Scouting Report & Cowboy Notes
Friday, November 7, 2003
Texas at Oklahoma State
Discipline and Tackling At A Premium With Young At QB
The Longhorns metamorphisized into a different offensive team last week in the 31-7 win over Nebraska as they finally made the major commitment to having Vincent Young at quarterback. Texas came out in plenty of shotgun formation with running back Cedric Benson lined up next to the 6-5, 225 pound redshirt freshman at quarterback. The primary plays included isos, stretch plays, draws, and counters, including the quarterback counter. All are very effective plays that fit Young's style and that he seemed very comfortable with.
The key for the defense is recognition with the blocking schemes as the Longhorns fold block some on the iso, zone block most of the stretch plays, aggressive pass on the draws, and on the quarterback counter pulled the offside guard and tackle across for Young to run behind. The reads aren't 100 percent, but they are pretty close.
The key for the Cowboys will be the play of the defensive ends as they have to apply pressure but maintain contain on Young and not give up any escape routes for him to scramble and make big yards. Young has a good compliment of moves, and with a headstart covers a lot of ground in a hurry with his big stides. The other key for the entire defense is tackling. The Cowboys tackled well, despite the huge margin of defeat against Oklahoma. If they tackle well and keep Young bottled up that will go a long way toward winning the game. Young is still a rookie and can be frustrated, crowd noise when Texas is on offense is important.
Young will throw some and has completed 57 percent of his passes but has only two touchdowns compared to five interceptions. He made poor decisions in the passing game against Nebraska, but the Huskers didn't catch enough of them to influence the game. The Cowboys have to show good hands and catch any passes thrown at them and be ready for tipped balls as there were a bunch of those off Young's arm last week as well. You can read the body language of Roy Williams, B.J. Johnson, and Sloan Thomas, the Texas receiving trio, and tell that they aren't real happy about the change in offense that has made them blockers over play makers.
Mock Means Pass Defense
Texas head coach Mack Brown says it is still important to play Chance Mock because he is still playing well, and he has been so supportive of Young since the redshirt freshman took over the bulk of the playing time. Mock gets in on roughly every fourth series. When he's in Texas runs primarily out of the "I" formation. There are still gives on the iso, stretch, and draw to Benson, but there is plenty of passing.
Mock is much more comfortable in the passing game, and it is easy to see the receivers attitude pick up when he's in the game. The combination of situations with two quarterbacks has made Texas fairly easy to peg offensively, but the talent still makes them difficult to defend.
With Mock in the game, the secondary needs to play the pass more, and the defensive ends can skip some oif the contain and go screaming downfield for pressure on Mock. The Texas offensive line is young, but physically gifted and like most of the rest of the Longhorn squad they have been playing better the past three games.
Protecting Fields A Must With Texas In Man to Man
Oh this sets up well, but there is work to do. Texas is pretty stubborn about the way they play defense. The Longhorns are a predominant man coverage team, that will blend in zone coverages approximately 30 percent of the time. When they are in man coverage the corners will usually be right on the line of scrimmage pressing the receivers. Expect speedy Nathan Vasher to be the guy that has All American Rashaun Woods exclusively. All of those aspects of the matchup are music to the Cowboys ears, except man coverage means an extra defender in the box to help stop tailback Tatum Bell. The Longhorns number one priority will be to shut Bell down.
Now to take advantage of the emphasis on stopping the run and the man coverage the Cowboys have to protect quarterback Josh Fields to let him make plays. With man coverage and press, that eliminates bubbles, wide receiver screens, and flat routes. It means the receivers need time to run pass routes to beat defenders. Texas will be screaming on the pass rush and that left side of the line with center Ben Buie, guard Chris Akin, and tackle Matt Hardison will need to stop inside technique Marcus Tubbs, end Kalen Thornton, and possibly a blitzer coming off that side. This will be the most crucial matchup in the game.
Linebacker Derrick Johnson is playing darned good football and will be tough to keep out of the mix in both the run and pass game. Johnson is big enough to handle tight ends, but fast enough to cover wide outs. He is a very sure tackler, second on the team for the Horns.
Special teams dead even
Both teams are solid all the way around. Texas is especially good on their coverage units on both kicks and punts. OSU special teams coordinator Joe DeForest said Texas has the best special teams in the Big 12, and before the Oklahoma game, Oklahoma State was rated number one in the conference overall in special teams.
Too close to call. I'm going to guess that this one is close and will go to the fourth quarter. I also believe this one will be in the teens, I like the defenses to have a big night in the chill and rain.