OSU football: Mike Gundy should use J.W. Walsh on short-yardage situations

It's time for OSU to add an auxiliary offense like the Belldozer or Wildcat. Mike Gundy should give his Cowboys a curveball to go with the hard heat of the Air Raid offense and to keep the talented J.W. Walsh involved.
by Berry Tramel Published: July 4, 2012
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That leaves Walsh out in the cold – unless the Cowboys resort to ingenuity.

* Strategy. The only downside to the Air Raid is its occasional lack of short-yardage success. Having the quarterback always in the shotgun formation limits options near the goal line.

In the two Brandon Weeden seasons, the Cowboys weren't horrible on the goal line. But they weren't great.

In 2011, OSU scored touchdowns on six of their nine chances when it was third-and-goal from the 1- or 2-yard line.

And the Cowboy offense, which rarely was stopped with a full field in which to maneuver, at times stagnated when the end zone drew nigh.

Quinn Sharp tried 25 field goals last season; 14 were shorter than 30 yards. Only three were longer than 39 yards. Which means the Cowboys bogged down inside the 13-yard line far too much.

“Third-and-short, fourth-and-short, goal line, is there a chance we could have another little package?” Gundy asked. “I think there's a possibility of that, based on what a certain player may bring to the table.”

And in general, OSU's short-yardage success rate could improve. Let's define short-yardage as third or fourth down, with three yards or less to go for a first down.

Through the Kansas game, OSU was 26-of-30, which is outstanding. But in the remaining eight games, OSU was 26-of-42.

The Cowboys were just one of five against Texas, which is the only way the Longhorns kept it close. And the Cowboys were just one of five against Iowa State, which helps explain the Cyclones' overtime upset.

Sometimes, the OSU offense was so good, it was hard to notice. In the 44-10 Bedlam rout, the Cowboys faced only two short-yardage situations. Think about that.

With Weeden, the Cowboys often relied on the pass in short-yardage; they converted 22 of 30 short-yardage situations, 73.3 percent, when passing. OSU was 30 of 42, 71.4, on short-yardage when running the ball.

But in 2012, there will be no Weeden and no Justin Blackmon, and OSU is more likely to resort to brute force or subterfuge than relying on NFL-caliber talent.

Put in Walsh on third-and-short, with an array of run plays, options, draws and rollouts, and defenses won't know what's coming.

If you're going to steal an idea, steal a good one. Playing J.W. Walsh is a good idea.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
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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