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OU vs. Mizzou - Film Study (1st Half)

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I'll be honest, I'm not super excited about re-watching this one.  If you were with us on the game thread or read my offensive recap, you know I was less than impressed.  In fact, some said I was overly critical.  Well I'll warn you now, I seriously doubt that is going to change as I watch the replay with a much more detailed eye.  So this may not be for you and if so, I promise my feelings won't be hurt.  That said, understand that I'm not watching this just to point out the negatives.  I'll gladly point out the positives as well.  It's not like I don't want to see more positives than negatives.  I'd like to think if you've read these breakdowns in the past you know I'm just trying to verbalize what I see, be it good or bad. So with that disclaimer, let's hit the play button on the ol' DVR.


* First drive for OU ends in a three and out, I'm sure you all remember.  They did go hurry up to open the game, but I didn't really feel like they did it extensively as they've done in the past.  Watching the replay may prove me wrong on that, but it's the feel I got Saturday night watching live.

* The opening 3rd and 1 that we failed to convert can be attributed to RG Tyler Evans.  Evans comes off the ball and just stands around looking for someone to block.  A Mizzou LB just runs right by him, untouched, to meet Clay in the hole and stop him in his tracks.  You'd like to think that even unblocked, Clay could have at least got the one yard necessary for the first but hard not to fault a guy who doesn't block anyone on the play.

* Random note - Tress Way has the normal stats, but they might be fairly misleading.  He's not really striking the ball that well and seems to get the benefit of some fortunate rolls in his favor.

* 13:25 1st Qtr - Mizzou gets the ball for the first time and what I expect to be the first of MANY complaints, the vaunted OU three man rush gets nowhere near Franklin.  Despite the ball being bounced back to him, Franklin has all the time in the world and rolls out to find T.J. Moe for a seven yard gain as our DBs are asked to cover for approx. seven seconds.  I'm still baffled that this was our planned strategy for this game, I mean really Venables???

* Random note - Not to take anything away from Henry Josey, but he really needs to send OU a thank you card or something.  The guy has all the film he'll ever need for a personal highlight tape.

* 12:50 1st Qtr - As much as I love the kid, at times Tony Jefferson is a major liability in pass coverage.  We saw it a couple times against FSU last week as well and on this 1st and 10 play he just gets abused by Moe.  He lines up about five yards off, Moe does a little stutter step, Jefferson doesn't get a bump, and because of that Moe is three yards behind him on a corner route when Franklin finds him in stride for a 31-yard gain.

* 12:18 1st Qtr - You know when you hear announcers say "That hole was so big you could drive a semi through it" and usually you just rolls your eyes at the tired and overused cliche?  Well the hole Mizzou creates was so big you could drive a semi through it.  Ronnell Lewis shuffles to his right to avoid the guard which would have been fine if he didn't miss the tackle on Josey at the LOS.  So now that guard he avoided is at the second level and destroying (or more appropriately holding the hell out of) Travis Lewis who could have made the tackle.  Couple that with Tom Wort being swallowed whole by the RT and Josey is untouched until he gets to the three yard line where Colvin barely trips him up preventing him from walking into the end zone.

* What's so telling is watching literally our entire team's reaction to this play.  It's originally ruled a TD, later reversed by replay, and they all just look like they'd rather be anywhere else in the world than on that field at that moment. Totally lifeless in their lack of reaction to just getting punched in the face on Mizzou's opening drive.  7-0 Mizzou

* 11:18 1st Qtr - Roy Finch's first kick return not exactly a thing of beauty.  Though to be fair, his blockers did him no favors.  Mizzou guys virtually unblocked from both his left and right side leave him with little option but to try and juke one and we all know once you stop moving north/south on a kick return it's just a matter of time before they get you.

* 10:52 1st Qtr - Jacquies Smith absolutely destroys Lane Johnson forcing Landry to roll to his right in what looks like a soon to be consecutive three and out.  Fortunately the Mizzou DB tackles Dejuan Miller for PI to give OU a freebie first down.  That one will not be going on the Lane Johnson highlight reel.

