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Line Segment: Offense Solid, Defensive Pass Rush Lacked



Whew, what a fun game. That first quarter is everything that Oklahoma State fans have been waiting for since Justice Hill scampered into the end zone vs. Colorado to close the door on the Alamo Bowl. Tyron Johnson running go routes and celebrating in the end zone early in the game had to please just about everyone who has bought into the hype.

After everything died down on Thursday and Friday, I decided to take a closer look at the offensive line and defensive line performance from Oklahoma State. This will be where games are won in the Big 12 so it’s important to take a look at how they performed.

Note: I only charted plays in the first three quarters. The substitutions started to roll in heavy in the 4th quarter after Kenneth Edison-Mcgruder’s fumble return at the end of the 3rd quarter. Although it’s nice to see the backups play on the big stage, I don’t feel it’s as relevant of data when talking about overall performance of core players and tends to skew the numbers.


The offensive line did a nice job in pass protection, although I will note that I wasn’t overwhelmed by Tulsa’s defensive line. Generally speaking everyone held up well, although Aaron Cochran still has a few things to figure out. Surprisingly, two of the three major pass protection breakdowns led to explosive OSU plays.

My man crush Marcus Keyes didn’t play all that well in the 1st quarter, he was absolutely TRUCKED on Tyron Johnson’s TD catch play.

Here Aaron Cochran gets beat on a nice inside move from a blitzing Linebacker. This forced a rushed throw from Rudolph that should’ve been a pick 6 heading the other way. Luckily the defensive back barely missed the ball and Ateman was able to make a big play.

Larry Williams gets beat inside here, causing quick throw for a loss.

Outside of these three plays, the Offensive Line held up well. I charted 16 of 19 dropbacks that had clean pockets, any other sacks or negative plays were caused by Rudolph holding onto the ball too long or him breaking outside of the pocket.

The run blocking was very impressive. I was only able to spot two obvious missed assignments the whole game and the line consistently opened up big holes for the running game. It’s hard to nitpick when you are able to churn out 332 yards at a 9 yards/carry average.

One thing to note is a lot of times big plays inflate yards/carry average, so it’s hard to get an accurate idea of how healthy the run game actually is (take a look at Tulsa’s run game stats for a great example). So I like to take out the big plays, in this case LD Brown’s 73 yard run and JD King’s 71 yard TD run.

You still come up with 35 rushes 188 yards and 5.37 yards/carry, which are really solid numbers that show consistent production. A good sign for the running game are consistent 7-10 yard gains drive after drive, and that happened on Thursday.


The defensive line was impressive in certain areas, and the depth really shined because of strong production throughout the entire game. It’s pretty easy to see where OSU played very well and where they struggled based off these two stats I charted:

  • Runs of 2 yards or less: 24
  • QB Pressures: 7

Through three quarters, 24 of 44 rush plays for Tulsa went for 2 yards or less. That is really solid production up front from your front seven.

If you’re a box score reader you will also see that OSU gave up 244 yards rushing, not great. But if dig deeper you realize that over 55 percent of the rush production came in the 4th quarter in garbage time. The first three quarters when the OSU starters were still in the game, Tulsa had 43 rushes 110 yards for 2.55 yards/carry.

Tremendous rush defense against a team who is a really strong running team, with a lot of experience returning from a year ago. Bottom line, the OSU run defense got it done.

The pass rush is where things head south. OSU wasn’t able to consistently generate pressure on the QB, and in several instances either QB that was in the game had plenty of time to survey options. This didn’t lead to any significant gains in the passing game, but against future opponents that will become an issue when the competition becomes better.

Officially OSU was credited in the box score with three QB pressures/hurries, but I found seven instances where pressure affected the timing or rushed a throw. Regardless if you use seven or three, that simply isn’t good enough.

The lone sack OSU was credited with was on a nice blitz call where Kenneth Edison-Mcgruder ran unblocked up the middle, and wasn’t generated by the OSU defensive line. The OSU defensive ends consistently weren’t able to shed blocks and get to the quarterback, and the little pressure that was created by OSU was mostly done from the inside.

The interior defensive line from OSU was very impressive, while the ends were virtually non-existent in pass rush. Coming into the season, the OSU defensive ends were supposed to be a strength so let’s hope it’s not a trend.

One more note on the front seven, QB contain was really bad. This has been a problem in the past with Glenn Spencer’s defenses, especially when facing dual threat QBs. I charted 7 QB scrambles for 76 yards, in some instances there wasn’t a second level OSU defender within 15 yards of the QB. For a while, when I was watching the game live, it felt like this was the only way Tulsa was moving the ball. This is something that needs to be fixed immediately, the Pokes will face many QBs this season who can beat you with their legs.

Random notes I took during film review:

• Love the angle route screen with Justice Hill, Theo Riddick has made this a trendy play for a lot of OCs. This was ran on 3rd and 12 and didn’t get a first down, but it is a new play to keep an eye on.

• DeQuinton Osborne was the player of the game on defense. Was credited with two tackle for losses, five tackles overall. He was very disruptive overall.

• This is really nice awareness by Tre Flowers, leveraging the banjo technique on this route. Almost makes the play for an interception.

• Chad Whitener had a very nice game, I’ve been critical of him in the past but he was solid. Was active in the run game, credited with seven tackles but seemed like he was in on every tackle.

1-0….on to South Alabama!

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