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10 Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 55-13 Win Over South Alabama

Pokes move to 2-0, but we have a lot to discuss.

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BOX SCORE

Oklahoma State throttled the Jags of South Alabama 55-13 on Saturday evening in Stillwater to move to 2-0 on the season and keep Taylor Cornelius’ winning percentage as a starter higher than that of Brandon Weeden, Mason Rudolph and Mike Gundy.

(don’t @ me).

We’ll get to all 10 thoughts in a minute as the Pokes put up 55+ for the second straight game despite some hiccups on offense. But first! Thanks again to our sponsor Thrive Landscape and Irrigation of Stillwater. Give them a call if you need a refurbished front lawn or if you need to clear some space to shoot some videos of yourself catching punts to send to Mike Gundy and his staff. Onto the 10 thoughts.

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1. TC Has Answers … then more questions

I saw what I wanted to see early. The things I was led to believe he was good at — level-headed, not antsy, good runner — he was actually quite good at on Saturday. Big Daddy™️ throws on the run and a great first couple of drives.

Remember how Mason Rudolph used to be a little wild on those short slants and 4-8 yard throws? Cornelius looked smooth with them, like this one to Tylan (who we’ll get to).


I realize the sample size is small, but he can pretty clearly make plays. He threw a couple of darts that made my eyebrows arch. You know, the ones where his throwing motion didn’t change but they came out about 2x as fast. Like this.


Or athletic throws on the run with guys surrounding him. Like this.


His bad throws were bad, though. Despite going 25-40 for 428 yards and a TD, his two interceptions stick out, and he threw several other balls that made him look like he was the biggest kid in class instructed by his parents to not harm the other kids with his monster arm. They were just weak, soft throws, and most of them came in the second half when he went 7-13 with two picks. GUNDY SHOULD HAVE REMOVED HIM AT HALFTIME, AND MY RIDING FOR HIM WOULD BE GOING A LOT BETTER THAN IT IS RIGHT NOW.

Gundy promised they would let him go, though, and they did. Now they need him to do the same with himself.

I guess the thing I come back to is wondering what people expect. Is he Mason Rudolph? No. Is he Brandon Weeden? No. Those guys were NFL Draft picks that went in the first three rounds. Corndog is a career backup who has looked really good at times and missed a few throws at others. Are Dru Brown and Spencer Sanders really going to be that much better right now? Did you expect Cornball to go the entire year without an interception or bad throw? Perfection for 13 straight games?

I get where people are coming from with wanting to see Brown or Sanders, but I also think people are looking for a reason — any reason really — to go to one of those two. They’re far sexier choices to be QB1. I just think you could take anybody’s tape, pick 2-3 poor throws and say, “yeah, give me the next guy.” TC finds his playmakers and fundamentally understands where everything is supposed to go. Gundy values that. We might just need to chill a little on the fades and jump balls (more on that below).

What we think doesn’t really matter anyway. Gundy’s statement on Saturday by playing Keondre Wudtee in garbage time was clear: 14 is the guy going forward. I’m mildly surprised I’m saying this, I guess, but I think I’m ok with that.

2. Tyron + Tylan

It would appear that several key decision makers at the top level of Oklahoma State football have finally come to grips with the reality that there is a professional football player wearing No. 13 and lining up to catch passes at Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturdays.

There also might be one wearing No. 2 as well. That pair combined for 15 catches for 303 yards and two total touchdowns. Tylan does not play like a true sophomore, but then again he didn’t really play like a true freshman last year on a Big 12 title-caliber team. Gundy keeps comparing home to Josh Stewart, but I’m not sure Josh Stewart had this in the arsenal.

Tyron was just as impressive. The best players always make it look the easiest, and Tyron is so good he sometimes erases everyone else on the field when he catches and turns. Is he consistent or big enough to be the next in a long line of greats at wideout in Stillwater? I don’t know. But the talent has never been a question, and he made Tyron Johnson vs. South Alabama look the way Tyron Johnson vs. South Alabama is supposed to look.

3. Are we sure the OL is good?

OSU gave up four sacks, 11 tackles for loss and a QB hurry (that felt like about 10 of them). If you’re coming to me for Xs and Os then we’re probably going to end up playing tic-tac-toe, but I know an OL that’s supposed to be improving and pushing the ball forward (both literally and figuratively) probably shouldn’t be posting these stat lines.

OSU vs. S. Alabama in 2017: 37 rushes for 163 yards
OSU vs. S. Alabama in 2018: 44 rushes for 164 yards

I get that there were some sacks in there and a -9 yard “rush” by the punter. I also get that USA (🇺🇸) took away the run and invited Corndog to beat them. But it seems like in Week 2 against a Sun Belt team, you should be better than 3.7 a pop.

