Hurts vs Texas Part 1

Quick breakdown of Jalen Hurts’s performance on Saturday vs Texas.

Disclaimer: I am not Lincoln Riley. I do not know what Jalen should be looking at each play. This is NOT meant to bash Jalen or “throw shade” or “be a hater”. No QB is perfect. I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

I encourage anyone who cares about this stuff to check out this book by Noah Riley. It really does a great job of explaining a bit about what OU and Riley are trying to do. Noah has access to the actual game film as well, which makes it a lot easier to see exactly what’s going on.

Let’s get started with these two videos that will hopefully add context to the remainder of the post.

3rd and 5 +38

This is the same draw play that Urban broke down in the video above. Great call by LR.

2nd and 10 +27

Quick hitch to Basquine. Jalen is decisive and on time with his feet and this throw. Jalen is a bit more naturally casual with his feet and throwing motion than a guy like Baker Mayfield.

1st and Goal +10

Can’t see the routes unfortunately from the broadcast, but OU goes max protect and ends up only sending two guys on a route and protects with 8. Have to like CeDee’s chances here and Jalen almost pulls the trigger. Playing with fire here on the late throw, this is one he needs to tuck and eat or throw to the third row.

3rd and Goal +9

Quick throw to Lamb behind the LOS. When Jalen knows where he’s going with the ball pre-snap, he can really execute at a high level. Puts this one right where it needs to be. This was not Riley’s best work in the redzone.

4th and Goal +1

Probably feels good for Jalen to score on this play since Dashaun Watson, Hunter Renfrow, and Clemson took a natty away from him and Bama with this exact same play. Texas is in man and they don’t switch on the outside which makes this one an easy pitch and catch. Good job by Rambo to get in the way without getting a PI call. TD good guys.

1st and 10 -44

Texas brings only 4 and Hurts does a really nice job staying patient and getting the ball to Cedee. I think his read was the sluggo in the seam to Willis but it was covered. Notice that good pass pro, plus good feet and on time throw equals completion.

1st and 10 +39

Texas did a decent job disguising looks at times and this is the first time we can see Jalen is unsure of where to go with the ball. Texas brings only three with a spy leaving 7 in coverage vs only 4 guys running routes plus the RB for OU. This ball needs to go to Willis over the middle. Alternatively, CeDee is standing there uncovered at the LOS.

2nd and 11 +40

Riley is a bit in love with the passing game here and Texas again confuses Hurts. They are in man with one safety deep. They only bring 5 vs 6 blockers but they manage to get one free on the back side. To the top CeDee runs a hitch and Lee Morris runs the seam. The nickel has good leverage over the top on Morris and there’s a safety back there too, but Hurts could have probably thrown the seam to the outside shoulder. It’s too late to throw the hitch by the time he realizes what’s happening. Alternatively, Sermon does a great move to show a block and slide by the defender, so if Jalen hits that it’s a big gain. Great catch by Rambo though.

3rd and 5 +34

One of Riley’s favorite plays here with the mesh route. I can’t be sure that this is an RPO with Hurts reading one guy and then taking off but that’s what it looks like to me. They’re in man and vacate that side of the field so he takes off. He could’ve also thrown to Rambo. Have to protect the ball here and either finish the run strong or slide. Looked a little tentative with contact Saturday although he made a bunch of guys miss in space.

1st and 10 -22

Swing pass to CeDee and Lamb makes his only mistake of the day. Another on target throw from Hurts.

2nd and 11 -21

Texas drops 7 in zone coverage and Ealy gets beat pretty bad. Rambo is standing still on the LOS wide open, but Jalen isn’t looking to that side. Kinda surprised we didn’t run more in this game.

3rd and 4 -28

We run the mesh play again and Texas brings 5 vs our 5. Pretty good protection really but Lamb gets caught in some trash and Jalen is a bit impatient and takes off. You can see why though as he’s confident in his feet and makes a really nice play with his legs. Coburn with some next level fat guy hustle to save an even bigger play.

2nd and 5 +45

Texas again keeping everything in front and dropping 7. Great protection. You can see Basquine running the hitch at the very bottom of the screen as well as Lamb coming across the middle, but I think Riley is fine with this decision from Hurts. First down. You can see how much more indecisive Jalen is when the decision comes post snap and Texas is running zone. There are guys open, but he’s just not seeing it right now.

1st and 10 +39

This motion wrinkle isn’t brand new from Lincoln, in fact we ran it against them quite a bit in the Big XII Championship, but it is effective. It forces everyone on defense to have a lot of discipline. Jalen catches them asleep here for another quick throw behind the LOS for a nice gain.

