Oklahoma entered this season with a revamped offensive attack as they sorted out their running back situation following the loss of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine to the NFL. Without those two bell cows, the Sooners relied heavily on quick throws to predetermined reads on first and second downs versus week 1 opponent UTEP. This provided Buckeye Nation with a good idea of what to expect entering this contest.
The loss of tight end Mark Andrews to a knee injury further illustrated the heavy emphasis on attacking the seams as the Sooners continued to pepper both seams with a backup tight end and an H-back.
The Buckeye linebackers are known for their speed and often lauded for their attacking nature. The Sooners used this instinctual, playmaking mentality to their advantage by using play fakes and misdirection to manipulate the defenders and vacate a space to attack.
The frustrating point to this game is the fact that Oklahoma rarely ran the ball on first down, yet the Buckeye linebackers were playing the run first, creeping towards the line of scrimmage post snap and creating a large voided space between them and the secondary.
One other center of focus for the Sooners was their emphasis on attacking the seams versus a single-high safety look. Often times, split safeties will invite a check down to a run, or in this case, the quarterback would give the ball on the read option. Against a single-high safety, the “box count” favors the pass, and the linebackers will need to be wary of this before attacking their run fits. A step backwards at the snap will go a long way towards disrupting a play, especially with an athletic group of linebackers.
In this week’s Buckeye Breakdown, we take a closer look at what the linebackers could have done to slow down the passing attack of the Oklahoma Sooners, especially considering the athleticism and speed the unit possesses. They can afford to react to a run instead of anticipating or predicting a run, as noted in last week’s article, Reading the Buckeye Leaves.