The beleaguered OSU defense gets the highest marks in the Cowboys' 31-10 victory over Iowa State.
J.W. WALSH: B
Mike Gundy said Walsh made 8-10 mistakes. Some of Walsh's passes were tipped at the line of scrimmage, and a few were ill-advised, and a few were off-target. But still, the redshirt freshman completed 32 of 47 passes for 415 yards and no interceptions. He made heady plays running. He's not the finished product, but he's making OSU coaches wonder if they should give the job back to Wes Lunt.
DEFENSIVE HANDS: B
The athletic play of the game came from OSU safety Daytawion Lowe, who made a one-handed interception in the third quarter to set up a Cowboy touchdown. That's the kind of highlight play the OSU defense routinely made a year ago but has not this season. But Lyndell Johnson and Justin Gilbert dropped sure interceptions, failing to do with two hands what Lowe did with one.
Charlie Moore was excellent, with eight catches for 129 yards. But freshman Austin Hayes dropped two passes and Josh Stewart dropped another and fumbled at the Iowa State 3-yard line. The Cowboys are short-handed at receiver with Isaiah Anderson and Tracy Moore injured, but they've got to catch the ball to keep this offense running smoothly.
The Cyclones didn't move the ball much – OSU had 11 straight stops after the first quarter – and tackling was a primary reason. Iowa State runners and receivers did not make the Cowboys miss, which had been an OSU problem earlier in the season. The Cyclones aren't blessed with NFL talent on offense, but still, in the middle two quarters, when this game was decided, OSU held ISU to seven first downs and 140 total yards.
ORANGE HELMETS: C
The helmets themselves were solid. Put orange helmets with the black or gray or white accessories, and they are a nice addition to the Cowboy wardrobe. But not with the orange jerseys and orange pants. OSU looked a little too much like Clemson.
SHORT-YARDAGE OFFENSE: C
The Cowboys ran six 3rd-and-1 or 4th-and-1 plays; they converted just three. J.W. Walsh fumbled on the fourth-down play but didn't appear to make the first down anyway. The other two failures came off a quarterback draw and a Joe Randle two-yard loss out of a power set. The Cowboys converted on a quarterback sneak, a Walsh pass and a Walsh sweep. OSU wasn't great at other short-yardage situations, converting just six of nine times on 3rd-and-2, 3rd-and-3 or 3rd-and-4.
PASS RUSH: B
The Cowboys figured Iowa State couldn't or wouldn't run much, so getting to mobile quarterback Jared Barnett was a key. And OSU did, though Shaun Lewis recorded the only Cowboy sack. OSU had seven quarterback hurries, two each by safety Zack Craig and end Cooper Bassett, as Bill Young's blitzes were well-timed. Barnett, and his eventual replacement, Steele Jantz, rarely had much time to throw.
QUINN SHARP: B
Mr. Leg had a hot-and-cold day. He missed two field goals, pushing the ball wide from 44 and 51 yards and extending his Iowa State slump (he missed from 37 yards at the end of regulation a year ago). But Sharp was fabulous punting, kicking four times for a 49.5-yard average, including a 68-yarder on the crosswind field. Two of Sharp's punts were downed inside the 20-yard line. It was a prime time for Sharp to shine, considering Iowa State's Kirby Van Der Kamp is his chief rival for all-Big 12 punter. Van Der Kamp punted nine times for a 47.1-yard average, with a 60-yarder and three downed inside the 20.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: C
Savannah State wins! Savannah State wins! The beleaguered Tigers, 84-0 losers to OSU on Sept. 1, notched their first win of the season Saturday, beating Edward Waters 42-35.
RUNNING GAME: B
Iowa State rarely lets teams run. The Cowboys gained just 60 yards on the ground last season in Ames. But taking away sacks and team losses running out the clock, OSU churned for 221 yards on 38 carries. Some of that came from Walsh runs out of the passing game, but the Cowboy tailbacks gained 172 yards on 30 carries. OSU entered the fourth quarter with just 103 yards rushing, but Joe Randle's 62-yard burst ignited a strong finish.