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OU Football Film Study - Kansas (1st Half)

I doubt I have to tell many of you that being at the game (this was the first one I've attended this year) and watching at home can provide two VERY different opinions on a game.  So I'm eager to do this film study to see how differently, if at all, I might feel watching it from a different perspective.  I can tell you that being in the stadium, I did not come away very happy with how our Sooners played against KU.  Maybe it was being surrounded by Jayhawk fans and hearing all that they had to say or maybe it was that we just really played that poorly at times.  Obviously having a chance to fire up the DVR and watch this game much more closely than you can from the stands will hopefully answer that and some other questions.  So let's get this thing started.

* Carter Blackburn and Brock Huard, who are these guys?  Talk about your F-crew.  Could they have gotten a worse announcing crew?

* Dom Whaley with a nice opening kickoff return, but I can't help wonder just how smart it is to have him back there running kicks back.  We're obviously pretty thin at RB coming into this game, plus you have him run a kick back and then put him out there as your starting RB.  Is he a little winded on those first couple runs?  I'm just sayin', the risk vs. reward of that doesn't seem to be worth it IMO.

* Offense looks really out of sync on their first possession.  I read somewhere that KU came out in press coverage, something they don't normally do, and that was what threw the offense off at first.  Well, at least on this first drive that is definitely not what I'm seeing.  The KU DBs were both lined up at least seven yards off on all three pass plays. Stills just falls down on the first, drops a catch he should have made on the second, and the third was just a bad pass from Landry (behind Broyles).  Three and out to start, awesome.

* Great first punt from Tress Way, who I think punted the ball well all night.

* I also read that OU played the 50-front defense most of the game, but watching from the stands it looked to me like it was just that STUPID three man d-line Venables failed so miserably with against Missouri.  It would appear, at least from what I'm seeing on our first defensive possession that I was right.  Three man line but instead of Lynn in the game like they used against Mizzou, Corey Nelson is in that spot.  So it's really just a 3-3-5 vs. a 3-2-6.  I would never claim to know more about football than any of our coaches, but when you're getting gashed up the middle like our defense was all first half, can somebody help me understand how playing a three man d-line makes any freaking sense?  You just can't do that unless you have a monster nose guard to take up multiple blocks in the middle and while I love what our inside guys have done for most of this year, they are not your traditional nose guard.  We needed the four man front, with two DTs in the game, to prevent all those runs up the middle of our defense IMO.

* On the first third down of the game for our defense, they go back to that four man front with all DEs and it works.  They get pressure, force Webb to step up as the pocket collapses, right into the waiting arms of Travis Lewis.  Not a sack technically, but just as good as one.  Three and out for KU.

* I'd like to personally think the KU punter for unintentionally giving #85 the first chance(s) to legitimately return a punt for the first time in about two years.

* Second series for the OU offense, more of the same at least to start.  Landry and his WRs just look off a tick.  Though he is able to connect with Stills on a short post route to convert a 3rd and seven.  Then the very next play, they run the exact same thing, but just a little deeper down field, for a nice TD pass to #4.  Even if he doesn't hit stills, who was covered fairly well, if Landry can check off he's got Whaley WIDE open in a swing route (he could have crawled into the end zone).  The replay confirms both a nice throw through a tight window and a very nice job by Stills to hold onto the ball as the defender tries to slap it away.  7-0 OU

* 11:28 1st Qtr, 1st and 10 KU.  After the OU TD, KU takes over at their own 21.  This is just simply and outstanding play by the Jayhawks.  Perfect blocking.  Shotgun set with two backs, one to each side of the QB.  It's a sweep play to the short side of the field and the second RB acts as a lead blocker.  He totally takes Corey Nelson out of the play while both Lewis and Wort get cut by KU o-linemen who easily get to the second level.  Looks like Fleming gets held pretty clearly, but even thing it would have been a 15-yard gain.  Perfect execution by KU.

* 10:16 1st Qtr, 3rd and 5 KU.  Not to discredit the RB here, but just piss poor tackling by OU.  KU runs a little wrap around draw and both Jefferson & Harris close immediately for what would be a minimal gain.  Unfortunately, both try to go for the big hit instead of wrapping up.  They hit the RB, but basically take each other out, who bounces off the hit and spins forward just past the first down mark.  Now what should have been a KU punt turns into an extended drive. Doesn't lead to points, but still just poor defense.

* 6:33 1st Qtr, 3rd and 9 OU.  For all his sometime detractors, this is an NFL throw to Broyles for a big first down.  #85 up the seam and he is blanketed by the KU DB.  Landry puts it in the only possible, and I do mean ONLY possible, place he could and Broyles hauls it in for a 30-yard gain.  It's baffling sometimes when Landry makes those throws, that are so damn good, and then other times leaves you wondering what he possibly could have been looking at. But that, well that was one hell of a throw.

* Very next play, a GREAT play on the ball by #52 for KU or it's a beautiful TD pass to Trey Franks.  A terrible screen play fails to develop on the next play and with that, the first of what I think if four failures (i.e. FGs) in the red zone.  A sign of things to come and a unnecessary reminder of how much we suck inside the twenty.

