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How OSU Generated Pressure and Got After Kyler Murray in Bedlam



Oklahoma State gave up over 700 total yards against Oklahoma, but the defense was still able to generate pressure against Kyler Murray and the Sooners. They did so by effectively using man coverage against the offense, which prevented the Sooners from getting any easy yardage.

The Cowboy pass defense played significantly better in the second half (with the help of some Sooner penalties). Their go-to coverages were Cover 1 press man or matchup zone — usually with a five-man pressure — and they used it a number of times to generate pressure on Kyler Murray.

Watch here how OSU plays man across with one high safety and the defense gets a coverage sack. Kenneth Edison-McGruder sees how the guard turns inside to block Justin Phillips, leaving an open rush lane to Murray.

The Cowboys successfully used tight man coverage throughout the second half. Take this play, for example. The Sooners are running a snag concept trying to get a rub on the running back’s defender as he wheels out past the flat. The field corner plays press man and Calvin Bundage sees the wheel and adjusts his path, preventing the back from being open. The defensive line uses a double twist to get pressure on Murray, resulting in another sack.

Here are the Cowboys in a two-high man coverage with only two down lineman. They use two players to spy Murray, and when he steps up to run he’s met immediately by two defenders. Notice how Murray looked toward the wheel route to the far side but the tight man coverage prevented it from being open.

It was an understood fact that OSU would give up big passing plays this year. Press man has worked out relatively well for the Cowboys, and this second half was a prime example. Remember, the Pokes’ passing defense still gave up big plays but their run defense was what came back to haunt them (read about that here).

OSU’s defense struggles against man blocking schemes who focus on getting blockers to the point of attack, but they’ve operated well against zone-blocking and inside zone-based teams. They face a West Virginia team whose run blocking schemes are fairly different from Oklahoma. That should work well for the Cowboys, but their passing game will be tested by a Heisman candidate and a top 10 team this Saturday.

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