After part one of our three part series yesterday, we will look at the second thing that OSU must do to beat OU. It is no secret that the Cowboys have struggled on the ground this season. While there is no blanket solution for a struggling ground game, there are many things that the Cowboy can do to increase its production. In today's piece, we will look at three things that the Cowboys might do in order to boost their run game.
Get More Production in the Run Game
The incorporation of 10 personnel formations is something that we have discussed in the past. Personnel refers to the different types of players on any given offensive play. The first digit refers to the amount of backs and the second number refers to the amount of tight ends; the amount of receivers is then implied. So a formation in 10 personnel has one back, no tight ends and four wide receivers. 10 personnel formations spread out the defense, thereby opening up the middle of the field for the run game.
We have seen how 10 personnel can help a struggling ground attack, like when the Cowboys used it against Kansas State.
Against the Wildcats, the Cowboys used this play multiple times, to much success:
The beauty of a play like this is that it gives the quarterback an answer to any possible coverage the defense throws at him. If the defense has two secondary players against the offense's three wide receivers on the strong side, the quarterback throws to either of the two receivers that the defense doesn't cover.
If the defense has all four receivers covered with five players in the box, the quarterback hands the ball off up the middle (an even number in the box is considered an offensive advantage).
If the defense both covers the trips side and brings down a safety to have six in the box, the quarterback throws to the isolated receiver on a fade or a man-beating route like a slant, post, etc.
Formations like this give the offense a chance for a big run play because the omission of a tight end or fullback keeps the linebackers out of the box. When you have a struggling offensive line, it helps when the amount of box defenders is as small as possible. Blocks are easier, and if everyone accounts for their defender, you have yourself a big play.
The stick draw was a huge part of the Cowboy offense in their 2011 conference championship season. A Dana Holgorsen brainchild, the stick draw combines a quick passing play (stick) and a delayed inside run (draw).
In the stick draw play, the quarterback is reading the defender responsible for the inside slot receiver (SL). If that defender enters the box either before or after the snap, the quarterback throws to the uncovered receiver. Conversely, if the defender covers the stick route, the quarterback hands the ball off to the running back on the draw.
As the Baylor defense showed last Saturday, OSU will likely be facing soft coverages from here on out. This gives the offense to have success on the delayed handoff when the defense is expecting the pass.
The pop pass has been one of the Cowboys' most successful plays in the past couple of seasons, even though it never has been a consistent part of the offense. The pop pass uses the tight end (or in this case, the cowboy back) to take advantage of overly aggressive defenses. While the pop is a pass route, it is inserted in a run play, and therefore can be placed in this post.
In this play, the quarterback reads the play-side linebacker. If the linebacker covers the seam route by the tight end, the quarterback hands the ball off. If the linebacker crashes to the run, the quarterback aborts the handoff and throws to the open tight end.
The Cowboys added a new wrinkle against the Bears last Saturday. Instead of having the cowboy back run the seam pattern from on the line of scrimmage, offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich had the cowboy back run it from the backfield.
The Cowboys ran this two times against the Bears, with the first time being the play above. The second time they ran it, Rudolph saw loose coverage, so he made the easy throw on the left side to wide receiver Marcell Ateman.
The pop pass is an effective way for the offense to put the defense in a conflict where they must cover both the run and the pass. Packaged concepts like this and the stick draw can be the Cowboys' biggest weapon against a stout Sooner defense.
Well that's part two of this week's Chalk Talk series! Hopefully the Cowboys will be able to translate strategies like this on the field on Saturday. Be sure to voice your opinions in the comments below!