STILLWATER — In four days, Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden watched the game film from the Cowboys’ season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette four times.
He wanted to make sure he identified what exactly went wrong Saturday, when he tossed three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
“I threw some good balls last week, but there were also some glaring things that just kind of bothered me and I just wanted to nip those in the bud,” Weeden said.
Weeden responded with a historic performance Thursday night, as he broke his own OSU record with 42 completions in the No. 8 Cowboys’ 37-14 victory over Arizona at Boone Pickens Stadium.
“I was just dialed in early,” Weeden said. “I think I was making good decisions, and I think that’s the thing I didn’t do last week.”
The senior quarterback finished the night with 397 passing yards and two touchdowns, both on almost identical fade routes into the right corner of the end zone to his main target, Justin Blackmon.
“He’s pretty amazing,” Arizona coach Mike Stoops said. “He threw the ball on a couple third downs into some pretty tight windows. He’s pretty special.”
Weeden was sharp from the beginning, starting the game 13-for-13 to help pace OSU to a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter.
On the Cowboys’ second possession of the game, Weeden hooked up with Blackmon for the first time down the middle of the field for a 29-yard gain. Later on the drive, he floated it perfectly to Blackmon into the corner of the end zone from three yards away.
“In my mind, he’s one of the best at throwing the ball and putting it in spots,” Blackmon said.
But Blackmon wasn’t Weeden’s only target. He completed passes to 11 different receivers, five of which had three or more catches.
Weeden did make one crucial mistake, an interception snagged by Mark Watley with the Cowboys inside the red zone late in the third quarter. But after a stand by the OSU defense, Weeden completed all five passes on the Cowboys’ ensuing drive, including an 8-yard touchdown to Blackmon to give them a 27-7 advantage.
“He didn’t force the ball,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “There were three or four times where the guy wasn’t there and he just threw the ball away. That’s what he has to do.”
Blackmon and OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken said they didn’t notice anything noticeably different about Weeden on Thursday versus Saturday. He was still the same quarterback. He just cleaned up a couple mistakes.
But Weeden knows he improved from one game to the next. And that type of progress is what is going to continue to make the OSU offense dangerous in 2011.
“Last week, I was trying to do too much,” Weeden said. “But tonight, I found the guys underneath for the most part. Tonight I did better. There’s always room for improvement, but I think it was better.”