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Oklahoma State Defense: War Games?

Last Friday night, I was sipping on a whiskey in the ULL Game Thread when something occured to me. Oklahoma State Defensive Coordinator Bill Young is playing War Games. 

In years past, we'd all say we didn't have the athletes to play defense. They were undersized or too slow. And most of the time, they proved us right.  But that's clearly not the case this year with guys like Ugo Chinasa, Orie Lemon and Markelle Martin. They are fast,skilled , experienced players at every level.

Other years, we'd blame it on the scheme - remember the fucking 46? But there's no arguing with Bill Young's scheme. It's proven and simply put - he wouldn't commit to something that didn't work.

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So why are we playing this soft zone defense with these good athletes that we've wanted all these years? More importantly, why are we allowing teams to score almost 30 points per game?

The answer might not be as complicated as you think. The Cowboys are averaging 52 points per game.  We are scoring a lot of points and most of the time - we do it quickly. You certainly can't expect the offense to slow down.

The ultimate goal for every college coach is to score and to score quickly. We do that very, very well.

But the pace of a quick scoring offense can create issues for a defense. Against Texas A&M, the Cowboy Defense was on the field for 106 plays. That is almost TWICE what you'd expect from the NFL average. In this offense, there's less time on Defense to rest and more time on the field which creates an opportunity for injuries.  

So the question then becomes - how do you slow the game down? How do you mitigate the effect that a quick scoring offense has on a defense?

War Games.

All war is deception. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting - Sun Tzu,  The Art of War

Bill Young is playing a game of strategy very similar to that of Sun Tzu. Take this quote from the coach on playing tighter coverage.

"That's feast or famine. You jump a quick out, and it's an out-and-up, then all of a sudden it's six points. You'd rather bleed slowly than get your jugular vein cut. There's a fine line between playing too soft and exactly right."

He knows that the offense is going to score points quickly and put his defense back on the field time and time again. So to manage this, and slow the game down -  he deploys a soft zone. A bend don't breakphilosophy that subdues the opponent into thinking that they are actually controlling things. Sure, we'll give up some yards and we'll give up a few scores here and there but our defense won't wear down - and that will pay as we hit the meat of our schedule.  Simply put, we can't afford any injuries to the secondary.

As crazy as it sounds - Bill Young is milking the clock for an offense that can't.

Let's hope that we can continue the trend of subduing our enemy in the first half and going for the throat in the 3rd quarter this weekend against Tech. It's perhaps the most genius defensive strategy in a long time.