The emergence of Desmond Roland and the Oklahoma State run game was the biggest storyline to come out of the Cowboys’ blowout of Iowa State last week.
But two interesting things I wanted to examine were OSU deciding to run plays under center near the goal line and the way the Cowboy defense defended the quarterback run game (really the only way the Cyclones could consistently move the football with Sam Richardson in the game).
This was a milestone moment. I haven’t seen the Cowboys run a single play under center since I got here in 2011. But on their opening drive, they did it twice inside the 5.
First and goal from the Iowa State 4 (three backs with Jeremy Seaton and Kye Staley both in the backfield)
The play: Roland takes a handoff and tried the left side of the line, where he’s stood up by Nigel Tribune after no gain.
Result: Clint Chelf went back to the shotgun and spread things out the very next play, where Jhajuan Seales drew a pass interference call in the end zone.
First and goal from the two (Seaton and Staley back in the game, but Seaton almost lined up as an H back)
The play: Roland takes the handoff straight up the gut for the touchdown. He didn’t really need the extra blockers, as the interior line got good push to help Roland get into the end zone.
Note: OSU ran three plays inside the Iowa State 5 in the fourth quarter, but went shotgun each time.
What it means
Mike Gundy half-joked that his wife’s constant nagging finally convinced him to run some plays under center near the goal line. That’s arguably the “worst” part of the spread, which is part of the reason why that specialty run-throw package for J.W. Walsh was installed last season. But we didn’t see that look at all against Iowa State with Walsh back in the backup quarterback job. Do we see it against Tech? Or again? Do the Cowboys go under center the next time they get close to the goal line? All things to monitor.
Quarterback run game
Second and 8 from own 27
The play: Richardson runs an option play to the left, keeps and gains eight yards
What happened: The play froze end Tyler Johnson, who was playing the pitch. That opened the hole for Richardson to jet through.
Third and 1 from own 34
The play: Richardson fakes to Jeff Woody, keeps and and runs inside for two yards and a first down
First and 10 from own 36
The play: A pass play that causes Richardson to scramble for no gain.
What happened: The pocket started to collapse and Johnson got to Richardson.
First and 10 from own 22
The play: Richardson keeps of the zone read, runs to his left and gains one yard.
What happened: Shaun Lewis and Caleb Lavey responded quickly, getting to Richardson for a minimal gain.
Second and 14 from own 18
The play: Another scramble off a pass play for Richardson, as he alludes the rush and picks up six yards in the middle of the field.
Third and 8 from own 24
The play: Richardson runs the option to his left and is dropped for a loss of one yard.
What happened: The Cowboys completely sniffed out the play and clogged up any holes for Richardson to run through, allowing tackle Calvin Barnett to make the stop behind the line of scrimmage.
First and 10 from own 32
The play: Richardson keeps on the zone read, cuts through a hole in the middle of the field and sprints for 51 yards for Iowa State’s best play of the day.
What happened: Tackle Ofa Hautau and Lavey went to their left, helping the hole open for Richardson. Linebacker Ryan Simmons was also faked out on the play, and Richardson split Shamiel Gary and Justin Gilbert before being tackled from behind.
Second and 3 from the OSU 10
The play: Richardson keeps on the option to the right for a loss of one yard.
What happened: Again, nowhere really for Richardson to go, allowing tackle James Castleman to bring him down from behind.
Note: Iowa State’s touchdown on this drive was also scored on the option, with Richardson making a rare pitch to to DeVondrick Nealy who scampered 11 yards and went airborne into the end zone for the score.
Third and 1 from own 49
The play: Richardson keeps on the option and runs to his left, picking up six yards and a first down
What happened: The Iowa State offensive line got good blocks on Davidell Collins and Jimmy Bean, while Lewis had to play the pitch.
Third and 22 from own 43
The play: Richardson scrambles for five yards.
What happened: This is the play where Richardson was knocked out of the game after getting hit in the head and neck by Johnson.
Third and 1 from OSU 45
The play: Grant Rohach in the game now, who keeps the ball on the option for no gain.
What happened: Simmons shot through the gap for the big hit.
Second and 10 from own 35
The play: Rohach faked the handoff and immediately took off to gain seven yards up the middle.
What happened: The pocket collapsed.
Second and four from own 31
The play: Rohach keeps off the zone read and goes to his left for a gain of six yards and a first down.
What happened: Tackle Anthony Rogers was faked out on the play, going to the running back. Sam Wren also over-pursued off the edge.
First and 10 from OSU 35
The play: Rohach scrambles off a pass play, breaks a tackle and picks up 13 yards.
First and 10 from OSU 22
The play: Rohach scrambles again for 10 yards.
What it means
OSU defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said the Cowboys made some halftime adjustments to stop the option game. But Rohach isn’t quite the running threat that Richardson is, and the Cyclones simply didn’t go to the option as much in the second half. The looks the Cowboys were showing could have affected some of the Cyclones’ playcalling, however.