My apologies on getting this up late. Since I don’t have DISH, I had to track down the game film.
After each game, we’ll revisit my questions and goals in the Pokes Primer pregame blog. I’ll also provide some additional thoughts after re-watching the game.
Let’s take a look back at Oklahoma State’s 59-38 loss at Arizona.
How much will the playbook open for Wes Lunt?
We saw Saturday night what Mike Gundy and Todd Monken have said all along–that Lunt is fully capable of running the entire offense. He threw the ball 60 times and set a Big 12 freshman record with 436 passing yards. And any questions about if he can throw down the field were erased. The 30-yard TD pass to Tracy Moore was a beautiful ball. He let it rip several other times. Two potential touchdown passes were dropped–one to Blake Jackson in the corner of the end zone and one on a deep ball to Isaiah Anderson.
I’m sure Lunt wishes he could have that pick-six back. Monken took the blame for it. And the youngster wasn’t perfect. But he performed exactly as advertised–he was poised in a tough road environment and accurate.
Can the defense “contain” Matt Scott?
In a word, no. Scott accounted for 320 passing yards, 55 rushing yards and three total touchdowns. OSU tallied four sacks, but Scott often had time to sit back in the pocket, or use his athleticism to make a play with his arm or legs on the run. Gundy kept calling Scott an “operator,” and I think that’s a good description. He proved he’s a great fit to run Rich Rodriguez’s read-option spread offense. OSU’s overall defensive performance–particularly in pass coverage from the linebackers and safeties–was poor Saturday night.
How much will Tracy Moore contribute?
How about eight catches for 106 yards and four touchdowns. Moore scored four touchdowns all of last season. Justin Blackmon never scored four touchdowns in a game.
This absolutely happened, with OSU jumping out to a 14-0 lead at the 7:50 mark of the first quarter. The tempo was fast, the running backs were getting big holes and Lunt was on target. But then the Arizona offense came to life, and the OSU defense couldn’t stop it. And then penalties and mistakes started to pile up, helping Arizona score 30 unanswered points.
Protect Wes Lunt
The offensive line did not allow a sack. Lunt is going to face some pressure in every game, and for the most part, he did a solid job of rolling out of the pocket or delivering the ball despite knowing he was going to get hit. But on the pick-six, the Wildcats brought an “all-out” (or zero) blitz, and Lunt threw off his back foot and tried to float the ball to Jeremy Smith. He looked like a freshman there.
Fifteen penalties for 167 yards. Seven drops. Four turnovers.
Other random observations
I had forgotten how quiet the Arizona press box is. It was difficult to even hear the national anthem. So, it was tough to gauge how loud the crowd was. That really came through on TV, though. It was noisy.
Defensive end Nigel Nicholas was the vocal guy leading the pregame huddle.
Moore had a really solid block on the outside on Joseph Randle’s first-down run on third-and-12. If the Cowboys don’t convert that play, they aren’t in position to take the early lead.
Has any single defensive back been abused more than Shaquille Richardson against OSU the past two seasons? Blackmon lit him up for the majority of his 12 catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns last season. Saturday, it was Moore with the career night against the cornerback. Richardson fell down in the end zone on Moore’s first touchdown, then got straight-up beat over the top on the second one. Then late in the game, Moore just juked right by him on after the catch before getting into the end zone. Jackson also made a leaping catch over Richardson in the fourth quarter.
Brodrick Brown’s sack off a corner blitz in the first quarter was the first of his career.
Shamiel Gary had a rough game. On a long the 33-yard pass from Scott to Austin Hill in the second quarter, he fell down and missed the tackle. He also missed a tackle when he went too low on Ka’Deem Carey’s touchdown catch in the third. Finally, on Carey’s 36 yard scamper that set up Arizona’s final touchdown, Gary seemed to have the tackle, but Carey rolled right over him and never touched the ground, which allowed him to gain at least 5-10 extra yards.
In nickel packages, Gary, Daytawion Lowe and Lavocheya Cooper played together. That has mostly been the case for the spring and fall camp, but the lack of depth at cornerback makes it almost necessary for a safety to be the nickelback.
Against Toledo in its first game, Arizona had two missed field goals, a fumble and a touchdown. Agianst OSU, the Wildcats went 8-for-8. Clearly, some things were cleaned up and corrected in the week of preparation.
