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Three Things to Look for From OSU’s Offense This Season

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Last week, I covered three things to know about Jim Knowles’ defensive scheme as we head into the fall. Now I wanted to take a closer look at the other side of the football. All of the buzz this offseason has primarily been focused around the quarterback position and who will make up for James Washington and Marcell Ateman’s lost production, and rightly so. With that being said, I wanted to touch on three interesting offensive topics other than quarterback and wide receiver as we get ready for the start of the season.

1. Multiple Running Backs and Justice in the Slot

Oklahoma State heads into the season opener with four solid options at running back.  The group is led by Justice Hill, but J.D. King, LD Brown and Chuba Hubbard are all extremely talented compliments at this position. Cowboy running backs’ coach John Wozniak might have trouble figuring out ways to get all of these guys touches throughout the year. It’s a good problem to have, but I know the Cowboy coaching staff wants to get the ball into each of these guys hands as much as possible. Although… they’d probably be just fine handing it to Hill every play.

So how can the Cowboys maximize the opportunities for these four guys? One way to do so would be with two-back sets. We saw the Pokes utilize this a good amount when they had Jeremy Smith and Joseph Randle on the depth chart. In the video below you see Smith and Randle lined up on either side of then Cowboy quarterback J.W. Walsh. Walsh sends Randle in motion, Smith carries out his run fake and Walsh tosses it to Randle towards the sideline.

With Justice Hill’s pass-catching ability, this play could definitely be thrown back into the rotation.

In addition to two-backs sets, another option would be to split one of the backs out or line one up as an H-back. To show some examples of this, I looked back at LSU film from last season when Matt Canada was calling the plays for the Tigers. LSU had two talented running backs on their roster in Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams. Canada needed to figure out a way to get them both on the field, and to do that, he would utilize one of the backs as a slot receiver or an H-back.

In this first clip, you see Guice split out wide. Tiger quarterback Danny Etling sends Guice in motion and then hands it to him on the jet sweep with Williams assuming the role of lead blocker.

In addition, Canada would line Guice up as the H-back.  One thing to note is Canada uses a lot of pre-snap motion as eye-candy to confuse the defense. It’s not necessary when running these two-back sets, and you won’t see Mike Yurcich doing as much as Canada in regards to motion.

In this last video, you’ll see Williams split out as the slot receiver this time and he’s used as a lead blocker for Guice around the end.

Gundy mentioned recently that Hill had been working with the receivers, so I would expect to see some variation of the above at times this season.

Hopefully it’s something different than this though.

Before we move on… how about Mason absolutely flattening that Iowa State defender?

2. How Will Bob Stitt Put His Imprint on the Offense?

It will be interesting to see how Oklahoma State’s new offensive analyst Bob Stitt makes his mark on the program. Stitt’s “fly-sweep-touch base” helped current West Virginia Coach Dana Holgerson put up 70 points on Clemson in the 2012 Orange Bowl. In his time at Montana, he coached many prolific offenses.

We’ve seen the Cowboys run the fly/jet sweep, but I think with Stitt’s help, they can run it much more efficiently and effectively.

The motion not only works in the ground game, but it helps to open up the passing game.

Getting the ball to Hill or Tyron Johnson on a fly sweep sounds like an okay plan to me.

Another staple of Stitt’s offense is his use of screens. This is another tactic he uses to widen the field and stretch the defense horizontally. He uses a mixture of wide receiver screens and screens to the running back.

Stitt’s ability to stretch the defense horizontally should be a new wrinkle we see in the Cowboy offense this coming season. It’s really exciting to have a guy like this as an analyst on your staff and I know Gundy and Yurcich will pick his brain and utilize some of his philosophies this year.

3. Who Will Fill the Left Tackle Position?

Former Cowboy left tackle Aaron Cochran had his struggles at times last season,

but I thought he had a solid year overall and got progressively more comfortable in his role. He came into Stillwater having played in 28 games, including 16 starts, in his time with the Cal Bears, and at 6-8 350-pounds, he was tough for defenders to get around. In addition, he helped Oklahoma State move up from 97th in sacks allowed during he 2016 season to 52nd in sacks allowed in 2017.

Whether he was sealing the edge for Justice, as shown below.

Or, protecting Mason Rudolph:

Cochran’s presence on the left side of this Oklahoma State offensive line will be greatly missed.

Heading into the 2018 opener against Missouri State, it’s looking as though redshirt junior Arlington Hambright will get the nod at left tackle. The 6-5, 308-pounder redshirted last season after transferring from Garden City Community College in 2016. Redshirt sophmore Dylan Galloway will most likely be behind Hambright on the depth chart. Galloway mostly saw playing time on special teams last season, but did get a little time with the offense in spots. However, it still looks to be somewhat of an open competition through fall camp according to offensive line coach Josh Henson.

“Looking at the left tackle spot, Arlington (Hambright) went through spring football and Dylan (Galloway) did not get a chance to go through spring football,” started Henson going position by position. “He along with Marcus Keyes had shoulders repaired after the season. They finished the season with them but they had to have those repaired. Looking at it, Arlington and Dylan are going to go into fall camp competing for the left tackle spot. Arlington needs to finish more completely and play through the whistle, but if he does that he is going to be a really nice player.” [247 Sports]

Either way, the Cowboys will be very inexperienced at one of the more important positions on the offensive line. They have experience elsewhere on the offensive front, but at left tackle, there are definitely some questions which need to be answered.

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