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It Doesn’t Matter If OSU Is Bad at Running the Ball, That’s What It Is Going to Do

Like it or not, this is the 2015 offense.



I stood at my desk on Saturday with my mouth agape as I listened to what Mike Gundy told ESPN coming out of halftime. “We went away from running the football,” said Gundy on national television about why OSU faltered in the second quarter.


Then he said it again after the game (watch for yourself at 2:15 in this video).

“Early in the game we were able to throw it because we were popping a few runs in there. It doesn’t take the smartest guy to figure out that if you’re not running the ball at all, it makes it difficult to throw.”

Apparently it does.

Here are Oklahoma State’s runs and passes for the first five drives.

First two drives: 6 rushes for 11 yards | 8 passes for 119 yards | 14 points
Next three drives: 13 rushes for 45 yards | 11 passes for 73 yards | 3 points

So you went away from passing the ball down the field. You ran it twice as much on the next three drives as you did on the first two. Then in the second half OSU threw it 16 times and ran it 27. Take away the 98-yard drive and the Pokes gained 67 yards after halftime. Throw it in and they only gained 160. That’s not good.

“Offensively, we actually ran the ball a little better than what I thought,” said Gundy on Monday.

OSU averaged 2.2 yards per carry.

“We had three plays where we got hit behind the line for a yard or two. I guess that kind of clouded my image of the plays where we had six, eight or 10-yard runs. I felt a little bit better about that situation.”


I understand on a philosophical level why OSU doesn’t throw it more (I don’t love it, but I understand it).

But if the game plan is what we think it is, you have to on a fundamental level find a way to make your running game or the super short passing game that looks like the running game at least average. Otherwise, you can kiss 10 wins goodbye. Everybody knows that.

The Pokes are averaging a paltry 4.12 yards per carry this season, good for No. 87 in the country. We have a big enough sample size to know they’re just not very good at running the ball the way they’re currently doing it (notably: up the middle and without much success). So it’s time to figure out how to game plan around that.

Here’s the thing, this is what Mike Gundy trusts. I don’t think he actually liked Dana and Monken flinging it all over the park every weekend. Look at the play breakdown by year (I highlighted the Dana/Monken years).[1. These are non-garbage time numbers only.]

Pass Rush
2005 227 278
2006 280 387
2007 300 419
2008 283 386
2009 297 401
2010 449 327
2011 471 229
2012 401 355
2013 402 354
2014 344 358
2015 87 94

Look at the direction this thing is trending. That’s fine. That’s Gundy’s prerogative and it actually might be a smart one. The problem is what do you do when the run game is not working? Plan B seems to be “try harder” instead of “try different.” Put J.W. in and run it more instead of leave Mason in and spread it out.

What if your best players are not your offensive guards but your slot receivers and quarterback? At some point, the risk of turning it over by throwing it is less than the risk of gaining zero yards every play by running it up the middle, right?

I understand that Mason Rudolph is not Brandon Weeden, but this team’s insistence on balance and rushing the ball up the middle like we’re Wisconsin can be infuriating because we have about 16 quarters of evidence that it doesn’t work.

You don’t have to be Baylor, but you also don’t have to audition for the Big 10 either. That fourth quarter in Austin was an abomination on offense. Trot that out against West Virginia and OU and you’re going to get smoked.

Like Carson said in our podcast, this offense has Gundy’s fingerprints all over it. Robert Whetsell noted that here as well. That’s never been a great thing in the past. I don’t think it is this time either. There’s just not a ton of innovation.

Like many of you voted in the poll on Tuesday, I don’t think they’ll be able to solve it either.

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 9.56.44 AM

Gundy told Robert Allen last Saturday he knows how to fix it. Does that mean different offensive linemen? The Patriots style of dumping passes to RBs and treating them as runs? Going deep right off the bat? Something has to change or Gundy’s plan of running the ball and generating turnovers isn’t going to work.

I’m in on not having to get to 5th or 6th gear on offense to win the Big 12. I’ve been talked into that. Maybe they’d be better off throwing it every down, maybe not. Whatever the case, they’re not going to do it.

But Gundy’s plan hinges on whether you can actually, you know, run the ball effectively.

I’m not convinced OSU can.

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