2nd and 8 +11

We get the look we want here, just don’t quite make the play. Good protection and good feet from Jalen, but the throw wasn’t accurate enough. He probably wants that one back.

3rd and 8 +11

If it’s a game of inches, it’s also a game of split seconds; but that has a horrible ring to it. Watch Hall who’s lined up at TE to the right. Great play design by Lincoln. He’s wide open over the middle for the score. Texas is in man as seen by the corner running with Rambo on the motion. It would be great if Willis could chip on the backside before getting into his route that would have given Hurts the extra split second he needs here. Jalen could still complete this one if he has his eyes in the right place and finds it quicker. He tries to do too much after this and commits the cardinal sin of throwing it late across his body for the interception.

1st and 10 -42

This isn’t Jalen, but I’m putting it in anyway. Great design and call by Riley and this would have been HUGE if Lee Morris had remembered he had arms. Great play and recognition by the corner.

3rd and 7 -45

3rd down? Better call the mesh route. Ealy gets beat and Jalen has to throw this ball decisively at the top of his drop with some authority instead of the extra hop and a non-chalant toss. Lamb should be catching the ball at about the right hash. This is all timing and is a bread and butter play in the offense. Have to be able to complete this one, even if Ealy gets beat.

2nd and 8 -47

Great wrinkle from Lincoln. Lamb is lined up tight to the TE and comes across the field in a “levels” concept. Jalen is looking one place and one place only. He’s a little lazy with his feet here in a clean pocket, but the ball is on time and on target. You’d like to see him step into this one and throw it in there hard.

1st and 10 +17

I like this play action look where Jalen tucks it for a few steps, but it’s really the wrong coverage to run it against here. Jalen looks back to where he thinks Lamb might be open but Texas has him bracketed. It can be so so frustrating to play against a mobile QB. They lose contain and Jalen makes a nice play.

1st and Goal +4

OU keeps 9 in to protect and don’t get the look they want. This play had zero chance. Texas had us confused pre-snap a lot this half. Jalen makes the right choice this time and throws it away.

2nd and Goal +4

Second straight pass from the 4 yard line had some people in the crowd grumbling. Would have been a TD if Hurts throws an accurate ball. He has good feet here and steps into it, just doesn’t put it exactly where he wants in a small window.

To sum up Jalen’s first half, I’d say he played better than I thought he did watching it live, but still not quite up to the standards we have for quarterbacks at Oklahoma. If not for the two turnovers, he would have met that standard. A little indecisive at times and a few inaccurate balls, but as the game progressed into the second half he got better. More on that to come.

End of First Half

That took forever. Part 2 coming… eventually.


Spring Game Ramblings – Defense

Disclaimer: The Alex Grinch era is in its infancy. These ramblings are NOT meant to discredit, demean, or otherwise paint Grinch, any individual player, or anyone else associated with OU, in a negative light. These are simple observations based on individual plays.

For each play we will look at three aspects. Effort, Assignment, and Execution. We will give a grade for each aspect, on a per play basis. Assignment is somewhat subjective due to not being 100% what each player is being asked to do. In my opinion, a defense needs to get all three aspects on any given play correct in order to succeed.

I am only going to look at some negative plays for the Defense. There were some positives to take away as well, but we’re going to identify some areas where this defense can improve. Buckle up, some of it is a little ugly. The sky is not falling, and I think our defense will be better next season, but Grinch certainly has his work cut out for him.

Let’s get into it.

Play 1 – 3rd and 12 – Great chance to get off the field here.

Effort: D
Assignment: D
Execution: LOL

You’d like to think eventually the OU defense will learn to get off the field on 3rd and Long. What do they say to the God of defense? Not today.

Grinch didn’t want to show anything this Spring, which is understandable, but on this play I swear the ghost of Mike Stoops must’ve signaled in the call. Note the pre-snap off coverage from Tre and Bookie in what is some sort of zone coverage.

Bookie and K9 have their eyes inside the whole time which allows Mykel Jones to get in perfect position to get on Bookie’s outside shoulder. Had Bookie kept an eye on Jones whatsoever, he sees Jones stalking before the ball is even thrown and probably reacts much, much quicker. Instead it’s like he never notices Jones until it’s too late.

What’s supposed to happen here is that Bookie attacks Jones’s outside shoulder and forces the ball into the waiting arms of K9 who is of course unblocked. Unfortunately, what really happens is Bookie gets ran over by K9, and the first contact anyone gets on Morris is 12 yards downfield. I believe White scores on the next play.

Play 2 – 1st and Goal – TD Run

Effort: B
Assignment: D
Execution: N/A

Classic counter play here from the Offense. There’s really only one thing to watch on this play, and that is Sylvie. Some say Sylvie is still looking for the ball today. He starts at about the 3 yard line, and the way that Mead hits his gap hard makes me think Sylvie has the edge gap. I’m not sure who Sylvie is reading here, but it has him all sorts of confused.