* 3:23 1st Qtr, 4th and 1 KU.  Of course this is just after the KU center was taken off the field on a stretcher, so no better time to say how relieved I'm sure we all were to hear the news that he was back with the team before the end of the night.  Thank goodness.  But as to the play, just poor defense yet again by our Sooners.  But hey, KU is in the diamond!  Maybe they can teach us how to use this formation again since Josh Heupel seems to have lost those pages from our playbook.  As for the play, to be fair, initially, with a bad snap it looks like it's going to be a busted play.  Webb scoops it up and is completely lost, first looking to run to his right but sees Jefferson waiting for him. Then he turns to his right and like a basketball two hand chest pass, shoves the ball out to the RB Sims.  At this point, both Wort and Lewis have gotten completely sucked up into the middle because it looked like Webb was dead to rights. So now the only person on the outside is Fleming, who fights off yet another blatant hold and is in position to make the stop.  Since you know this was a TD for KU, obviously he doesn't (looked like he was off balance which allowed Sims to really just run right by him).  56-yard TD on a 4th and 1, Stoops looks stunned on the OU sideline.  10-7 OU

* 2:52 1st Qtr, 1st and 10 OU.  Roy Finch sighting!  A strong first down run for the little man.  Puts his head down and bowls over a KU LB (wow!) picking up a solid nine yards.  At this point it's just his first carry, but as you know he would get more and ran the ball well.  Just so I don't forget I'll mention this now.  I don't know what, given how well he (meaning Finch) played when given the chance, why the coaches force fed Whaley 30 carries.  No disrespect intended to Whaley because obviously he had a good game, but why subject him to that many hits when you have a very capable RB in Finch to take some of that burden off your starter?

* 1:36 1st Qtr, 1st and 10 OU.  Hate to question Stills as good as he's been, but on this one it really looks like he could have caught a long pass from Landry.  It's a little out in front of him, but sure looks catchable.  For some reason he tries to catch it with one hand instead of two and it bounces off only to fall incomplete.  If he does catch it, it's a 55-yard TD and his second of the night.  Instead, it's just second down.

* 0:14 1st Qtr, 1st and 10 KU.  This is the play that would have been the Javon Harris INT, but OU is called for offsides.  I believe they said it was on Nelson and I have to tell you, unless they're saying he lined up in the neutral zone (which from the tv it does not appear to be the case) it's a terrible call because he does not even flinch until the ball is snapped.  It's too bad, because Harris made an absolutely great play on the ball to pick it off.  End of the first, still 10-7 OU.

* 13:45 1st Qtr, 2nd and 7 OU.  After a three yard gain on first down, Whaley gets it again on second down and looks to put OU in a third and one after a tough run.  However, the ball apparently comes out which stunned me watching in the stadium both because of the late reaction to everyone on the field and that Whaley's ball security hasn't been the slightest issue all year.  It was an odd game for him because this won't be the first time he has issues w/ his hands.  KU takes over inside our 25 with a short field.  At this point, watching from the stands I couldn't help but start to get a pit in my stomach.

* No thanks to the offense, the defense holds strong and gives KU virtually nothing forcing them to kick a FG.  10-10, tied up.

* Random note - I keep hearing about how bad OU is on kick return/coverage.  Obviously I don't have the answer to the coverage part, or I'd be a highly paid "consultant" to the staff, but I do know the answer as to why it seems we haven't had a big kick return in 20 years (slight exaggeration).  Because the guys they put back their to return kicks aren't any good at it.  Four years of Mossis Madu has been replaced by an equally as bad Trey Franks.  The kid is a blur on a track, but a football field with eleven guys barreling down the field looking to take your head off isn't a track. He's WAY too timid IMO and rarely if ever hits a hole/seam with any kind of speed, he looks like he is trying to tip-toe through it instead of hit it at full speed.  Until they put somebody else back there (and Whaley isn't it either), nothing is going to change in that department.  Stoops stubbornness with respect to this baffles the mind.

* 9:22 2nd Qtr, 1st and goal OU.  This play may show why Roy Finch isn't playing more.  He stays in to pass block and almost gets Landry killed.  A KU LB comes off the play's right edge, unblocked.  Finch steps up into the play off a play fake and doesn't see the LB, which is his assignment, until it's way too late.  The LB has a clear path to Landry who has to throw it away before he gets drilled.  It doesn't actually wind up being a big hit necessarily, but Landry does get thrown to the ground and hits the back of his head.  He looks a little shaken getting up and Sooner Nation collectively holds their breath.

* 9:18 2nd Qtr, very next play.  Fortunately, Finch redeems himself with a sneaky little eight yard TD run.  Out of the pistol, just the customary stretch play to the right, and Finch makes a perfect read to cut it back inside.  Here, even on an inside run, his size is an advantage.  He just squirms his way through the clutter of bodies, breaking a couple arm tackles to find the end zone.  You can really tell he was pumped up about that, forcefully ripping off his helmet straps in what was likely a sign of celebration and release of frustration.  It's a simple little play like this that shows just how talented he is, to be able to see the tiniest of seams and cut that back up inside to get in for six.  I get the missed block, but how is this kid not playing more?!?  Oh, and Huard the announcer being the idiot that he is calls him Whaley on the replay, brilliant.  17-10 OU.

