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Short Girls In Boots

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I'm standing with friends outside DKR on a fall Saturday during my junior year, impatiently waiting for a few stragglers from the tailgate to catch up, when two particularly awe-inspiring young ladies in jean skirts and cowboy boots casually saunter by. As 21 year old boys are prone to do, we find ourselves not at all subtly gawking, and after they've passed I turn to my friends and stammer, "All girls should be required to wear skirts and boots."

No sooner have I finished saying 'boots' when I feel on my shoulder the firm slap from an unmistakably gigantic hand, and as I turn, I see a Bunyan of a man--he looks like a burlier Big Tex from the State Fair grounds--gliding past me in impossibly large strides. But he's looking back and when he's sure he's got my eyes he says, "Not short girls, son." He winks and disappears into the stadium, gone as quickly as he appeared.


I was reminded of that story when reading The Elusive Shadow's Fan Post on "Keys To Winning." It's a fine post, with numerous arguments I find to be right on-point. Except one:

2.  Run the ball consistently well.

I'm going to go ahead and assume Fozzy will not play, probably because he has to go to the Bat Cave and fight some more crime.  Even if he does, we don't need to be looking for homeruns.  We just need a good enough run game to keep Oklahoma honest.  A consistent 4.5 ypc will do the trick.  Also, I think Colt has to run the ball effectively as well.  Seven carries for 45 yards for some key first downs will do.

This has quite a bit to do with our offensive line.  They need to explode off the line and push downfield.

My week has more or less been limited to four activities: brief writing, making fun of OU via Photoshop, sleep, and thinking about what Texas' offensive game plan should look like. And the more I've thought about it, the more confident I've become with what Big Roy and I first discussed on Sunday evening:

Spread the field. As much as possible. Make Oklahoma defend sideline to sideline, with as many defenders occupied in man coverage as possible. Among other things, that gives Colt the best opportunity to be a playmaker. And he's It, right now.

The second thing I'd do which I cannot understand why we haven't/don't is use screens better. Everyone hates the bubble screen, but as a concept, we probably need to use screens of all types against Oklahoma--using their aggressiveness against them. A great offensive game plan will turn weaknesses into strengths: In Texas' case, that can mean showing our bread and butter to entice a hungry defense to overpursue. I have every confidence that Oklahoma will be over-locked in on what we've shown so far this year. It's up to Davis and Applewhite to use it against them.

It's against that backdrop that I'll nod in agreement with Elusive Shadow that Colt needs to be an effective runner on Saturday, but I don't think Texas should monkey around using tailbacks to try to pick up yardage from our straightforward zone rush plays any more than a short girl should expect to look good in boots.

The unfortunate truth is that Fozzy is an unknown at best, out of commission at worst, and our offensive line simply isn't going to do any downfield exploding on Saturday. Not only has this unit been off-and-on against inferior defensive fronts, but--more importantly--Texas would play right into Oklahoma's defensive strength by trying to execute our straight zone run game. There won't be much there.

Both of these defenses are good enough that long, deliberate drives advancing 5 yards at a time are losing propositions. Instead, the chess match on Saturday revolves around making the opposition defend the entire field, creating favorable match ups, and hitting some home runs. Go back over last year's play-by-play from the Cotton Bowl and look at where all the points come from--big plays. And for Texas, that meant big passing plays: Texas' first touchdown was keyed by a Finley 55-yard reception, the second score by a 58-yard Finley catch, and the third by a 16-yarder to Nate Jones followed by a 29-yard completion to OG. And even the infamous Drive That Almost Was (Charles' fumble) was boosted by a 14-yard Finley reception and 26-yard catch by Blaine Irby.

Though heading into this year Oklahoma's four stud receivers and steady offensive line make them better equipped for home run derby, Texas is hardly up a creek with no paddle. The one big--and important--advantage the Longhorns will have on offense is the ability of McCoy to make plays with his legs. As great as Bradford is throwing the ball (and don't kid yourself, he's great), he is a stand and throw guy; that's at least some help to Will Muschamp as he tries to implement a winning game plan. No such luck for the Brent Venables, who along with looking eternally constipated can be made uncomfortable if... if... Texas spreads the field to force the Sooners into some difficult choices: double Cosby/Ship or spy McCoy?

I was comforted to see the always insightful Scipio Tex weigh in with similar thoughts this week. From his own "How We Win" piece:

What does 4 wide do for us?

When you open up the field against OU, you make them declare their intentions. By alignment, by disposition, by intent...

The more receiving personnel you put on the field, the less ability OU has to double Shipley or Cosby. In fact, they really can’t unless they go dime (6 DBs). Suddenly we’ve just created a viable running game running zone read. Ta-da! Say they outnumber us at the LOS and blitz but stay in dime to eradicate a running game and pressure Colt. Fine. Now two of the most canny receivers in college football can operate in space while a mobile QB buys time...

4 wide opens running lanes for Colt. Run your inside WRs on outs and your outside receivers deep and it’s amazing how the grass can open up in front of a QB. Suddenly pass rush discipline becomes important and OU pressures a bit more methodically.

Bingo. And Texas fans on Saturday should know pretty quickly whether or not the offensive coaching staff has a plausible plan of attack for the day: If we open up trying only to do what's worked against intramural defenses, pray that Muschamp's kids keep the Sooner scoring machine in check for as long as it takes Davis to try something new.

Ideally, though, Greg Davis and Major Applewhite sat down this week, looked closely at what's actually going to be in front of them on Saturday, saw a short girl, and concluded, "No boots."