32 Comments

  1. Chris R.

    Sooner fan here and long time follower of your analysis. Always appreciate your attempts to be intellectually honest and push biases aside. You have previously commented on OU’s soft culture on D and have been skeptical of Riley’s ability to change it. From your perspective do you think Grinch is getting it to change?

    • ianaboyd

      Certainly no negative indicators yet. He’s struggled at times to get the kind of tackling and physicality he wants from his safeties but he also inherited a lot of little cover guys there from Mike Stoops so that’s pretty understandable. So far the Alex Grinch hire has gone exceptionally well, which is terrifying for other teams if you believe as I do that the Oklahoma offense in 2019 with Jalen Hurts is nothing to what it might be in 2020 with Spencer Rattler.

      • Chris R.

        Agree about Ratller. He has looked great in limited action. Lamb has said Rattler has exceptional accuracy. High praise considering the QBs he has played with. Rattler also processes very fast. Makes quick decisions. That is why I don’t see Riley going to NFL anytime soon. Just wish we had Grinch last 2 years.

        • Clayton Davis

          Not just Rattler. Skill positions and OL are all loaded, too. Should just lose Humphrey this year, if anyone on the line, and a lot of talent coming up at WR.

  2. CRoyse

    Feel like Baylor gets a bye week at a decent time if they can get out of Stillwater without any major casualties, whatever else happens in that game.

    • ianaboyd

      Helps, but that stretch of @TCU, Oklahoma, and then Texas is going to be really rough. Also, if you get a serious injury to a key player in that stretch you don’t have a bye week to patchwork together your solutions.

      • CRoyse

        Irritating that I’d rather beat UT than OU, but get UT after OU. But alas. We’ll see what both teams look like when we get there.

        • ianaboyd

          It’s fascinating to me how fans around the league regularly seem to derive more satisfaction in beating Texas, who’s not been good this decade, than beating OU who has ruled with an iron fist. Must be some combination of Texas fan arrogance and Stockholm syndrome.

          • CRoyse

            In some ways Texas not being very good until recently makes it worse because Texas fans going “WE’RE TEXAS YOU PEONS” feels much more like irritating hot air when, for example, Case McCoy is herp-a-derping his way to a couple of inexplicable wins than OU fans going “WE’RE OKLAHOMA YOU PEONS” does as long as Baker or Kyler or Jalen are dropping genuine napalm on people.

            Plus I’d generally say Texas fans are more personally irritating in my experience – present company (usually) excluded.

          • ianaboyd

            That’s all fair, it’s pretty interesting. When OU fans want people to kiss the ring they’re holding a bloody mace in the other hand.

  3. Jay

    If Tech was able to run rough-shot over our D in the 2nd half of that game, I shudder to think what Chuba Hubbard is gonna do to us in Stillwater with a BYE week to prepare. I’m marking this one as a surefire loss right now. Am I just being haunted by our history in Stillwater, or would you expect Chuba to destroy us also?

    • ianaboyd

      Too early for that, they need to figure something out to salvage the season. Obviously Chris Ash will be available though and was in town last week.

      Texas would benefit from something like what OU and Ohio State experienced this last offseason. A focus on fundamentals within a narrower base scheme so that athletes can be easily set up to react and play fast.

        • ianaboyd

          Believe what will happen? A good offseason? Too early to know what that will look like.

          In my mind, Orlando is gone (and should be) if he doesn’t salvage this season in a major way. But for now Texas is in contention to win the Big 12 so the main point of conversation to me is whether they can get the D into good enough working order to get there.

          • Eliseo

            Ok let me clarify what makes you think that Todd Orlando will fix any of the fundamental with this defense? When he had an entire off-season to do so and instead this defense got worse.

          • ianaboyd

            If Tom Herman makes him. But all that matters is that either he’ll fix it well enough to win the league and keep his job or he won’t. It’s silly to talk about replacements before he’s cemented his fate or Texas has been knocked out of the B12 title hunt.

  4. quigley

    I’ve criticized your opinion on the root cause of poor tackling in the past. Now you’re doubling down on a baseless hypothesis.

    In prior years, OU’s DBs couldn’t get people down because they were too soft. This years’ Sooner DBs who are playing are mostly the same as last years. We have no information that OU’s changed practice patterns such as increasing live tackling in practice. What we do know is OU’s practices do involve giving out candy bars for good defensive plays (which has been appropriately mocked).

    Now, Texas DB can’t get people to the ground because they’re too physical.

    Could it be that you can’t determine the psyche of a football play through a TV screen? Is it time to open up the Goldilocks Tackling School (not too soft, not too hard)?

    I propose a different framework that includes some facts.
    1. Football is violent. CFB players sign up to play it so they’re down for inflicting hits and taking them. No one who wants to avoid violence signs up for this. No one is “soft.”
    2. Humans tolerance for pain is eroded by fatigue. Despite effort, individual performance declines with increasing fatigue.
    3. From 2016 – 2018, Sooner defenses would routinely have player on the field for entire games, even those with 80 – 100 defensive snaps. OU’s defensive efficiency was worse in quarters 2 and 4 than the other quarters (this is a relative comparison, between OU’s defensive production vs quarters 1 and 3 and relative other teams production in 2 and 4).
    4. OU’s purposefully rotating players on defense in every game. Apparently, OU DL players are even on a fixed snap restriction.
    5. UT’s DBs have been decimated by injuries, exposing them to having to play more snaps.

