Quarterback Clint Chelf and his offense provided the high grades for the Cowboys in a 55-34 rout of West Virginia on Saturday:
PASS PROTECTION: A
Keeping Clint Chelf relatively safe was huge for OSU, not because Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh weren't available (they were), but because Chelf's first start would naturally come with some butterflies. West Virginia sacked Chelf twice, but neither in a critical situation. Once at the end of the first half, when OSU really wasn't trying to move the ball, and another on a 3rd-and-10 scramble that was as much a coverage sack as anything.
FOURTH-DOWN DEFENSE: C
In the first quarter, The Cowboys gave up a 37-yard touchdown pass by backup quarterback Paul Millard on 4th-and-13, after Geno Smith's helmet came off and he had to sit out a play. Then in the second quarter, wingback Tavon Austin took a short pass, broke a tackle and made five yards on 4th-and-5, and West Virginia went on to a touchdown. For the game, the Mountaineers converted four of seven fourth-down tries.
CHELF DECISION-MAKING: A
Chelf threw one interception, but it came when the ball bounced off Charlie Moore's hands. Maybe only one other pass was even a possible interception for the Mountaineers. Mike Gundy estimated that Chelf had to make a decision on 50 of OSU's 66 snaps and might have decided wrong twice. That's winning football.
New white headgear and white tops provided a sharp look. What? Black and gray? Oh, I'm not talking football. I'm talking the band. OSU's band sported new uniforms. The white Stetsons and tops, with orange pants, provided a brighter look. And the band's rousing military tribute wasn't too shabby itself. The band's football team looked sharp, too, with black helmets, gray jerseys and gray pants.
PASS COVERAGE: C
West Virginia quarterbacks completed 37 of 56 passes for 401 yards, and it could have been more, Smith had not missed open receivers deep at least twice. The Cowboys did get better the longer the game went – Daytawion Lowe batted away a third-down pass to open the fourth quarter, then OSU swamped Mountaineer receivers on a fourth-down play, leading to Shaun Lewis' knockdown of a Smith pass.
PAYING ATTENTION: A
The Cowboys were alert, especially on the kicking units. West Virginia tried a sharp squib after cutting its deficit to 31-24 early in the third quarter, but OSU's Torrance Carr recovered at midfield. And two bouncing OSU kicks were recovered by Cowboys. A kickoff bounced over a Mountaineer, then bounced off the head of WVU's Andrew Buie, and Nico Ornelas recovered for OSU at the Mountaineer 14-yard line. In the third quarter, a bouncing OSU punt caromed off WVU's Austin, and OSU's Teddy Johnson recovered at the Mountaineer 12.
FIREARM CELEBRATION: A
In this month that activated Oklahoma's new open-carry law, the sidelines were patrolled by two iconic mascots. Pistol Pete didn't have the monopoly on guns. The Mountaineer, who has become a Big 12 favorite everywhere he's gone, roamed Boone Pickens Stadium with his musket. He said he felt right at home.
OFFENSIVE CLEANLINESS: A
The Cowboys were hit with 11 penalties for 108 yards, but most of the penalties, Gundy said he could live with. Some were acts of aggression (illegal block, inadvertent facemask, roughing the quarterback). Only a couple were mental errors. OSU's offense had a delay of game penalty that didn't matter, since it was backed up to its own half-yard line anyway. Flanker Brandon Webb had a false start. That was about it. Plus, the only Cowboy fumble came when Chelf flung the ball out of bounds while being sacked late in the first half.