Against Texas, Oklahoma’s defense proved it’s the real deal

Oklahoma’s never been known for it’s defense, unless of course the defense completely soiled the bed. Drunken late night Taco Bell defecating. Throw those sheets away and buy new ones.

Think back to the Georgia game in the Rose Bowl during Bake Mayfield’s final season in Norman, Okla. The Sooners couldn’t stop the run to save their lives (317 yards), a stat that was punctuated by a 27-yard game-winning touchdown run by Sony Michel that gave the Bulldogs the win in the third overtime.

Coming into this season, there were two questions facing Oklahoma: What would the new defense look like underneath first-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch and how would the new defense fair against an offense that was, well, worth a damn?

The first quarter of the season answered the first question. The game against Texas last weekend answered the latter.

By the numbers

Texas QB Sam Ehlinger completed about 68% of his passes for 210 yards, which is a farily solid stat-line. However, the Sooners defense kept the Texas’ passing game to a minimum. The Longhorns average pass attempt was around five yards. It’s average pass completion was around eight yards.

Those value of those averages rose because of a second-half surge by Texas because in the first half, Oklahoma hardly allowed the Longhorns to move the ball.

First drive

The first drive set the tone for the defense and Texas’ conservative approach didn’t help the Longhorns any.

Before the ball was even snapped, defensive back Brendan Radly Hiles recognized the eventual swing pass and made a beeline for the receiver. While he didn’t make the tackle, Radley-Hiles cleared the path for the three other Sooners behind him to make the tackle-for-loss, the first of 16 on the afternoon.

On this play, I believe Texas tried to sell a decoy fake to Ehlinger’s right. At the top of the screen, you can see a wide receiver shuffle toward the sideline for a screen pass, an “option” Ehlinger doesn’t even look toward, so the defense doesn’t buy it. Even if it was a real option, the safety playing man over the receiver came down almost immediately.

The real play came near the bottom of the screen to receiver Devin Duvernay, who runs a 1-yard comeback route. The original design was to have Duvernay run behind three offensive linemen at the second level. But the linemen are slow to get there. This allows linebacker Kenneth Murray to go unblocked to make the tackle for no gain.

This is just an impressive spin move by nose tackle Neville Gallimore. Off the snao, Gallimore beats the center who his helpless in the defensive lineman’s pursuit of Ehlinger and the eventual sack. It was the first of Oklahoma’s nine sacks on the afternoon.

Sack lunch

As stated earlier, the Sooners racked up nine sacks. Eight different sooners dropped Ehlinger for a loss, including defensive backs like Pat Fields.

Of all the play calls Grinch had on Saturday afternoon, this was by far my favorite.

Grinch lines up six in the box and actually sends a seventh pass-rusher from the defensive backfield. What’s great about this play is that Ehlinger doesn’t even see Fields coming until he’s about to break the through the pocket. Ehlinger actually looks at Fields right before defensive back wraps him up. Great call and great execution.

Kenneth Murray

Murray, who leads the Sooners with 42 tackles, played maybe his sharpest game of the year against the Longhorns. He rarely missed a tackle and was very keen on recognizing Texas’ plays off the snap.

This play showcases Murray’s raw talent because as he blitzes, the linebacker initially believes the running back is going to get the ball on the RPO. However, Murray is able to recognize in a split second that Ehlinger is keeping the ball and makes a quick cut to change his direction and try to tackle the quarterback. Like Radley-Hiles, Murray misses the tackle but disrupts the play and allows his teammates behind him to make the play.

In Oklahoma’s man protection, Murray already has responsibility for the running back. But off the snap, Murray immediately pursues his man on the swing route and drops him for a loss.

On this play, Oklahoma lines up to show they’re sending six men. But Murray drops back to shadow Ehlinger and one he sees the Texas quarterback make a cut to run left for the scramble, Murray pursues him for the tackle and the third-down stop.

Coming downhill

Texas only racked up 210 passing yards, partially because Oklahoma didn’t allow the Longhorns to gain any yards after the catch. Oklahoma’s man-coverage is so good at meeting receivers at the destination of the catch and wrapping them up.

