Cowboys Crumble Independent of Idle Okung

The Cowboys offense was exasperating.

We tend to apply common sense logic to patterns in football, but at best we're guessing. If a quarterback starts the season slow but plays strong to finish the season, like Mike Teel in 2008, we infer that he's "figured it out." So what happened to Zac Robinson? He started the season strong and then fell apart in startling fashion. Through seven games, Robinson had completed 65.4% of his passes for 8.7 adjusted yards per attempt. Excellent. Then, from Texas onward, Robinson completed 52% of his passes for 1.3 adjusted yards per attempt. The collapse did not correspond with the suspension of Dez Bryant. It did not correspond with injury, though he suffered a couple. It just happened, whatever the reason. Did Robinson un-figure it out?

Eight of Robinson's nine completions against the Sooners were accomplished in the first half. That, the overall futility of the Cowboys offense and its penchant for intricate mis-direction and short passes towards the flats make it hard to scout Russell Okung. Okung wasn't doing anything wrong, but he wasn't truly succeeding either. Sometimes he shifted left on a rollout right, and about anyone can accomplish that. Sometimes he was left without a defender to block, but not mistakenly or for lack of trying. Most of all, Okung would initiate contact, begin the sequence in which we would learn about his ability to sustain a block, and the play would be over a split second later. Following it, the drive.

We're not too far from the end of this game. Okung looks good, but he was comparatively good on a broken offense, and it might not be until the preseason that we can see how Russell blocks in anything approaching a functional, pro-style offense. It will be interesting to see how he plays when he's not good enough to avoid.

1. 1st and 10 at OKST 37 Zac Robinson pass complete to DeMarcus Conner for 3 yards to the OKSt 40.

Quick pass towards the right flat. Okung pulls forward as if to seal the edge. Before he can land a block, the ball's out and complete to Conner.

2. 2nd and 7 at OKST 40 Zac Robinson pass incomplete.

Okung blocks in as the left guard pulls around right end. He stumbles and crumbles to one knee, but it doesn't impact the play. Ugly looking, but inconsequential. And yes, despite the pulling guard, this is a pass.

(Timeout State)

(Timeout Oklahoma)

3. 3rd and 7 at OKST 40 Zac Robinson pass complete to Josh Cooper for 6 yards to the OKSt 46.

Good drop step, fans out as if to block the edge rush, but the blitz streams in behind him. Okung doesn't block anyone before Robinson rolls right towards the flat. He finds Cooper, who has already stepped out of bounds, passes high, and forces Cooper to again step out of bounds.

(Intentional delay of game)

(Ten minutes of game clock later)

1. 1st and 10 at OKST 20 Zac Robinson pass complete to Hubert Anyiam for 7 yards to the OKSt 27.

Robinson's last completion of the game. Sad, huh? Okung moves hard left as if to run block. Robinson rolls right and finds Anyiam.

2. 2nd and 3 at OKST 27 Keith Toston rush for a loss of 1 yard to the OKSt 26, tackled by DeMarcus Granger.

Okung circles left and intercepts and pushes aside strongside linebacker Keenan Clayton. Good show of footwork, recognition, agility and blocking in space. It doesn't help the Cowyboys.

3. 3rd and 4 at OKST 26 Zac Robinson rush for 3 yards to the OKSt 29.

Signature play: Bollocksed from the inception. The Oklahoma State offense is full of these weird in-between plays that seem too clever by half. This one certainly qualifies. The line shifts left, but the motion moves Okung to a place where he is without a blocking assignment. The left tight end is jammed hard off the snap and that takes him out of action. Robinson scrambles forward under pressure but is short of the first. It says something when a team can find a way to neutralize its own All-America left tackle while also exposing its quarterback to fast-arriving pressure.

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