The Oklahoma State Cowboys fell short Saturday, as they lost a squeaker to reigning National Champion Florida State. The Cowboys offensive gameplan was eerily similar to their game vs. Missouri, and while a change in offensive philosophy might be too much to ask for at this point, there are certain things that could improve the Pokes' offensive efficiency. They scored 31 points, but we can all agree that there were some wasted drives and missed opportunities.
Think of my articles as the "Captain Hindsight" of OSU football
picture credit blogredmachine.com
It should be addressed how vanilla OSU's offense has been. Granted, the offensive line probably limited the playbook, but if the play calling isn't going to become more diverse, there are still things that they can do to help the offense succeed.
Looking back to last year along with this first game, the Cowboys' game plan has consisted of trying to run it down the defense's throat instead of using their perimeter speed. Take Tyreek Hill, for example, who has already proven himself as an electric player. He is not going to be as successful used as a bruiser, constantly going up the middle. You need to get that player in open space, and you can accomplish that in ways other than inside runs and swing passes.
On the same subject, Oklahoma State's new favorite play, the wham play, is extremely limited in outcome. They also run it a lot. It would probably be safe to say that they ran the wham play 20-25 times, many with the same 1-2 yard result. There was the occasion solid gain, thanks to Tyreek, but it's important to remember the definition of insanity. This was the same issue last year; they would seemingly waste a down getting stuffed between the tackles and the drive usually ended in a long, unconverted third down.
Here's why they had their struggles-
There were so many times when OSU got caught in a bad play but didn't have either the time or the proper in-formation audibles to change things.
This is Oklahoma State's base wham play; it's an inside zone with the play-side end being blocked by the "buck" (Y - usually TE Jeremy Seaton). Florida State frequently had the nickel-back come into the box, leaving the slot receiver uncovered. OSU was now stuck in a play where they had six blockers on seven defenders, and the play did not have any flexibility to take advantage of the uncovered slot defender. This can be fixed.
Take a look at the play above. Many spread teams are starting to add tag routes within their running plays. This is an example of a play that you might see an Oregon, Baylor, or Arizona run. The backside "X" receiver is running a quick curl, and the slot receiver is running a bubble. It's the quarterback's decision to decide where the ball goes. If the backside corner rolls off of the "X" receiver, the quarterback can take the snap and throw quickly to him. If the nickel-back comes into the box or shows blitz, the quarterback can take the snap and throw quickly to the uncovered receiver. If OSU is going to stick to running the same play over and over again, at least give it a little flexibility.
To watch a similar concept in action, take a look at smartfootball's video of Ole Miss
If you watched the video above, you'll notice that the Rebels called the same play five times in a row, each play giving a different result. Packaged plays used to be an integral part of the Cowboy offense. Now, it's only used occasionally. This is directly opposed to a team like Baylor, who has a pass option in every single one of their run plays.
The second thing that we now look at is their wham keep play. If you remember the MSU game from last year, this play alone carried the Cowboys to victory.
They did not use the quarterback much off of any zone reads (similar to the Cotton Bowl), but the one time they tried this play, a big mistake was made. So, if you're not using this play with any regularity, then you should be able to diversify it slightly and classify it as a short-yardage package. This could allow you to have a slightly more unorthodox formation or concept since you'd only run it a handful of times.
When OSU ran this play in the crucial moments of the fourth quarter, the play-side receiver (Jhajhuan Seales) blew his block, allowing his corner to come up and force a fumble on JW Walsh. If you're only using the quarterback keep as a wrinkle and not as a true cornerstone of the offense, then why not go to measures that, in theory, would prevent these mistakes from happening.
The first option is to move that receiver to the other side. Michigan occasionally used this formation as a quarterback run package. Although this makes the innermost receiver ineligible, it still brings that corner to the other side, theoretically opening space on one side of the formation. Again, if you're only going to run this play a handful of times, then it's okay to use a formation like this where any potential pass play is limited.
The second option is to tell the play-side receiver to run to open space. Similar to the first play we talked about, a route paired with a run play can take advantage of defenders who get out of place. If the defense is in man, he will take his corner upfield, leaving open space for the quarterback. If the defense is caught in zone, the quarterback should have a wide-open receiver on the sideline. Auburn has used this "go" concept, much to their success.
Example 1: The corner is caught in a blitz and the quarterback throws to the uncovered receiver.
Example 2: The corner sees the run and crashes towards the quarterback, leaving his man uncovered.
Don't think of this post as direct criticism; rather, think of it as a comment regarding the room for improvement. At the end of the day, they still scored 31 on the #1 team in the nation. Finally, as harsh as we all might be, it's important to remember that we all want the same thing. Let's hope that the Cowboys can make some adjustments before conference-play begins. If their offense can become more consistent, the sky is the limit.
What do you think OSU should change offensively? Post in the comments below