Photo Attribution: @eknielsen
After Thursday night’s OSU-Arizona game ,O’Colly sports editor Anthony Slater and I flooded each other’s inboxes with thoughts and ideas for this year’s squad, here’s what we came up with:
Anthony Slater: It finally seemed like football was back Thursday night. The opener was a little sluggish, for the team and the town. But it finally felt like the buzz and energy was back in Stillwater, and the team seemed to feed off of it. Defense continues to improve and the offense looks amazing. Thirty-seven points doesn’t seem indicative of the performance we saw Thursday night. That’s 24 points less than the opener, which is puzzling because they were clearly better in game two. I guess stats do lie sometimes. Plenty to talk about. Just wanted to get your initial reaction to the game.
Kyle Porter: I thought OSU barely looked like a top 20 team in the opener but turned around and looked like a top 8 team against Arizona.
They looked dominant in the way perennially powerful football schools look dominant. Blackmon and Weeden are completely on another level right now and it blows my mind that Weeden doesn’t get the love he deserves from the national media. I saw Heisman ballots being thrown around with the names B.J. Daniels and Tyler Bray on them. Are people for real with this stuff?
One thing that stood out to me on Thursday (besides the evolution of Joseph Randle and Blackmon’s video game moves of course) was the student section. Use any descriptive adjective you can find in the thesaurus for “lackluster” and that would be how I would define the crowd against Louisiana, why the shift on Thursday against Arizona?
Slater: Huge shift in the energy on Thursday night and I think it was due to a couple of factors. The opener was on a brutally hot day against a terrible team. OSU came out sleepwalking, knowing it could win with about 25% effort. The lack of energy seeped into the crowd. With every TV timeout, the long day of tailgating caught up with the student section more and more.
But Thursday, there was different kind of feeling surrounding the game. The Cowboys were still favored, but it was a Pac-12 team coming into Boone Pickens on national TV. Heavy tailgating didn’t begin until later in the day and it showed in the crowd. Plus, OSU came out with incredible energy. The defense was making plays, the offense looked as explosive as I’ve seen, and Blackmon pleaded for noise from the crowd.
But back to the game. You mentioned it a little, but I thought Joseph Randle was incredible. Coming into the season, the prevailing thought was split time between him and Smith. But Randle is clearly the No. 1, through no fault of Smith. I feel pretty comfortable saying he is one of the top 5-10 running backs in the nation. What have you thought of his early season performance?
Porter: Wow, top 5-10 is strong.
I want to see how he holds up being the No. 1 guy throughout a full Big 12 schedule before I go that far. I will say he’s one of the five most versatile backs in the country. His ability to run wheel routes, wait on a screen, or punch it up the middle is everything you want from your feature back. He kind of reminds me of Matt Forte in that way, it’ll serve him well at the next level.
I’ve been intrigued in how both have been used this year. I thought their carries would be evenly distributed throughout games but it seems like Gundy is intent on giving Randle the majority of the carries early and letting Smith close. And if there’s somebody that’s going to close harder and with more fervor than Jeremy Smith, then I want to see him.
He’s a luxury not many teams in the country have.
And speaking of luxuries…Boone was on hand on Thursday (as he always is) and he joined Rece in the booth to talk realignment and Aggies (ours and theirs). Are we cool with him being the unofficial spokesperson for OSU fans at large (not that your answer, or mine, is going to matter one way or the other)?
Slater: Yes, top 5-10 does seem like a strong statement, especially for how young he is. But like you said, you can’t get more versatile than Randle. Extremely valuable to the OSU offense because he does everything.
As for Boone, it is what it is. Money creates power, and that is what he’s got. Somebody asked me the other day why his opinion on conference realignment mattered. Some people might not like it, but his opinion is extremely important. There is no doubt he is in on the discussions with Holder and whoever else. And he should be. The only reason OSU is in such a good position during this conference realignment is because of the recent success of the athletic department, specifically the football team. Boone’s responsibility for that is well-documented. So what he said matters and if people keep asking for his opinion, then I’m sure he will keep giving it.
One thing I want to know from you. As a big OSU fan, two games into this season, are you more optimistic than you were when the season started? Less? About the same?
Porter: Great question, I guess that’s why they pay you the big bucks at the O’Colly, right?
I am generally a pessimistic fan when it comes to OSU. Not pessimistic, that’s the wrong word, but I try to be realistic about what certain teams can and can’t accomplish. Coming into the season though, I was completely bought in to this team playing in New Orleans in early January.
Then, after week 1, I was a little worried and I’ve since written that I probably shouldn’t have been considering the lone detractor from, as you put it, a celebration was one of the three best QBs in the country throwing a few picks. That’s a much smaller issue than say “Louisiana ran all over our defensive front.”
After week 2 though? I’m ECSTATIC. In ’09 after that team took care of Georgia there was this aura surrounding Stillwater that we could talk Big 12 and maybe even national titles. People were out of their minds. That all came hurtling back to earth shattering into a billion pieces after Case Keenum and some coordinator named Holgorsen laid it on them at Boone Pickens Stadium the following weekend. All that to say, that scenario would never happen with this year’s team.
This year’s team is deep and nasty and they can score whenever they want in any way they want. You’re right that the 37 points against the Wildcats didn’t tell the story. There wasn’t a second of that game that I thought OSU wasn’t going to win by at least three touchdowns.
So I’m back where I was going into the season as far as expectations go. That changes if they go to College Station and get a win though. Then I go into full-blown “my gosh we’re one-third of the way to perfection with only a Texas team who can’t find a QB, a not-as-good-advertised Mizzou team, and OU standing in our way” mode.
Speaking of national predictions, why isn’t Weeden getting any Heisman love…
You can visit the rest of this exchange (as if it wasn’t long enough already) at ocolly.com here.