The OSU running game worked pretty darn consistently, but especially in the first half. Randle and Jeremy Smith found holes in Arizona’s 3-3-5 defense, picking up 104 yards on 19 carries before intermission. Both finished the game averaging more than five yards per carry.
I blame the review calls–for the 12 men on the field challenge and the touchdown pass that came after the first quarter expired–for us missing our print deadline. Combined, they took close to 10 minutes. Every minute counts when the game kicks off at 9:30 p.m. Oklahoma time.
Scott made a pretty perfect throw to Robert Morrison on Arizona’s first touchdown. He lofted it in there on the fade, over the top of Shaun Lewis. Lewis was a bit late flipping his hips in pass coverage, but recovered nicely and was still right with Morrison.
Randle’s fumble happened when Marquis Flowers’ helmet hit the ball. Still, this is an issue.
Even some of the Cowboys’ most reliable defensive players had rough moments. Brown and Lewis each had personal fouls. Alex Elkins took a couple bad angles and missed at least two tackles. Caleb Lavey had nine tackles, but he missed a tackle near the goal line on Scott’s touchdown run in the third quarter and sometimes didn’t look quick enough against Scott’s running ability and Arizona’s intermediate passing game.
Two defenders that did show up? James Castleman and Ryan Robinson. Castleman finished with nine tackles, 0.5 sacks and two pass breakups and should have corralled a second-half interception. Robinson had four tackles, 1.5 sacks and a pass breakup. He jumped in front of a Scott pass with the Wildcats in the red zone in the first half, and in the second half, broke off his blocker, stayed with a scrambling Scott and brought him down from behind.
Jackson had a weird night. He dropped three passes, including a touchdown in the corner of the end zone when he turned over his back shoulder but saw the ball bounce off his forearms. But he made three outstanding catches–one in traffic for 14 yards that set up a touchdown, another near the sideline where he had to come back to the ball and the one where he jumped over Richardson. The drops have been an issue since the spring, though.
I still don’t think we’ve really seen the J.W. Walsh package, but I don’t like what I saw Saturday night. Gundy said the failed 4th-and-1 play wasn’t blocked very well. It looked fine to me–though I don’t claim to know more about football than Gundy. I’m still in wait-and-see mode for this. I found it interesting, though, that OSU was in another fourth-and-short situation near midfield the very next drive, and punted.
On the screen pass for a touchdown to Carey, Scott beat a blitzing Lewis with the throw. Cooper then overpursued on the play, Elkins was blocked and could not get to Carey, Gary missed a tackle and Carey broke a tackle from Nicholas on the way to the end zone.
Randle showed how valuable he can be in the passing game on one play in the third quarter. The Wildcats rushed five, and Randle came out of the backfield and flew right by Sir Thomas Jackson for an 18-yard catch and run.
Charlie Moore looks really awkward returning punts with this dive and cover thing. It’s almost like he’s scared to let the ball bounce.
Another pass Lunt probably wishes he could have back is when he overthrew a wide open Josh Stewart on the left side of the field in the third quarter. The ball just sailed on Lunt.
It’s easy to forget that midway through the third quarter, OSU had cut Arizona’s lead to 30-28. Also, it’s no coincidence that OSU’s comeback started when the penalties stopped for a long stretch in the third quarter.
Scott did not step up in the pocket on his hurl to Hill for a 44-yard gain–he jogged up and almost threw on the run. Hill got behind Cooper and Brown on the play. That happened too many times on the night, but also concerning is the way the receivers were just able to find holes in the middle part of the defense.
Is it just me, or has Quinn Sharp been a bit shaky on field goals so far? Granted, he’s only attempted two. But he missed against Savannah State, then bounced a 25-yarder off the left upright and in against Arizona. I don’t think it’s a cause for alarm, but something to watch.
In the second half, Lunt really established some good chemistry with Stewart, who has a knack for finding open space in the defense. Stewart had three catches for nine yards at halftime, then six catches for 89 yards after intermission.
The flee flicker obviously didn’t work. Lunt threw into triple coverage.
I’m not a fan of that sweep play to Stewart. Seems to lose yards more often than it gains.
In almost every sideline shot of Lunt, he was with Walsh.
Lunt took a shot to the head on his “tackle” of Jared Tevis following his interception.
Even when the score got out of hand, several starters on both offense and defense played the game out.