Film Study: Washington State
By John Helsley
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A pregame stroll through the Boone Pickens Stadium tailgating crowd confirmed the obvious Saturday.
All eyes were on the offense.
That was the buzz among those grillin’ and chillin’ anticipating the kickoff to the 2009 season.
And, oh, did it deliver, with the Cowboys producing the program’s most points in an opener since the school went by Oklahoma A&M back in 1916.
Dana Holgorsen’s take on the spread has provided the predominant chatter since his hiring last January. Finally, Saturday, Holgorsen’s attack was unveiled. And it came with the expected (Kendall Hunter dazzling), the unexpected (a full-house backfield) and a nod to Tailback U. (a heavy dose of running) during a 65-17 romp past Washington State.
With a thumb on the rewind button, a second look at the game through the DVR, we offer a second helping of analysis, which will be a regular feature during the season. And here at the blog, we’ll bring you an expanded version from the one that appears in the paper.
Call of the Game
Following a Cougars touchdown that cut what once was a 17-0 lead to 17-10, a young OSU squad’s resolve was on the spot in the second quarter. The defense had already lost both starting defensive tackles – Shane Jarka and Chris Donaldson – to injuries and Wazzu had gained momentum.
After picking up two first downs, the Cowboys had a first-and-10 from WSU 42. Operating out of the three-back set that had sprung several of Hunter’s big runs, Holgorsen used the setup to go play-action.
With the Cougars crowding the line of scrimmage in hopes of slowing down Hunter, creating one-on-one matchups outside, quarterback Brandon Weeden faked to the Hunter, dropped back and delivered a textbook throw, in stride, to Justin Blackmon in the end zone.
Touchdown. Momentum seized back.
Who else, but Hunter, who would have made a run at Barry Sanders’ single-game school rushing record if he’d been needed beyond the first series of the second half.
Hunter’s stats were obviously impressive: 21 carries, 257 yards, a 12.2 per-carry average, four touchdowns.
But also impressive his tough running, bringing some attitude to a young offense.
OSU’s wide receivers regularly roamed downfield on running plays, providing blocks that helped spring Hunter’s runs for bigger yardage.
The best example came on a 66-yard jaunt by Hunter to the Cougars 1, when Bo Bowling was his wingman for the final 50, blocking and shielding would-be tacklers. And Bowling wasn’t alone, with Tracy Moore also along as an escort.
Break of the Game
On the game’s first play from scrimmage, a bad exchange between Cougars quarterback Jeff Tuel and running back James Montgomery left the ball on the turf.
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