV going against what he’s done all year and using a bunch of zone coverage like he ran at OU in order to throw off our game plan and limit Baker’s ability to run.

6. I don’t expect to have much success with the zone read plays. Unless we surprise them with it I expect they will do a really good job on the edges playing both options. Running in general will be tough but I think it’ll be a lot of feast and famine with the run game and finally getting it going in the 4th quarter after struggling most of the game (with exception of some big runs peppered in when the defense guesses wrong).

7. I expect this to a defensive battle for most of the game with our defense keeping us in the game. I expect Clemson will get some big plays on us, but we will be aggressive and fighting and will control the line of scrimmage which will force quite a few 3 and outs. I expect Clemson’s most successful plays to be rolling the QB out with some mid range completions. I imagine they will frustrate us by picking up way more 3rd and longs than they should and keep drives alive that should have been punts.

8. Riley will have several plays that he knows will work really well based on a weakness in Clemson’s defense and the way they play certain things. He typically has a few plays that he goes to when he finally gets the look he saw on film and those will be big plays. He does this exceptionally well. BV is such a mad scientist that if there’s a game in which Riley’s prepared plays don’t work it’s this one, but I still think he’ll get his. And these plays will be things we haven’t run all year. Designed specifically to take advantage of a specific thing that he sees on film.

I imagine we’ll also have a trick play that doesn’t work. lol Haven’t had too good luck with those overall this season!

9. This is just a gut feeling but I think A. Thomas is going to get an interception in this game. I also expect our corners to play lights out and really dominate the receivers making it very difficult for Watson to pass. Sanchez is no doubt champing at the bit to show how good he is. He seems to go in waves like that where he’ll struggle and then refocus and be amazing.

10. I heard a stat that Baker is first in the country against the blitz. His completion % is high and he has 13 TD’s and no INT’s. I think this is a misleading stat. Baker has not been very good against pressure as he has opted to scramble instead of looking to pass. Not passing the ball when there’s any kind of pressure will keep your completion % high and will prevent INT’s. What should be looked at is the number of times he’s lost yards vs the blitz.

I expect Baker to feel a lot of pressure especially on 3rd and longs and struggle in the first half with panicking and leaving the pocket way too soon. I think we’ll see quite a bit of Baker running for his life on passing plays and either throwing the ball away or getting tackled before he can make it past the LOS. I think he’ll settle down in the second half, though, and Riley will find ways to deal with the pressure.

Now, this is all what my brain tells me based on the information from the past. What my gut tells me is that OU is going to dominate the game, but that could just be optimism bias. So feel free to believe either my brain or my gut, whichever you think is most trustworthy in this case. :)

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Comparing Points Per Possession vs TCU!

As I explained in the last post, points per possession I think is the best and most fair way to compare teams as it takes everything into account and boils down to only what’s most important, how many points to they score on average per possession.

A quick, albeit crude, solution to not allowing blowouts and the subsequent 4th quarter backups from skewing the data I just looked at the first 3 quarters of games, ignored possessions that were ended by the halftime whistle, and I ignored games against FCS teams (for obvious reasons).

TCU is averaging 3.077ppp* and giving up an average of 2.188ppp (for a net of +0.889)

OU is averaging 3.308ppp and giving up an average of 1.486ppp (for a net of +1.822)

I think that net ppp rating is the best representative stat of a team that takes into account all the different parts of the game naturally but isn’t skewed by pace. That means that on average for every two possessions (one for each team) in an OU game OU gains an average of 1.822 points over its competition.

* If you don’t take the Kansas game which was affected by all the injuries their ppp gets raised to 3.259ppp.

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I’m shocked that stat-keepers aren’t utilizing points per possession! This is the big thing in basketball now, and it’s just as important, if not moreso in college football. Yards and points are not the same team to team because of the vastly different pace teams play at.

Some team may play poorly but have more yards and points than a team who played really well because they had a ton more possessions in the game. The team you are going against also impacts how many possessions you get as does overtime possessions.

You can use yards per play as a pretty good measurement, but this doesn’t take into account special teams, bend but don’t break defenses, 4th down conversions, goal line stands, and most importantly…turnovers.

Points per possession really is the most accurate, and most important stat when comparing teams’ seasons.

I went through OU and Baylor’s seasons and calculated the points per possession for both teams seasons as well as the points per possession against each other.

METHOD:

To keep it quick and simple for the purposes of this exercise I only calculated the first 3 quarters of each game, since both teams had games where they took their foot off the pedal in the last quarter and even put their backups in. This hurt OU a bit in the Tennessee game since their points came mostly in the 4th quarter.

I also ignored the last possession of the first half unless it ended in a score (none did).

