Pre-Game Analysis: Oklahoma St. - NinosCorner Sports | Efficient Sports Analytics...Successful, Relevant Data

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Pre-Game Analysis: Oklahoma St.

Pre-Game Analysis:  Oklahoma St. 
by:  B.R. Battle
PHOTO BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN

With Oklahoma St, everything revolves around their talented trio of quarterback Mason Rudolph, wide receiver James Washington, and running back Justice Hill.  Through their first 6 games, they have had 2 true tests against Texas Tech and TCU.  We'll take a look into the TCU game due to it being the clash that may have led to the blueprint for beating Oklahoma St.

Although TCU won the game, their defense gave up nearly 500 yards of total offense to the Cowboys.  No matter what is thrown at Oklahoma St, their offense will put up a ton of yardage and have the ability to post touchdowns on a majority of their drives.  They are a talented bunch that knows how to coexist within their offensive identity. 

How did TCU win this game...or rather how did Oklahoma St lose this game?  Let's take a look...

- Oklahoma St was limited to a 44% offensive success rate (SR)...only 4 points higher than the NCAA average.  Therefore, efficiency wise, TCU made the Cowboys revert to being an average offense in terms of effectiveness, especially throughout the first 3 quarters.  During this period, Oklahoma St had a SR of 37%, which is below the NCAA average of 40%, and only scored on 3 of their first 8 drives.  The Cowboys were also outscored 34-17 throught this timeframe.
- Coach Bill Walsh wrote in his book, "Finding the Winning Edge," that a team that wins the battle of explosive plays by 1 play, wins the game 70% of the time.  If that difference becomes 2 plays, the win percentage increases to over 80%.  Well, TCU had 12 explosive plays, compared to Oklahoma St's 10.  Additionally, TCU limited the yardage that the Cowboy offense was able to get on explosive plays.  Outside of Oklahoma St's first explosive play that went for an 86 yard TD early in the first quarter, TCU was able to limit the remainder of their explosive plays to an average of 20 yards.  The TCU defense might have given up one huge play; however, once they settled into the game, the defensive backs kept the Cowboy receivers in front of them, limiting their big play successes. 
- Oklahoma St wide receiver, James Washington, will more than likely be an All-American following the completion of this season.  His stat line looks very impressive.  He tallied 6 catches for 153 yards and 1 touchdown. If you look a little closer into his stats, 86 of his yards were on that 1st quarter explosive play mentioned above.  Even after that explosive touchdown play, the Cowboys were only ahead 7-6 at that point within the game.  As grand of a play this was, it was not the game-changing play that had the potential to break open the game for the Cowboys.  In fact, following this play, the TCU defense was able to hold Washington to 5 catches for 67 yards for the remaining  43 minutes of the game.  If you're Gary Patterson, you can live with that.

- Outside of the TCU game, Oklahoma St running back, Justice Hill, is averaging 6.6 yards/carry.  Against TCU, he averaged just 4.1 yards/carry. He's had big-time explosive plays against every meaningful team on their schedule, minus TCU.  Semi-slowing him down caused less appreciation for the play-action pass, resulting in greater coverage of the Oklahoma St wide receivers.  This greater coverage allowed for the TCU defense to compile 3 interceptions in the game.

- Speaking of defense, the Oklahoma St defense success rate was 48%, just slightly above the NCAA average of 45%.  Their main problem was their inability to stop the TCU offense in opportune times.  TCU rolled out a pretty balanced offense against the Cowboys, compiling 228 yards passing and 238 yards rushing.  The Cowboys allowed TCU's leading rusher, Darius Anderson, to tack on 160 yards at a 6.1 yard/carry average.  Additionally, Kenny Hill was able to extend plays with his legs to efficiently deliver the football to his receivers.  He was 22/33 with 228 yards passing, with 1 touchdown and interception respevtively.  The balance of the TCU offense kept the Oklahoma St defense on its heels the entire game.  Once TCU settled into their gameplan, they were able to pretty much score whenever they wanted to on the Cowboy defense to the tune of scoring on 9 of the 13 drives they possessed during the game. 

How does Texas win their game against Oklahoma St?

- First off, the Texas run defense, outside of the Maryland game, has been pretty solid.  With Mason Rudolph not being a threat to run the ball, or scramble within the pocket to make plays downfield, the Longhorn defense has the opportunity to key in on Justice Hill the entire game.  If Texas can stop the run, they can force the Cowboys to less than desirable 3rd down yardage totals and allow their natural pass rushers to come into the game on 3rd down. Since Mason Rudolph is not the most fleet of foot quarterback, the Texas defense will have its opportunities to put pressure on him.  Unlike Baker Mayfield, Rudolph will not be able to allude that pressure. 

- In the passing game, Texas has to find a way to neutralize standout wide receiver James Washington.  In my opinion, Holton Hill needs to follow Washington the entire game.  Whatever side of the field Washington is on, Holton Hill should be on.  Wherever Washington lines up, Hill needs to be right across from him.  Hill is having an All-American type of season and is rarely targeted during games.  You hardly ever hear his name on Saturday's, which is outstanding for a starting cornerback.  He's a big time player, and you know the old saying..."Big time players make big time plays in big games."  He should be chomping at the bit to cover Washington the entire game because great players want to guage themselves against other great players. 

- For the Longhorn offense, Sam Ehlinger just has to keep being himself...making something from nothing.  Kenny Hill made a living off of extending plays against Oklahoma St and I believe that Sam can have the same level of success.  In order for Ehlinger's passing game to be more efficient, his receivers need to adjust to his scrambling and evolve their routes when the play breaks down.  If this happens, Sam can keep his eyes downfield and pass to open receivers or the wide receivers can begin to initiate their blocking when Ehlnger begins to run upfield.  Additionally, Texas needs to manufacture a run game outside of just using Sam Ehlinger.  Carter and Warren should definitely get the lion's share of the carries; however, with the recent chest injury to Kyle Porter, maybe we can see Daniel Young, especially since his redshirt was burned in the San Jose State game for a few carries.  No matter who the running back is, he needs to help establish a dormant Texas running game in order to lessen some of the pressure from Ehlinger.  This should be a great game this Saturday...can't wait to the the analysis on Saturday night.  

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