* 10:43 1st Qtr - So on that first down, OU comes back with Whaley on a stretch play to the right.  The line, primarily Habern/Evans/Johnson do an incredible job sealing things off (nice block from Hanna out in space as well) and Whaley has a gigantic hole to run through.  Doesn't even break stride running through a tackle from #21 on Mizzou and if he had elite speed he takes it to the house.  As it was, it's a gain of 30 when he gets shoe string tackled at the Mizzou 45.

* Random note - Look, I'm sure Brennan Clay is a great kid but Dom Whaley has earned the right to be this team's primary ball carrier.  He should be getting 20-25 carries a game, not splitting time equally with Clay.  I'm sorry Brennan, it's nothing personal but Whaley has just outplayed you so far.  Quite considerably IMO.

* 10:36 1st Qtr - So coming off that big Whaley run, OU goes hurry up and play action with Whaley in a one back set. Miller is at the bottom of your screen, running a post route with Broyles dragging underneath.  Both safeties are playing well off the LOS and do not bite at all on the play fake.  All of this is developing in front of Landry who is facing zero pressure or any one in his face.  So despite all of that, he inexplicably sees something that makes him throw, and grossly under throw in that, a ball into clearly obvious double coverage.  I've watched it at least five times now and while I'm certainly no QB coach, I just cannot understand what he's seeing that makes him think it's a good decision with the football.  It's not like Miller is running down the field wide open and the safety comes out of nowhere to make a play on the ball.  Don't get me wrong though, Miller had a step but that ball had to be thrown well out in front of him for him to have a chance to make a play.  If it is, it could easily be six but not with where Landry put it. Just a terrible, terrible decision by Landry and a horribly thrown ball at least 5-7 yards under thrown.

* 7:14 1st Qtr - 3rd and 3 from the Mizzou nine yard line.  You won't find a bigger fan of #85 than me, but for the life of me as good as he is I just do not understand the logic in throwing him fade routes, at his size, down near the goal line.  It fails, and Michael Hunnicutt comes on to show us that a FG/PAT can actually go through the uprights rather than just barely scraping over the cross bar.  7-3 Mizzou

* 7:02 1st Qtr - And Mizzou gets the ball back at their own 24.  Once again OU is in this stupid three man front, dropping either into coverage.  Mizzou is in a five wide set.  The line, as usual, gets nowhere near Franklin giving him a perfect pocket and all day to throw.  In the first of several underwhelming plays on the night, Gabe Lynn has somehow let Mizzou's one WR threat (sorry other guys) Moe get behind him for a cool 29 yards.  Again, I'm not sure what the hell Venables was thinking giving a guy who struggles to complete passes down field zero pressure with a three man rush allowing him to take his time and make his reads.  

* 6:06 1st Qtr - So in response to the lack of anything resembling a pass rush, on 2nd and 8 from the OU 45 Venables decides to bring a blitz.  He brings both LBs, but considering this just makes it 5 vs. 5 (because remember we're playing a three man line.  Not sure if I've mentioned that yet) Mizzou picks up both.  Venables also bring safety Javon Harris on the blitz, but for some bizarre reason he doesn't creep up so he's coming from about 10 yards off the LOS and that's not taking into account Franklin is in the gun.  So a safety blitz from a minimum 17 yards away, good idea? Your call.  Anyway, back to the play and Mr. Lynn who gets juked out of his jock by WR #2 running a short crossing route, well wouldn't you guess it.  Right where Harris blitzed from, leaving no safety valve for the defense and an incredibly easy six points for the Tigers.  That play call was the epitome of a coach getting his you know what kicked. Venables was embarrassed by the Mizzou OC actually on that entire drive.  14-3 Mizzou

* Random note - Really liked what they did with Whaley out of the backfield all game.

