Spring Football: Scrimmage Analysis

It's important when you look at a scrimmage to be very analytical. The problem with spring and August scrimmages is that you would like to see both your offense and defense be strong, but on any given play that is impossible. It's the football version of "Catch 22," because both offense and defense aren't going to look good on each play. That's where the analysis comes in. Which side of the ball was more equipped to win on each play.

The Oklahoman story following the scrimmage was extremely negative, and there were mistakes in the scrimmage. However, The Oklahoman story was written by a new reporter to the beat who has not seen a lot of Oklahoma State football and didn't look at the scrimmage with much detail and analysis.

Overall, the defense had the heavy hand in the scrimmage, although the offense had its moments. Quarterback Bobby Reid took the lead in the competition at that position with a 9-of-10 passing day for 123yards and two touchdowns. Let's just break down Reid's play.

On his first series, all with the first-team offense around him, the offense moved 17 yards in three plays. Running back Michael Hamilton gained 19 yards on the first play. Reid hit Hamilton on a quick pass for three yards. Defensive tackle Ryan McBean beat one of the inexperienced guards on that first team offensive line to force an eight-yard loss on an option play that McBean and fellow tackle Larry Brown destroyed from the beginning. Hamilton finished the four play sequence with a three-yard gain.

Reid's next series started with him playing with the first teamers. He had top wide receiver D'Juan Woods with him, and Woods played little in the scrimmage. All the two did was hook up on a 43-yard touchdown. The next play Julius Crosslin gained five yards. Then in came the second unit. With the second team offensive line, Reid fumbled and lost three yards, and then backup running back Calvin Roberts fumbled and recovered the ball on the last play. As you would expect, there was a big difference between the first and second team offense in performance.

The next series is the best example of the analysis. On this series Reid was picked off, his only non-completion of the scrimmage. There were three illegal procedure penalties on the offensive line, and the other three snaps netted 15 yards. A reasonable four plays for an offensive line of all inexperienced players and the second team offense as a whole going against a defense with an experienced defensive line of Xavier Lawson-Kennedy and former starting defensive ends Nathan Peterson and Marque Fountain. The linebackers were Air Force transfer Marcus Brown and talented freshman Chris Collins. The secondary was young, but Andre Sexton, who made the interception on Reid is considered one off the top young defensive backs on the squad.

This is not excuse time. Pre-snap penalties are never acceptable, but they happen with offensive linemen who have never played in a game and are working with a new cadence this spring. In fact, in going back and checking the negative plays on offense, turnovers, sacks and penalties, the majority took place in situations where they would be more expected.

Interceptions: 5
#1-Zac Robinson was intercepted by Chris Collins. Robinson, playing with the second team offense, under pressure, throws into a crowd and Collins gets the pick. It was a good play by Collins, who would have returned it for a touchdown if the whistles hadn't blown the play dead.
#2-The Reid interception was picked by Andre Sexton.
#3-Freshman quarterback Alex Cate, playing with the first offense, throws behind a receiver and is picked by Jacob Lacey, who has moved into a starting corner spot.
#4-Cate, playing with the second team offense, is pressured and a tipped pass is picked by defensive tackle Jeray Chatham.
#5-On the next play Cate hits Ricky Price and Price bobbles the pass going down and Lacey takes it right off his chest. Give the defender credit for an alert athletic play.

Fumbles: 6
#1-Reid fumbles with second team offense.
#2-Roberts fumbles with second team offense.
#3-Robinson and Crosslin have trouble with mesh on a zone read resulting in fumble.
#4-Pena fumbles snap with redshirt freshman backup center Andrew Lewis.
#5-Pena looses control off the football.
#6-Roberts fumbles and recovers his own fumble.

The offense recovered all but one of the fumbles. They will have to get better, but notice that of the fumbles only one was the responsibility of an expected starter for next season and that would be Reid. Hamilton and Crosslin had no fumbles and neither did any of the receivers.

Sacks, Lost Yardage and No Gain Plays: 24 total
Seventeen of the 24 plays in which the offense was sacked, lost yards or had no gain came when the second- or third-team offense was operating.

Penalties: 11 total
Offense: 8
Defense: 3
There were four illegal procedure penalties on the offense, and all were on offensive linemen that have never played in a college game (Andrew Lewis, Marshall Tetsworth and Jacob Secrest). Zac Robinson and Alex Cate were each called for a dealy of game. There was a holding penalty on wide receiver Seth Newton blocking downfield, and an unidentified holding penalty.
On defense, Alex Odiari was called for pass interference, Nathan Peterson had an offsides, and there was another offsides penalty.
Some of the other reporters and the OSU sports information office, which supplied stats to the media, did not stat the goal-line portion of the scrimmage. We did and always do because it is a part of it, just like goal-line situations in games. The offense added four more touchdowns during the goal-line scrimmage in 11 plays working from the 5-yard line in.

Also, the quarterback reps in The Oklahoman were way off. Here is the correct number (including goal-line plays).

Quarterback snaps in the scrimmage
Zac Robinson – 32
Bobby Reid – 29
Al Pena – 27
Alex Cate – 22
Only Cate's number was accurate in The Oklahoman story.

Final Analysis
When D'Juan Woods and Adarius Bowman, who got very few snaps on Friday, are involved the offense is much better and has the weapons to make the spread viable. Hamilton and Crosslin are solid, but the arrival of a speed back in Dantrell Savage will really help in what will probably a running back by committee situation. Reid clearly took the lead in the quarterback race and was much more comfortable in running the offense. The offensive line is a major concern, but we knew that. The degree that the young guards grow up, improve and mature will go a long way in dictating just how good the offense will be.

The defensive line, going two deep, is strong. They were dominating the line of scrimmage and making plays such as the case with McBean, Victor DeGrate, Marque Fountain, Nathan Peterson and Jeray Chatham. When they weren't making the plays the pressure they put on the offense helped the linebackers and defensive backs make plays. The secondary struggled with Woods and Bowman, but so will every other secondary those two go against.

Special teams were solid with the exception of one break down between the left guard and tackle on a late field goal try. There is still a lot of work to do in this area as they have not yet worked kickoffs and kickoff returns.

The bottom line is when looking at a scrimmage you have to go deeper than just the results of the play and look at who was on each side of the ball and what advantages and disadvantages were present on that play. Just like the mistakes made, in most cases, in the scrimmage, not picking up on the analysis of who and why those mistakes were made is a rookie mistake.

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