After Further Review: Revisting Oklahoma State’s 20-14 victory over Kansas
First, want to apologize that I never got a chance to do one of these blogs following the Texas game. But we’re back.
Let’s first re-examine the three questions and three goals I had prior to the game.
Who starts at quarterback?
J.W. Walsh, though Wes Lunt dressed (with a brace on his left knee) and was available, according to coach Mike Gundy. Walsh had his worst performance since taking over for Lunt, really struggling with his downfield throws. That was magnified because Kansas was the first team that could really stack the box and stop Joseph Randle. They were daring Walsh to beat him with his arm, and he didn’t make them respect it. Of course, it also didn’t help that the weather conditions were crummy, and that he was missing two of his top receiving targets for much of the day in Tracy Moore (ankle) and Isaiah Anderson (finger).
Will the defense find traction?
To a certain extent, yes. KU staged a furious rally when backup quarterback Michael Cummings replaced Dayne Crist and the Jayhawks started running plays out of formations the Cowboys said they had never seen before. But until then, OSU did a solid job, particularly on fourth down (KU was 0-of-5). The one concern? No turnovers forced.
Is weather a factor?
Well, yes. We had a lightning delay of one hour and 19 minutes. It rained for much of the day, creating a slick field and football. Is that the only reason for OSU’s sloppy play? No. But it certainly was a factor.
Spolier: These aren’t going to be pretty, as OSU went 0-for-3.
Yes, OSU eventually led 20-0, but the game was scoreless after the first quarter and the Cowboys led just 10-0 at the half. For a team that had scored 30 or more points for 22 straight games, that is not starting fast.
Run the ball
Didn’t happen. Randle had his worst game of the season, gaining 80 yards on 29 carries (2.8 yards per carry). There often wasn’t any sort of hole for Randle to run through, and Gundy said KU was more physical in the trenches than OSU. Jeremy Smith also only got one carry, presumably tweaking his ankle again, and Desmond Roland didn’t play, also presumably because of an injury.
Force three turnovers
Did not force any against the Jayhawks. Yikes. It was a stretch to think the Cowboys could duplicate the 44 turnovers from a season ago, but this dramatic dropoff has been stunning.
Other random observations
I wasn’t a fan of the new gray helmets, but I like them now. The white letters with the white jersey matches really well.
When Caleb Muncrief became a last-minute signee in February, who would have thought he’d be one guy who didn’t redshirt? With Smith limited and David Glidden out, Muncrief was out there on kick and punt returns.
Randle’s best run came in the first quarter. He took the ball on the read option to the left, then used one of his open-field stutter steps to gain 16 yards. That was about the only highlight from him all day, against a team that coming into the game was giving up more than 217 rushing yards per game.
The first drive was actually pretty darn solid for the Cowboys. Walsh spread the ball around to Tracy Moore, Charlie Moore, Josh Stewart and Kye Staley. Good mix of run and short passes. The bubble screen to the outside guys worked. But then it stalled on back-to-back incomplete passes on third and fourth down. On third down, the ball was too wide to Stewart. On fourth down, too high to Charlie Moore on a pass right at the sticks.
On OSU’s first fourth-down stop, Shamiel Gary came up from his strong safety spot to plug the hole and make the tackle. Gary gets beat in pass coverage at least once per game, but he’s darn good against the run.
The first play after that big defensive stop, Walsh tried to let it rip with a deep pass off play action to Anderson running a post. Anderson was wide open, but the ball was severely underthrown and off-target, forcing Anderson to try to adjust and come back to the ball. OSU lucked out when a pass interference call, but hit Anderson in stride, and that’s a touchdown.
A camera shot of the sideline showed backup cornerback Andrae May dressed, but he has yet to play. He’s coming off a torn ACL he sustained during the spring.
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