Here are my observations on the offense from Saturday:
1. Daxx Garman did show some improvement in the critical short to intermediate passing game. His throws early in the game and throughout a lot of the first half were more on time (before the receivers cut in many cases) showing he is trusting his reads, the receivers, and the passing system more.
Deep balls are often thrown by sight but the intermediate and short passing game is often thrown by read (option routes included) and on timing. His early throw to James Washington was text book. However, in the second half he fell back into poor habits and I think a lot of that had to do with the fact OSU had to throw once down 20-10 and as the game progressed. When he throws because he has to, it gets bad both with his breakdowns and the protection up front.
2. Unilke the TCU game, there were drives where a single mistake that prevented the drive from being better or put the drive in the score zone or end zone. Start with the first one, with an all-out blitz and zero coverage, Garman, on fourth down, made the right decision to throw deep to Austin Hays. A better throw and Hays might have been strolling into the end zone.
On third down, the Cowboys ran a shallow cross and Garman threw complete to Hays, but James Washington had a step on his man five yards further downfield and that connection would have been good for the first down. In the second quarter, David Glidden made several plays including going way up to catch a high pass from Garman. He did have trouble with the high throws most of the day.
The Cowboys had third-and-eight and the offensive line didn't give Garman a chance. Tight end/fullback Jeremy Seaton was held in to block and lost his man on one side. Tackle Michael Wilson and guard Chris Grisbhy both lost their guys and the all three met at Garman before he had anytime to check the receivers. The 10-yard sack also led to a missed field goal by Ben Grogan.
On the first drive of the third quarter, trailing 17-10 and needing an answer, the Cowboys had moved the ball into West Virginia territory. But on third-and-four, center Paul Lewis made a poor snap that caused an awkward handoff to Desmond Roland and the timing of the play was wrecked by the snap. Little things killed drives which is better than big things but they need to get fixed!
3. One of the best things of all, Tyreek Hill is starting to show running back instincts. With all of his speed, Hill has run himself straight into defenders and into the back of offensive linemen at times.
I point to a second quarter series where Hill bounced an inside zone outside and made it into a 14-yard gain with his speed burst. The next two plays I think Mike Yurcich saw what I saw and wanted to see more as Hill had a good size hole on the next inside zone for six yards and then Yurcich called it again and Hill showed great visions to adjust and cut twice into a crease for a 10-yard gain.
Hill with vision and instincts to go with his speed will be very dangerous if it becomes consistent and could really help to give the offensive line some confidence.
4. The pick six was a bad read and a bad throw but on third-and-10 and down 20-10 in the fourth quarter Garman wasn't going to throw it away.
5. Finally, I'm sure Cowboy fans aren't going to reverse their field on Yurcich but he did throw a lot of the playbook that fans have been demanding including some screens and a big reverse that was set up well. The deep balls called just weren't thrown well but they were open on several occasions. The scoring drive was a well called possession.