Posted: 5:00 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013
By War Machine Dawg
Welcome to the first edition of WMD’s Armchair QB on FWtCT, peeps. For those unfamiliar with this column, it’s an "as I saw" it analysis of the game. It’s the good, bad, and ugly with no pulled punches. I’ve got quite a bit to cover this week, so we’ll dive right into the analysis. The offense isn’t going to enjoy this.
The defensive effort yesterday was outstanding. I know we gave up 432 yards of total offense, but if you told me before the game that we’d hold Okie State to 21 points, I’d have told you we win the game by at least 2 TDs.
Oklahoma State only ran 73 offensive plays. They like to run as close to 100 as they can. Again, defense did a good job of getting off the field on 3rd down.
We’ve got a lot of work to do on our zone read option defense. There’s no excuse for us to be unprepared to stop that type of attack. We see it every day in practice, or we should. Stay disciplined, take your man.
The overall defensive scheme is MUCH improved. We play downhill, attacking the defensive. This means we’re playing faster and more aggressive. I think this group will be an elite unit by season’s end.
Dee Arrington played well after Jay Hughes went down with his injury. Hopefully Hughes isn’t hurt badly.
Defensive line play was improved, but still has work to do. The return of Quay Evans and Nick James should help, assuming they return. Walsh’s mobility robbed them of a couple sacks, but we did seem to get pressure at times.
I really enjoyed the emotion and intensity the defense displayed. That’s what college football and defense is all about. Big attitude change from last season.
Special teams were inconsistent. Bell missed 2 FGs badly and Tubby had the muffed punt return. Tubby also made an awful decision to return a kickoff that resulted in us starting a drive at the 10. With the new kickoff rules, it should be drilled into a returner’s head that a touchback is a good thing. Starting at the 25 > starting at the 10. But……
Tubby nearly broke a kick to the house. The blocked field goal and return by Taveze Calhoun almost changed the entire game. But we’ve GOT to score on that return. We had at least 3 guys to block 1, and he made the TD saving tackle. That can’t happen.
Our offense was offensive. As I was prone to say during the Croom Error, I’m not sure we could have scored against 11 strategically placed chairs. We should have been up at least 14 after the 1st Quarter. Instead, we settled for one field goal. We let an explosive offensive team hang around instead of going for the throat. You can’t do that and win big games.
This next statement is going to upset a whole lot of people, but it must be said: We’re a better offensive team with Dak at QB. If you couldn’t see the difference in how much more smoothly the offense operated after he took over in the 4th Quarter, I don’t know what to tell you. His mobility is the extra dimension our offense needs. In the same way Walsh’s mobility sparked Okie State, Dak’s mobility sparked us in the 4th.
Tyler Russell is the same QB he was last season. Good arm, makes some incredible throws, but makes some terrible throws and bad decisions. Still holds the ball too long, struggles to throw open his WRs, and has a hard time recognizing what an open WR looks like on the college level.
Our offensive line was disappointing. The tackles got raced most of the day. Our interior linemen, including all-everything Gabe Jackson, failed to get much push in the run game. That’s GOT to change if we want to make a bowl game. Seeing Justin Malone leave the game was not good. OL is the one position we can ill afford injuries. Hopefully it’s nothing serious and he’s ready to go in 2 weeks for Auburn.
Where were the much-heralded offensive changes? I saw a few more 2 TE sets, but we were still in the shotgun 98% of the time. So much for attempting to play to TR’s strengths.
Josh Robinson needs to be our primary running back. He had essentially the same number of yards (48) as Perkins on half as many carries (8). His YPC was 6. Give the guy the ball and ride him. He brings the thump inside that Perkins doesn’t.
I thought the WR play was a positive, with the exception of Joe Morrow. His playing time needs to go to De’Runnya Wilson and Fred Ross. Wilson particularly impressed me yesterday. He’s big, fast, and can make catches in traffic. Tubby Lewis also had a nice day.
Our run game is painfully predictable. We telegraph our runs. And when we go to the Dak Attack package, it’s an open invite for the defense to stack the box and sell out to stop the run. If we’re going to keep using Dak as a package QB, we’ve got to turn him loose and let him throw. Otherwise, stick to the basic offense.
We didn’t utilize our TEs enough. Hill had a nice grab on the first series, Malcolm Johnson had one late in the game, but that was it from the TEs. We’ve got to get them more involved, especially MoJo. He’s a big mismatch that has to be exploited.
Our 3rd down conversion percentage was beyond awful. We didn’t get a single first down in the second half until Dak came in for TR. Frankly, the offense picked up right where it left off in 2012 in that aspect.
False Start. Delay of Game. Illegal Substitution. Those are 3 penalties that should NEVER happen. Illegal substitution is on the coaches. But false start and delay are 100% on the players. Those are mental errors that just shouldn’t happen. If you want to win these big games, cut out those silly mistakes.
I’m not going to sugar coat this, peeps: Unless we make some major offensive changes, we will struggle mightily to win 6 games. This offense, especially the coaches, need to take a long, hard look in the mirror today. There are questions that must be asked and answered. The first, most important question is this: What do we want to be/do on offense? Do we want to be a finesse passing team? Or do we want to be a physical running team? Once we make that decision, we have to commit to it 100%. This hybrid offense is a recipe for failure.
If I were Dan Mullen, here’s what I’d do to fix the offense: I would fire myself as Special Teams Coach and personally take control of the offense. Mullen’s passion isn’t special teams. His passion is offense and play calling. He needs to take over that side of the ball. Gundy runs his offense, Chip Kelly runs his offense, Mike Leach runs his, Gus Malzahn runs his, etc. I could keep going, but I think you get the point. Dan Mullen needs to be hands on and micromanage that side of the football.
The second thing I do is scrap the finesse passing approach. We win games at Mississippi State by being a bigger bully and beating up the other team physically. Make Dak QB, bring back the lead option, zone read option, lead, veer, etc. He already passes better than Relf and has more talented WRs to throw to. Let’s go all in with the mobile QB Dan is most comfortable using.
Make Josh Robinson the primary RB. He’s a powerful runner who always falls forward for extra yards. He brings some serious thump to the inside running game. A guy who averages 6 YPC shouldn’t be getting fewer than 10 carries on a weekly basis. He should be getting 15-20, minimum. Use Perkins as a "super athlete." Get him the ball on the toss, jet sweep, passes out of the backfield, put him in the slot, etc. He’s got tons of value in that role as it maximizes his explosive potential and allows us to create mismatches for him.
Keep the 2 TE sets, but add more H-back/FB sets. The extra blocker help brings an extra physical dimension we’re lacking right now. Look at the inverted wishbone that Okie State used yesterday and incorporate it into our offense. We have the QB, RBs, and H-back/FB to be able to use that formation effectively. Plus, it creates man opportunities for Robert Johnson, De’Runnya Wilson, or Fred Ross on the outside.
That’s how I saw it and what I’d do.Questions, comments, and discussion welcome.
In Mullen We Trust,