Anatomy Of A Scoring Drive: First Touchdown Drive Against OSU

Context

By deferring to the second half, the Buckeyes received the ball to start the game and the Longhorns found themselves struggling to possess the football after a three and out to start the game, followed by a stalled seven play drive on their next possessions. Down 6-3 at the start of the second half, a sustained drive became imperative, if only to keep the ball away from the Ohio State offense and give the Texas defense a rest.

Ignominious beginning

The Ohio State kicker put the ball well into the endzone on his kickoff, as Jordan Shipley stumbled backing up and found himself laying on his back with the ball in his hands, leaving Colt McCoy and the Longhorn offense 80 yards from paydirt.

1st and 10 on Texas 20

Longhorns come out in their base 11 personnel, with Fozzy Whittaker earning the starting nod for the second half. McCoy hands the ball off to Whittaker on the counter play with the guard pulling. Adam Ulatoski retreats, faking the pass block, but doesn't draw the defender far enough upfield to take him out of the play. Very strange. Whittaker gains two yards.

2nd and 8 on Texas 22

For the millionth time in this game, it's hard to determine what personnel grouping the Longhorns are in because the Fox crew misses the start of the play. Unbelievable. Not sure if I've ever seen such a big game produced so poorly. I think it's 11 personnel again, with McCoy rolling to his right and overthrowing Jordan Shipley on an out route. Considering the uncanny accuracy McCoy displayed throughout the season, missing on a relatively easy throw (for him) like this has been unusual.

3rd and 8 on Texas 22

Texas remains with its 11 personnel grouping, with Chris Ogbonnaya into the game and to the left of Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley and James Kirkendoll split right, along with the tight end. I have no idea why the Longhorns are in this grouping on third and long. In fact, I would never let any of the Texas tight ends see the field at this point in the season. Offensive line picks up an extra defender coming on the blitz and McCoy stands in the pocket to deliver a strike to Kirkendoll running an in. First down.

1st and 10 on Texas 31

The players rush to the line of scrimmage after the completion, snapping the ball within 10 seconds of previous play, likely meaning no change in the personnel grouping since Ohio State would have had a chance to respond with their own substitutions to any the Longhorns made. For one of the few times this season, McCoy goes under center and the Longhorn line gets a chance to drive block, with Cedric Dockery and Chris Hall blowing their defenders six to seven yards off the line of scrimmage. It absolutely warms the cockles of my heart to see offensive lineman finally have the ability to block downhill. What a novel concept! Ogbonnaya works through the gaping hole on the right side to get nine yards and close to the first down. Nice blocking downfield as well by Quan Cosby.

2nd and 1 on Texas 40

Longhorns substitute Ogbonnaya out of the game, slowing the tempo established on the previous play somewhat, but still snapping the ball around 12 seconds after the previous play. McCoy goes under center again out of the 11 personnel and hands out to Fozzy Whittaker, who trips turning the corner. Holding on Chris Hall.

2nd and 11 on Texas 30

Ogbonnaya enters the game again as the Longhorns remain in 11 personnel, with Shipley and Kirkendoll split left. The danger and ineptitude of the formation rears its head once again, as McCoy attempts to find Peter Ullman over the middle and it gets tipped up into the air, leaving the ball hanging in the air as Quan Cobsy and a Buckeye defender try to make a play on the ball. Similar to about the last time the Longhorns threw towards Ullman, a play that resulted in a tipped ball interception, this one hit Ullman in the hands, although McCoy, under little pressure, misfired slightly high and to Ullman's left.

3rd and 11 on Texas 30

Since 11 personnel has worked so well on this drive, picking up 10 net yards on six plays, Greg Davis sees no reason to change. Ogbonnaya on McCoy's right, with the tight end and Shipley and Kirkendoll split left. Buckeyes show blitz and bring two extra defenders on the left side of the line as the tight end stays in to block and provides a pocket for McCoy. The Longhorn quarterback tries to find Kirkendoll running another in, this time on the other side of the field, but the Ohio State defender interferes, giving the Longhorns a first down.

1st and 10 on Texas 45

Hey, a new personnel grouping--one that actually worked when the Longhorns were playing well this season! Shipley lines up in the slot close to the lineman, as he did with great success against Oklahoma, in the 10 personnel package with Brandon Collins and James Kirkendoll split right with Shipley and Fozzy Whitaker in the backfield. Fozzy dropped for three yards loss out of our joker-ass zone running play.

2nd and 13 on Texas 42

Same personnel grouping with Ogbonnaya back in the game and on the left of Colt McCoy. McCoy flushed to the right as he sets up a block that Shipley fails to provide, although he does get in the way of two players, but McCoy picks up 12 yards on the play as Brandon Collins does do a good job blocking downfield.

3rd and 1 on Ohio State 46

Back to 11 personnel, with Cody Johnson to the right of McCoy and the tight end on the wide side of the field with Shipley and Kirkendoll. Zone play to Johnson as the middle of the Texas line gets blown off the ball and Charlie Tanner and David Snow fail to block anyone and Johnson has to carry a defender a yard just to get close to the original line of scrimmage. Absolutely horrible. Where is the jumbo package here? Can't we let our lineman drive block on third and short?

