Mrs. Pistols and I have been trying to plan a mini vacation recently. This is difficult for two reasons. The first is that the PGA Tour has like three weekends off over the course of 11 months (I tried to exaggerate that but I’m not sure that’s actually an exaggeration). The second, of course, is because of OSU football weekends.
All that to say, in retrospect we should have planned it for this weekend because FBS-FCS games are disgusting to me (#RememberSavannah).
As such, I’m reticent to make any broad, sweeping conclusions about what this OSU team is or isn’t because I have no idea if Central Arkansas is better or worse than OSU just playing its second team in practice.
But still, there was enough action (or lack of action) to have a few thoughts about the Pokes’ 32-8 win over UCA. Here we go.
1. The offense got a free pass
Here’s what disappointed me about the way Oklahoma State’s offense showed out in the first half. First of all, Samford (!) toasted UCA to the tune of 28 points in the first half of last week’s game. OSU could only muster 10.
Second, you pretty much know your defense is holding UCA to 14 points or fewer. So why do you come stumbling out of the gates like a wounded racehorse with these sideline screens and backwards passes? Don’t you use this game to say “man, how good can we be? What gear can I open this thing up to?” and then use that as a sort of barometer for the rest of the year?
Especially when you know UCA is out there not letting Chris Carson and Rennie Childs beat them.
Gundy: Too many penalties. Missed about six passes. UCA's defense was essentially "stop run." Defense was excellent. #okstate
— Mark Cooper (@mark_cooperjr) September 13, 2015
You don’t get any more free passes this season, and it felt like this one was a little bit wasted on the offensive front. Like, we get that Mason Rudolph can throw a bubble screen. Taylor Cornelius can probably throw a bubble screen. But can Rudolph hit Jalen McCleskey on a deep slant? Can Jeff Carr run a wheel route? Do you feel better about a jump ball with Brandon Sheperd or Marcell Ateman?
At one point in the third quarter, Central Arkansas put 10 men in the box at the goal line, and OSU proceeded to shove a handoff to Rennie Childs who got promptly blistered and put on his backside. I’m the most novice of football bystanders, but even I could tell that was going to be a disaster. What are you even trying to do there? It was like trying to force the USB cord into your computer over and over even though you know it’s wrong because you’re so frustrated you put it in the wrong way again.
I don’t know if that’s a Mike Yurcich thing or a Mason Rudolph thing, but it’s not anything I want to see again. I’m not saying you come out and run four verts every down. That would be silly. But dare to dream a little bit, guys. Dare to drop 40 on a FCS team that got torched by Samford last weekend.
2. We need to talk about that Chris Carson leap
I feel like more often than not when people rave about athletes jumping over other athletes, it usually turns out that Athlete A jumped over Athlete B while Athlete B was bent over and essentially the equivalent of Spud Webb if Spud Webb was slouching a little bit.
Not so here. That’s a 6’0 cornerback and Carson goes for the whole dang thing (and gets it).
— Jordan Smith (@Doafhat) September 13, 2015
Speaking of Carson. Is there a worse person on the roster to throw swing passes out wide to? Like, would we be better off throwing swing passes to Vincent Taylor or Chris Carson? Just something for you to think about the rest of the weekend.
3. Mason Rudolph’s second half was on point
There have been 1,065 games in Oklahoma State history, Saturday’s was just the 12th in which a QB has thrown for 400 or more yards. Rudolph was downright lousy in the first half, overthrowing everybody but the cheerleaders in the back of the end zone (and if Yurcich would have called a pass play inside the red zone, he probably would have overthrown them as well). Mike Gundy said as much at halftime.
Mike Gundy at halftime: "We have to throw the ball better." What does Rudolph have to do? "I'm not sure, he just needs to hit those passes."
— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) September 13, 2015
So Rudolph corrected things to the tune of 7/9 for 194 yards and 2 TD second half.
“My feet weren’t right,” Rudolph told Fox Sports Southwest about the first half. “Had some feet issues with some balls being high. But the whole offense made some good adjustments and corrected things in the second half.”
4. Is David Glidden elite?
That’s tongue in cheek, but Glidden was outstanding on Saturday night collecting four receptions for a career-high 145 yards and 2 TDs. That was his first ever (!) 100-yard receiving night.
Mason Rudolph’s first TD pass in Boone Pickens Stadium (of very many). pic.twitter.com/rHLD2YmazP
— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguy) September 13, 2015
Somebody asked me last week why I didn’t think Glidden was a go-to receiver for OSU. It’s not so much that I think he couldn’t be. It’s just that OSU has so many dudes (12 of them caught passes on Saturday) that I’m not sure he’s definitely your guy when you’re down 10 in Morgantown here in a few weeks. Maybe I’m wrong. Either way, I love him.
