Oklahoma State is looking to bounce back from their disappointing road loss to Baylor as it gets set to take on OU this weekend. As the Cowboys get prepared for their Bedlam matchup, I am going to cover three things you should know about the Sooners.
Kyler Murray’s Scrambling Ability
Oklahoma’s QB1 has racked up 574 yards and 7 touchdowns on the ground this season. A majority of Murray’s rushing success has come through zone-reads, as shown in the clip below.
However, a good amount of these yards have come from his incredible scrambling ability.
Murray’s ability to extend plays is worrisome for any opposing defense, but especially for this OSU squad. The Pokes have struggled with mobile quarterbacks throughout this season, as we saw with Iowa State’s Brock Purdy.
To have any chance at containing Murray on Saturday, Jim Knowles’ defense will need to set the edge, fill gaps, maintain responsibilities and make sure to bring the Sooner QB down on initial contact. Murray will be an issue for Knowles. I think he can still bring pressure and try and cause havoc in the OU backfield, but this increases the likelihood of the Sooners busting a big play.
We’ve seen teams struggle trying to use a spy on passing downs, and I don’t know if the Pokes have the guys to be able to do this… I don’t really know if any one does. The problem with committing so much to stopping Murray on the ground is… he can beat you almost as easily through the air.
Quarterback Running Game
Speaking of running quarterbacks, OU’s defense has been susceptible to mobility as this position as times this year. For instance, Texas Longhorn quarterback Sam Ehlinger was able to rack up 72 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground. Most of Ehlinger’s success came on designed quarterback runs, as you on the outside zone play shown below.
In addition, even though K-State wasn’t able to generate much in the rushing department against the Sooners, most of their positive plays came via the legs of quarterback Skylar Thompson.
This was also an issue at times for the Sooners in 2017. When OU showed their two-defensive lineman front last year against Ohio State, the Buckeyes used a slightly different zone-read concept than we normally see from Oklahoma State. As Eleven Warriors shows in the video below, the Buckeyes leave the 3-technique defensive tackle unblocked and use him as the read player.
Although this isn’t a staple of the Cowboy running game, as Adam Lunt points on in his tweet below, OSU has run something similar this season.
This is a new one. Zone read play leaving the DT unblocked as the "read" player. Alabama runs this a lot. If TC keeps the ball he might still be running. pic.twitter.com/NsFuq707DX
— Adam Lunt (@AdamLunt817) October 16, 2018
I expect to see a heavy dose of zone-read along with some designed quarterback runs with Taylor Cornelius this Saturday as it’s been something the Sooners have struggled to stop this season. RPO concepts with a quarterback run option will be useful as well, similar to the Ohio State play shown above.
The talented junior is leading the Sooners in receiving yards for the second season in a row. He’s put on an absolute clinic against opposing secondaries and has scored 7 touchdowns in the process.
“Hollywood” was absolutely unstoppable a year ago in Stillwater, recording 265 yards and 2 touchdowns, including this 84-yard TD.
He found success on slants, curls, screen passes and deep balls against this OSU defense last year. Along with CeeDee Lamb, stopping the OU passing game will be a tough task for this Cowboy secondary that’s been prone to giving up some big plays along with costly penalties this season. Hopefully Knowles is able to disguise coverages to cause some confusion for Murray and the OSU defensive backs play solid all around games.