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Grades: OSU’s Offensive Line Emerged as an A+ Group Against West Virginia

On change, the o-line and red zone offense



[Bruce Waterfield/OSU Athletics]

Throw these Pokes a pizza party.

Isn’t that what we all got growing up in school when we met an academic or fundraiser goal as a class? If we met some set number or goal, then the principal would order pizza and we got to celebrate during what would have been normal class time for learning.

Oklahoma State traveled across the country to Morgantown and left with its third straight win after beating West Virginia 48-34 on Saturday. The performance was the Cowboys’ highest point total since early last season against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Almost reaching 50 points seemed unimaginable when the Sun Belt’s South Alabama was holding OSU to a single touchdown just over a month ago.

However, maybe we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves since the second half of the season is barely here and four weeks ago we were questioning if OSU would make a bowl game or even win another game. It’s always possible for that team to walk out the tunnel, as much as I believe those days are in the past. Maybe a pizza party will be needed next week if bowl eligibility is reached after that seemed like a dream in September.

Here are grades for OSU’s win at West Virginia that has me all in on the 2023 Cowboys’ turnaround.

Change: A+

Most of us usually hate change, but that’s the only thing all Cowboy fans agreed on wanting at the end of September when OSU had just lost two straight and looked destined for maybe the worst season under Mike Gundy. But things changed, even if no one was fired like the forum keyboarders were yelling for in all caps.

Three quarterbacks were rotated rather evenly, but now, Alan Bowman is the guy. The running backs were rotating just as much, but now, Ollie Gordon has not only taken control of the backfield but has emerged as one of the best backs in the country. The offensive line couldn’t keep FCS and Sun Belt teams out of the backfield, but now, the big guys didn’t allow a single sack Saturday. The play calling was bland and ignoring top playmakers, but now, Gordon and Brennan Presley have their fingerprints all over the ball and the offense is even fun to watch execute what’s drawn up. The defense didn’t just bend, but shattered under pressure, but now, those guys are forcing turnovers and changing the ending of games.

The greatest change was that the Pokes started winning instead of losing, or at least not struggling with lackluster competition.

A man who coached his 238th game Saturday, Gundy commanded change. With that much experience, you know a guy knows what he’s doing, but that also makes change that much more difficult. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and Gundy is a man well beyond 40 now. But his narrative about NIL, his offensive schemes and his plans changed, at least from what we can tell.

All this change starts with the guy in charge. So a tip of the visor to Mike Gundy and the execution of change.

Offensive Line: A+

I’m going to praise this group of men as much as I can after the narrative (and rightfully so) they endured the last two years.

Gundy was publicly vocal about how bad the O-line was last year. And nothing had seemed to have changed the first four games of the season.

Saturday, though, the big men up front were outstanding. Ollie Gordon is spectacular, but no running back can become one of the best in the country without solid blocking up front.

Gundy gages O-line and run-game success by yards per attempt — targeting a 4-4.5 yard average. The Cowboys averaged 8.5 yards a carry against West Virginia. More so, Bowman was never sacked by the Mountaineers and was hurried only twice.

Red Zone Offense: B

Although the offense had improved tremendously, red-zone production was still a problem two weeks ago against Kansas State, even with the uptick in production. The Cowboys have looked much better inside 20-yard line the last two games, though still not perfect.

Saturday, OSU was 5-for-6 in the red zone, with Alex Hale missing a field goal. However, points at all in the red zone wasn’t the main hiccup, but getting into the end zone instead of settling for field goals. The Cowboys found pay dirt three of their six red zone trips against the Mountaineers. That was the same as last week against Kansas, but instead OSU was 6-for-6 without a missed field goal.

For comparison, the Cowboys scored only one touchdown from inside the red zone two weeks ago against K-State in six opportunities.

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