Hard to grade tough on a game that was 44-0 at halftime, as was OSU's 65-24 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette. And the Cowboys generally received high marks.
J.W. WALSH: A
Hard to ask more out of a guy who hasn't gotten a ton of practice repetitions and playing in an offense not suited to his skills. But after subbing for the injured Wes Lunt, Walsh completed 21 of 30 passes for 347 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed six times for 73 yards. Walsh didn't take a sack, often scrambling out of trouble, and appeared to make few bad decisions with his throws.
After a school record for penalty yards (167) at Arizona, the Cowboys were much better against ULL. Five penalties for 45 yards. There were no personal foul infractions. But OSU did commit four holding penalties – Charlie Moore, Devin Davis and Parker Graham on offense, plus Kris Catlin on a kickoff return. That's too many.
The Cowboys were much better at hanging onto the ball. OSU did not fumble, and the rash of drops that plagued the Cowboys at Arizona was gone, too. Tracy Moore, running a slant into the end zone, got his hands on a Walsh pass and didn't make the catch, but the throw was behind him. That was about it.
The Cowboys came out in black helmet, orange jerseys, orange pants. Such a stark combination can come perilously close to a high school look, but Nike pulled off the sleek look, to some extent.
Just one takeaway against Louisiana-Lafayette, which gives the Cowboys only three in three games. And this one was largely unforced – Cajun tailback Alonzo Harris fumbled in the final 10 seconds of the first half, after taking a handoff to run out the clock. OSU's takeaway total has to rise for the Cowboys to be a viable Big 12 defense.
Give the Cowboys a pass on their spotty defense in the second half, when ULL had 13 first downs and 272 total yards. The game was 44-0 at halftime, and OSU played a bunch of deep reserves down the stretch. In the first half, the Cajuns had just five first downs and had three possessions of three-plays-and-punt. But the Cowboys won't play many quarterbacks who are worse passers than Blaine Gautier, who completed 16 of 31.
Mike Gundy ordered an onside kick midway through the second quarter and OSU leading 38-0. Gundy said he did so because the Cowboys were kicking from midfield, courtesy of a Cajun penalty. But more likely, the onside kick was payback for the penalty itself, a roughing-the-passer hit from blitzing cornerback Melvin White that leveled Walsh well after the pass was delivered. Better to send Kye Staley for a blindside block on White than to onside kick up 38 points.
OFFENSIVE LINE: A
Another game, another sackless performance. Through three games, OSU has thrown 134 passes without its quarterback being tackled. Sure, Walsh dashed away from some pressure, but on the other hand, the Cajuns could play tighter, knowing the downfield passing threat wasn't as great. Also, OSU tailbacks rushed for 241 yards on 52 carries, 4.6 yards per rush, acceptable considering the Cajuns knew the Cowboys would run more without Lunt.
PREGAME SURPRISE: A
Four motorcycles zoomed onto the field in pregame. They were part of a block party on Hall of Fame Avenue, the KICKER Gameday Big Air Bash. Motorcycles and football fields generally don't mix, but when one of the riders removed his helmet, we saw it was PGA Tour golfer Rickie Fowler. On a dank day with a morning kickoff, the late-arriving crowd needed a jolt of energy, and the popular Fowler provided it.
RETURN GAME: C
Justin Gilbert had a 33-yard kickoff return, but he also brought a kick out of the end zone and made it just to the 19-yard line. With the new NCAA rule of kickoffs from the 35-yard line instead of the 30, and touchbacks resulting in drives starting at the 25 instead of the 20, better to take the touchback. And the punt returns remained shaky. Redshirt freshman David Glidden took over the duties and seemed much more comfortable than Charlie Moore has been. But Glidden still fielded three Cajun punts on the bounce. Those weren't shanked kicks. They need to be caught.