Eric Mangini, once an NFL head coach and now an ESPN analyst, said the other day that defensive coaches in the NFL respect the Wildcat formation much more than even the offensive coaches who use it. The Wildcat is an offensive system in which the quarterback exits the field, replaced either by a running back or a running quarterback, who takes the snap and has options on how to proceed.
What Mangini means is this. Preparing for two offensive systems is a total headache.
Which brings us to our state teams. OU has been using the Belldozer, a sort of simplified Wildcat, since late last October as a short-yardage supplement to Landry Jones’ passing attack. And now with Wes Lunt injured and apparently not going to play against Texas on Sept. 29, OSU will go at quarterback with J.W. Walsh, who doesn’t throw nearly as well as Lunt but can make some plays with his running ability. Walsh was impressive Saturday in relieving the injured Lunt; what is OSU to do when Lunt returns?
Ideally, OSU would continue to use Walsh in spots, even if Lunt comes back healthy and playing well. There are too many benefits not to. And most of them center on forcing opposing defenses to make extra preparation.
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder knows what that’s like, since this week he’s had to get his Wildcats geared up for OU’s Landry Jones and Blake Bell.
“The thing you have to be very careful of is that Blake (Bell) has the capacity to throw the football as well,” Snyder said. “His completion percentage is I think 75 percent. It was three of four in the last ballgame that he threw the ball just as the Wildcat guy as their quarterback. He has the capacity to do that, so you have to defend both run and pass at the same time.”
That’s not even likely true. The Sooners might spring a surprise sometime and have Bell fling a pass in crunch time. But if Bob Stoops wants a pass thrown, he’s going to have Landry Jones do it. But that just shows you the mind games that two quarterbacks can cause.
“You know that the play action pass, when it is a heavy run down, is always what you have to be careful on, and when the quarterback runs the ball, they normally got enough people to block your people,” Snyder said. “That is the nature of the quarterback run game and always has been for the 20-some-odd years that we have utilized it. It is an advantage in regards to numbers. In other word, if you hand the ball off to your running back and the quarterback is not accounted, so you are really playing with 10 guys and they have 11, so they out-number you. If your quarterback can run the ball, then you add one to yourself, so you got enough to block their people and that is the advantage of it. When you take a guy like Blake or Collin (Klein) who is big, strong, and physical that is advantageous.”
So Snyder finally started talking about the advantage of the Belldozer. The equalization of manpower. But Snyder speaks the truth in that it’s a total mess for a defense that has to defend a Landry Jones or Wes Lunt offense, with four or five receivers flooding the zones, all spread out, and then a play later maybe in a power formation where the quarterback takes a snap and follows blockers up the middle.