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.


2 thoughts on “Spring Game Ramblings – Defense

  1. Interesting notion your site – anything Sooner is good!

    Spring game does not have all the best D players together (even the healthy ones were split between the squads with less than perfect regard for unit integrity).

    Good luck on your site!

    Cush Creekmont


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