RESULTS:

In the OU vs BU game…

OU = 3.09 ppp (previously averaging 3.33 ppp)
BU = 2.45 ppp (previously averaging 4.66 ppp)

So Baylor held OU to just 0.24 ppp less than their average while OU held Baylor to a whopping 2.20 ppp less!

To be fair, both OU vs UT games really skewed their average. Without those two games OU averaged 4.03 ppp previous to the Baylor game. That’s only .66 ppp less than Baylor despite a tougher schedule.

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Wow! What a change from last season! What happened? How were we able to stop Baylor’s feared passing attack?

Pass Defense Breakdown
(part one):

Cheat Sheet:

1. The emergence of Will Johnson is a literal game-changer! I planned to write about how this was going to be a complete game changer for the Baylor game weeks ago after Will’s first game but didn’t get around to it. If you’ve followed the breakdowns the last couple years then you probably figured it out for yourselves as well. With Will Johnson at nickel, Parker could play one of the safety positions and now what was a weakness now becomes a strength.

With Will, we have 4 db’s on the field that can cover really well and we don’t have the liability of Hatari Byrd in coverage against the team that makes a living taking advantage of safeties covering their slot receivers.

2. Just like I’ve been clamoring for a couple years now, we finally lined up our corners inside of the wideouts to take away the slants and trap the receivers on the sidelines. They love to put their wideouts ridiculously close to the sideline and there’s a reason teams haven’t been doing that all these years, it allows corners to trap the receivers and squeeze them into the sideline forcing a perfect pass.

Jordan Thomas also did a great job forcing Coleman  into the sideline. As soon as he started going deep JT sprinted outside as quick as he could, not allowing him to get outside of him without running right into the sideline. That left him vulnerable to a deeper in route, but since they don’t really run that (yet) there wasn’t much to worry about.

Baylor is pretty simple on offense and they don’t have a ton of options, but what they do have is crafted to have an answer for just about anything the defense does. If we can take advantage of this, that will allow us to be much more effective at stopping their high-powered offense.

3. Despite many fans saying we needed to run all out blitzes to stop Baylor (which isn’t true at all), Stoops rarely rushed more than 3 or 4, leaving 7 or 8 in coverage. That was key!

This meant Striker was in coverage much more than he was blitzing, something that would likely have made fans furious had it not worked. But it did.

Having all those LBers lined up off the line of scrimmage allowed them to drop back into zones, and their speed played a big part of that as well. This allowed the corners and safeties to play deeper, although there were plenty of times when db’s played tight coverage at the line.

If your db’s can keep up with the receivers deep without having to play really deep then Baylor’s offense becomes mortal. They lose a huge key to their power.

4. Mike did an excellent job mixing up and disguising his coverages! We played different types of zone and different types of man coverage keeping Briles and their true freshman QB off-balance and unsure who was going to be open.

5. The back 8 did an excellent job in zone coverage. What a huge change from last season! They were very well coached, knowing what Baylor likes to do and exactly where they needed to be to stop the route combinations they like to run! There isn’t much room for error, and we were very precise!

6. Jarret Stidham is not the best at reading coverage and his lack of experience really showed through in this game. He stared down receivers, although that’s kind of the way their offense is run. The backside receivers don’t even run their routes if the QB initially looks the other way, they are taught to save their legs. Because of that, a free safety can just play half the field and majorly cheat to whichever side the QB turns to.

That said, he still had a bad habit of reading one receiver and if he wasn’t open, start scrambling. There’s a lot of similarities to Baker’s limitations the first half of the season. There were even a couple times where he left the pocket despite no reason to.

7. We always seemed to know when they were going to pass or run, but I’ll go into MUCH more detail about that in the running defense breakdown. :)

 

Be Notified When the New Breakdowns Come Out!

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TT: Offense Breakdown (1st Q)

Our offense got into the end zone almost every time they had the ball (except when they turned it over of course). Strangely, they did it mostly by running the ball! What happened? What changed?

Offense Breakdown
(1st Q):

Cheat Sheet:

1. Riley did an amazing job with the gameplan.  He’s very good at finding the weaknesses in a team and finding ways to best use the talent at his disposal. Every week is a different challenge, and he has been really impressive rising to the challenge!

2. Samia was really good! It’s possible TT’s DE might be that bad, but Samia dominated in this game and that was a big part of our running success. He got consistent push and really opened those holes. O. Brown did pretty well, too. Everyone looked better in this game, although I wouldn’t say dominant by any stretch. No one looked terrible, and that’s a big improvement. How much of that is due to the competition is impossible to know.

The OL were able to actually make blocks on LBers instead of the LBers just avoiding them. And the OL stayed on their blocks longer which made a huge difference. You didn’t see hardly any front 7 defenders getting off of blocks the entire game!

