Brad Towns: I expected the offense to come out gunning and they did….kind of. The opportunity was there for the taking but mistake after mistake derailed it early. It was surprising to see because King has been so good and has played well in big moments.
But the opening night in Norman in front of 85,000 fans and a national TV audience and against a top-5 is a tough task. Don’t forget that it was his first game action since his injury. So it wasn’t too surprising that he came out playing way too fast.
Ryan Monceaux: Clearly, nerves played a part. But so, too, did OU DC Alex Grinch.
Grinch’s 3-4 scheme is semi-modified into a 3-3-5 with one-gap assignments upfront and a versatile nickel serving as a rover. Grinch simplifies the defensive calls for his players (focus on blowing up this one gap then get to the ball) and uses shifts late in the snap count to confuse and frustrate opposing QBs. I think the latter is what happened here.
Because of the one-gap assignment, defenders are able to just react and not have to overthink their responsibilities – same is true with the shifts. D-linemen love the one-gap but linebackers might like it even more: there are a lot of stunts and one of the LBs is usually rushing.
King brings them to the line and sees a typical Grinch front: 3 down linemen and the ‘rush end’ (#40 Jon-Michael Terry). As soon as the WILL linebacker (#23 DaShaun White) sees the UH alignment, he shifts his front-three over a gap and the MIKE linebacker (#9 Kenneth Murray) out wide to rush.
Now King is looking at a 50 front or, as it has been called for 60 years, the Oklahoma Defense. 50 means five guys on the line and two linebackers behind them.
Grinch has used variations of this move for years. He’s been successful with it because it allows his players to focus on one thing: attack. Here’s a similar shift upfront (the free safety comes here instead of the MIKE) from his time at Wazzu:
That’s what D’Eriq King sees late in his cadence and he wisely takes a second to process it.
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