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Film Study: Third-Down Defense Will Be Key Versus South Alabama



In OSU’s 59-24 rout last week against Tulsa, the Cowboys allowed the Golden Hurricane to convert 62 percent of their third-down conversions, which was sixth-worst among teams that played in Week 1.

South Alabama did not have similar success on third down, converting only one of 10 attempts against Ole Miss in a 47-27 loss on Saturday. With the offense expected to be just as efficient as it was last week, the Cowboys’ defense, and specifically their third-down defensive efficiency, will be the biggest factor on Friday.

The Jaguars’ lack of third-down success doesn’t necessarily indicate an inability to sustain drives. In fact, their first scoring drive of the game went 19 plays and 95 yards. But their offense had the majority of its success with big plays on early downs.

The Jaguars had 18 plays of 10 yards or more, but they all came on either first or second down. Once they needed any specific amount of yards on third down, they couldn’t convert. In the passing game, Ole Miss would sink on short and intermediate routes and force incompletions, like they did here:

And here:

The Jaguars specifically struggled in the red zone. They frequently got overpowered on run plays on early downs and were forced into passing situations inside the 5 yard line and couldn’t convert, like this play here:

Or here:

The Cowboys undoubtedly have superior talent, and considering that OSU’s biggest negative was third-down defense last week, it helps that South Alabama showed an inability to convert.

This was only one game, and the Jaguars will likely be more polished on Friday. But if the Pokes can improve their third-down defensive efficiency, this game should be over before the end of the third quarter.

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