“Just keep matriculating the ball down the field, boys.” Hank Stram - HC Kansas City Chiefs, Super Bowl IV
Over the past several years, probably going back to Holgerson or Monken, I have been repeatedly disappointed by our offense’s ability to put together sustained drives. If you’re leading the country in chunk plays like we saw so many times with Rudolph to Washington, it seems less important, but in a year like this one, or in a game like the last one (TCU), it is incredibly important. It gives your defense time to rest. It keeps your opponent’s offense off the field, and it allows you more control of the clock.
Against TCU, it looked like there were a number of reasons why we couldn’t keep a drive going. There were at least two series where it seemed like we were upping the tempo to our detriment. Twice we faced critical 3rd downs where we rushed the play and came up short. I don’t know if this was Sanders or the coaches, but it stopped the drives. Then there were the drives where we run on 1st down for 3, run on 2nd down for 2, and then didn’t seem to know what to do to pick up the first down. And of course there are always drives where we attempt a long pass on 1st or 2nd down, then get into a must pass situation on 3rd.
All this was incredibly frustrating against TCU when Amen was stripping the ball from them every other series, and setting us up with great field position, or when your freshman kick returner is giving you the ball at mid field.
I have wondered sometimes if our stated philosophy of taking what the defense gives you is what gets us in trouble. If I am a defensive coach and I can “give” the long pass attempt which in our best years may have a 50% chance of success, but this year might be closer to 25%, then maybe I do that every series and gamble that I can get us in a third and long, especially when the refs aren’t calling PI closely. I just get the feeling that some of our conference foes have learned how to game us into running the plays that are best for their defense just by lining up in certain ways. This wouldn’t be much of a task for a coach like Patterson.
Explosive plays are nice, but they’ve been hard to come by with Sanders at QB, our makeshift O-Line, and our “no real threat beyond Wallace” receiving corps.
We need an offense that can “matriculate” the ball down the field.