Oklahoma’s defensive backs, especially their safeties, did such a great job picking up on the play and coming downfield to make the tackle. By the time Ehlinger turns his head to make the throw, Oklahoma already has a safety meeting the receiver at the catch.

Remember the first play of the game? The swing pass that Radley-Hiles wasn’t able to make the tackle on?

Once again, the defensive back was able to immediately pick it up and prevent Ehlinger from dumping the ball off. This allowed for the pass-rush to eventually get to him and bring him down for a big loss.

While Ehlinger went with another swing pass following the sack, I can’t imagine this was the first choice. It was most likely the quarterbacks’ response to the aggressive pass-rush. He can’t take another sack. So, his best option was to give it to his running back who, unfortunately for the Longhorns, was swallowed up by a defender who met him almost immediately after the catch.


Texas actually tied Oklahoma with 24 second half points which helped the Longhorns make it a closer game than what it was. Had it not been for Oklahoma’s defense in the first half, maybe Texas wins this game again. The Sooner offense only scored 10 points in the first half which is uncharacteristic for this years’ team.

But the Sooners’ defense came through when the team needed them. They prevented Texas from taking advantage of empty Sooner drives and kept the Longhorns behind all afternoon.

This was the first true test the Sooners defense faced this year and they passed with flying colors, in my opinion. There’s always work to be done, as Jalen Hurts can attest to. But this is a Sooners defense that’s proven it can hold it’s own against a ranked opponent.

If the Sooners can avoid the trap game loss the rest of the way, the next true test for the defense will come in the College Football Playoff.

From Hillsboro to West Point: How Mike Krysl became Army’s special teams coordinator

Mike Krysl walks the sideline during Army’s Sept. 7 game against Michigan. The Black Knights lost, 24-21, in double-overtime. (Photo courtesy of Army Athletic Communications)

Andy Lierman needed an offensive coordinator.

He found so much more in Mike Krysl.

“He had a quality about him that drew people,” Lierman said.

During an August phone conversation, Lierman spoke about the man he once knew as the young coach who helped transform his high school program, and who he now knows as the man in charge of Army’s special teams.

“Looking at where he’s at now — not that I would have known he was going to be there, but when he told me that he was going to coach college football, I knew he’d do well.”

In 2012, Lierman had been hired as the newest head coach of Lexington High School, about an hour east of Kansas City, Mo. He needed to build his coaching staff and put the word out to local collegiate programs in the area to send him any graduate assistants with a background in education.

Lierman said the pair hit it off during Krysl’s interview inside Lexington’s library. Gripped with a grease board, the two men shared their philosophies in football and coaching. Krysl was a special coach.

“I knew that the minute I met him,” he said.

Arriving at West Point

The first thing Krysl learned about when he was hired as Army’s special teams’ coordinator in 2018 was the rivalry with Navy.

“Everywhere you go in the football building it says, ‘Beat Navy,’” Krysl said. “You can’t look at a five-yard area on the wall without seeing, ‘Beat Navy.’

The annual meeting between the armed forces academies dates nearly 130 years with the game being canceled 10 times during that span. Games have been canceled due to World War I (1917, 1918), disagreements over player eligibility standards (1928, 1929), and a near duel stemming from an argument between an Army general and a Navy admiral canceled games between 1894 and 1898.

“It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Fourth of July,” he said during a June phone call. “It’s a big-time deal … Once you experience it one time, it’s hard to experience anything else that would top that.”

Despite the magnitude of such a historic game, it doesn’t change the way Army’s football team practices. Drills are run the same. The meetings are the same.

It’s just a game. Just like the interview to become a special teams coordinator for an FBS program was just an interview, even for a guy from Hillsboro, Missouri. After years of coaching at the high school, Division II, and FCS levels, Krysl found himself interviewing with Army and Georgia in the same week.

This whole profession is about being lucky, Krysl admits. One or two big breaks is how he went from being a grad assistant at a Division II program to being a part of the coaching staff at West Point.

