We've got to get Kerry Meier going again. And we've got to do it now. We shouldn't expect the same type of production out of our offense as we got last year for a variety of reasons, namely, the competition has improved and we can't consistently run between the tackles. Combine those two factors and the consistency just isn't going to be there unless you have dominant pass protection. We don't.
But there's more than one way to skin a tiger. Just because we can't expect the same type of production, doesn't mean we can't accomplish the same things. If you look at the first six games of this year, you'll notice two things; 1) the lack of a top 5 team, & 2) Kerry Meier was catching a ton of passes. In the last four, the latter hasn't been happening. Many would point to the increase in competition as being the reason for that. But remember, Colorado's pass defense is as good as anyone's in this league and the production was still there that week (9 for 94).
In regards to the Colorado game, that was the week Kerry took an early hit and looked to be limping through the rest of the game. So when he only caught 4 for 24 the next week in Norman, we all just assumed he was still hurt. But then he came back and caught 6 for 70 (TD) against Tech so his health looked to be fine. Then he came out against K-State and we had him in motion the first five plays. He looked to be moving fine, yet we only got him the ball 3 times for 40 yards. And finally, last week in Nebraska had all the makings of a huge game for him. We're all plenty aware of Nebraska's awful linebacker play. So this was a match-up that had to be exploited. And yet he caught 3 balls for 52 yards.
So for six games he averaged 6 catches for 101 yards. In the last four he's averaged 4 grabs for 47 yards. And quite noticeably, our offense hasn't looked very consistent. In Norman, it was basically Todd and Dezmon hooking up for big plays, outside of letting Jake dominate one drive. Against Tech, Kerry had five catches and a TD in the first half – when our offense was moving well – and only one thereafter. The low production against K-State is plenty excusable because our RB carried 21 times for 182 yards and 4 TDs. When you get that type of production on the ground, you don't need many possession receptions. And then in Nebraska, we got him the ball a paltry 3 times – it's also worth noting that we scored on all three of those drives.
I could be wrong on this, but I don't think he's hurt. And if he is, it isn't bad enough to warrant this kind of drop. Quite simply, I think he's just being underutilized. Part of that is game plan – I don't think we're designing enough for him. Part of it is strategy – how he's not on the field for every third down is beyond me. And I think the biggest part is protection. Kerry is plenty capable of catching a quick slant or seam route, but it's not his strength. He's invaluable when he has a second or two to get to an open area and move the chains. Unfortunately, (and again, discount the K-State game), Todd hasn't had the time to let that happen. Because not only does it take Kerry a couple seconds to find and get to the space, but then Todd has to find him and get him the ball. Quite simply, the time hasn't been there for plays like this to develop.
So why bother talking about it – it's not like time will be readily available this week. Because there are ways to combat this once you recognize the problem. It's quite apparent that our line is not up to the task of pocket protecting on a consistent basis. So recognize your deficiencies and limit them. Start pulling a tackle and rolling Todd out. Let Kerry run a drag route from the opposite side or a corner route from the near side. We all know Todd can throw on the run, so let's start him out there – beside that, the easiest way to hide an inexperienced line is to put them on the move. Spikes, and to a lesser extent, Hatch simply aren't quick enough back into their stance to get their feet properly set against an all out rush. Make Texas start respecting the roll out so they can't pin their ears back and come full tilt and some pocket passing may open up.
We have no reason to believe we'll be able to pick up big chunks of yardage on the ground, so we have to find a way to duplicate that production with high percentage passing. No one is better suited for that than Kerry Meier. And we all know Todd can get him the ball if he's given some daylight. If we get this done, both the offense and defense will reap the benefits. And given the opponent, both could use to help.