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Film Study - Oklahoma Sooners vs. UTEP (First Half)

September 1, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Kenny Stills (4) scores a touchdown against UTEP Miners defensive back Derrick Morgan (21) in the first quarter at Sun Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-US PRESSWIRE
September 1, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Kenny Stills (4) scores a touchdown against UTEP Miners defensive back Derrick Morgan (21) in the first quarter at Sun Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-US PRESSWIRE

That's right, we're back for another year of Film Study! To be honest, this is one of my favorite things to do here. Some days more than others mind you and today might not be one of those days given how our Sooners performed last night. But we're going to go ahead and do this regardless.

For those of you who are new around these parts, (1) welcome! and (2) the format of this is pretty straight forward. I'm about to hit play (somewhat reluctantly) on my DVR and my recording of Saturday night's UTEP game. As things play out, I'll document what I'm seeing and my thoughts on what/how things happen. I think we've established quite awhile ago, I'm a psychopath when it comes to Oklahoma. Clearly in doing this, I have way too much time on my hands. But in doing this, while time consuming, I can get a different, or at least more in-depth, perspective on things I likely would have missed in my initial viewing.

Anyway, mainly to save you all, I fully anticipate this taking way too long for just a single post so my plan is to break this up into the first and second halves. This first one, I'm not so much looking forward to. But here we go.

* I'm going to attempt to refrain from commenting on the announcers, mainly because I doubt I have to be the one to tell you just how god awful they were.

* Opening kickoff - Clearly I was dead wrong in my assumption that the extra five yards this year would help Patrick O'Hara actually reach the end zone on his kickoffs.

* 1st Q, 14:55 - Just want to quickly point out how OU opened up the game on defense. Four man front, with three "linebackers" (I used quotes because Ibiloye was one of the three), Tony Jefferson down in the box, and Javon Harris playing center field. R.J. Washington is unblocked on the play, should have stopped Nathan Jeffery for a gain of one or two, but Jeffery runs right by him, and for some reason all three LBs crash to the opposite side of the play leaving nothing but green and a 15-yard gain that is only prevented from being an 80-yard TD thanks to a Harris tackle. Seriously, it's crazy just how close that was to a disastrously bad start.

* Just a handful of plays into the game and Jefferson has already been down in the box quite a bit. Will be interesting to see of that's how Mike continues to use him.

* The the point I just made, it made me realize just how disturbing this first UTEP drive actually was when you consider OU essentially had eight guys in the box.

* 1st Q, 13:19 - This play, in a nutshell, validates why so many people take issue with Tom Wort at MLB. It's just a simple counter run play up the middle, he (Wort) gets sucked up into the play like he does so many times, and just gets absolutely swallowed up by one of the UTEP guards. And I mean swallowed up. To be fair, Jeffery runs through a Harris arm tackle at the LOS, but your MLB has got to be there to fill that hole, right?!? Jefferson comes up to make a solid tackle, but only after a 13-yard gain. Jeez, that was really bad.

* It's frightening how bad Jamarkus McFarland is getting dominated right now. And not double teamed, mind you, just one-on-one. Against UTEP.

* 1st Q, 12:34 - Demontre Hurst missing what, by my count, was the first of four should have been OU interceptions. Really baited the UTEP quarterback into the throw, closed on the ball perfectly, but you've got to make that pick, man. Jefferson actually almost got a real cheapie off the deflection.

* 1st Q, 12:01 - This play is a clear example of why King was moved to the inside. It's 3rd and 5 here, a pretty clear passing down, and King even being on the interior gets a clean release as the o-line drops into pass pro. King absolutely abuses the UTEP right guard, who barely even gets a hand on him, before pulling down Lamaison for a sack. Which saves OU at least three points with the first of three shanked UTEP field goals.

