Over the past few weeks I and everyone else in Cowboy Nation have been very frustrated with the Oklahoma State offense. There seems to be a lot of blame to go around. Over 5 games there have been 374 offensive snaps. That means 374 play calls executed by 11 men at a time. There is no way for us to dive into all of those split second decisions that arise during 125 minutes of possession to properly lay the blame. Instead, I think a much more appropriate way to find out what is going on is - hear me out - the scientific method.
The scientific method is simple: Make a Hypothesis and prove it right our wrong. This is exactly what Mythbusters does every week. They pick a Myth (hypothesis) and prove it right or wrong.
Therefore, We'll look at two Myths:
1. Screen passes are the fucking bane of our existence
2. The game winning drive against K-State is what we should do every drive, period. That drive was so different that something must have drastically changed to make OSU look like a completely different team.
So, let’s start with the screen passes.
My "Eye Test" tells me that we just suck at screen passes and yet simultaneously we play them all the time. (I may take the term screen pass a little too liberally, but if the pass is within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage and WRs are immediately blocking, that’s a screen pass in my book.) It would take a lot of game film for me to figure out how many of OSU’s 199 passes on the season were screen passes, so I’ll go off of just the K-state game: 40 attempts and 6 screens. 15%. 27 yards. 4.5/yards per play.
Maybe I’m aiming for the stars here, but that blows. Here they are, in all of their glory.
4 yard gain. Two receivers made good blocks, but the safety was just too much for Seaton to gain more than 3 yards after the catch.
10 yard gain (not bad!!)...Tracy Moore was hit almost immediately, and then the safety came in again to help bring him down.
3 yard gain. Uhg, the most painful 3 yard gain you could have. T. Moore was hit immediately (see the theme here?)
0 yard gain. WR did not block out at all - but even if he did get his one guy, there were two more waiting to clean up. Yuck. I'm just going to call this "My Least Favorite Play"
4 yard gain. Oh hey, "My Least Favorite Play". Screw all of you making the play calls.
4 yard gain? Wait - is that "My Least Favorite Play" again!? Now they are just screwing with me. I guess if your goal is 0 - 4 yards, go right ahead and run this.
Interesting note here - there were 4 screen passes in the first drive alone. That drive went 30 yards in 7 total plays. The other 3 screens happened 9 plays later, then 18 plays later, and then 22 plays after that. It seems that Yurcich (correctly) trusted it less and less as the game went on.
And guess what OSU didn't attempt even once during the game winning drive in the 4th? A screen.
When asked about the offense, Gundy had this to say (courtesy of NewsOK):
"I don't have a clue,"
"I wish I could give you a good answer so it would sound good on the news tonight."
"I just don't know ... To be honest with you. I'll keep answering it. It's kind of getting old."
I’ll tell you what’s going on...you are trying to get to 3rd and manageable instead of throwing touchdowns.
Conclusion: Myth confirmed.
Second Myth - We did something different on that last drive
How money was that game winning drive by J-dub? It brought back every redbull infused and heartwarming memory of yesteryear. As you've read from above, we stopped throwing screens and instead we actually made a drive. Let’s break down the play calls.
4 WR 1 RB - Medium Depth play here. Two WR’s curl at about 5 yards, and the outside WR cuts in after 10. 12 Yard gain DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE FIELD.
4 WR 1 RB - Four Verticals. 26 yards DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE FIELD! You mean we have a QB who can throw? Inconceivable!
4 WR 1 RB - Outside Zone. 16 yards by Smith, shockingly around the right side. Should be noted that Travis Cross replaced Chris Grishby on this possession.
3 WR 1 RB 1FB - 7 yard curl (in) by Shepard to the open side IN SPACE, made first defender miss.
4 WR 1 RB - Slant Left to Right for 2 WRs on the left, and 1 WR on the right. Incomplete pass. Late throw by Walsh (an issue for him), receiver was too covered up by that time.
3 WR 1 RB 1FB - Curl. 7 yard curl (out) by Moore, TOUCHDOWN!
The play calling here was not that different compared to previous drives. The difference was that the receivers caught the ball (shocker), we didn't throw a single screen (hallelujah), there was one deep ball, and the O-Line looked completely different with the switch from Grishby to Cross. In Grisbhy's defense, the O-Line may have looked so different only because K-State stopped bringing as much pressure. When it comes down to it, this is still Yurcich football. Not the Air Raid.
Conclusion: Myth Busted. OSU didn't drastically change it's philosophy on the last drive (except for burning the playbook page with screens). The players just made plays.