After yet another highly disappointing 4th quarter where OSU abandoned the running game in thorough fashion, it seems like a good time for Beaver Nation to rally to stop this nonsense ASAP. Riley takes the lead in these game because he is balanced for 2 to 3 quarters, but aginst UW, Stanford and Texas we lost because we gave up on what was actually working best…the run. Especially against Stanford and Texas, we likely would have won had Riley even run an incredibly low 30% of the time. For whatever reason, and this has been a tendancy of Riley for awhile, he likes to get far too pass happy in the 4th quarter, whether ahead by 10 or down by as little as 3 or 7. It makes no sense. Against Stanford and Texas OSU only ran it on around 10% of plays in the 4th quarter. I am so tired of people saying Riley knows more about football so he must have good reasons for these decisions only for us to hear afterwards that he wishes he ran more. This is always the surest way to lose every game, and he keeps saying he realizes he is doing this without ever fixing it. What is so hard in just demanding of yourself or Langsdorf to run it atleast 50% of the time in the 4th?
Erickson’s Fiesta Bowl team actually ran it 63% of the time even with Chad Johnson, TJ Houshmanzahdeh and a disciplined Johnathan Smith. I remember a few games in that 2000 season where Erickson was able to come from behind by 7 or 10 points by patiently sticking with the run game in the 4th quarter and having faith it would produce the best odds of clawing back. It almost always did as holes started to get bigger and by not forcing things it played into the highest percentages of success. Why Riley doesn’t seem to get this I don’t understand. There is a computer programmer at OSU who is working on a program that reveals ideas for better success on the field by analyzing player movements and speeds. This guy would tell you that no way is it ever smart to have a low percentage of runs in any quarter. If all of Beaver Nation can see this, and Riley too admittingly, then what the heck is his problem in implementing balance when it is needed most and especially during the 4th quarter when running statistically has even greater odds of success?
Is this a Langsdorf issue and Riley just refuses to override him or is Riley getting lured by coordinators and coaches who realize he has this tendancy and try to make the pass a little more tempting for him? I believe there could be some of this in play and for whatever reason Riley loves to take the bait. These empty backfields and whenever we are in shotgun have always been our lowest percentage plays for good things happening versus bad. There is too much in Riley I believe that says “Hey, we almost completed that pass”, when in actually it is the same as getting stuffed for no gain on a run but with much higher odds of a turnover by interception, or loss of costly yards by a sack. Any time you are in obvious passing situation trying to convert on 3rd and long the odds are stacked against you. You have to on every series of downs do everything possible to get positive yardage so that at worst you have a 3rd and 5 situation. At that down and distance you have close to a 50% odds of making the first down. Longer than that and its starts to drop off very quickly. 3rd and 10s are not too often converted.
By running you avoid the sacks that put you in holes. Any time when you lose 6 or 7 yards by being sacked it is highly likely you will be facing atleast a 3rd and 10 or longer. That is what happened to OSU vs Texas. OSU would have been in the Rose Bowl this year if Riley could have even come close to normal rushing percentages in the 4th quarter versus either UW or Stanford. Riley waited too long to replace Mannion, who was not quite himself after returning from surgery versus UW, but keeping Vaz in after he was so horrendous vs Texas was even worse. Vaz’s only chance was with a running game with not only our backs but also with Wheaton and Cooks. This is because another issue is Riley getting frustrated with Cooks not getting enough touches and him and Wheaton not being as involved as he would like. The way to fix this is to fly sweep with these guys so that the team morale stays high with these guys an integral part and assured to be handling the ball. It can all too quickly backfire if hoping all these intermediate and sometimes longer routes are going to hit when you can’t afford if they don’t.
To combat this glaring #1 issue keeping OSU out of BCS Bowls I have started the below poll petition. Sign that you want OSU to run it atleast 50% of the time in the 4th quarter and if Riley actually just does this one simple thing there is little doubt we will win more close games and not keep losing big games we should be winning.