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Chalk Talk: How Creativity Helped the Cowboys Beat TCU

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Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

In Oklahoma State's 2014 season, a large percentage of the Cowboy fan base complained that OSU was not getting creative on offense. This season, such a criticism does not apply. The Cowboys are riding an 11 game win streak, and the offensive game plans have certainly had a large part in their success. Today, we will look at how the Cowboys' creative game plan translated to success in their big win against the TCU Horned Frogs.

1-2 Punch of Taylor & Carr

The OSU coaching staff found a way to simultaneously feature the power of Raymond Taylor and the speed of Jeff Carr. Out of a split backfield, this play would have Carr motion out of a split backfield to the flat, running a swing route after the snap. This swing route is paired with an inside zone read with Taylor as the ball carrier. The Cowboys also tagged on a double slant combination on the twins side, but this was never thrown to against TCU.

split rip triple

This play was essentially a triple option. When the unblocked defensive end stayed put, Rudolph handed the ball off to Taylor on the inside.

Split rip HO

But when the end crashed on the run, Rudolph pulled the ball and proceeded to carry out a pitch option with Carr. In the instance below, the defense jumped on Rudolph, leaving Carr unaccounted for on the sideline.

split rip triple

Carr can be a valuable asset for the Cowboys, and by using him as an attachment to the run game, it gives the defense one more thing to prepare for.

Fight Song:

The Cowboys decided to insert a new Walsh package against the Horned Frogs, one that featured six skill position players and only four offensive lineman.

The Cowboys used a variation of the tackle eligible play, placing cowboy back Zach Veatch at right tackle. Both receivers on the left side are on the line of scrimmage, leaving the inside receiver ineligible. This receiver is now considered a lineman, and it is illegal for him to catch a pass past the line of scrimmage. This leaves the right tackle (in this case, Veatch) eligible for a pass. This play was made famous by current Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn. Malzahn calls it "Fight Song" because most of the time the offense ends up scoring on it and the band then plays the team's fight song.

The play has been used all over college football, with fellow Big 12 teams like Iowa State and Baylor both using it. The play even made headlines when the New England Patriots used a variation of it against the Baltimore Ravens last year.

Separating themselves from the rest of the teams who have used it, OSU threw in a new wrinkle by using two true receivers on both sides. They also had the lineman and the quarterback fake a power play with the hopes that the linebackers would bite.

Here, the Cowboys caught an unsuspecting TCU defense off guard and Veatch sliped through the middle of the field for a 25 yard gain.

Screen n Go

The Mason Rudolph to James Washington connection has started to pick up steam as of late. Washongton, the Cowboys' new breakout receiver, had three touchdown catches against the Horned Frogs on Saturday. One of them came off of a well-created play featuring a double move on the perimeter.

Hitch

The Cowboys showed this play a handful of times in the first quarter. The play includes a basic inside zone and hitch routes on both sides of the formation.

hitch

Notice how the slot receiver on the right side (Austin Hays, 88) runs a hitch while the outside receiver (Washington, 28) blocks upfield.

The Cowboys have used this play a number of times in the past couple of games. The TCU defense would have certainly seen this play on tape. So how could the OSU offense take advantage of this?

Fake Hitch

Here, instead of having a hitch route and a block, the Cowboys faked the hitch-block combo and released the outside receiver down the field. The secondary, who had seen this hitch-block combo on prior occasions, bit on the fake. Washington perfectly sold the block and simply beat his man as he released down field.

fake hitch

This play was called in the Cowboys' tempo package, and as we've talked about in previous Chalk Talks, tempo can aid an offense in deceiving a defense. This play call, along with the fact that the defense had no safety help, gave Washington an easy path to his second touchdown reception.

The Cowboys have played well this season on offense, and proper play calling and superior game plans have certainly contributed to that. Coaches can have a big impact on games. Talent on a team is good, sure, but talent and good play calling? Now that's something to see.