Sunday Rewind: Offensive Struggles Continue

It was no secret entering Saturday's top 25 matchup at TCU that Oklahoma State was becoming anemic on offense with an offensive line struggling to get all of its or even most of its assignments on plays, a quarterback whose accuracy and confidence was waning, and a running game unable to break out.

Iowa State and Kansas had kept the Cowboys running game bottled up by loading the box. But there was still that possibility on the back end that if quarterback Daxx Garman could get just enough time before getting whacked that he could unload with a long ball.

TCU head coach and 4-2-5 defensive guru Gary Patterson went about trying to get a defensive balance against the Cowboys. Now, not everybody runs the 4-2-5 but most defensive coaches can play around with their schemes a little and the danger from Saturday is that Patterson may have found a blueprint to make the Cowboys offensive woes worse.

It started off really well for OSU with Desmond Roland squeezing through a small gap for nine yards and then following that with a run through a nice hole for another nine yards. I have to admit over on the sideline as I heard play-by-play voice Dave Hunziker in my headset say TCU was only leaving six players in the box and keeping all three safeties and the corners back in coverage that I thought if the Frogs and Patterson keep it up then the echoes of the Cowboy running game will be awakened.

I know better with Patterson and instead of rushing to follow the Cyclones and the Jayhawks the versatility of his 4-2-5 scheme allowed Patterson to drop one more in the box and keep most of his basic defensive concepts in play. Six players was not enough, but Patterson showed that seven was as he started dropping either his weak or strong safety in the box. After that first possession the Cowboys only mustered 95 rushing yards the rest of the way.

As for the pass, the push inside of defensive tackles Davion Pierson and Chucky Hunter proved too much for the Cowboys and kept Garman from really ever being comfortable in the pocket. He was only sacked twice, once by each of the defensive tackles and not be any ends.

The inside of the Cowboys offensive line -- as evidenced by the insertion of true freshman walk-on Brad Lundblade at center -- is the greater concern. They struggle run blocking and they struggle protecting Garman.

Those tackles allowed Patterson to rush five and keep six back in pass coverage and allow him to run his favorite coverage options of Read 2 and Blue. Both those coverages allow either one side or both side corners to spy the inside receivers and allow safeties to handle vertical routes.

The first interception of the day that set up TCU's first touchdown was one of those scenarios as cornerback Kevin White came from outside and jumped in front of the Garman throw to an inside receiver. It is not a move quarterbacks really expect to see unless they have seen it before. The second pick was just a throw floated too deep and into coverage that a safety played on.

West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson sold out Saturday with a lot of eight-man boxes on run downs to put Baylor behind the chains and in third-and-long situations in the Mountaineers 41-27 upset over the Bears. Now as West Virginia comes to Stillwater, will Gibson feel he has to go to eight to stop the Cowboys from running or will he follow Patterson's lead and think that seven is his lucky number?

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