4. Same as last year?

This game was basically a 2017 remix with different characters. OSU couldn’t run it, but they got a pick-six and a ton of stops. In 2017 they won by 37. This year they won by 42. There are two differences, and they’re big.

1. QB play: Justin Southwell reminded me of this in Slack during the game, but USA’s players were touting Mason Rudolph as the best QB they’d ever seen (probably not a long list, but still) during the game last year. During the game! Guessing that didn’t happen on Saturday.

2. We trusted that team. We don’t trust this team yet. No matter how many points you win by in any game there are always things to gripe about and things to praise. Last year we praised because, well, we knew who they were and knew what we were getting. This year we gripe because we aren’t fully bought in. TC might not be great. The OL looks lousy at times. AT LEAST GLENN SPENCER HELD THIS TEAM TO SINGLE DIGITS!

This team is good. It’s all about which angle you’re coming at it from.

5. Justice Comes in All Forms

I loved this play. OSU couldn’t get anything going with their backs by handing off so they started deploying their ground-to-air weapons in different ways. Justice didn’t get many opportunities to let it rip, but he made them count when he did. No. 5 finished with 10 touches, and two of them concluded at his house.

6. The fade is back! Oh … it’s really back

Somebody on Twitter or in the comments brought this up, but Corndog throws the fade more like Weeden than Rudolph. At first glance, this delighted me. Then he started throwing fades on 1st and 10, 3rd and 5, 4th and 3, from midfield, from his own goal line and possibly down the tunnel into the locker room.

More fades than a sharp room in Vegas with Texas as a big favorite. I don’t hate it because, like I said, he can really drop it in. But they could, you know, pick and choose their spots a little better probably. This seems to lead to some of his softer throws, which haven’t ended well thus far.

This dovetails with what I noted in my first thought above. There’s a time and a place for the fade. Every other play probably ain’t it. He needs to just let it ride a little bit and not put so much onus on his wideouts.

7. Bundage giveth, Bundage taketh away

If you don’t love the Bundage who gives other teams first downs by diving at the feet of the opposing quarterback then you don’t deserve the Bundage who’s in the backfield once every three plays wrecking more havoc than a toddler in a room of LEGOs. He had seven tackles — five of them solo — to go along with 1.5 TFL.

He’s a menace and a problem, and I am joyous that OSU has figured out a way to let him do Calvin Bundage things for 60 straight minute (which you know he will do!)

8. Sloppiness stinks

Thankfully Gundy hired a second defensive line coach in the offseason instead of a special teams coordinator. That definitely wouldn’t have been helpful.

In addition to a pair of ejections, a botched punt turnover, myriad “will he or won’t he” punt return shenanigans and an average of over 20 yards given up on kickoff returns, OSU also committed nine penalties for 112 (!) yards and gave USA five first downs on five defensive penalties totaling 67 yards.

Whooooo Gundy will be more fired up about that than Rob Glass getting a new squat machine.

What was once a staple of Oklahoma State football has now become a critical liability, one that OSU could overcome at times in the past few years but likely won’t be able to this time around.

9. RB Fun

Not only are the running backs good, they’re all incredibly unique and equally fun to follow. Here is a non-exhaustive list of things that happened on Saturday:

• Justice held up a “1” after scoring (possibly a subtweet about how many days until Dax decides).

• “Hubbard in space” is my new favorite phrase. The Hubbard Telescope.

• Speaking of subtweeting, J.D. King does not do it. If he’s gonna @ you, he’s gonna @ you.

• Also, he made this dude look like he’d already been at Murphy’s until about 2 a.m.

10. Boise on Deck

I feel good but not great about one glorified scrimmage and another highly exalted one. USA is not good. Missouri State doesn’t even register on whatever scale we’re using to measure teams by.

A friend of mine, when asked about how to write about golf, once said, “There were some birdies. There were some bogeys. There were some pars. It was golf.”

I feel a little bit like that after eight quarters of ball this season. There were some good moments. There were some bad moments. There was a lot of in between.

The reality here for me after two games is this: OSU is a talented team loaded to the gills at the skill positions with an offensive line that while deep, might not be great at the upper tier. Their defense has playmakers but might be too thin through the middle to really settle into a Big 12 title hunt. Their special teams will lose them a game this year. Their coaching remains good.

And their quarterback, I don’t know. At times I was running laps around my kitchen island vowing that he’s smart Wes Lunt who can run (this seemed like a compliment in my head). At other times I silently pleaded for the S.S. Second Coming. Ultimately I think he’s good enough — which is all Gundy’s going for — to win a lot of football games this season. We *should* know a lot more come this time next Saturday.

I’m hopeful that will be a good thing.