Eric Striker is establishing himself as one of the best defensive players in all of college football. He's got a super quick first step, he's violent on the attack, and he's a smart player. When you leave him unblocked then bad things can happen to your offense. Here's an example from last week's Tennessee game.
On this play you get to see all three of those aspects of Striker's game in just a matter of seconds. Let's talk about what's going on right here.
Here we find the Sooners lined up in their "3-4" base defense but don't be fooled by it. That's 6-4/252 outside linebacker Geno Grissom lined up at the bottom of the line as a quasi defensive end. Striker is at the top and out wide from the line.
Josh Smith (#25) is the receiver in motion at the snap. Jordan Evans is the linebacker in charge of picking up the play through the C gap. Junior receiver Jonathan Johnson (#81) is charged with the task of blocking out Striker and to say that he did a poor job would actually nice. If Johnson goes out on a pass the Striker is most likely going to release him to a safety. His focus at the snap (and most likely his primary assignment) is the offensive backfield and his line of vision is there at the snap.
This is where the play is recognized by the Oklahoma defense. Tennessee is loaded towards the top which is why Oklahoma has committed one-on-one coverage at the bottom of the screen. Running back Jalen Hurd is moving to block (and will get a nice block on Jordan Evans), quarterback Justin Worley is not only looking left but he's also turned his shoulders and hips. The defense is reading this play like a book and the key tip here is that the slot receiver (Johnson) is breaking down to block out Striker which removes him as a receiving threat and only leaves one possible target in the backfield. At this point Oklahoma's defense knows this play is either a short pass to the flat or a deep vertical pass. That's why Grissom (#85) is crashing in at the bottom and, upon reading the block of Johnson, Striker is charging towards Josh Smith.
Right here the play is absolutely blown up. Hurd does his job and takes out Jordan Evans but Eric Striker moves past a horrible block attempt to snuff this out with ease. Also, if you want to see a great example of good coaching then notice the pursuit angle taken by the defenders. Striker is moving directly to the ball carrier. Because Hurd blocks out Evans, Charles Tapper is moving straight to the sideline. Dominique Alexander is doing the same thing but on the second level.
Initially I thought that Jordan Phillips was going to mover towards the deep third so I marked it that way, even though it didn't make sense. He actually is doing a spin move here and will pursue towards the sideline as well.
This play doesn't ever have a chance and all of the reasons why center around Eric Striker. He is quick to read and react to the play. He is virtually unblocked, and he hits with violence and wraps up. A young Tennessee team did a lot of things good on Saturday night in Norman but they also did a lot of things wrong....like leaving one of the best defensive players in the nation unblocked.