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10 Thoughts on Oklahoma State and UTSA




As every parent of a college student or adult who has gone through college knows, things change quickly when you’re 18-22 years old. Ohio State could beat the Jaguars two weeks ago. This week, it could barely beat Northern Illinois.

Oklahoma State’s Achilles heel two days ago was that it can’t force turnovers or run the football. On Saturday against UTSA, it created seven and ran for 5.4 yards a pop. Things are suddenly looking much more optimistic than they were earlier this week. OSU rolled over the Roadrunners 69-14 on Saturday in its last tuneup before heading down to Austin to watch it burn for the Big 12 opener next weekend.

Here are 10 thoughts I had on the game on Saturday.

1. Friction creates long posts

The last two weeks I’ve had a lot to say after the games because Oklahoma State looked mediocre. This week, not so much. You guys watched the thing. It was a good old-fashioned rout of an inferior opponent. It was fun. It was immense. It was everything we thought this OSU team would be coming into 2015. It was everything this OSU team should be: Elite on defense, strong in the running game and, ultimately, guided by the sure right hand of No. 2. It was, in a word, spectacular.

2. Young studs get playing time

One unintended consequence of blowing somebody out is that you get players in who would not be playing in a 23-20 game. OSU opened the third quarter with a reverse pitch from one freshman (Jeff Carr) to another (Jalen McCleskey). There’s a rhythm to your season, and OSU is trying to build towards a wild November. It looked on Saturday like that’s what was happening. Darrion Daniels played a ton. Chad Whitener had six tackles. Kenneth Edison-McGruder (can we call him KenEd?) even had seven tackles. It was a good day for the youngsters in Stillwater.

3. All those TOs

Coming into this game, Oklahoma State had forced two fumbles in the last two seasons (15 games). I wrote about this extensively earlier this week. It collected two in the first 116 seconds. Maybe Glenn Spencer’s strategy of not mentioning it this week during practice worked.

Seriously though, because turnovers can be … random, the only concern about Saturday’s performance is that you emptied the tank on collecting picks and fumbles on a team against which you didn’t necessarily need it. This is what we like to call “a good problem to have.”

4. Jordan Sterns is an absolute monster

I noticed on Saturday that OSU’s linebackers and secondary wrapped up better than they had been in the past couple of games. Sterns ended up with 13 tackles and this forced fumble and it felt like he had even more than that.

5. Chris Carson runs like Adrian Peterson

I do not think Chris Carson is on the same planet as AD, but he does have the same running style. They both roll straight up and down their heads bobbing like pistons pumping back and forth as quickly as possible. I thought No. 32 was terrific on Saturday, and that Gundy and Co. did a good job only riding him to the tune of 17 carries (for 104 yards). That was the first 100-yard game in the regular season by a pure RB (Tyreek had 102 vs. KSU last year) since Des Roland ran for 144 against OU in 2013 (!)

6. It feels important for OSU to have big first quarters

I know that’s a thermonuclear take, but this offense is sort of plodding in the way it operates. It doesn’t (and can’t) go for the kill early like that 2011 offense did. It doesn’t even seem to have the home run ball like in 2007-08 with Dez. It runs and it dinks and dunks and lumbers along to 25 or 33 points. So the way OSU is going to throttle teams is by getting a quick start on defense and special teams.

In 2011, I loved OSU taking the rock on the opening kickoff and going for the jugular with 59 minutes left in the game. This year? I’d rather them start on defense and set the bar for what a team is going to be facing for the next four quarters. They certainly did against UTSA on Saturday.

7. OSU was better, but I’m still down for more downfield throws

“(Central Michigan and Central Arkansas) defended us so we can’t run the football,”Gundy told the Tulsa World last week. “When that happens, there are two ways to handle it. You throw a lot of passes, or you’re just physically better up front and your tailback is much better than the defense is at tackling, and you just say that we’re not concerning ourselves with the structure of the defense.”

I wrote about this on Friday and said OSU needed to toss it around the yard a little bit more. On Saturday, OSU ran it 40 times and threw it just 26. Some of this was dictated by the fact that the game was a blowout early in the third quarter.

Gundy noted why OSU needs balance after the game. I don’t disagree with this sentiment, but they need to do a better job of taking what defenses give them. I’ll have to confer with some folks on how UTSA was setup, but it felt like OSU was better at being “physically better up front” than it had been the last couple of games rather than taking what the D gave them (which it still needs to get much better at).

8. Nonconference games at home

This stunned me for some reason.

The even crazier part is that it was Houston (!) of all teams that beat OSU in BPS back in 2008. We got Sumlin’d. Or Dana’d. Or something.

9. Mason Rudolph has been unbelievably efficient so far this year.

The sophomore is 67/90 for 947 yards, 5 TDs and just one interception. Something tells me that if Glenn Spencer, Mike Yurcich and Mike Gundy all got in a room and tried to decide what numbers they would like their QB in this offense to have, that would be close to the consensus.

The best part of this season so far for me in terms of the offense is how well Gundy has mixed and matched Rudolph and Walsh and how Rudolph continues to make plays like this.

No. 2 may never be a legend for O-State, but man, he’s a heck of a college quarterback.

10. The encouraging thing is …

Oklahoma State didn’t do that much differently on Saturday than it did in the first two games. It just did it much, much better. That’s a good thing because it shows that this team knows what it is. Now, as a fan I’m mildly concerned because “who it is” and “what it does” seems dependent on getting turnovers (again, random) and running Chris Carson up the middle (I have more faith in sticking the male end of a USB cord correctly into a computer on the first try). But still, I’d rather a team understand what it is and simply develop that as the season wears on than still be trying to figure that out.

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