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Notebook: OSU’s Offense Burns it on Both Ends



The Cowboys took care of business against a lesser foe in their season opener — just like we thought they wouldn’t. Let’s jump into the notebook.

• Oklahoma State got off to about a fast of a start as you could hope for, marching straight down the field. Rudolph was perfect going 4 of 5 for 66 yards and a Tyron Johnson’s first TD in orange. The next two possessions brought the next two scores and OSU sprinted to a 21-0 lead early.

• Tyron is going to be a star. It took just one target for his 44-yard touchdown. He also recorded one rush for 11 yards.

• Mason Rudolph was great other than a fumble, but we won’t blame this one on glove size. He started his assault on OSU’s record books going 20 or 24 for 303 yards and three passing TDs plus one on the ground. He was as good as you could have asked for minus one questionable throw that Marcell Ateman reached out a grabbed from a defender. The Heisman trophy was brought up a lot during the telecast.

• Speaking of records, Rudolph passed Mike Gundy to climb into the third spot in career touchdowns at OSU. At 58, he’s now eight shy of Zac Robinson and 17 away from Weeden. He’s also now passed for 9,000 now and is closing in on all the big ones — career passing yards, passing TDs, total TDs. You get the picture, and his will be emblazoned on the front of OSU’s record book.

• A tale of two quarters. OSU was almost perfect for the first 20 or so minutes of the game but had a couple of sloppy mistakes in the second that allowed Tulsa to sort of creep back into the game. But it never felt like a contest. What does that tell us? Is Tulsa just rebuilding and not that good? Probably, but what I wanted to learn about this team had less to do with Tulsa and more to do with OSU. And I was pleasantly surprised.

• Do you remember how fulfilling it was when Justice Hill and Chris Carson combined for 334 yards rushing against TCU last year? It was the first time since 2013 that two Cowboys hit triple-digit rushing totals in one game. Halfway through the third quarter Justice Hill had 132 yards on 15 carriers and J.D. King had 95 on six, each with a touchdown. Enter LD Brown who rushed five times for 92 yards and a score. OSU was very close to having three 100-yard rushers in one game. That’s only happened twice in OSU history (in 2007 and 2008). And only one by three tailbacks.

Name Rushing Yards Yards Per Carry TDs
Justice Hill 132 8.8 1
J.D. King 95 15.8 1
LD Brown 92 18.4 1
As a Group 319 12.3 3

• This was just the second time since 2013 that OSU has rushed for more yards (332) than they passed for (308). The other was that TCU game last year. Balance. Mike Gundy dreams of days like this.

• The offensive line played well, I think. Aaron Cochran is still huge. The tackles got tested a little by Tulsa edge rushers. There were a couple of penalties but we can chalk that up to rust, I guess. Mason Rudolph’s jersey was bright orange at the end of the night — other than one snafu that Mike Gundy blamed on his QB — and OSU almost had an historic rushing night. Can’t ask for much more than that from you OL.

• Jalen McCleskey did not have his best game. He caught one of two targets for minus-2 yards. But the worst part was the punt return that shouldn’t have been. It was a disaster especially considering the field position. Let’s let “Lil’ Show” be the best slot receiver in the Big 12 and give Stoner a shot on punts.

• Ask me if I would rather have the team come out flat or commit a couple mental errors in a season opener against Tulsa. I’m taking the latter. OSU came out aggressive and stuck it to TU which is all I could have asked for. I fully expect Taylor Cornelius to take second-quarter snaps in Mobile next week.

• James Washington had a fantastic night. He caught all six of the balls thrown to him for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Rudolph spread the ball around — eight receivers caught a pass — but Washington still dominated and made the most of his targets.

• Which brings us to the first in what will be a weekly part of our notebook. The countdown. James Washington is now 1,346 yards short of Rashaun Woods’ career record at OSU of 4,414 receiving yards.

• Cowboy Back Britton Abbott saw reps as the lead blocker on a few run plays. Then Sione Finefeuiaki got some burn and even caught a 5-yard pass on his only target. Joe Davis and Brady Quinn struggled with his name all night.

• Kenneth Edison-McGruder’s 82-yard fumble return touchdown was the fourth-longest fumble return in school history.

• Speaking of KEM, what a dude. And what a game. He had five tackles (four solo), one sack, one pass breakup and that 82-yard scoop and score. He also should have had an interception that would have been returnable. He’s a star in both meanings.

• And speaking of the defense, KEM and his fellow linebackers were all over the place. Chad Whitener had seven tackles and a QB hurry and was playing outside of his helmet. I’m pretty sure he was screaming at some poor Golden Hurricane (?) like a psycho between plays — while up by 20. LBs may not be the strength of this defense but they are the driving force.

• Ramon looked comfortable in his new role at safety. Comfortable like someone who has just been playing out of position for four years. He had three solo grabs and a tackle for loss.

• Tre Flowers somehow is quietly the loudest man on this defense. And he is a man. He led the team with eight tackles and added a pass breakup.

• Jerel Morrow got some reps in the second half and I thought he played pretty well. Freshman Thabo Mwaniki got some burn and was able to get his feet wet. I think the Cowboys will be even deeper at safety over the next 2-3 years than they have in a while.

• At corner, we saw some good and a little bad. Overall, the young guys get an A- in my book. Madre Harper got a pass inference called, and there were a couple of chunk plays allowed but I thought they covered well. A.J. Green and Rodarius Williams played well. Nothing to inflate their stock but, most importantly, nothing to make us lower our preseason expectations.

• The defensive ends didn’t do a ton to excite me but I don’t know if they have the star power to do that week in and week out this year. What they do have is depth and we saw several guys mix it up.

• At defensive tackle, Darrion Daniels had a couple tackles and a tackle for loss. DeQuentin Osborne pitched in five tackles and two TFL. Enoch Smith Jr. made a play or two. Trey Carter looked good in his new role in the interior with a forced fumble and tackle for loss.

• This win pushes Oklahoma State’s record against its other in-state foe to 41-28-5. But it hasn’t been that close in a while. OSU has now won six straight and nine of the last 12 dating back to 1992. Half of Tulsa’s wins over the Cowboys came from 1934 to 1952 when they won 14 of 19.

• A not-so-flattering statistic that I ran across between these two teams — NFL draft picks. Tulsa has had 169 players selected in the NFL Draft all time. Oklahoma State? 157. I guess you can look at that one of two ways. Either Gundy (and former coaches) have gotten the most out of less talent or the obvious stance that the Cowboys should be getting better players.

• Next up is a trip to Mobile to face South Alabama next Friday at 7:00 p.m. CDT.

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