Much better grades this week for the Cowboys, after their 33-29 victory over Kansas State. High marks to the OSU defense, especially Shaun Lewis, Caleb Lavey and Tyler Johnson.
TIMELY PLAYS: A
When Oklahoma State needed to make plays, the Cowboys came through. The defense came up with interceptions on Kansas State's last two possessions, the first by Shaun Lewis and the second by Daytawion Lowe. And the offense scored points on its last two drives. Down by six points, J.W. Walsh and Co. put together their best drive of the day, going 75 yards in six plays and finishing with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Walsh to Charlie Moore. Then on the next possession, it was Ben Grogan's turn to perform, hitting a 28-yard field goal.
The Cowboys got big-time play out of starters Shaun Lewis and Caleb Lavey. Lewis, who led the team in tackles with eight, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass that set up the game-winning touchdown. He also had a big tackle of K-State quarterback Daniel Sams with a minute left in the game; he kept Sams inbounds and cost the Wildcats precious time. Lavey had seven tackles, including two for a loss.
TYLER JOHNSON: A
The converted defensive end had the best game of his Cowboy career. He had seven tackles, including two sacks. He also forced a fumble.
J.W. WALSH: B
Overall, the Cowboy quarterback had an average day, going 24 of 28 for 245 yards and one touchdown, but when the Cowboys needed him to step up, he was big time. With the Cowboys trailing by six in the fourth quarter and needing to go the length of the field, Walsh was almost flawless. He went 4 of 5 on the drive for 59 yards, including the 7-yard game-winning touchdown to Charlie Moore. It was Walsh's best sequence of the day. Even though he had a few passes that were thrown behind or low of receivers, his receivers could've helped him a little more. For starters, Walsh threw the best deep ball of his Cowboy career, and Josh Stewart dropped it.
WIDE RECEIVERS: C
A less-than-stellar day for a group with tons of potential. They were playing a bit shorthanded, going without Blake Jackson, Blake Webb and Austin Hays. But even without those receivers, the guys who played needed to be more sure handed. Yes, they did their jobs late, but having the dropsies for a second consecutive week isn't a good sign.
JEREMY SMITH: B
Much maligned after his 1-yard performance a week ago, the Cowboy tailback looked like the Smith of old. He ran hard. He hit the holes quick. He finished with 11 carries for 56 yards and one touchdown.
OFFENSIVE LINE: C
Improved over a week ago. The running lanes were bigger, and the pass protection was better. But Walsh still got flushed out of the pocket a fair amount as K-State tallied three quarterback hurries.
Also improved over a week ago. Yes, Ben Grogan had a field goal blocked that was returned for a K-State touchdown, but that wasn't really his fault. His blockers let a Wildcat come free, and it was likely that no kicker was going to be able to get the ball past him. But even with that block, Grogan gathered himself and finished the day 4 of 5 on field goals, including a 28-yard lead-extending one with 2:24 left in the game.
CLEAN PLAY: A
The Cowboys did a great job of taking care of the ball and avoiding penalties. They had just one turnover a week after turning it over a season-high three times. And they were whistled for just one penalty, though it was a costly one. Kevin Peterson's pass interference in the end zone kept a K-State drive going in the fourth quarter; the Wildcats scored a touchdown that gave them a 29-23 lead.
KURLAND TRIBUTE: A
Cowboy basketball legend Bob Kurland died earlier this week, and he was honored with a video tribute during the first quarter. It included some great old-time black-and-white video of the Cowboy big man.
GILBERT SUSPENSION: A
Cowboy coach Mike Gundy decided before the team got home last week from West Virginia that Justin Gilbert would sit out the first half against K-State. Gilbert threw punches late in the game last week and was ejected for a flagrant personal foul. The Big 12 chose not to take action and suspend the Cowboy cornerback, but Gundy decided that he would sit for violating team rules. A great decision. It sends a message — that type of knuckleheadedness won't be accepted.