Play 3 – 1st & 10 – Screen

Effort: B
Assignment: C
Execution: D

Defense was being pretty aggressive here and the offense caught them with a good screen. What jumped out to me on this one was the fundamentals on leverage on the football.

Watch Asomoah on this play as he goes out to chase the ball. The corner does his job of setting the edge and is in good position. Asomoah then flys out with good effort, but he has to see that lineman coming straight at him. He needs to be playing through the inside shoulder of the OL. If he does that, the WR has to jump way back inside to where there’s more help, or he has to go between Asomoah and the corner, exactly where the unblocked Safety is waiting for him.

Then he does some sort of silly spin move that my HS coach would’ve eaten me whole for. Getting off of a block is one thing, but by the time he starts his pirouette he’s already beat.

Good timing and playcall from the offense, but this should be a 6/7 yard gain, not a 20 plus yard gain. Sylvie on the backside is still lost.

Play 4 – 2nd and 16 – Counter

Effort: B+
Assignment: D
Execution: B

There’s no good way to say this. At times Friday night, parts of Grinch’s defense looked like a tranquilized newborn Giraffe trying to find its footing.

Jonathan Perkins and Jamal Morris should be at Prom somewhere and I think Ryan Jones was actually trying out a new VR simulator on this play. All that came to mind here was, “Bless their hearts.”

All joking aside, Perkins does pretty well here, making sure to jump outside in his correct gap just in time. Meanwhile Jones overruns the play by a lot. Jamal Morris takes a bad angle, but that’s very common with someone adjusting to the speed of the next level. I gave a B for execution because the only player actually in the right position (Broiles) to make a play, makes a good open field tackle on a very shifty RB in Pledger.

Play 5 – 2nd and 2 – DL Ice Capades

Effort: B
Assignment: C-
Execution: D

This play will not make Asomoah’s ultimate OU highlight package. I’m not sure who the NG is here, but what a combo block by the C/G. NG is on skates.

This is part of what makes spread offenses so hard to defend. Take a look pre-snap at where Mead has to line up. There’s no way he can help clean this up unless the DL/Asomoah get some push and the RB has to cut it back.

At this point there are a bunch of walk-ons on the field, but you can see how the Safety bails on the snap to get depth. On 2nd and 2 I think Grinch smelled a patented Riley play action deep ball coming. Instead it’s a simple off tackle zone read look.

Asomoah isn’t trusting his eyes yet and gets caught in two minds. If he hits the A gap hard, he might’ve made a nice play.

Play 6 – 1st and 10 – Ole’

Effort: F
Assignment: B
Execution: C-

Off coverage look on 1st and 10. Miguel Edwards does a pretty good job of breaking on the ball, coming up and forcing Crawford inside to the waiting arms of…

Bookie. What on Earth are you doing here? Let me put my bias out there up front, I’m more of a Bookie hater than a Bookie lover at this point. Regardless of that, I’m not sure how anyone could defend this. Yes it’s the second half of the Spring Game, but I can’t imagine Grinch wants to see a complete lack of effort like this.

Grinch’s “Speed D” relies on Effort, flying to the ball, and team tackling. He preaches it constantly. He cannot be happy with this play. There are several players loafing, thinking that someone else will make the tackle.

Credit to Crawford, who looks extremely shifty, but this effort from the defense is not good enough.

Play 7 – 2nd and 4 – TD Run

Effort: C-
Assignment: D
Execution: C-

I’m not 100% sure what Mead was doing on this one. He looks to be run blitzing, but he might’ve taken the wrong gap? Either way, he takes himself out of the play before it even starts and there’s no one to fill the void. Bonitto gets worked and there’s a big gap for Pledger.

I swear I’m not picking on him, but watch Bookie. The effort is abysmal. To be fair to Bookie, Broile’s effort here wasn’t any better. Maybe they were being told to play at 60% effort. I don’t know, but I would hate to put anything like this on tape.

Play 8 – 3rd and 7 – Where’s the help?

Effort: F
Assignment: C
Execution: C-

It’s 3rd down, another opportunity to get off the field. It’s a zone coverage and you can see a nice line of defenders ready to take away the 7 yard routes.

There are several walk-ons on the field at this point. One of them rallies to the ball nicely. Doesn’t make the tackle, but forces the ball back inside to where the help is coming.

Right? Guys? Help? Asomoah, what in the world are you doing? 4 white jersey’s between Hall and a first down. Jeremiah Hall took their lunch money, especially Asomoah at the end, who chose to wait patiently at the first down marker and catch Hall who had a full head of steam.