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Oklahoma State football report card: Grades reflect Cowboys' physical edge on Mississippi St.

OSU REPORT CARD — Grading Oklahoma State's 21-3 victory over Mississippi State Saturday in Houston.
by Berry Tramel Published: August 31, 2013

HOUSTON — OSU got off to a slow start Saturday against Mississippi State, but the Cowboys found their bearings and beat the SEC foe 21-3. The grades reflect the physical nature of OSU's victory.

Full-house backfield: A.

OSU calls the three-back set “Trey,” and it worked wonderfully against Mississippi State. OSU's first TD came out of the formation, on a three-yard run by J.W. Walsh, three plays after his 46-yard run out of the full-house. In all, Walsh ran eight times out of the formation, for 95 yards. Walsh passed four times out of the full-house, completing just a 14-yarder to Jhajuan Seales, but the formation also produced what would have been an easy 19-yard TD pass to Des Roland, except Walsh threw poorly and forced Roland to catch the ball out of bounds.

Short-yardage defense: A.

Four times Mississippi State needed three yards or less on third down. All four times, OSU turned back the Bulldogs. Twice, MSU power-package quarterback Dak Prescott was stuffed at the line of scrimmage. Twice, the Bulldogs tried passing, including a play in which Justin Gilbert made an interception.

Neutral-field concept: D.

The crowd numbered just 35,874, and you can't blame the schools. OSU and Mississippi State accounted for virtually all the patrons, with OSU having maybe a 60-40 edge. The game didn't even warrant a mention in the Saturday Houston Chronicle. And the extracurricular activities didn't scream special: hula-hooping children and an adult dance contest.

Replacing Sharp: B.

In OSU's first game since 2008 without Quinn Sharp's all-American foot, the Cowboys mostly succeeded. Punter Kip Smith was sensational in keeping field position in the Cowboys' favor when they struggled early – he finished with six punts for a 45.2-yard average, and four of his punts pinned MSU inside its 20-yard line. Smith's four kickoffs were solid, with going inside the Bulldog 5-yard line. But kicker Ben Grogan's 49-yard field-goal attempt was blocked, and Mike Gundy later disdained a 48-yard try in favor of trying to convert a 4th-and-8.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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