Share “Oklahoma State football: Cowboys' special...”

Oklahoma State football: Cowboys' special teams take a dip

The loss of assistant coach Joe DeForest to West Virginia played a part in special teams' numbers changing for the worse
BY GINA MIZELL Staff Writer gmizell@opubco.com Published: December 16, 2012
Advertisement

photo - Oklahoma State's Quinn Sharp (13) kicks a field goal as Wes Harlan (39) holds in the third quarter during a college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) and the Baylor University Bears at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma State's Quinn Sharp (13) kicks a field goal as Wes Harlan (39) holds in the third quarter during a college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) and the Baylor University Bears at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

OSU actually improved statistically on punt returns — the Cowboys ranked 115th in that category a season ago — but were still shaky at the position at times.

Charlie Moore, who had never consistently returned punts in his career and wasn't given the job until the latter part of fall camp, often looked uncomfortable and fielded several punts off the bounce. David Glidden battled injuries for much of the season and muffed a punt against Texas. Sometimes, both players went back for the return.

Coverage/blocking units

Kickoff return defense: 25.37 yards per return (No. 112 nationally), two touchdowns

Punt return defense: 12.31 yards per return (No. 113 nationally), one touchdown

Punts blocked: 2

Field goals blocked: 1

Many forget the Cowboys were poor on both coverage units a season ago, ranking 108th in the nation in kickoff return defense and 98th in punt return defense. But OSU got worse in both categories this season, and gave up a crucial, momentum-swinging return for a touchdown in each of its losses to Texas, Kansas State and Oklahoma.

Sometimes, players took bad angles. Other times, they missed tackles. Whether it is personnel or philosophy or execution, something with the coverage units needs to be fixed moving forward.

The Cowboys, however, did not block any field goals or punts a season ago, and got three over their last three games this season.

The bottom line

Next season might be the time to really judge Gundy's new way of delegating the special teams responsibilities.

Sharp will have moved onto the NFL, so a new kicker and punter will need to be groomed and developed. Gilbert and others will have had a chance to make adjustments following the first year of the new kickoff rule. Perhaps Glidden can stay healthy, or Moore can use the spring to work more extensively on punt returns.

But there's no doubt OSU's overall special teams production took a dip in 2012.