Saturday, September 5, 2009

That Was Ugly

First of all, let's tyip our cap to the BYU Cougars. They made the plays when they needed to make them and one the game. Now, let's take a look at the Sooners.


Several things had me shaking my head in this game.

1) Penalties - the Sooners had 12 penalties for 93 yards. They had 50 yards in the first quarter alone. Frankly, from being at the game I thought we had to be in the 120 area. I don't think they keep stats on these things, but the yards negated by these penalties was significant was well. I can remember multiple aoccasions where the penalty negated a positive play. The difference between second and 1 and first and 25 is immense. Cory Brandon had a particularly awful night, with several false start penalties...including one that ended up being a 52 yard kick instead of a 47 yard kick.
2) Failure to stick with the running game. On the surface, the Sooners had 31 carries for 118, which is not impressive. However, Demarco Murray averaged almost 6 yards per carry, and Chris Brown averaged 4 yards per carry. These gents were able to move the ball, but the penalties put the Sooners in long down and distance situations that made sticking to the running game implausible. With a new, untested QB in, the Sooners started their first two possessoins of the second half with 15 yard chop block, and another 10 yard holding possession. Starting with those down and distance situations makes it difficult to run the ball a lot and shorten the game for your untested QB.
3) Stopping the run - the Sooners did stop the run, but the Sooners almost always stop the run. They are obsessed with it, even when it become apparently the opposition can't run effectively. The play action and drop it over the LB is all too easy when playing the Sooners.
4) Defending the middle of the field in pass coverage - watching the second half gave me flashbacks to last year's OU-Texas game. BYU would run it wide, or throw a screen or two, but when they needed it, you could count on a pass between the hashmarks to a receiver who was open. The gentlemanly Fightin Mormons were kind enough to fall down after the catch in many instances, seemingly content with the first down reception, and assuming someone was nearby to tackle them when many times there was not. Ryan Reynolds reconstructed knees have not resulted in him being an improved pass defender. however, when the LBs are committed to stopping the run even when the D-line is handlng it just fine, it's not enough.
5) Dropped balls - Adron Tonnell dropped the first two passes thrown his way. Both would have extended drives, both hit him in the hands, and both passes hit the ground.
6) Receivers - on the final drive, there were two instances where receivers were sitting down in zones VERY near one another. Enough so that when Jones threw a pass, it was catchable by both receivers (though neither did). It didn't seem to me like it should be drawn up that way.
7) Fumbles - The Sooners had three crucial fumbles, losing two of them. The first was Murray's fumble at the BYU 7 that the Cougars recovered as the Sooners were looking to capitalize on Ryan Reynolds interception of a Max Hall pass. The second was a fumble by Ryan Broyles at the Cougar 36, which was recovered by BYU. Finally, the third was a mishandled snap by Landry Jones on a 3rd and 1 at midfield. The 5 yard loss led to a punt immediately thereafter.
8) 3rd Down Efficiency - the Cougars were 8-17 on 3rd down, the Sooners were 2 for 11. The Cougars ability to extend drives contributed mightily to the time of possession advantage of the Cougars, who held the ball for 0ver 37 minutes. The Sooners had mishandled snaps on third down, and dropped passes on third down. The Cougars had completed passes to the TE or slot receivers.

I don't believe you can pinpoint any one piece of this equation to blame, but if you consider the Cougard had nearly 200 more passing yards than the sooners, converted almost half of their third downs and controlled the clock for 37 minutes. If you throw in the loss of the startintg QB, it's kind of a surprise that we had a kick at the end of the game that would have won it if it were made.

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