If the NCAA didn’t allow FBS programs to add a paid 10th assistant to their coaching staff, there might not have been an opportunity for Krysl to advance from the FCS, at least not in 2018. If an old teammate hadn’t already been on Army’s coaching staff, Krysl might not have been tipped off that the Black Knights were interested in hiring a special teams coordinator.

If Krysl had never met Willie Fritz, he might not even be here.

Paying dues

Fritz, Tulane’s current head coach, is the man responsible for teaching Krysl everything he knows about coaching special teams.

“Which coming from him is a lot because that’s kind of his baby,” Krysl said. “If he didn’t like being the head coach so much, he could probably go be a special teams coordinator in the NFL, if he wanted to.”

Fritz was the head coach at Central Missouri when Krysl played (2005-2007). He led the turnaround of the program and gave the program it’s first playoff season in 2002 before leaving in 2009 as the Mules’ winningest-coach (97 wins).

After Fritz took the head coaching job at Georgia Southern, he reached out to Krysl to see if he wanted to run the kicking game, and to be Fritz’s “right-hand man.”

Krysl was juggling three jobs at West Virginia State University when he got that call.

The Division II program hadn’t won more than three games a year between 2011 and 2015, and had just two winning seasons since 2011. West Virginia State finished 0-13 in 2013, Krysl’s only season with the program.

Krysl was the offensive line coach, the tight end’s coach, and the strength and conditioning coach. The running backs coach was an intern who would receive a helping hand from Krysl, too.

Three and a half jobs. One salary of $20,000.

“I didn’t care,” Krysl said. “I was just happy to be coaching.”

The football program had four full-time assistants, not including the head coach.

“It’s not like these Division II schools — any of us — are Alabama. We all have different responsibilities and different jobs,” UCM offensive line coach Hank McClung said.

Like Krysl, friend and fellow assistant coach Derrick Sherman had multiple jobs. In addition to coaching receivers, he was the team’s equipment manager. If he wasn’t watching film with Krysl, there was a good chance Sherman was washing practice jerseys until midnight so players could have something to wear the next day.

“You kind of got to pay your dues.” Krysl said.

Krysl learned so much under Fritz, but nothing more profound than how to care about others as people, rather than players or coaches.

“There are some guys in the business that have worked for guys that can’t say that,” Krysl said. “I’ve been lucky, that’s for sure.”

‘95 percent of the job’

During Krysl’s first season with Army, he had a surefire kicker in then-senior John Ambercrombie.

Every time Ambercrombie lined up in 2018, points were a virtual guarantee. He nailed all seven field-goal attempts and converted all 44 of his point-after attempts prior to the Navy game.

During that afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field, Ambercrombie lined up for his first field goal attempt: a 33-yard field goal attempt in the first half. A conversion that would have given the Black Knights a 10-point lead over the Midshipmen.

“It’s a field goal try for Abercrombie,” said Jim Nantz during the CBS national broadcast. “Who’s seven of seven so far on the year.”

And just as Nantz finished his sentence, Ambercrombie missed. “Make that seven of eight,” Nantz added.

Abercrombie’s kicking streak was a blessing and a curse. With each conversion, everyone expected him to make the next one, and the next one, and the next one…

“Man,” special teams coordinator Mike Krysl recalled saying to Abercrombie at the time. “You can’t worry about that. You just have to go out there and kick the damn thing.”

The most important aspect of Krysl’s job is being there for his players.

“John was already such a cool, laid back guy,” Krysl said. “That he benefited a lot from knowing that, if something goes wrong, he knew that I was going to take the bullet for him, not him.”

Abercrombie later hit a 33-yarder in the third quarter and converted both point-after-attempts.

At this level, players are already so skilled at their position, Krysl said they know what mistakes they’ve made before they even come back to the sideline. It’s Krysl’s job as the coach to let them know that, should they miss, the target won’t be on their back. It will be on his.

“Those guys have to know you have their back. That’s 95 percent of (the job).”

‘They knew he cared’

After a quick start, Lexington hit a “speed bump” midway through the 2012 season-opener. The offensive line was struggling.