* 1st Q, 10:41 - OU's first offensive possession, 2nd down and 6. This is definitely a new play. Sooners are in the shotgun (which I think I read they were on literally every offensive snap, so something I'll keep an eye on) slash pistol formation, with Whaley the deep back and Millard to Landry's left. Stills comes in motion from the slot and it's almost kind of like a double play action to both Stills and Whaley. Meanwhile, Millard releases on a bit of a drag route out of the backfield while Landry rolls out to his right. Millard is wide open, makes the catch, lowers his shoulder, plants a UTEP defender, and it's an easy eight yards. But yeah, only give him three more touches in this game, Josh. Great call!

* I am by no means ready to write off Dom Whaley after just one game, but it's pretty clear he's going to need a couple weeks to work his way back into things. It was expected, so don't be one of those people screaming he should be benched for Damien Williams. Look, I was/am driving the Damien Williams bandwagon and I still want Whaley in there getting carries, ok.

* 1st Q, 9:57 - 2nd down and 6 for OU from their own 46. Either horrible blocking or a someone just missed the play call because both Stills and Metoyer block the same guy leaving Whaley completely unprotected on a simple swing pass out of the backfield. The UTEP defender is completely untouched and arrives at Whaley just about the same time the ball does. Five yards loss, Stills and Metoyer just look at each other.

* 1st Q, 9:08 - The blocked punt. Honestly, I can't tell you what happened. Other than OU just didn't block at least five UTEP players. They literally just allowed the UTEP guys to run right by them untouched. It's seem too stupid to be that simple, but go back and watch it. It was. Jesus, as they come back from commercial they show a replay from overhead and it makes OU look even worse, which I didn't think was even possible on that play. 7-0 UTEP

* For the people who said Roy Finch played, you were absolutely right. He is very clearly the second man back deep on this kickoff, which goes out of the end zone. Did you see that, Patty?

* 1st Q, 9:00 - OU gets the ball back after the fake punt. Opens in the shotgun (weird), in a four wide set, with Taylor McNamara one of those four, and another very simple swing pass out of the backfield to Whaley. This time, unfortunately, my boy Adam Shead is the culprit of hanging Whaley out to dry. He either doesn't see or completely misses the UTEP defender to his left, who again is left untouched to come up and make the play. To make matters worse, somehow Whaley actually spins off the initial tackle, but a second UTEP defender literally runs right past Shead (who could not look more lost on this play) and pancakes Whaley for a one yard loss. The more I watch this, the more Whaley really got screwed by his teammates on a lot of these short passes.

* 1st Q, 7:57 - 3rd and 5 for OU on their own 31. Landry is very lucky here not to have thrown an interception. I'm certainly no quarterback expert, but if you go back and watch this play it sure as hell looks to me like he's made up his mind where he's going the second the ball is snapped. He literally locks on to Metoyer the instant the ball hits his hands. The UTEP defender sees this, jumps the route, and only as a result of his drop does Landry avoid the INT. That was vintage Bad Landry. Oh, and three straight passes leads to a three and out. Awesome.

* They actually show an OU sideline shot following that play as the offense comes over and let's just say it's, um, slightly less than encouraging. OU looks completely defeated, guys hanging their heads. Their down 7-0 with almost eight minutes left in the first quarter! Where is the freaking fire?!? Where is the fight?!? Yeah, we know they came back and won now but at the time this actually took place? I mean wow, just wow. Pathetic.

* 1st Q, 6:14 - 3rd and 8 for UTEP from their own 22. I guess this is what Mike Stoops calls a dime package. They do have an extra DB in (Julian Wilson), but at the expense of a defensive lineman as opposed to a linebacker. Which means OU is in a three man front, which sucked you know what all of last year, but here it actually works thanks to Washington and King getting pressure.

* 1st Q, 6:01 - Sooners get the ball back and Josh Heupel almost gives me a heart attack when I watched this live. The Triangle Diamond returns! Even as excited as I was to see it come back, Heupel didn't really use it the same way Wilson did. There were two fullbacks (Millard and Bird) instead of two running backs and they really didn't have all that much success with it on run plays. Which I'm sure means Heupel will never use it again.