* 4:40 1st Qtr - OU driving off a couple nice runs (one by Finch, two by Whaley) and here is a great play on 2nd and 4.  It's a sneaky little designed slip screen to James Hanna off play action.  He makes a nice run after the catch for a 17-yard gain.  I was surprised that both he and Millard weren't more involved considering what they did with it when they were given a chance.  OU scores on RB's first of three TDs the very next play.  14-10 Mizzou

* Random note - I know I made a crack about OU making this Josey kid look better than he is, but he continues to impress me (I'm sure he's thrilled about that).  He looks like a really good, shifty and quick back for them.

* 0:21 1st Qtr - It's amazing what happens when you actually step up into the pocket instead of freaking out and scrambling into the pressure.  Landry finds RB on 3rd and 8 for a gain of 29.  And that's the end of what felt like a REALLY long first quarter.  Still 14-10 Mizzou

* 12:41 2nd Qtr - Mizzou 3rd and 6 from their own 20.  Frank Alexander goes into beast mode and blows right by their LT on a speed edge rush.  Gets to Franklin and drills him as he's forced to throw it away.  Just a great individual effort to over come the stupidity of once again rushing three guys.  Alexander was easily, and I mean easily, the best player for the OU defense all night.

* 8:48 2nd Qtr - 3rd and 7 for OU from their 23 and what is really a big play that might have been over looked at the time.  Just a simple go route from Reynolds up the right sideline and Landry places the ball perfectly for a nice over the shoulder catch from Jaz.  It's throws like that that make some of the other ones so incredibly frustrating.  Clearly he (meaning Landry) has the ability to make great throws like that one and while no one expects them all to be perfect, the bad ones for him are just so unbelievably bad it's baffling.  Anyway, great throw and catch for a very much needed first down.

* 8:23 2nd Qtr - Again with the slip screen to Hanna and again it works for a nice gain, this time for 12 yards.  Hopefully we see that some more in Dallas in a couple weeks.

* 6:40 2nd Qtr - After another botched fade pass attempt to a 5'10" Broyles, they finally cash in on a red zone opportunity with a little stop route and a throw to RB's back shoulder.  17-14 OU, finally.

* 6:36 2nd Qtr - I feel like I've pointed out enough of his mistakes that I need to credit him when he makes a good play.  Lynn comes off the slot on a little delayed blitz and Mizzou runs the zone read right at him with Josey.  Lynn makes a solid open field tackle for a loss of five.

* 5:03 2nd Qtr - 2nd and 10 for OU from their own 44.  A little swing route for Whaley out of the backfield, he catches it with no one within five yards of him, and #22 for Mizzou comes off Haywood to try and make the tackle.  Whaley gives him a stop-and-start stutter move, that would make Barry Sanders proud, and a sweet little stiff arm to almost put the guy on his backside before running away from the Mizzou DT trailing the play and tacking on another 18 yards after initial contact.  I can't even begin to tell you how impressive that play was.  I'm sorry Mr. Whaley, I know my words don't even come close to doing your moves justice.

* 4:36 2nd Qtr - After a 27-yard catch from Jaz Reynolds, OU has it 1st and goal from the five.  They go back to that TE slip screen again, but this time it's to Austin Haywood.  Mizzou plays it much better this time and while it's a catch, there is a defender right there to tackle Haywood who almost spins out of it to record his first career TD catch.  But alas, it was not to be.  Landry sneaks it in on the next play, with a considerable push from his teammates to extend the Sooners lead.  24-14 OU

* 2:32 2nd Qtr - 3rd and 4 for Mizzou from their 41.  OU brings the blitz, but Mizzou calls a fade route to Big Mouth Jackson who is matched up on Fleming.  I could tell you more were it not for the terrible camera work by the FX crew, but it looked like Fleming just got beat off the line and a good throw from Franklin turns into a first down for Mizzou. Not sure what it is, but Fleming has not been nearly as good so far as he was last year.  And IMO, that play doesn't happen if Hurst is defending that guy.

* Mizzou misses a field goal and OU runs out the half to take it to the locker room up ten, 24-14.  Terrible start, but nice turn around to take control of the game.