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Line Segment: OL Performs Well Given Injuries and Movement



When Oklahoma State and Texas Tech face each other, there is definitely no shortage of offense.  The 2017 version didn’t disappoint as Oklahoma State was able to gain nearly 600 yards and 41 points on a somewhat improved Texas Tech defense.

The dynamics of the offensive line continue to get more interesting each week, mainly because of injuries. Luckily Oklahoma State welcomed back Zach Crabtree after missing about 1.5 games with turf toe, and although he isn’t 100 percent and might not be for a while, his experience is invaluable.

This is a banged up unit that is razor thin at this point. Josh Henson mentioned that he felt comfortable with about seven guys on the OL, and OSU is certainly testing that opinion through the first five games of the season. When you have this much transition with your OL, you lose a lot of the rhythm and cohesion as a unit and it’s no different with OSU’s group.

Overall given the circumstances I thought the offensive line group played well. Crabtree is clearly not 100 percent and still hobbling around a bit, and it might be a problem when he faces a more athletic pass rusher than what he saw vs. Texas Tech.

Johnny Wilson started at RG, then had to move to center when Brad Lundblade hurt his ankle in the second quarter. Once Wilson slid over to center, Tevin Jenkins played RG completing his trifecta of playing left guard, right tackle and right guard in three consecutive games.  Not ideal when you consider you work very hard to make sure your first team unit works well with each other, although Henson is the type of coach who will cross train his players to play multiple positions.

In film review I charted 35 true drop backs by Mason Rudolph and 30 clean pockets.  Texas Tech was credited with one sack, although there was another situation where Rudolph was sacked but made it back to the line of scrimmage (so technically wasn’t recorded as a sack).  The lone sack of the night was partly Rudolph’s fault, and I will highlight it below.

Not surprisingly, both of these plays happened inside the Texas Tech 10 yard line. Tech was also credited with three QB hurries and three tackles for loss. On the run blocking side, OSU had 44 rushes for 221 yards at 5.0 yards/carry. These are numbers you can live with, especially given the fact that the Oklahoma State OL is playing musical chairs with their lineup.

A lot of the red zone troubles certainly can be put on he offensive line, which simply lack a high level of physicality. Some of this is because that isn’t their style in the first place. But also injuries to Crabtree and new players in the lineup are a huge factor as well. OSU’s offense is predicated on spreading the field and stretching a defense vertically. With a condensed field in the red zone there is a lot of pressure on the run game to produce and they simply didn’t get it done.

Here are some plays I’ve highlighted.

The Good

This is a great example of how zone blocking works.  Nice reach block by Johnny Wilson and not allowing the defender to kick back inside once he recognizes the play. Lundblade drives his guy back three yards off LOS, Keyes is able to help on DT before getting to the second level. Check out Abbott with the nice cut block on the backside DT. This is good stuff here.

This is an interesting look, as Oklahoma State pulls both guards to the play side and the other three lineman block down. Keyes is responsible for the kick out block on the free rusher and Johnny Wilson is the lead blocker through the hole. Haven’t seen this yet this year. It was well defended by Tech but results in first down.

This is just a simple inside zone/RPO, but it’s blocked really well. Hill is working right behind Keyes and Lundblade, who is able to make it to the second level to seal the backer. Abbott needs to make it to the weakside LB but can’t because, well, Dakota Allen is a really good player.

Johnny Wilson gets blown off his spot 1-2 yards in the wrong direction, but check out Britton Abbott cleaning house! Oh yeah and Justice Hill is pretty good.

Other Offensive Observations

Anyone who read my segment last week knows I was talking about route combinations that would beat TCU’s coverage. I wanted to share an example of what I was referring to. TCU did a tremendous job scheming towards OSU’s strengths, shutting down the vertical game and OSU did a poor job of adjusting.

This video shows different coverage from Tech than what TCU did last week so just disregard what the defense is doing. TCU was bracketing the slot WRs on vertical routes with a safety and a LB, leaving the underneath open.

Nice play call from Yurcich, albeit one week too late.

A lot of people will be talking about the catch by Marcell Ateman late in the fourth quarter to convert a third down on OSU’s game-winning driving. It was a ridiculous catch so it deserves to be talked about at length. However I want to make sure and highlight this play, which is easily a top five throw in Mason Rudolph’s career.

The bye week couldn’t come at a better time for the Oklahoma State offensive line, time to get healthy and start prepping for Baylor. We’ll take a further look at some of the bad that I saw later on today.

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