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Missouri State Debriefing: On Chuba and What Went Right with Special Teams

Examining some of the other talking points from OSU-Missouri State.



The final score of Oklahoma State’s season opener against Missouri State was as predictable as the pregame line at the new Curty Shack in the west end zone. But there was more to the story than just long runs and sailed deep balls. So let’s debrief the Cowboys’ Week 1 win over the Bears.

The Short Story

The Cowboys scored early and often and buttered their bread on the turf. Justice Hill got the first four touches of the game and then grabbed some chunk yardage before parking his helmet at the end of Quarter 1.

The Cowboys looked aggressive on defense early, but gave up a couple too many third-and-longs and GOD HELP US WHEN THEY FACE A MOBILE D1 QB!

The defense stood up and the offense kept scoring and little was in doubt by sundown. That’s mostly what you’d like to see from a game like this.

Who Earned a ‘Patriot Pete’ sticker?
Offense: Chuba Hubbard

John Woznkiak could have doled out gold stars all around OSU’s running back group, but I’m saluting this Canadian speedster for what he did when he wasn’t on offense during his highly-anticipated debut.

We’ve been calling for a difference maker in the return game since 2015 all offseason and when OSU’s depth chart included only U.S. citizens at either returner position, I wondered where all the Chuba hype had #GONE.

Then in the third quarter, Hubbard trotted into the end zone, snatched this kick off the bounce and gave us all a little taste of what he can do.

I know, it’s not exactly Perrish Cox in Bedlam or Barry Sanders returning the opening kick for 6, but watching Hubbard weave, stutter-step and glide through the crowd — and knowing what he could do once he gets a seam — is plenty reason for optimism. I hereby request that the two-deep be altered before South Alabama.

Hubbard also was effective, if not fun, in his seven carries going for 42 more yards on the ground. He led all Cowboys with 149 all-purpose yards. This is a perfect microcosm of what he can be for OSU. Think Tyreek Hill, but with the depth in the backfield and upfront to use him properly.

Also receiving votes: Justice Hill, Jalen McCleskey, Tylan Wallace, LD Brown

Defense: Trey Carter

I am taking off my Calvin Bundage fan hat momentarily to give props to the fifth-year senior Trey Carter for a very solid showing in Week 1. I don’t know that we can look too deep into any stats against Missouri State, but Carter was active all night which led to his three solo tackles, a QB hurry and this sack.

That’s some deft running for a 300-pounder. The Cowboys earned four sacks with Bundage, Jordan Brailford and Jarrell Owens also chipping in. But they need a playmaker from the middle of the defense and Carter has a chance to be that guy.

Interesting note: Carter’s six QB hurries in 2017 tied with his new D-line coach Greg Richmond among others for the third-best season in OSU history.

Also receiving votes: Calvin Bundage, Jordan Brailford, Rodarius Williams

Up-and-Down Special Teams Outing

One of the biggest areas that needed improvement last season came in the form of a nearly-last placed finished in special teams rankings … nationally. The Cowboys didn’t exactly put Mike Gundy’s mind at ease in that department in Game 1.

Twice, by Kemah Siverand and Devin Harper, OSU was called for an illegal block in the back on punt returns. And Matt Ammendola missed an extra point attempt late.

But the Cowboys might have found a kick returner or two in Chuba Hubbard and LD Brown ? and redshirt freshman Jake McClure surely earned a pat on the back from Gundy after planting nine of his 10 kickoffs in the opposite end zone. Those nine touchbacks and the 90 percent rate represent the best outing by OSU on either front in any single game since 2012. And he didn’t even need the new fair-catch rule to get them.

Questions for Week 2

We haven’t even gotten into Taylor Cornelius’ struggles from his first career start. Sure, the Cowboys put up a bazillion yards, and sure, he threw for five touchdowns. But for OSU to be a contender in this league, it will need more from its QB.

I don’t want to go too far down the road of chastising Cornelius, because it was his first game and I think it’s easy to overreact (either way) in these things.

Can Cornelius calm down and settle in? Is Mike Gundy’s claimed lack of angst well-founded (or even true)? Can Cornelius be crisper, make better decisions? And can he hit the danged long ball!? Those are things OSU needs to find out before its Week 3 matchup with Boise State. If not, it might be time to look to give Dru Brown a look.

Play of the Game

There were several buzzworthy replays cast across the sky by OSU’s new menacing video board on Thursday night, but we’ll let Chuba take this one since it was his first career score as a Cowboy.

So much for any fears that Chuba was just fast. If I can overreact to one thing from Thursday night, it’s that Chuba has good field vision, wiggle and elusiveness to go along with that world-class speed.

Runners Up

LD Brown’s 77-yard score generated plenty of buzz, even despite the lopsided scoreboard that was heavily leaning OSU’s favor.

Jalen McCleskey’s 18-yard TD catch was pretty great. McCleskey led the team in catches and targets, and none of his six receptions were as impressive as this one.

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