STILLWATER — Joseph Randle immediately caught himself after he said he wished Oklahoma State could have played a “real” opponent in its first game, quickly following with a “no comment.”
Cowboy coach Mike Gundy didn't want to talk about the lopsided score.
In truth, there's not much else to say about OSU's dominating 84-0 victory over Savannah State, a lowly Football Championship Subdivision school, on Saturday night at Boone Pickens Stadium.
But as the Cowboys move toward their real season opener at Arizona Saturday night, one question still worth asking is this: Did the OSU first-team offense get enough quality work in Game 1?
The performance by the starters against the Tigers was just about everything the coaches could have asked for.
Five touchdowns on five drives. Extremely fast tempo. No turnovers. No offensive penalties.
True freshman quarterback Wes Lunt completed all 11 passes he threw, and the offensive linemen created giant holes for the running backs.
But because things were so easy, and the score quickly ballooned to 35-0, that all but forced the coaches to pull the starters before the second quarter began. That can be a difficult decision with a quarterback making his first collegiate start and several young playmakers on the field that the Cowboys know need to contribute this season.
Would people have called Gundy a bad sport for keeping Lunt and Co. in the game until halftime? Doesn't matter. He wasn't willing to.
“Sometimes coaches want to leave guys in to get them experience,” Gundy said. “But then at some point, you've got to take them out no matter what. So there's a real fine line there.
“You can talk about that forever. …We've always taken those guys out and put the other guys in and let them play.”
Offensive coordinator Todd Monken said after the game that he considered giving Lunt one series after halftime, so he could get used to cooling off and preparing in the locker room before returning to the field.
Monken decided it wouldn't be beneficial enough, though.
He didn't want to risk an injury to Lunt. And, at that point, how valuable would those snaps have been? There's no doubt Lunt goes up against much tougher competition in practice, even when he's wearing a green no-contact jersey and there's no live tackling.
“It's not worth it at that point to put him back out there,” Monken said. “And if we are going to put him back out there, with what the score was, he wasn't going to function with what we want to see, anyway.”
Perhaps the lack of playing time for the offensive starters ultimately won't be a major concern, since in its first game Arizona only escaped with a 24-17 overtime win at home against Toledo, a mid-major team with a first-year coach. It appears that the Cowboys' biggest test in that contest will come on defense, as the Wildcats racked up 624 yards of total offense in spread guru Rich Rodriguez's debut in Tucson.
We knew it would be tough to gauge how good this OSU team is after facing a squad as poor as Savannah State.
But did that game help prepare the Cowboy first-team offense at all? We'll find out when they hit the road this weekend.
“Obviously, last year, it wouldn't have been (good preparation),” Monken said. “But this year, it probably was, because we got so many guys to play and we didn't get somebody injured.
“Who can see the future? We could, say, go (this) week and not play like we'd like and say, ‘You know what? Boy…' I don't believe that.”