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Notebook: OSU Unable to Overcome Mistakes,Turnovers in Loss to TCU



The Cowboys suffered a season-opening loss to a ranked opponent but there was little to feel good about inside Boone Pickens Stadium. In one of the crazier and sloppier games I can remember. The Cowboys still had a chance late but seemed intent on watching it slip through their fingers.

Let’s break it down in the notebook.

• Rumors became reality when it was announced that the entire right side of the offensive line was out for the game, with starting right guard Larry Williams out for the season with a broken leg. Teven Jenkins came in performed admirably for his age/experience level but the Cowboys’ senior Heisman candidate rarely had a clean pocket. Pass protection wasn’t elite before the loss of Crabtree/Williams but took a nose dive on Saturday.

• Kenny Hill walked out on the turf and completed his first six passes as TCU marched right down Lewis Field on its opening drive. OSU held the Frogs to a field goal which was one of just a few moral victories for Glenn Spencer’s crew early.

• TCU’s opening-possession score was the first OSU has given up in the first quarter so far this year. We had really hyped up this defense based on play against some bad offenses. I think we kind of knew that, but this really rubbed our noses in it. And I don’t think TCU is a “great” Big 12 offense. Hill was effective, but OSU’s defense bailed him out several times with missed assignments and costly penalties.

• TCU was 6 for 6 in the red zone with three touchdowns and three field goals.

• This was not one of the better games of Mason Rudolph’s career, but not all of the blame falls on his shoulders. TCU played the pass perfectly and most of the mistakes that weren’t attributed to poor protection were caused by great coverage. Several times he had no where to throw. A couple times that cost him a turnover.

• Mason Rudolph got “out of his box” on a couple of plays. He was chased down for a strip sack after he should have thrown it away. Then there was the head-scratching interception to TCU defensive tackle Chris Bradley. Both turnovers turned into touchdowns for the Frogs.

• Mike Yurcich got out of his box on one play in particular. With the Cowboys driving down the field late and with a chance to score and bring the game with in six, Rudolph through a backwards pass to his junior slot receiver. McCleskey threw a tight spiral… to TCU safety Nick Orr.

I will never understand why you don’t hand it to Justice Hill or let your record-setting QB make a play. I understand that if it had worked we’d have done a separate post about how amazing it was and praised the gambler in Yurcich. But it didn’t work, and the risk was not worth it. The offense was 4 of 4 in the red zone all game and you were at the 23-yard line on first down.

• OSU started the game with five-straight running plays and threw one pass on third and long before punting. Someone joked in our Slack chat that Gundy had taken over play-calling duties. Maybe he wanted to hide away his gem from Shippensburg. In the first half, OSU threw it 14 times to 16 rushes. In the second, while mostly down multiple TDs, the Cowboys threw it 28 times to 15 rushes.

• The Cowboys fell victim to a couple of head-scratching calls and none more damning than the fumble recovered in the end zone that should have been a touchback but pushed TCU’s lead from 10 to 17 toward the end of the third quarter.

Do those seven points make a difference at the end? Absolutely. But with the ease TCU had been moving the chains to that point, I didn’t think it was a game-breaker then, and I have a hard time giving it that much credit now.

• A lot of props go to Gary Patterson who took away what the Cowboys like to do in the passing game. He was aided by the O-line injuries but I think he called one hell of a game. It’s okay to concede that TCU’s defense was good will simultaneously picking apart OSU’s flaws.

• I still don’t understand what happened during TCU’s second possession. A muffed punt became a an illegal touching or maybe holding call… And then there were some phantom sky cam wires interfering with Kenny Hill’s lame duck?

• Head-scratching mistakes littered this game. With OSU down 7-6 early in the second, another penalty — a facemask against Calvin Bundage — gave TCU another first down and Darius Anderson scored a 28-yard touchdown on the very next play to give TCU the 13-7 lead.

• Penalties hamstrung the Cowboy defense in the first half. OSU was flagged for six fouls for 60 yards without a single call against TCU. What’s worse, it seemed like every single one gave TCU’s offense a shot in the arm. Twice OSU was called for a penalty that converted a third down for the Frogs. TCU drew four late flags to make this feel a little less like a lopsided visit to Allen Fieldhouse.

• Special teams matter.

• OSU got an interception by Tre Flowers just when it needed it, down 20-10 and with TCU approaching the red zone. It should have been a huge momentum play for the Cowboys. Unfortunately, they went three and out.

• With just over seven minutes remaining in the game, OSU forced its own first three-and-out and its first official punt. The muffed/holding/no one knows what happened punt early was called back due to that OSU penalty.

• There were several “the game was over when…” moments I jotted down to write about but OSU kept finding ways to get back in it. After the red-zone interception, the Cowboys came back again and after McCleskey caught a 34-yard pass to TCU’s 3-yard line, were able to score.

Then OSU’s defense had a chance to get the ball back with TCU in third and 4 with two and half minutes remaining before watching Darius Anderson score his third touchdown of the day.

• The problem with praising the resiliency of this team is that I still think this team was too good to be down 20 points at home. There is nothing gained by hanging your hat on “we had a chance at the end.” This team and program should be far past that. It’s a good thing Pistol Pete only carries a six-shooter because OSU unloaded the whole thing into its foot.

• TCU is now 2-4 against Oklahoma State since it joined the Big 12 in 2012. The one previous win was a a 42-9 drumming the Frogs put on that 2014 OSU team in Fort Worth. There were times when this game reminded me of that game. This was the Frogs’ first win in Stillwater since 1991 when Gundy was the quarterbacks coach at OSU.

What’s next? As hard as it is to see right now, OSU still has a lot to play for this season. And there isn’t much time to hang head. Starting tomorrow, OSU has to prepare for what could be a fluky Saturday night game in Lubbock next week. Let’s hope we see what a pissed off Mason Rudolph and Co. can do with an appetite for tortillas.

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