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OSU’s red zone woes are encouraging

OSU can, and probably will, be more successful in the red zone the rest of the season.



Photo Attribution: USATSI

Photo Attribution: USATSI

OSU’s red zone woes are encouraging.

That sure is a strange thing to type — that OSU’s red zone trials would be labeled anything but an “abject disaster” seemingly goes against conventional wisdom, but let me show you why.

After the Lamar game, OSU was essentially the best red zone team in the country. It was 15 for 15 with 15 TDs. Perfect.

Since then? 10-16 with five FGs and five TDs — currently 85th in the country in scoring percentage.

That is, suffice to say, less than perfect.

In the Kansas State game OSU left 23 points on the table. Against TCU it left 39 on the table. So that’s 62 points left on the table in the last two games and OSU is still 5-1 and controls its own Big 12 destiny.

There are two ways to look at this.

The first: OSU’s offense sucks inside the red zone.
The second: OSU has been driving the ball decently (36th in red zone appearances), if it can just finish off drives it will be fine.

Think about this: If OSU scores half its possible points inside the red zone against TCU it wins 44-10. A 44-10 score is indicative of a dominant team. Unfortunately, 24-10 is not.

So what has the history of this team been in the red zone? Will it correct itself or is this just how things are going to be? Here’s a history since Holgy installed his offense:

Red zone success

2010 — 61 trips, 58 scores (95%, 1st in the nation)
2011 — 82 trips, 73 scores (89%, 14th in the nation)
2012 — 72 trips, 67 scores (93%, 4th in the nation)
2013 — 31 trips, 25 scores (81%, 85th in the nation)

So OSU is on pace this season to nearly equal its total red zone fails from the last three years combined. That’s not good.

But it also means, if you believe in the air raid and Ben Grogan at all, that this stat will correct itself over the last six games (that’s what I keep telling myself anyway). OSU had the same two QBs last year when it finished fourth in the nation in red zone scoring as it does this year (I know, Quinn Sharp, I know).

One reason air raids struggle in the red zone[1. Holgorsen’s Houston offense finished 25th in the nation in TD percentage the year before he came to Stillwater.] is that they’re predicated on stretching the field, not bowling you over four yards at a time, and there’s no room inside the 20 to stretch the field.[1. Of note: Bryce Petty of Baylor only has one TD pass from inside the red zone this year. ONE!]

And OSU’s TD percentage this year is actually pretty similar to the last three years — though that hasn’t been evenly distributed because…Lamar and UTSA. But you have to make field goals. Gundy said that on Monday. OSU is leaving so many points on the board because of missed field goals.

The key, to me, other than Ben Grogan is Rennie Childs. He ran like, as I once heard Aaron Petway say at Homecoming Walkaround “a grown ass man,” on Saturday and if OSU can get him rolling inside the 20, that’s big time. Actually, that’s exactly what happened on the last drive against TCU.

I give Robert Allen a hard time for being a sunshine blower but he was kind of right yesterday — everybody (myself included) is treating this season like OSU is 1-5, not 5-1.

I understand why, and you should too, but the reality is that five wins are in the books — how OSU played in them doesn’t matter much, other than projecting what could happen the rest of the year. What that looks like is disheartening, for sure, but something tells me Gundy’s bag of tricks isn’t quite empty yet.

And I believe in regression (or in this case, progression) to the mean [writes this on homemade chalkboard 999 times in three hours].

You should too.

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