5. (Don’t) Fire Yurcich
I got a lot of this during the game. I get where it’s coming from, really, but Mike Yurcich isn’t going to receive a pink slip anytime soon. Especially not a few games into a season.
— Wes Cyrus (@wes_cyrus) September 13, 2015
I have less of an issue with the end output Oklahoma State is showing and more with how it is getting there. It’s almost like it’s trying to be a hurry-up team that is fine with scoring 25-35 points a game no matter what team it’s playing. That’s great against Central Michigan and Central Arkansas. It’s going to give Mike Gundy nightmares once the Big 12 starts.
I’m going to write about this more next week, but it’s time for us to start adjusting what we should expect from an offense that isn’t really running the Dana-Monken air raid we grew so accustomed to. That’s not Mike Yurcich’s problem as much as it is ours.
His problem is that this offense seems to have not found its soul yet. Either you’re an eff-you air-it-out attack (see: Waco, TX) or a grinding, efficient machine that posts a proper points per possession number and turns games over to its defense (see: Tuscaloosa, AL). This team, so far, is neither.
6. I’m in love with OSU’s defense (so far)
It’s early, and OSU still hasn’t played anybody, but the front line of the defense has been unbelievable. We always knew the secondary and linebackers would be solid to very good, but this really can be an elite D if Emmanuel Ogbah and Co. keep playing like they have been so far in September.
I listened to Tony Dungy talk the other day about how he would rather have J.J. Watt than Rob Gronkowski because football is all about how much you can pressure the quarterback. A high-powered defensive line negates the most important parts of an offense in its offensive line and QB. OSU’s has done that so far.
It's really not fair. Emmanuel Ogbah is a monster. pic.twitter.com/MFltlzPW8R
— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) September 13, 2015
Again, I don’t want to project this onto the next 10 games, but we have to look for some bright spots with the way the offense has looked over the first eight quarters and the defense has provided them.
It’s a strange thing to expect to hold teams to 20 points or fewer, but until we get into the Baylor-TCU portion of the schedule, that’s exactly what I expect.
7. Run blocking is absolutely appalling
This is part of the reason I’m hesitant to crucify Yurcich. I’ve watched my kids block the door to their room at bedtime better than OSU’s offensive line did at times on Saturday night.
Gundy: "I'm not pleased with the way we're blocking right now." #okstate O-line continues to be a problem.
— Nathan Ruiz (@NathanSRuiz) September 13, 2015
Granted, Central Arkansas pretty clearly was shutting down the run, but I wondered at one point during the game if Chris Carson was wishing he’d gone and backed up Nick Chubb instead of trying to stiff arm six guys on every run play
to the outside.
8. Grogan Groganed again?
I’m not sure about the first, but the second one was an offensive line issue. Either way, this should literally never happen, much less on two straight extra points. Can you imagine if it was to tie a Big 12 game in the 4th quarter instead of a couple of pointless kicks against Central Arkansas? My gosh.
Gundy: "I don't know if we've had two blocked PATs since I've been here. I'm not happy with that at all." #OKstate
— Andrew Carter (@Andrew__Carter) September 13, 2015
9. Jimmy Bean and J.W. are unsung and wildly important
Their respective counterparts (Emmanuel Ogbah and Mason Rudolph) get the glory and the headlines, but old bros Bean and Walsh are going to be two big reasons OSU has a big season (if it has a big season). Bean gets so many opportunities opposite No. 38, as does Walsh when OSU gets inside the red zone. The Cowboys ranked No. 109 in the country last year in red zone TD percentage — that’s something I hope Walsh can help change as the season chugs on.
10. These things can fluctuate significantly from week to week
I’ll have some more notes later on tonight, but I’m still not sure we learned anything we didn’t know before this game. The defense is really good (probably). The offense is average to above average (probably) and OSU will be 3-0 going to Austin (hopefully).
Here’s the thing we’ve learned in general with college football — looking at you, Auburn — teams can change significantly from game to game and even quarter to quarter. OSU looked in the first half like a team that would struggle with Kansas later this year. In the second half, it looked more like a team that could at least be competitive at the top of the Big 12.
I’m not prepared to give up on what this offense could be quite yet. As Oklahoma State moves away from the air raid and towards, uh, something that isn’t really the air raid, I get excited about letting a defense that seems up for the challenge take over games. Was Saturday a good time watching college football? Nah, not really. But this team has some fun characters and some outstanding players.
2012 should have taught us not to buy into FCS games too much. Nobody got hurt and Rudolph seemed to find his gallup in the second half. On to UTSA.