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Chalk Talk: Is OSU Becoming What Baylor Was?



The Oklahoma State Cowboys’ offense rolled against Kansas in a 58-17 win on Saturday. The Cowboys moved the ball with ease and were able to rack up over 660 yards with most of the starters only in for three quarters. The Cowboys looked slightly different in how they spread out the Jayhawks’ base 4-3 defense and picked them apart. OSU used 10 personnel (one back, four wide receivers) a bit more than they usually do, and with their formations, plays and spacing, there was a clear influence from former Baylor head coach Art Briles and his veer n’ shoot philosophy. In today’s Chalk Talk, we’ll take a look at those plays and what that means for the future development for OSU’s offense.

The Cowboys used an old Baylor play multiple times last Saturday and built a series off of it, subsequently using play-action passes and counters off the same look.

The concept features a dart, or “wrap” run play, that has the tackle pull through the opposite side and through the hole. The backside slot receiver, and sometimes both receivers, are tagged with a hitch route. If the defense doesn’t widen to cover the slots, the quarterback can throw; and if they cover the slots head-up, that leaves only five guys in the box.

Notice the spacing of the receivers. Baylor’s old offense was so good because of how it spread the defense laterally, with their flankers or split ends often aligned outside the numbers. The Cowboys used that almost exclusively against the Jayhawks. Now compare that spacing to the same formation in the Cowboys’ first game of the season:

Usually OSU would only spread their receivers past the hashes when they ran dart. For guys who really payed attention, it was a clear “tell,” meaning that there was an indication that the play was coming. But the Cowboys showed a series of plays out of that specific alignment when they haven’t really shown this much material out of it all season.

They showed double curl, which was a Baylor staple:

They tagged a double post combination on the backside of a zone play:

And targeted the slot receivers on highly efficient slot skinny posts:

And the same out of a stacked formation (also a Baylor staple)

Finally, they showed some new stuff, like this hi-lo smash variant that intelligently used James Washington as the check down (Jalen McCleskey was actually very open on the corner).

They’ve been using these plays here and there throughout the season, but this was one of the first times where they really elaborated on them. They used more of this formation than they usually do.

I’ve been calling for the Cowboys to operate more out of four-receiver sets since the beginning of the season, and I’m not the only one. Why they’ve waited this long is beyond me, but better late than never I guess. Plus, you can’t complain about their offensive production this past year.

Is this the direction that OSU’s offense is going toward? Will we see the Cowboys operate more out of these spread sets next season? It would make sense, as it favors an inexperienced quarterback because most of the reads are simplified and it plays well with a dual threat as well.

Mike Yurcich could have just used this stuff more knowing that Kansas would almost always have three linebackers on the field at the same time and that four-receiver sets could counter that. But he could also be slowly transitioning the offense more in the Baylor-esque direction. That won’t be fully answered until next season, but it does add some intrigue to the Cowboys’ bowl game.

What did you think of the Cowboys’ performance against the Jayhawks? Leave your messages below in the comments!

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