* 7:58 2nd Qtr, 1st and 10 OU.  And history has been made.  Couldn't have happened on a more fitting play for the all-time great, #85.  Just a straight 'go route' and Broyles runs right by the DB who has no help over the top.  After the game, the coaches admitted they wanted to get him the record on a big play like this and I thought that was incredibly cool to hear.  All the celebration from his coaches and teammates once he got back to the sideline was also incredibly cool to watch.  Congrats to Ryan Broyles, who has to now (if he wasn't already) be considered the greatest WR in the history of the University of Oklahoma.  24-10 OU.

* 6:37 2nd Qtr, 3rd and 10 KU.  Just when you're thinking everything is rolling for OU, the defense has them in a third and long looking to get the OU offense the ball right back.  Then KU runs their own little 'go route' and an equally as good of throw from Jordan Webb.  Fleming has perfect coverage on the WR Beshears, but it's just an absolutely perfectly placed throw that falls right into his hands.  Hard to fault Fleming on that one.  Big first down for the Jayhawks and easily Webb's best throw of the night.

* 4:20 2nd Qtr, 3rd and 11 KU.  I'll be honest with you, I don't even know how to describe this play.  Starts out like it would be your typical coverage sack play.  The d-line doesn't really get great pressure, but the secondary is in lockdown mode so Webb has nowhere to go with it.  He starts to run, but runs into the back of his o-line, then looks like he's about to get sacked by either Alexander or David King.  Somehow spins out of that, scrambles some more, then rolls out to his left and throws across his body to a wide open receiver.  You have to get him credit for just an outstanding individual effort on the play and you can't expect our secondary to cover everybody for as long as he extended that play.  If you're going to fault anybody, you'd have to blame the d-line for not getting more pressure and getting him on the ground.  But again, just a great play by Webb.

* Shortly after KU punches it in from the two yard line.  Soooooo, KU can score a TD when they have first and goal but we can't (thinking ahead to later in the game)?  Really???  24-17 OU.

* OU gets the ball back and drives right back down inside the KU red zone, our in other words our offense's kryptonite.  I can't help myself, so we'll subject ourselves to the hideousness of what is about to happen.  1st and 10 from the eight and a nice gain by Whaley on first down.  Sets up a 2nd and 2 from the five yard line.  As unimaginative as always, we run it right up the middle.  The KU MLB comes through unblocked and stops Whaley for a one yard gain.  I think my initial reaction is to blame the o-line or TEs for not picking him up, but to be fair you can't block everyone on every play.  With the QB out there, there is always going to be a guy unblocked somewhere.  On this play, you'd like to see Whaley bounce it once he sees him come through untouched or make some kind of move to get past/through the guy.  Doesn't happen, so now we're in third and short against, at least statistically, the worst defense in the country.  Easy conversion right?  Um nope, stuffed again on third down.  They go for it on fourth down and barely get it.  So it took us three attempts to get two yards against the KU defense.  Yeah, think about that for a minute.

* Random note - Look, I love Whaley's story as much as anybody.  So this really isn't about him, but more about what the heck our coaches are trying to accomplish with this offense in the red zone (and actually just in general).  What is Heupel's reluctance to use Millard and the TEs more in this offense?!?  The TEs have been used sparingly at best and Millard used even less.  If this team struggles so much in short yardage situations, why not use your biggest RB to grind out those tough yards?  At least try it, if it doesn't work then don't go back to it but to never even give it a shot seems stupid.  What happened to that FB play that killed Texas last year and seemed to work almost every time?

* So now after struggling to just get a first down, they have it first and goal from the two yard line just before the end of the half.  If this next series of plays doesn't display just how clueless this offense becomes down here then I don't know what will.  Keep in mind, they've just run it three consecutive times right up the middle all of which produced a total of two and a half yards.  So now, knowing how this plays out, I get the sense they're either afraid to try to run it (there is only 17 seconds left but they have a timeout so you can't use that as an excuse IMO) or think they'll be clever and throw it ever time.  They go for the latter.  To be fair, it is a good play call on first down.  Whaley comes out on that RB swing pass and is pretty much wide open.  Unfortunately, he muffs the catch (this is what I was referring to before with him having issues with his hands in this game ) of what would have been a sure TD.  Play action on second down and Broyles gets inside his man, but Landry despite no pressure throws it three feet above his head.  He really struggles with these short throws down here for some reason, unless the guy is WIDE open he seems to always be high with his throw.  Third down, another throw, and Millard breaks open in the end zone.  But it looks like the throw is slightly behind him and he also appears to trip over his own feet, so it sails incomplete and once again we fail to capitalize.  Can't put it all on the play calling, just pathetic execution as well.  27-17 OU at the half.