4th and 2 on Ohio State 47

The Longhorn lines gets to drive block for Rashad Bobino on the fake punt to the upman and picks up the first down. I'm starting to think that this play is the only thing that Bobino has been good for in his career, as I believe it has been successful every time Texas has ran it in the last few years. Tough running for the last half yard by Bobino.

1st and 10 on Ohio State 45

Back to the same 11 personnel, with Shipley and Kirkendoll split left with the tight end. Playaction to OG, who McCoy hits over the middle after the pocket holds well until McCoy gets hit delivering the pass. Notice none of the Terrelle Pryor stepping in the bucket crap with McCoy. Kid's tough as nails.

2nd and 5 on Ohio State 40

Once again with the 11 personnel, this time lining the tight end up on the short side of the field with Quan Cosby and Shipley and Collins to the left and Ogbonnaya on McCoy's left. Surprise, surprise. The Longhorns run the ball with OG, which Ohio State surely wasn't expecting. Nope, the run blitzing must have been a miscommunication or accident. It's the counter play, as Kyle Hix whiffs on Lauranaitis in the hole and OG only picks up two.

3rd and 3 on Ohio State 38

Davis sticks with the 11 personnel, with the tight end on the wide side once again and Ogbonnaya on McCoy's right. Ohio State blitzes and Texas shows off its vaunted horizontal passing game. Instead of trying to hit Greg Smith in the flat, since it's absolutely moronic to try to do that, McCoy instead throws the ball too early to Shipley and the corner who just let Brandon Collins run by (the only receiver not to run a three-yard pattern) makes the tackle short of the first down. That's right folks, the Texas passing game picks up two yards when it needs three. Ever heard of such a thing? A pump fake by McCoy to Shipley might open up Brandon Collins down the field, but then it wouldn't do to throw it down the field. Would it? And, wait a minute, if it's moronic to try to hit the converted offensive lineman moving laterally in the flat, why is the converted offensive lineman moving laterally in the flat one of the three options on the play? Why does Greg Davis insist on running nearly every route to exactly the first down marker? Having seen that on every game film, don't you think that Ohio State would expect that?

4th and 1 on Ohio State 36

Hey! The jumbo package. And it works, as Johnson picks up the first down and another yard easily. Amazing, this concept of lining up and punching the other team in the mouth when you need a yard or two. Personally, I would prefer to run the ball sideways as our offensive lineman wander aimlessly, unsure of whether or not they should block someone. Hint: yes, please, anyone. Note the sarcasm.

1st and 10 on Ohio State 34

Lined up in Oklahoma special, 10 personnel, with Shipley in the slot right and Ogbonnaya on McCoy's left. Playaction fake as Thaddeus Gibson clubs Ulatoski in the head to get around him before committing another personal foul on McCoy, Gibson's second of the game for hitting McCoy in the head. McCoy completed the pass to Ogbonnaya over the middle, who picked up eight yards.

1st and 10 on Ohio State 14

Oklahoma special, 10 personnel, with Ogbonnaya on McCoy's right to the short side of the field. Straight quarterback draw, the first running play of the game to McCoy and it catches the Ohio State defense off guard. OG and Quan Cosby both make great blocks on the play and McCoy spins off a defender to get himself into the end zone.

Final totals

15 plays, 80 yards in 6:31. The Longhorns needed help from the Buckeyes to pick up one third down on the pass interference, with Buckeye penalty yardage standing at 27 for the drive. Two fourth down conversions aided the cause, but second down playcalling hamstrung the drive, gaining only 14 yards on the drive, with 12 of those coming on a McCoy scramble and the two-yard Ogbonnaya run gaining the other two. The other three second down plays were two incomplete passes, including the one that could have been intercepted off of Ullman's hands and the Chris Hall holding penalty on 2nd and 1.

Verdict

As a time consuming drive that stressed the Ohio State defense and momentum-changer out of halftime, the drive was enormously successful. However, I will proceed to rant about the continued use of 11 personnel by Greg Davis after a season during which it became abundantly clear to everyone except Davis that Peter Ullman and Greg Smith had no business being on the field. The best run of the drive, McCoy's touchdown run, came out of the 10 personnel grouping I've called the Oklahoma special and the other good running play did come from 11 personnel, albeit under center and quick-snapped rather than out of the shotgun, zone blocking scheme. I do think the 11 personnel aids run blocking a little bit, but hurts the passing game significantly. The switch of the tight end from the wide side of the field to the short side telegraphed a running play and brought an Ohio State run blitz, so that was entirely unsuccessful.

McCoy also looked as out-of-sync on this drive as he did in the first half, missing an open Shipley on the second play and nearly causing an interception with his poor throw to Ullman. As much as anything, though, it was the playcalling that slowed the drive and McCoy did make two nice plays with his feet, as well as the third down strike early in the drive to Kirkendoll to keep the chains moving and the Longhorns on the field

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