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Game 1 Grades: Running Backs Earn High Marks in Missouri State Blowout

Marshall Scott hands out report cards after OSU’s Week 1 win.



Oklahoma State’s win Thursday night was a thumping, but there are things the Cowboys can improve upon.

In all honesty, the game was a test in which OSU might not learn a lot, but it was good to get the testing experience nonetheless. Here are my grades from the Pokes’ 58-17 victory against Missouri State.

Taylor Cornelius: B-

This is kind of like a project you turn in that hits all the points on the grading rubric but still wasn’t anything spectacular. In his first start, Taylor Cornelius went 25-of-35 with 300 yards with five touchdowns and an interception.

If you were to only look at that stat line, you’d think he was incredible, but there were times he struggled. If you haven’t read it yet, Dustin Ragusa took a deep dive into Cornelius’ play. He got caught throwing off his back foot too often, which led to his interception. Still, it was a solid first start, but I’ll leave him some room for improvement.

Running backs: A+

My comparison for the running backs are the kids who ask you what you made on the test just to reveal they did way better on it than you after you answer.

Despite having superstar Justice Hill in for only a quarter, the OSU running backs accounted for 64 percent of the offense. The running backs had 357 of OSU’s 431 rushing yards and 112 of the 301 receiving yards. Surely we can’t keep such high levels or expectation on this group, right?

Offensive line: B+

Anytime a team rushes for more than 400 yards, the offensive line will probably get a pretty good grade. I’m no expert on offensive line technique, but Sam Mayes said he was impressed.

A worrying trend was the Cowboys’ struggles on the goal line. The Pokes should’ve been able to punch it in with ease but got stuffed a couple of times, forcing OSU to resort to a play action pass to Sione Fineuiaki and a sweep to Jalen McCleskey.

Defense: B+

I feel bad for combining the entire defense into one category, but, to me, it felt like a fluid group of 11 players rather than a set ‘Here are your linemen. Here are the linebackers, and this is the secondary.’ I now see what the players were talking about in fall camp with regard to the freedom new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles allows.

The five sacks were impressive. The constant pressure was great. Holding the Bears to 260 yards was nice, but I would’ve liked to see a turnover or two more.  The most troubling part for me was how much room Missouri State quarterback Peyton Huslig found to run. Huslig finished with 109 of the Bears’ 110 rushing yards, and that’s with him being sacked five times.

That’s an area the group will need to sure up before facing Kyler Murray or whichever quarterback Kansas State brings out.

Overall: B+

It feels weird giving a team who just throttled its opponent a B+, but it’s an admirable start to the season. The Cowboys were good and showed glimmers of greatness Thursday night. I’m not sure how much we really learned other than the confirmation we got with how good the running backs are and how Cornelius needs more experience. I expect the next week will be the same.

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