Mismatch against Tiger offense frustrated OU defense
Senior defensive end Jeremy Beal said he couldn’t remember a game in his career at OU during which the defense didn’t even touch the opposing quarterback.
In Saturday’s loss against Missouri, the Sooners’ pass rush was completely neutralized didn’t get a single sack on Missouri junior quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
“It’s very frustrating,” Beal said. “We didn’t get any pressure, and that is unacceptable.”
The Tigers’ zone-read offense was partially what kept the OU pass rushers at bay in the game, Beal said. The offensive game plan forced the pass rushers to hesitate while waiting to see if the quarterback was going to hand the ball off or keep it for a pass.
“It hinders you a little bit,” Beal said. “You have to stay flat on the line and play your technique. You have to read the tackles.”
OU’s defensive line was short-handed for the game without freshman Daniel Noble and junior Casey Walker.
“The lack of depth affects us a lot,” Beal said. “You can’t play 80 snaps a game — especially the interior guys — and expect to be effective.”
The absence of pressure on Gabbert not only allowed him time to sit in the pocket, but it allowed the receivers extra time to shake defenders in the defensive backfield.
“The guys in the secondary can’t cover all day,” Beal said.
The Tigers’ offensive formations also contributed to the Sooners’ pass-rush struggles. Missouri often put five wide receivers on the field, forcing the Sooners to make an unfavorable choice: rush the passer, where it’s more likely a receiver could get open downfield quicker or at least have one-on-one coverage; or only rush four — like they often did — and get no pressure on Gabbert, giving him plenty of time to find an open receiver.
The five-wide spread offense was also difficult for the defensive backs to handle, senior defensive back Jonathan Nelson said.
“There were just some situations where it was hard to play certain plays and certain calls,” Nelson said.
Nelson said the struggles weren’t due to a lack of effort on the part of the players.
“I can’t question the effort of anyone out there,” Nelson said. “There have been times when we haven’t played a good game and it was because guys didn’t give a good effort. In this one, we gave it a great effort.”