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Grades: Offense Fails, Collin Oliver Earns OSU’s MVP

On the offensive situation, run game and Collin Oliver



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

After a performance like Oklahoma State had in its 33-7 loss to South Alabama on Saturday, in the teaching world we would immediately change lesson plans and start remediation. But during the college football season, there’s no chance for a redo and hardly time to reteach.

The Cowboys are still trying to find out what the heck they’re doing while rotating at nearly every position and still struggling to run the football with Big 12 play now here.

Here are the grades for maybe OSU’s worst outing of the Mike Gundy era.

Offensive Situation: F

I didn’t put just offense here because it’s more about the situation surrounding that side of the ball, not the performance.

Wins in the first two weeks were enough to earn a passing grade, but the seeds for what happened Saturday were there. Marshall and I both wrote last week about all the rotations and how maddening it was. It was more than just maddening this week, though– it was a failure.

No matter who’s at quarterback, or any position for that matter, players cannot succeed right now with how OSU’s offense is being handled. Gunnar Gundy became the first OSU quarterback this season to play in more than four drives. On Gunnar’s fifth possession, the Cowboys scored for the first (and only) time all game in the fourth quarter. Then he was pulled for Garret Rangel, who got only two drives that were both three-and-outs in desperation time.

Maybe it’s just by eye test and history, but Ollie Gordon and Brennan Presley appear to be the best playmakers OSU has on this team. Gordon got only three carries, which he took for 12 yards. Presley was targeted three times with two catches for eight yards. As one of the most versatile players in the country, outside of returns, Presley didn’t have any additional touches because of plays designed around his ability.

I saw talk that it’s the Jimmys and Joes, not the Xs and Os, but in this state, I’m not sure players are even getting a chance to make a difference in a game for OSU.

Collin Oliver: A+

Despite the outcome, Collin Oliver was still Collin Oliver.

Oliver was everywhere on defense all night (literally) and really the only noticeable bright spot throughout the loss. He led OSU with 10 tackles, five of which were solo. He and Kendal Daniels were the only Cowboys to tally a sack and tackle for loss, as both recorded one of each. Oliver also forced a fumble and had a pass breakup.

I’d deem Oliver this game’s MVP for OSU.

Run Game Execution: F

OSU started the game with six straight passes as if it was already down 23-0 late in the game.

Granted, South Alabama entered the game with one of the worst pass defenses in the country and filled the box, but the Cowboys have started the past two games with nothing but pass plays on their first drive. That seems odd for a team putting an emphasis on establishing the run.

Even outside of that first drive, OSU’s run game was never really given a chance to get going, even before it had to be in a hurry to catch up. Gunnar Gundy had the most carries with 10, most of which were scrambles.

Ellijah Collins got nine carries for 31 yards to lead OSU in rushing. I already mentioned Gordon’s three carries, and Jaden Nixon got five carries for 23 yards, including a two-yard touchdown. Not enough opportunity for any of them to get going, especially since each of their carries were dispersed throughout the game.

Ultimately, the Cowboys finished with 94 rushing yards, averaging 3.2 yards an attempt. Mike Gundy said this week he’d like to be at the 4-4.5 yard a carry mark.

This running game issue also probably goes with that offensive situation failure I mentioned above, but the run game game has been a problem since last year and we heard all offseason about its improvements.

Part of those improvements were supposed to be schematic changes, which we’ve seen very rarely so far. When OSU finally did line up under center with a full back in I-formation, Nixon scored the two-yard touchdown on a play he ran outside when a motioned receiver brought the cornerback in. Outside of those rare occurrences, it feels like it has been the same ole same ole.

Nothing will change for OSU’s run game until something, well, changes.

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