STILLWATER — Mike Gundy keeps fielding questions about his scuffling offense. Within his admittedly uncomfortable answers, it's what the Oklahoma State coach doesn't say that may be most revealing.
On the heels of three straight seasons of explosive attacks averaging 537.7 yards and 46.2 points a game, OSU has regressed, averaging 445.2 yards and 38 points through five games. In Big 12 play, those numbers dip to 381.5 and 27, and that came against West Virginia and Kansas State, two teams with a combined 1-5 conference record and defenses that rank in the bottom half of the Big 12.
So, what, or who, is to blame?
Gundy isn't pointing fingers. Well, not exactly, although he does point to someone the Cowboys don't have — an NFL-caliber quarterback.
“If you have a quarterback that's somewhat close to getting ready to play in the NFL and is that type of player at that particular time,” Gundy said, “you can overcome a lot of deficiencies with your football team.”
The Cowboys have some deficiencies: a thin offensive line that has struggled to deal with minor and major injuries; a yet-to-fire running game; and a passing attack that hasn't stretched the field, leaving a stacked cast of talented receivers underutilized.
Nothing, presumably, Brandon Weeden's big arm couldn't help camouflage.
“The pass plays that Weeden ran, those are the same ones that we run this year,” Gundy said. “There's not any pass plays that we had called with Weeden that we haven't called this year. It's the same scheme.
“The end results (with Weeden) make it look a lot better.”
Gundy's analysis isn't intended as an indictment of J.W. Walsh. Heck, quarterback play is in the crosshairs all across the Big 12, just as the conference's reputation nationally continues to take a hit.
After a rich recent run of superb quarterback play put 10 current signal-callers on NFL rosters, only Baylor's Bryce Petty looks like a pro now. And Petty is no given, with his early résumé built upon a weak opening feast of a schedule that includes the likes of Wofford and Buffalo.
As Gundy points out, young quarterbacks can develop and mature, so no need to write off the current crop just yet. Experience can be a major factor, too, in avoiding mistakes. Still, right now in the Big 12, there’s a serious lack of dependable, premium quarterbacking. And Saturdays are exposing it.