Each Sunday, we’ll revisit my questions and goals in the Pokes Primer pregame blog. I’ll also provide some next-day thoughts after re-watching the game.
Yes, I watched this beat down again. Well, the first half. I feel like that was enough.
Anyway, let’s look back at the Cowboys’ dominating 84-0 victory over Savannah State.
Will OSU cover the spread?
This game made news Friday night when Pregame.com gave it a 67.5 point spread, which is believed to the biggest in college football history. The Cowboys more than covered that.
OSU pulled its starters before the second quarter began, and it was still the highest point total and largest margin of victory in modern-day school history.
At least 95 Cowboys played in the game. Funny story: Associated Press reporter Jeff Latzke asked who No. 47 was, because the AP photographer got a picture of said player. He wasn’t on the roster. And the OSU officials in the press box had no idea who he was. Hey, OSU students, did Gundy go into the stands and pull one of you out?
How much will–and when–will the quarterbacks play?
Even with the lopsided score, I expected true freshman Wes Lunt to get more work in his first start. As colleague Jenni Carlson mentioned in her column, in a way, Lunt and the offense was almost too efficient. Lunt was 11-of-11. The running backs had wide-open holes. All in all, Lunt was on the field for just 20 snaps. Senior Isaiah Anderson was Lunt’s top target, catching four passes for 63 yards in the first quarter, including a 42-yarder in, really, Lunt’s only downfield pass of the game.
We got a much better look at J.W. Walsh, who played all of the second quarter and most of the third. He completed 13 of 21 passes for 129 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in his collegiate debut.
Walsh’s first drive, though, gave a small glimpse at how he could be used in a normal game. Four out of the five plays (sort of–two plays didn’t count because of SSU penalties) were two-back sets, with a fullback and a running back. The other was a five-wide set near the goal line, where Walsh tried a fade to Charlie Moore in the end zone that drew a pass interference call. Walsh ran for 13 yards on his first play. Then Joseph Randle ripped off a 38-yard run that got OSU inside the 10. I think that actually, in a weird way, ruined the coaches’ plans of seeing what else Walsh could do in a game situation. This is something I’m still very curious about going into the Arizona game.
Which newcomers will stand out?
Four true freshman receivers played, Austin Hays (8 catches, 77 yards), Blake Webb (2 catches, 38 yards), C.J. Curry (1 catch, 8 yards) and Brandon Sheperd (1 catch, 1 yard, 1 touchdown). Hey, remember who told you in Saturday’s pregame section that Hays was an under-the-radar freshman to watch? He got increased snaps because of Tracy Moore’s suspension.
JC transfer Calvin Barnett did indeed make his first start. He only had one tackle, but it was one where he exploded into the backfield untouched and brought SSU running back Lereginald Veals down three yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Ashton Lampkin had a nice debut, recording an interception and three tackles at corner and returning two punts for 33 yards (long of 25).
JC transfer Shamiel Gary did start at free safety but did not record any defensive statistics.
A guy who did not have a strong debut? Blake Jackson. Zero catches, even in seeing more playing time than several other starters. On Walsh’s interception that skimmed off a leaping Jackson’s fingertips, offensive coordinator Todd Monken revealed after the game that Jackson actually ran the wrong route. He also got called for a 15-yard tripping penalty.
Looks like the Cowboys came out OK here. This is something I’ll check on again when coach Mike Gundy has his teleconference Sunday evening.
No silly mistakes
About as good as you could expect. The first unit was excellent. I don’t recall any missed tackles. There were no dropped passes–or incomplete passes, for that matter. No turnovers. The offense was extremely quick–every scoring drive took less than two minutes–and defense dominant at the line of scrimmage. Really, the only mistake was when Randle put the ball on the turf near the goal line, but that play was negated by a SSU offsides penalty.
Build Lunt’s confidence
He was perfect. Think that’ll build the confidence?
Lunt’s array of throws was not difficult. Lots of bubble screens and short passes. As mentioned above, really, the only time he let it rip was on that 42-yard pass to Anderson. I think part of that was because of the opponent, but part of it was easing Lunt into things. I expect him to go downfield more against Arizona.
Bonus goal: Ease Glenn Spencer into the DC role
Sounds like everything went well here. I did not speak to Spencer after the game, but Gundy said he was pleased with how the communication went. This is something I’ll ask Spencer about at Monday’s media luncheon. After stepping away from it for a couple days, what worked well? What needs to be adjusted for Arizona?
Other random observations from the first half:
*True freshmen who played: QB Wes Lunt, WR Austin Hays, IR Blake Webb, WR C.J. Curry, WR Brandon Sheperd, CB Ashton Lampkin, CB Kevin Peterson, DE Trace Clark, RB Caleb Muncrief
*Players who scored their first career touchdown: RB Desmond Roland (3), IR John Goodlett, WR Austin Hays, WR Brandon Sheperd, RB Corey Bennett. Additionally, Walsh tossed the first two TD passes of his career.
*Cooper Bassett got the start at defensive end, a spot he’s been platooning with Nigel Nicholas. He’s also still the nose tackle in OSU’s “speed package,” where he drops into coverage. That’s how he got an interception against Texas Tech last season.
*The penetration the defensive line got was borderline ridiculous. Then if someone like Shaun Lewis or Daytawion Lowe blitzed, look out. Lewis even caused a false start just by showing blitz.
*No sky kicks for Quinn Sharp.
*Brodrick Brown probably should have made that interception he couldn’t hold onto, but it was a good play by the wide receiver to knock the ball loose. But still, solid awareness by Brod to locate the ball and get in the air to get both hands on it.
*Justin Gilbert had no defensive stats, but I’m almost 100 percent sure it’s because SSU did not throw to his side of the field the entire time he was in the game. That means my pregame bold prediction didn’t happen, though Gilbert did show off the burst and athleticism we’ve all gotten used to on his 61-yard kickoff return to start the second half.
*On the 42-yard pass to Anderson, Josh Stewart was behind the defense, as well. That’s honestly who I thought Lunt was throwing to at first. And if they hadn’t collided after the catch, Anderson may have scored.
*The holes were so open for those running backs. Kye Staley did make a good block on the linebacker on Randle’s first TD run, though.
*I’ve said this since last spring, but I really like young linebackers Ryan Simmons and Lyndell Johnson. Simmons made a great play in the first quarter where from one side of the field to the other sideline to run down SSU dual-threat QB Antonio Bostick. Johnson had the Cowboys’ only sack of the night when he came untouched on a blitz in the second quarter and also recorded his first career interception.
*If you would have told me after the spring that Charlie Moore, Ashton Lampkin and Caleb Muncrief would return punts in Game 1, I would not have believed you. It’s hard to assess Moore’s performance as the top returner, because one punt was an 18-yarder, two bounced and one required a bit of an over-the-shoulder catch. Lampkin and Muncrief both showed some shifty moves, though. I still think the Cowboys ultimately want David Glidden to have this role, but he’s still recovering from an ankle injury. He didn’t play Saturday night.
*Your second-team offensive line Saturday night was LT Devin Davis, LG Brandon Webb, C Jake Jenkins, RG Travis Cross and RT Eli Dickerson. Cross is also listed on the depth chart as the third-team center, and Dickerson as the backup right guard. So that was interesting.
*It’s hard to judge from the opponent, but I think Desmond Roland is much-improved. His second touchdown run, a 24-yarder, was impressive. He juked past and slipped one tackler, broke another, then spun off another on the way to the end zone.
Next up: Sept. 8 at Arizona (1-0)
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