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Film Look: What Hurt Spencer Sanders and the Offense against Texas Tech

Blocking, turnovers and decision making were all issues for the Pokes this past Saturday.

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Oklahoma State suffered a disappointing 45-35 loss to the Texas Tech Red Raiders this past weekend in Lubbock. The Cowboys had over 500 yards of total offense, but they scored just seven total points in the first half, and never really got into a rhythm. Below I’ll cover my key takeaways from the OSU offense against TTU and what some of the main issues were.

Blocking

In my opinion this was the worst overall blocking performance by Oklahoma State this season. I realize there’s still some injury issues, with left tackle Dylan Galloway missing another game and Teven Jenkins looking like he’s still banged up, but that was the case last week as the Pokes racked up 373 rushing yards and only allowed two sacks. After averaging 8.5 yards per carry as a team against the Wildcats, the Cowboys only managed 3.9 yards per attempt in this one. Not to mention the seven (!) sacks the Pokes allowed.

It wasn’t all bad in the running game and some of the sacks can be credited to Spencer Sanders’ decision making, but it was an overall sub par performance by the offensive line. Below you’ll see the TTU defense gets easy penetration through the left side of the line. I do think if Jenkins is fully healthy, this doesn’t happen.


Now, notice I didn’t title this section “Offensive Line” and that’s because the blocking was bad all around. In the next clip, you’ll see right tackle Bryce Bray get beat by his man, but then running back Chuba Hubbard doesn’t do a very good job of helping him out, and again we see a sack.


Here we see another poor attempt by the running back to pick up the block. Luckily, Sanders is still able to get the ball off here and complete the pass, but he gets crushed as he lets it go.


Again, even on a lot of the throws Sanders completed, he barely had any time in the pocket.


In addition, the wide receivers had a tough day blocking, as you the screen get stuffed in the following video.


The guys’ from the Tape Doesn’t Lie Podcast called the Pokes out on this as well. This is something the Cowboys have to get cleaned up in the coming weeks. As I mentioned above, I know there are injuries, but you still have to perform better in the blocking game if you want to win in Big 12 play.

Quarterback Play

Coming into the season with a redshirt freshman quarterback leading the charge, we knew there were going to be some growing pains. It’s been somewhat of a roller coaster season, and we’ve seen both positives and negatives from Sanders. However, I personally think you have to keep him in there and let him continue to learn.

However, there were some troubling things shown in this game that have become sort of a trend for the young quarterback. For instance, the play below that I called out on Twitter earlier this week.

Capture


As you can see from the still image above, there is no one covering Cowboy Back Jelani Woods at the start of the play. As Adam Lunt pointed out on Twitter, this play is a run-pass option (RPO), where Sanders either has the choice to throw the ball, or keep it himself on a QB draw. As Adam further explains, with no coverage over Jelani, the read here is pass. Instead, Sanders disregards that side of the field altogether. He then takes too long to make his decision, which on an RPO needs to be done quickly, and it results in a turnover for the Pokes.

Next, you see a Tech defensive back creeping up towards the line of scrimmage. By the time the ball is snapped, he is almost aligned with the defensive end to that side. Sanders doesn’t recognize that the closest defender lined up over inside receiver Dillon Stoner is about 13 yards off the ball. This would have been a perfect time to call one of those Now screens to the slot, as the Cowboys had a lot of space to work with on this side and a talented blocking receiver like Tylan Wallace to lead the way. Instead, it’s an H-Counter run for a loss.

Capture.PNG


And, it’s not just the pre-snap reads, but some of the post-snap reads as well, as we saw on the interception early in the second quarter.


On the other hand, we see plenty of examples of why Mike Gundy named him the starter heading into this season. Below you see Sanders use his speed to evade the rush and make a throw to Wallace on the outside for a big gain.


Then we see him pick up a huge fourth down late in the game with his legs.


It does seem, at times, that the coaches may be holding him back, telling him to only read certain sides of the field, predetermining whether he will give or keep on the zone read, just to name a few. This could also lead to some of the pre-snap decision issues we’ve seen, along with him still learning the college game.

As I said above, we knew there were going to be ups and downs this season from the young QB, but overall, I’m still really excited with what I’ve seen from Sanders and look forward to watching his development in Stillwater.

 

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