Well, last night Tulsa switched it up from their 3-3-5 and went with a lot of 4-man front,while stacking 3 LBs in the box... basically committing to containing the running game while leaving the outside WRs in man coverage. Tulsa did alternate between 3 and 4 man fronts, but no matter the number of down linemen, the key to their defensive scheme was committing 7 guys to stopping the run on most plays. Tulsa's LBs were playing close to the line, and would not back into coverage until they were sure it was a pass play. I think it is safe to say that we will never see this strategy attempted against the Cowboys again all season. 722 yards will see to that.
And the thing is, they still couldn't stop the run. Kendall was still moving the ball and we could have kept feeding him and been successful, but when you see Blackmon, Moore, Cooper, and Anyiam in single coverage play after play, you have to take advantage.
Ultimately this game will pay big dividends for the rest of the season. This game film will remove any ideas future opponents may have about leaving only 4 defenders in the secondary against this offense. Defenses will have to be more balanced and just accept that there is no element to key on in this balanced attack.
The real difference in the passing game from last week was the pass protection. Tulsa's D-line is thought to be every bit as talented as Troy's, and Tulsa blitzed quite a bit more, yet the Million Dollar Man Brandon Weeden was rarely pressured. I will have to watch some video to really see what the line was doing differently, but whatever it was it worked to perfection.
Lost in the 722 yards, 65 points, and the 28 that Tulsa put up is the outstanding job the defense did. G.J. Kinne was pressured and flushed often, there was no room to run in the middle of the field, and the secondary took away the flats and deep routes that Tulsa thrives on. If there was a negative it would be that the outside coverage opened up some room in the middle for the slants, but it is really hard to nitpick this defense that allowed only 7 points, 236 yards, and 3 picks in 10 possessions before being given the rest of the night off midway through the 3rd quarter.
Speaking of picks... Andrew McGee's INT in the endzone was one of the more controlled, heady, and athletic plays you will ever see. It was a semi jump ball in the corner and the WR had inside position. At this point it basically turned into a battle similar to fighting for a rebound in basketball. McGee calmly kept his position, timed his jump, and tipped the ball straight up in the air keeping his balance and plucking the ball out of the air when it came back down. It looked so controlled and fluid that I would bet if you asked McGee about it he would tell you that it was exactly what he was trying to do. It was a tipped ball pick that was in no way an accident.
I'm not sure if this is how they are being coached, or if it is a product of so many WRs competing for balls, but these guys do not go down on first contact, and they do not ease themselves down when running straight into the safeties. They take on tacklers like RBs.
Well that's all for now... I am running a little short on time this morning (aka hungover), but I will update this later or tomorrow with some thoughts on the 2nd team and more game insights. In the meantime, OSUAthletics put up some highlight vids to check out for those that couldn't make the journey to God's Country, or those that want to relive it.