* 1st Q, 5:19 - 3rd and 11 for OU on their own 32. I'm not sure at the time I realized the down and distance which only increases my admiration for this throw Landry is about to make. OU is back in that four wide set with McNamara. Landry takes the snap and gets good protection from his o-line, but UTEP's coverage initially is spot on. In one of several instances from this game where Landry's work with George Whitfield is clearly evident, his footwork is outstanding and he keeps his eyes downfield the entire time. Again, where his improvement is clearly on display just before he lets go of the ball a UTEP defender is baring down on him. The old Landry would have freaked out and either taken the sack or more likely just thrown the ball up for grabs. Instead, here, he unleashes what is unquestionably an NFL-type throw from one hashmark to the other and hits Kenny Stills, behind the defense, in perfect stride. It was essentially a broken play that turned into huge swing in momentum for OU. Oh, and it was one hell of a throw. 7-7 all tied up.

* It's pretty clear now Mike Stoops' idea of a dime package is basically a 3-2-6. It's worked both times tonight with respect to still getting pressure, but I'm not sure how big a fan I am of it once conference play starts.

* Admittedly, it was just a glimpse but that one Justin Brown punt return gives you hope for the rest of the season.

* 1st Q, 2:23 - Trey Millard's second touch = another OU first down. But, again, by all means Josh, whatever you do, don't get the ball into his hands.

* Maybe I just don't understand the rule, but from my vantage point that chop block call on Whaley was horse bleep.

* 1st Q, 0:33 - I'll make this one quick. But this is the exact same play as the first one in the game described above, the exact same play. Again, off the edge, Washington is unblocked. However, this time he makes the tackle and instead of a 15-yard gain, it's only six. Pretty significant difference. Just sayin'.

End of 1st Q, game tied 7-7.

* 2nd Q, 13:23 - 3rd and 3 for OU from their own 24. This play winds up being an incomplete pass, but it's another instance in which they work Landry put in this offseason clearly shows. UTEP has a guy come untouched off the edge to Landry's right. Instead of freaking out, like Bad Landry, he steps up into the pocket to avoid the pressure then makes a move to avoid another rusher and actually makes a great throw off his back foot to Whaley while being tackled. Unfortunately, Whaley drops the ball as it hits him right in the hands. I saw a lot of people say after the fact if Whaley catches it he takes it to the house and while I may not necessarily agree with that, at a minimum it's a first down and extends the drive.

* 2nd Q, 11:42 - 3rd and 3 for UTEP from the OU 28. Sometimes you just have to give it up to a guy for making a hell of a play and that's exactly what happens here with Jeffery. Oklahoma strings up a run play as well as you could hope for with multiple guys in pursuit as Jeffrey bounces it to the outside. He launches himself over Hurst, who goes low, then amazingly as he's coming down he, I don't know how to really describe it, leaps off the foot he lands on for just enough to get him past the first down marker. Just an outstanding play.

* Landry Jones has been fantastic off play action all game thus far. I really hope we see more of this going forward.

* 2nd Q, 5:20 - I said it at the time and the watching it a second time changes nothing. UTEP did Michael Hunnicutt by "blocking" this field goal attempt. Had whatever happened not happened, it might have gone down in history as the ugliest field goal attempt in the history of football.

* 2nd Q, 5:03 - I ripped Wort in my recap for being non-existent so I suppose it's only fair that I point out a solid play here. Granted, he is unblocked but he plays good contain by not overrunning the play (or getting sucked up into the middle of the scrum) and tackles Jeffery for a three yard loss.

* 2nd Q, 2:56 - Whaley loses the ball here after a 16-yard gain, but it was clearly his best run on the night. I think he'll work his way back to the old Dom, eventually.

* 2nd Q, 2:00 - Another couple of inches and people probably aren't talking about Metoyer's debut supposedly being a tad disappointing (which is stupid, IMO). Runs a great route, makes a great catch with a man right on him, but unfortunately his foot was just barely out of bounds.

* After the OU drive stalls, UTEP with three runs and a punt, then Sooners with a failed hail mary and we're at the half tied 7-7.

Second half breakdown coming soon.