Holding onto a lead and next year

At halftime, I was texting a good friend of mine…a Sooner fan…who was pulling hard for the Hogs. He’s a former student and probably roots for the Hogs more out of loyalty to me than anything. Still, he knows football, and he and I had a disagreement at half.

I was nervous about holding onto the lead, because we could not run. His point was that VT was selling out, and that if we kept gashing them with the pass, they would have to pull back their safeties, at which point we could run…and ice the game. I agreed to a point, but also pointed out that if we continued to be unable to run, and if VT stopped shooting themselves in the foot (which they sure did to put that mildly…because they were too busy watching us blow our own feet off), we would have issues for the same reason we have all year.

That is…this o-line (and most college o-lines) can’t pass block in a pro-style offense against a defense that knows you have to throw.

And that came to pass. VT started harassing AA…AA made mistakes…other’s like Drew added to those mistakes…and the wheels came off.

We can talk and talk about all of the problems. The penalties (VT should have been flagged over and over for mimicking our cadence. That’s flat illegal), the fumbles and INT’s all were huge. But that is looking at the micro.

The macro issue is that the o-line could not handle their front. This has been a mediocre o-line all year. 2 very good players. And 3 players that, while talented, got beat over and over by stunts. I have said over and over Bielema builds the program on being able to beat you with his o-line. (I think that is a sound philosophy, btw). And we couldn’t do that this year.

One thing that hasn’t been discussed much us the change in our o-line coach. Bielema has really praised his knowledge of technique. I am sure he’s right. But I also know that significant change in technique takes time to jell…and that could possibly be a reason for this o-line’s problems. Who knows. Maybe its just inexperience. Whatever it was…fixing the offensive line is far and away the top priority coming into next year. IMO. Even bigger than fixing the defense…which is huge too.

Looking toward next year, I am optimistic about the roster…SO LONG AS WE GET BETTER SAFETY PLAY. I hope our young ones are ready to play. I think we are ok roster-wise everywhere else. But our safety play has been awful all year. (And this is coming from me…someone who tried to keep negativity about the Hogs within the confines of my living room…or on the phone to friends…and not this board).

I do think we need a more aggressive defensive scheme. I like our offensive scheme just fine. So long as we can run it.

So, back to the main issue. I hope to read in the spring about how good the o-line looks. I don’t want to read about how any d-lineman on our roster just can’t be handled by our o-line. I was excited when reports of Deatrich and company dominating kept circulating last spring and in camp. As it turned out, that was more of a statement about our o-line than the d-line. The d-line was good. But not very good. Certainly not great. The o-line was just green and not good at all.

So onward to spring football and the hope the o-line improves. And that everything else improves too.

Oh…and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

I enjoyed reading your post and have had the same sentiment about the team this year. It just seems that a lot of issues seem to be a result of inconsistent O line play. Inconsistent offensive play allowed opponents offenses to play to strengths because we did not score consistently or have time consuming drives. Our defense was on the field longer and had to defend a more balanced attack. I hope to read in 2017 of few O line position switches trying to find best fit.

Thanks for some sanity amidst all of the gnashing of teeth.

My wish for next year:

  1. Is to have a more attacking style defense and to completely stop sitting back.

  2. For Enos to get his speed guys the ball in space.

  3. To play your best players, because I honestly don’t believe they do.

  4. Get players on the field and in the program with speed, speed and more speed.

  1. Agree.

  2. Agree, although I assume that’s always an OC’s plan, whether he can get it done or not.

  3. Who do you think was better that they did not play, and why would a coach take the kind of heat that CBB is taking now by not playing his best players? They are mostly his recruits; I would think he wants to play the very best he has. But not saying that to be argumentative or because I know anything about him.

  4. Agree, agree, and agree.

Why do you think they are not playing their best players? They spend every practice and game evaluating who their best players are. Why would they not play the guys who give them the best chance to win?