    The Horns are apparently going to be doing more live tackling in practice, decreasing recovery time and exposing players to more injury. Great job Mensa.

    • ianaboyd

      The teams that tackle well are generally the teams that practice it often. The problem at Texas, beyond apparently easing up on tackling due to injuries, has been that they don’t break down but instead you regularly see guys duck their heads and fly in to try and land kill shots. A former player went public with the revelation that this sort of “tackling” is encouraged at Texas currently vs breaking down and keeping eyes on target.

      I don’t know what, if anything, Grinch has changed about his team’s approach to tackling in practice but he’s exerting a lot of pressure up front that tends to channel the ball into predictable chokepoints that allow his secondary to close with leverage. I’ve seen multiple plays this season where the Sooners were caught in the secondary and looked as iffy at tackling or getting off blocks as other seasons, but that didn’t happen in the Cotton Bowl. Grinch has also expressed displeasure with some of the physical efforts by the secondary and tried to shuffle some pieces around to get reliable tacklers on the field, so far it’s working, it’ll probably work even better when he’s recruited more of the players.

  5. quigley

    “Oklahoma and Baylor both -11 was a bit much and sure enough, neither covered although both pulled out some wins.”

    Oklahoma could have easily covered. The OL was complete for the first time since game one, and both OTs were still gimpy. This was Hurts worst game by far, and I’m not even talking about the TO’s. Accuracy issues and decision-making (not taking the easy yards running for the 4th down conversion in the 2nd half) made life harder for the Sooner offense. Still, OU put up 34 and ran out the clock.

    OU’s defense is playing like it has 2 shutdown CBs and they have about 0.7. Motley is playing much better in the first half of the year, and Jaden Davis is a true freshman who is a revelation. Tre Brown is being targeted mercilessly, and he could be called for holding every play. Their stunting and aggressiveness leaves them vulnerable to quick run plays and screens. This defense is top 50, not top 20.

    Sure, Baylor or Ok St could could expose OU’s DBs on the road (Iowa St comes to Norman). The thing that Hurts + OU’s OL offers the Sooners this year is an incredibly efficient running game, meaning that OU should put up > 40 on all three. Which of these three is going to match this versus OU’s competent (not good) defense?

    Hopefully, Hurts runs five times or less versus WV, K St, and TCU. He could use these games to work on his downfield passing to players other than CD.

    • ryan

      OU defense isn’t good? What? They aren’t great or elite, I’ll give you that, but they certainly are good.

      They’re top 10 in sacks and 3rd down rate. SP+ has them at #30 right now. They shut down one of the best offenses in the country. What more do they have to do to be considered good?

      Agree on the rest.

    • ianaboyd

      OU could have covered if Hurts was a better passer. It was a bit lucky for Texas that the game was as close as it was but some of that was Ehlinger protecting the ball and just overall effort in an emotional game.

      The Sooners always have an incredibly efficient running game. It’s more multiple this season with Hurts involved but the last two years they’ve been plenty effective, maybe more effective, in the run game. I don’t think it’s safe to assume that this offense can consistently drop 40 every week against TCU, ISU, and baylor.

  6. ryan

    Remember when?

    “Sam Ehlinger is the best player in the conference.”

    Good times.

    Here’s another gem:

    “I think the Sooners go 10-2 or 9-3 and then come up short in the B12 title game due to lack of depth up front on defense that allows better running teams like Texas or Iowa State to control the game in the key Nov/Dec contests played in cold weather. Oklahoma figures to be able to run the ball pretty dang well too but their defense doesn’t look near as good as Texas or Iowa State’s. That doesn’t matter if you have extra firepower on offense but if things grind down more then it makes all the difference in the world.”

    OU lacks depth up front? Texas runs the ball better than OU? OU’s defense isn’t near as good as UT’s? LOL

    How about this? (This is comparison of Ohio State, Washington, and Texas)

    “Who has the best QB of those three teams? The best OL? The best D?

    Texas has a good shot of being the best at all 3.”

    And then he doubled down to bet that Texas had a better shot at the playoffs than Ohio State… LOL

    Finally:

    “Alex Grinch would happily trade his first team secondary for Texas’ 2nd team unit.”

    Texas’ 2nd team would probably trade for Alex Grinch, too. They need someone to teach them to tackle LOL

    • ianaboyd

      Sam Ehlinger is the best player in the conference, that opinion has not changed.

      OU’s D is definitely better than Texas’, which keeps cycling downhill through some of the same negative issues that plagued them a year ago.

      Agree that Grinch ahead of the Texas secondary (which is almost the 2nd team at this point because of injuries) would yield a better product.

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