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Depleted Offensive Line Exacerbates OSU’s Offensive Struggles in TCU Loss



In need of a fire-starting second half, offensive line replacement Teven Jenkins sacked Mason Rudolph for a loss of 7. Yes, you read that correctly.

Jenkins obviously didn’t mean to. He was just trying to trace his defender’s steps after Rudolph eluded the rush, much like Rudolph didn’t mean to throw an interception on a screen pass a snap later.

No. 6 Oklahoma State suffered an unexpected 44-31 loss against TCU on Saturday at home, and one of the big reasons was because the Cowboys were missing the entire right side of their offensive line. With right tackle Zach Crabtree out for Week 4 and right guard Larry Williams out for the season, the inexperience gave Rudolph much less time. That meant much fewer of the successful deep balls that have made the OSU offense more famous than Eskimo Joe’s.

Coach Mike Gundy said the O-line didn’t protect as well as it needed to at times. He said Jenkins and Johnny Wilson “gotta make plays,” and that “there’s nothing we can do about that.” Nevertheless TCU finished with three sacks, two interceptions and what seemed like at least two dozen more than the two hurries the stats reflected.

Gundy said the Cowboys had a good week of practice and expected his team to play well against the No. 16 Horned Frogs. They didn’t, but he said he wasn’t caught off guard by how poorly they played, regardless of how the week went.

“When you have 22 guys on the field, if you have six or eight of them that are inexperienced and young, nothing surprises me in college football,” Gundy said.

“They can go out and play really good, and you can come back and watch the tape and you’re like, ‘Wow.’ And then they can make mistakes and you’re looking at it going, ‘How did they do that?'”

OSU gave significant time, as TCU anticipated, to six freshmen and seven sophomores. Some of those guys have experience, like Justice Hill and Marcus Keyes, but others, like Jenkins and Wilson, don’t.

Throw that on top of how TCU covered the Cowboys’ receivers, and it ended up as a recipe for disaster offensively. The real trouble came when it was clear that the defense wasn’t going to stop Kenny Hill and the Frogs’ run game.

“Their safeties play high,” Gundy said. “And then we weren’t able to run the ball as effectively. It’s a simple process. If they’re gonna play off, then we gotta run the ball. If you can’t run the ball and they’re playing off, then you gotta be really good on the underneath stuff, and we did hit a lot of that.

“But not enough when we were in catch-up mode.”

The OSU passing offense finished Saturday with only two completions of more than 30 yards. For context, there were seven last week, which makes you wonder why Pitt couldn’t figure it out and why offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich didn’t attack the middle of the field more.

“One, they cover well,” offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said. “And two, they did a nice job mixing in their coverages to where at times they gave us run boxes with numbers. We had to take advantage of those. We had to stay patient, and we had to move the chains.”

“They did a good job executing,” Yurcich said. “We didn’t execute as well. They did job calling it. I didn’t call it as well. Those combinations are ingredients for what happened today.”

He’s right about the mixed coverages.

“When they go fast, and Mason Rudolph gets hot, you gotta maintain him,” said TCU coach Gary Patterson. “You’re not gonna stop him. We changed more coverages than I have changed in a while.”

As for QB1, Rudolph said they need to have more intermediate pass success and took the blame for that. He also noted that he’s already looking forward to next week at Texas Tech when he thinks OSU will be “as explosive as ever.”

Few have doubts about that.

“We took a lot of chances and took a lot of downfield shots that sometimes weren’t there,” Rudolph said. “We’ll make those plays nine out of 10 times. I’m confident in our guys and our playmakers.”

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