Oklahoma State football: Blame for this dud falls on J.W. Walsh and Co.

JENNI CARLSON COMMENTARY — All kinds of things went wrong for OSU on Saturday — bad special teams, bad playcalling, etc. But the loss ultimately falls on the shoulders of J.W. Walsh and the Cowboys' offense.
by Jenni Carlson Published: September 28, 2013


photo - Oklahoma State Quarterback J.W. Walsh (4) attempts a pass during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against West Virginia in Morgantown, W.Va., on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Tyler Evert)
Oklahoma State Quarterback J.W. Walsh (4) attempts a pass during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against West Virginia in Morgantown, W.Va., on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Tyler Evert)

But for the Cowboys to be successful, Walsh needs to be better than he was Saturday.

Compounding Walsh's off day was OSU's lacking run game. The Cowboys managed a measly 2.8 yards a carry.

Smith's average: 0.1 yards.

Maybe the Cowboys weren't hitting the running lanes like they needed to. Maybe the running lanes weren't as good as they needed to be. Chances are good, it was a combination of both.

And it was costly.

With a chance to extend the lead to two scores early in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys had first and goal from the Mountaineer 3-yard line. They gave the ball to Smith on first down, but he was stopped just short of the goal line. After an incomplete pass — more on that in a minute — Smith got the ball again. This time, he was dropped for a 5-yard loss.

OSU was forced to attempt a 23-yard field goal, which Ben Grogan clanked off the right upright.

Was the missed chip shot field goal bad?

Absolutely.

But this offense not scoring on three plays from 3 yards out was every bit as damning.

“There were three downs before that where we should've put it in,” Walsh said.

Cowboy offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said, “We'd like to have that call back on the third down, but you live and you learn.”

Running the ball up the gut when running up the gut wasn't working was a bad decision. But equally as bad was the second-down call. Yurcich dialed up a Walsh-to-Moore fade in the corner of the end zone.

That's a good call if Walsh is having a great day. Or if you're beating the tar out of Lamar. Or if Brandon Weeden is throwing to Justin Blackmon.

But under Saturday's conditions?

Not so much.

Yurcich had his hands tied a bit by the on-field struggles. If your quarterback is off and your running game is sluggish, coming up with effective plays is going to be tough. But Yurcich sure didn't help matters at times, especially when he kept trying to run up the middle when that just wasn't working.

Yurcich has to do better.

Everyone on the offense must.

If this team wants to contend for a Big 12 title, the Cowboy offense can't have another day like Saturday. It can't fall apart in the pass game and the run game. Someone, whether quarterback or tailback or coordinator, has to step up and perform better.

Walsh came out of the game believing that the Cowboy offense has better days ahead. Despite the dower figure he cast leaving the field, he was more upbeat later.

“You can keep your head up because you've got another week to play,” he said. “We have the rest of the Big 12 (schedule). We've got plenty of time to correct these mistakes and get better and move forward.”

For the sake of OSU's Big 12 title aspirations, Walsh and Co. must.


by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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