“There's going to be some seams,” Young said. “A quarterback can run through one of those in a heartbeat, so you gotta have somebody that … can come up and fill a gap and get him down for a minimum gain.”
But Pat Jones says spying is no sure tonic. On third down, or obvious passing downs, sure. Good strategy. But first down? Spying the quarterbacking can mean you're playing a man short.
“It's hard on normal down and distances to do, because everybody's kind of got an assignment defensively,” said Jones, who spent 11 years as OSU's head coach and who also coached defense for Jimmy Johnson at both OSU and with the Miami Dolphins. “You're robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
Another problem: spying requires a certain kind of athlete.
“Most people that try to do it with a lineman, it all looks good, until he has to go make a play,” Jones said. “Everything can work, but they're not good enough to run him down.”
Manziel's mobility has led to a Southeastern Conference total offense record. He ran for 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns, to go with 3,419 passing yards. That's 4,600 total yards in 12 games.
Like all great scramblers, from Roger Staubach and Fran Tarkenton to Tim Tebow and Cam Newton, Manziel puts game-long pressure on a defense. You never know what he might do.
“That's the thing that scares you,” Bosworth said. “His unpredictability.”
What will the Sooners do? We know what they've done. Down the stretch, the likes of Clint Chelf and Nick Florence punctured the OU defense with their legs.
Johnny Football figures to do the same, unless the radical ideas of Brian Bosworth (spy) or Bob Stoops (don't cover receivers) actually work.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.