Oklahoma State football notebook: Cowboys' special teams bounce back with big performance
STILLWATER — The film room was an unhappy place at special teams meeting time last week, after Oklahoma State's woeful performance against Kansas State in multiple phases of the kicking game.
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But Sunday's review session should be a little more pleasing for everyone after the performance against West Virginia.
Not only did Justin Gilbert return a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown to pass Perrish Cox for the OSU career record with five TDs, the Cowboys contained dangerous return man Tavon Austin with good punt and kickoff coverage.
OSU also took advantage of some West Virginia mistakes, a mishandled kickoff and a mishandled punt, which the Cowboys turned into 10 points.
Coach Mike Gundy said the staff put together a gameplan to help the unit, particularly in coverage.
“We changed where we lined the ball up. We changed our coverage units a little bit,” Gundy said. “Our guys made some plays, and Quinn (Sharp) punted the ball really well. He was good on squib kicks into the wind. We changed up our kickoff return, and obviously it worked out well for us.
“Other than (getting a punt blocked), I thought special teams were the difference.”
Added Gilbert: “I think we're getting back to where we were last year on special teams, putting in more work and having that mindset of wanting to make plays, not just waiting on the next guy to make a play.”
ALL THREE QUARTERBACKS WERE AVAILABLE
OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken said the team's top three quarterbacks were physically cleared to play Saturday.
But the coaches had been preparing Clint Chelf to start all week, prior to Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh getting cleared, so they stuck with Chelf because he had gotten the most work in practice.
Lunt's status was unknown after suffering an apparent concussion last week, and Walsh's availability was the big surprise, recovering from a fractured knee.
“They were all able to play today,” Monken said. “(Walsh) got off his crutches at the end of last week. They said that it's really kind of filled it, the crack that he had, and that he was available today if we needed him.
“The problem was, Wes wasn't really ready at the start of the week. There's only so many reps in the week. Moving forward, we'll assess the game and what Texas Tech does, and who gives us the best chance to win.”
After Chelf's performance Saturday, the Cowboys are confident in all three quarterbacks.
“There will come a point where we won't have a fourth,” Monken said with a smile. “Let's not try that out. I love (fourth-string QB Jase Chilcoat) but it ends at three.”
PENALTY CONCERNS — SORT OF
OSU piled up 11 penalties for 108 yards Saturday, bringing back an issue that bothered the team early in the season.
Yet Gundy wasn't incredibly bothered by the fouls, especially personal foul calls on Calvin Barnett and Ashton Lampkin.
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