Krysl, who was up in the press box, asked to speak with the offensive line through a coach’s headset.

“He got on the headset with each of those kids in between the series,” Lierman said. “You could tell that he was calming them down. Of course, I’m on the headsets so I can hear him on the main headset. He’s leading those guys in a moment when everyone was kind of hesitant and up in arms and didn’t know what to do.”

Krysl was calm yet stern.

“There’s just a leadership quality about him that when you meet the guy,” Lierman said. “It’s just infectious. That to me encompasses what he did.”

In his one season with the team, Lierman said his offensive coordinator was a big part of the program’s culture change.

“He’s a big part of that because of the way he treated the kids,” he said. “He took that group of young men … and got them to buy-in. In that moment I felt like he got true buy-in from those guys because they knew he cared.”

McDonald’s doesn’t care about you or your sauce needs

A local Oklahoma City McDonald’s is charging for extra sauces, which is confusing.

Mostly because the Word document taped to the drive-thru window read like someone was trying to say all the words before they ran out of breath.

 

We are now charging for sauces thasht exceeded what’s provided.

First off, let’s note whoever wrote this is not hooked on phonics. 

Ketchup and mayo is still free if nuggets nor tenders were not purchase one sauce is free any other sauce would be a .27 charge

I don’t know. All I can pull from this is that ketchup and mayo are free if they’re being solely used for nuggets. I can’t tell if tenders are allowed. 

It’s an abysmal letter but more so for the policing of the sauces than of the writing. I can forgive someone typing like any idiot on Facebook. That’s just the way people write now because everyone is now accustomed to being stupid. “LIKE IT MATERS, MY MASSAGE STILL STANDS” writes Debbi from Scottsdale, in response someone correcting the grammar of her negative review of a Chili’s. 

“Awful. You’re food is terible and if you think coming here again no thank you.” 

McDonald’s food is basically the cereal of the fast food world. If you’re having it for dinner that means mom was too tired to cook dinner. She’d rather you have breakfast for dinner or feed you the edible equivalent of cigarettes then give you ungrateful bastards a decent meal. Why should she cook for people who don’t have the common decency to hang up their towels or cough? 

McDonalds remains the king of the fasfood block even with their boring menu. Aside from a revolving door of promotional items, McDonald’s still gives people things like Happy Meals, Big Macs, and burger patties that taste like a cardboard coaster. 

McDonald’s profits have raised slightly the last three fiscal years and continue to rake in billions despite sitting on a tired staple menu and novelty pieces of garbage like the McRib and the Shamrock Shake, the two food staples for people who get excited for shiny objects and people who base their entire personality on going against the grain. 

“THREAD The McRib is actually a good sandwich and doesn’t get enough credit. Here’s why: (1/274).” 

Despite knowing better, I still have to let out my knee-jerk, “drop dead” verbal response whenever I read moronic items like this on Twitter. HR has asked me not to scream “drop dead” while I’m at work, though. So, I usually walk outside and say it next to all the smokers. 

Yet, despite making massive profits, local franchises decide to nickel and dime people out of honey mustard. 

When I rolled up to this McDonald’s in OKC, I was just getting coffee as it’s the only thing on the menu that doesn’t suck. However, I couldn’t help but notice this sign was posted well after the Chic Fil A vs Popeye’s fiasco, a massive free promotion for both franchises. Both Chic-Fil-A and Popeyes make an above-average chicken sandwich and their “war” convinced people to 1) spend money at their restaurants and 2) convince people to defend their product against all others. 

I’m not talking only defending on Twitter. I’m talking about Facebook, Instagram and even YouTube. Food reviewers broke down these chicken sandwiches like they were trying to explain the inner workings of an atom bomb. They gave their final word as if they were Supreme Court justices weighing in on the most complex of issues. 

The Popeyes vs Chic-Fil-A debate provided millions in free promotion. McDonald’s has never and probably will never engage in anything like that. It will, however, continue to make forgettable food and print money. 

McDonald’s won’t even fix the McFlurry machine but God forbid they throw in an extra honey mustard or some sweet and sour.