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Film Room: Breaking Down Sterling Shepard’s Touchdown Against Baylor

Oklahoma Offensive Coordinator Lincoln Riley is utilizing Sterling Shepard in a way that makes it tough for linebackers to defend.



The Sooners have one of the most explosive offenses in the nation under first-year offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. Coming from the Mike Leach coaching tree by way of Texas Tech, Riley has extensive experience in the air raid offense. A big piece of his new offense is finding different ways to include star slot receiver Sterling Shepard, even in the run game.

One way he utilizes Shepard is by running a crossbuck with a built-in slant by the slot receiver. In modern terminology, a crossbuck is where one of the split backs receives the handoff one way and the other back crosses the handoff to block the back-side. Here, the Sooners use the dangerous duo of running backs Joe Mixon and Semanje Perine.

Once the ball is snapped, quarterback Baker Mayfield reads the linebackers, particularly the one on the strong side. If the linebacker(s) crash to the line to stop the run, Mayfield pulls the ball out and finds his receiver (Shepard) running to the open void.

Here, the linebackers rush to stop the run. Mayfield sees this, pulls the ball out, and hits Shepard in stride for a first down.

Later in the game, Baylor showed a radar front in the redzone, leaving no one at the second level. Seeing this, Mayfield knows that he is going to throw to Shepard before the ball is even snapped. He takes the snap, shows a quick flash fake and throws to Shepard for an easy touchdown.

Shepard demands attention, even on run plays. To stop the slant, the linebackers are forced to stay where they are for a second longer. This allows the lineman to set up their blocks easier and it opens run lanes for the running backs. This pick-your-poison tactic has proven successful for the Sooners, and it is something to watch for in the coming weeks.