3. We didn’t pass too often in situations where the defense could run stunts or fancy blitzes so we were able to avoid that for the most part. If our run game isn’t working and we have to pass when the defense knows we are going to pass it’s not going to be pretty. I imagine it’ll be pretty feast or famine.

4. Perine’s run blocking has improved a lot! His run blocking was phenomenal! I expect to see a lot more 2 RB formations with the two of them because of this. Perine being able to block for Mixon is scary!

5. Sam Grant went in at TE at least one play and looked really dominant in his blocking. Then again, so did Connor Knight the one play I saw him in, so it might just be the competition. But, we have really needed a really good blocking TE for goalline and short yardage situations. If Sam can be that guy, that’ll add a lot!

6. Like last week we attacked the outside quite a bit to take advantage of our speed, although not as much as last week. The LBers can’t keep up with the RB’s so it doesn’t matter if the OL can’t block them. However, vs a team with good speed at LB this won’t work (a la Texas).

7. Our RB’s are so good once they get space! If we can get them a decent hole they will dominate a game. SUPER impressive! Wow!

8. TT really liked to slant their DL a lot and Riley did such a great job taking advantage of it. He really had a good feel for what the defensive front was going to do. Slanting DL have given us trouble in the past, but if you can take advantage of it and get them out of position…you can have big runs!

9. Once again, Riley got a lot of use out of the inverted zone read where the RB attacks the outside like a sweep. Defenses will presumably figure out that they need to have the DE/OLB widen to take the RB and force the QB to pull the ball since we leave a LB in the box unblocked. The QB is really not a threat on that play.

10. Baker actually felt pressure and passed to the outlet who just happened to be a RB! That’s a first this season! Hopefully not the last!

Be Notified When the New Breakdowns Come Out!

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WVU: Why Our Running Game is Struggling!

One of the questions I’ve been hearing is about our running game and why we’ve been struggling. Is it just the OL that’s the problem? Well, the problem is almost all in the OL. The two weakest links on our OL last season are the only two to return this year. It’s just an average at best OL. And the TE/FB blocking hasn’t been as good as in year’s past either.

Run Game Breakdown:

Cheat Sheet:

1. There isn’t any push in the combo blocks. For those not familiar with combo blocks, it is when two OLmen block the same DLman to push him back and into a certain LB, then once the LB chooses a side of the combo block to go in the OLman to that side peels off the DLman and blocks the LB. It allows you to get a double team block at the point of attack without sacrificing a blocker to do it.  Most blocking schemes employ it somewhere, especially in zone blocking schemes. Unfortunately we get no push on those combo blocks at all. It seems we run block like we pass block, like the goal is to just be a wall between the defender and the backfield instead of attacking.

What I see a lot is DLmen coming off the ball low and using leverage to stalemate the double team. The OLmen doing the double team are standing up straight with the DLmen’s helmet in their stomach (that’s an exaggeration but you get the idea.   In addition to giving up leverage I THINK the combo block may be giving the blockers too much confidence and therefore not getting 100% effort from them. They need to attack those double team blocks like their lives depend on moving that defender back.

2. But, even the solo blocks struggle. The blockers are not nimble enough to block the more athletic defenders who go around them. That’s not that unusual to see, but usually you’d see a trade off where the blockers punish the defenders when they DO get their hands on them, due to their size advantage. But, we are not really getting much of that trade off.

3. Another concerning thing is how often defenders are keeping the blockers’ at arms length. Once an OLman gets a defender into their body it’s very difficult for the defender to get off. So, defenders are taught to push the blockers off their body with their hands. If the blocker is at arms length then when the defender needs to pursue the ball carrier he can get off the block pretty easily.

Now, I’m not an OL coach so I’m not sure what you teach OLmen to get into a defender’s body. Presumably it’s driving with the legs so that the defender either gets pushed way back or they allow the space between themselves and the blocker to decrease.

4. Teams are loading the boxes with an extra defender which helps in the passing game, but we should still be able to have success in the blocking and make more yards than we are getting. It’ll just be 5 yard runs instead of 8-10 yard bursts.

5. Another issue is the loss of great blocking from the TE and FB position. Flowers is a good blocker but he’s not to the level that we’ve had the last few years at the position. Knight was put in as a blocking TE in the first couple of games but struggled and didn’t see the field at all this last game and very little (if any) vs Tulsa. Andrews is now the exclusive TE and his blocking hasn’t been stellar.

6. In the 14 running plays run before the game was basically decided, the LT O. Brown missed on 4 blocks, Nila missed on 4 blocks as well. St. John at RT only missed on one block in the running game (but also missed on a block in the passing game). Darlington at Center got beaten once in the running game and twice in the passing game.

7. Mixon still has a little learning to do in his decision making. He’s getting better, but still missed a big play by not cutting back to the backside on a stretch play.

Be Notified When the New Breakdowns Come Out!

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