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Why You Can’t Double Team James Washington



In the last two games, James Washington ranks No. 4 on the team in total targets with 9. And yet Oklahoma State has still put up 914 yards through the air. This is of course because the Pokes have a NFL QB under center and a plethora of talent at the wide receiver position, and Mike Gundy highlighted just why they’re so hard to defend on Saturday after that 59-21 shellacking.

“Mason has done a nice job of spreading the ball around,” said Gundy. “When we have good skill guys, he’s responsible for delegating the ball to people based on what they give us. he did a good job of that with the exception of one time. That’s why we can spread it out and get multiple guys catches.

“We saw some heavy roll and play towards James Washington, and when that happens you have McCleskey in the middle of the field most of the time.”

As Thomas Fleming pointed out on Monday, Jalen McCleskey housed Pitt over and over again because Pitt had so much to worry about elsewhere, namely with The President. You aren’t going to stop going to him, obviously, because he makes plays like this.

But it’s going to be interesting to see how other teams match up against him. Do they roll somebody over like Pitt did, as Gundy pointed out, or do they put their best guy on No. 28 and buy some rosary beads?

In 2011, Oklahoma State went to Justin Blackmon over and over and over and over again because he was by far their best guy. That was enough. He was good enough to make it happen. Washington probably is, too, even with the double teams and rolled coverage. But why force the issue when your fifth-best guy is probably going to play in the NFL? That’s one of the reasons everything has looked so easy so far this year.

Gundy has said many times in the last few weeks that teams are usually going to do what they do because it’s hard to change what you do in a couple of days of preparation. As the first three games have proven, “doing what you do” against this team in this season is not likely to be enough unless you have pros on OSU’s pros throughout. That’s not going to happen very often, though, and as a result, Mason Rudolph is going to sit down to a feast every Saturday afternoon.

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