A lackluster performance in a 20-14 victory against Kansas yielded a lackluster report card for Oklahoma State. Play calling was bad. Ditto for enthusiasm. Good thing Quinn Sharp and the lesser-heralded receivers came to play.
PLAY CALLING: D
Not one of Todd Monken's better days. The OSU offensive coordinator admitted as much. His offense never seemed to find a rhythm or a spark. The play calls were pedestrian, and so were the results. And worse, late in the game when the Cowboys surprisingly found themselves on the ropes, they opted to rely on J.W. Walsh's arm. Not until Monken called a few runs for Walsh were the Cowboys able to do enough to survive.
SHARP PLAY: D
The Cowboys played like they'd been off for two weeks. And they played like they'd been watching video of a really bad Kansas team during their down time. Their play was lackluster. Good thing the Jayhawks were, too.
QUINN SHARP: A
Give the OSU kicker/punter player-of-the-game honors, which might help explain why the Cowboys only beat the lowly Jayhawks by a touchdown. Sharp's 70-yard punt in the first half dribbled out of bounds at the Kansas 8-yard line and flipped the field for the Cowboys. Then, in the second half, he made a touchdown-saving tackle in kick coverage. If a 52-yard field goal attempt doesn't go wide at the end of the first half, he might've had the best day of his career.
An overcast afternoon turned downright awful when strong thunderstorms rolled into Lawrence half an hour into the game. The rain eventually abated, but dark skies remained for the rest of the game.
RUN GAME: C
Where was the Joe Randle who ran for 199 yards vs. Texas? The Cowboy tailback managed only 80 yards, and worse, he had only 2.8 yard a carry. Had it not been for Walsh, who had 49 yards on nine carries, the Cowboys would've only had 67 yards rushing on 35 carries, a paltry 1.9 yards per carry.
RUN DEFENSE: C
The Cowboys' run defense early would've earned a B as they held the Jayhawks in check through three quarters. But the run defense late deserves a failing grade. The Cowboys' defensive front looked gassed late, and that led to some big Jayhawk runs. If OSU isn't going to platoon and play more guys on the defensive line, Kansas won't be the last team to gain yards in chunks late in games.
Now that Colorado is no longer in the league, there's no more picturesque stadium than the one at Kansas. Surrounded by hills, many of the trees were in their fall glory Saturday. It was lovely.
JAYHAWK CROWD: D
Not so lovely was the Kansas crowd. There were about 10,000 Jayhawk fans in the stadium at kickoff. Sure, it was rainy and gray — the really bad stuff didn't arrive until later — but the vast swaths of empty seats were still shocking. There were thousands more Kansas fans at the men's basketball team's season-opening, late-night practice Friday night.
COWBOY CROWD: A
There were about 3,000 OSU fans in Lawrence. Considering the expected blowout, which didn't materialize, and the forecasted rain, which did, it was a strong showing by the Cowboy faithful. Plus, it looked like OSU brought the whole marching band. The more marching bands, the better.
NICO ORNELAS: I
The sophomore linebacker gets an incomplete for his play on special teams. He was penalized for leaping over the shield block on a Kansas punt. He actually ran in, leapt straight into the air but got undercut so it looked like he tried to leap over the shield. Then on OSU's next punt, he was whistled for targeting an opponent, which is supposed to be called when a defenseless player is hit. The Jayhawk punt returner hadn't called for a fair catch and it appeared Ornelas was pushed into the returner. Not sure Ornelas earned either penalty.
UNHERALDED RECEIVERS: B
If not for the lesser-known receivers, the Cowboys would've been in trouble. Tracy Moore injured his ankle in the first half, had it heavily wrapped at halftime and did not return in the second half. Isaiah Anderson hurt his hand in the first half, had a finger heavily wrapped after the game and didn't return either. That left guys like Charlie Moore and Austin Hays to pick up the slack, which they did quite nicely.
Not one of the Cowboys' best look, but the newly styled gray helmets, with white jerseys and gray pants were plenty sharp. And since gray was the color of this cloudy, stormy day, the uniforms fit. The Cowboys changed up their gray helmets, adding white “OSU” decals and switching out the black facemasks for white.