OSU finds itself in a season of shifting story lines. Offense is out and defense is in. Kicking is down and kick returning is up. Injuries and inefficiencies leading to shuffling faces in various places. Six games have taught us a few things. And left us questioning things …
Three things proven
1. Dynamic defense. OSU is for real on defense. Getting aggressive clearly agrees with the Cowboys, highlighting their speed and freeing playmakers to react. The result: an attacking, swarming unit that is halting offenses and collecting takeaways. OSU is hardly recognizable, in a good way. “We are winning different here than we have in a long, long time, but that's OK,” said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy.
2. The receivers need the ball. Josh Stewart was the best player on the field in Saturday's 24-10 win over TCU. And he's one of the best in the Big 12. And he's one of many quality playmakers in the receiving corps. Tracy Moore. Jhajuan Seales. Brandon Sheperd. Charlie Moore. And more, when they're healthy. With a scuffling running game and a shuffling offensive line, OSU's best weapons are the receivers. Get. Them. The. Ball.
3. The kicking game is scary good … and bad. Two of the biggest plays from Saturday were returns: a 95-yard punt return for a touchdown by Stewart and a 50-yard kickoff return by Sheperd that set off OSU's clinching TD drive. Those two, and Justin Gilbert, are constant threats to create sudden change in a game. Yet as good as the Cowboys are in those phases of special teams, along with punt and kick coverage, their kickers are a concern. Punter and kickoff specialist Kip Smith left Saturday's game with an ankle injury and a prolonged absence would create major problems. Freshman Ben Grogan remains unreliable on field goals of almost any range, making just 6 of his 12 attempts so far.