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By the Numbers: OSU’s Rapid Pace Left Tulsa in the Dust



Oklahoma State got its season off to a quick start with a dominant performance over Tulsa in Week 1. The first quarter was the stuff dreams and had everyone looking up which bowls were hosting the semifinal games. But beyond the hyperbole and besides the flashy highlights and Tyron swag, what else can we glean from the season opener? Let’s take a look at the numbers.

OSU Drive Chart

The Cowboys scored on the opening three possessions while burning up all of 4:31 off the clock. The first was a methodical but blazing-fast eight plays for 74 yards that culminated in Tyron Johnson’s first catch for his first touchdown at OSU. Two more quick strikes and the game was set on its fixed trajectory. Zach Sinor got just two shots to build his faux Heisman case.

On the empty side of the glass, a boneheaded mistake from Mason Rudolph resulted in a strip sack and Jalen McCleskey’s attempt at the most ill-advised punt return I can remember ended with six points on the wrong side of the board. Matt Ammendola missed a 33-yard field goal attempt wide-left which Mike Gundy blamed on the sophomore getting in a hurry. Let’s hope Philly can slow down.

Here’s a look at OSU’s pertinent numbers
  • Points per drive (offense): 4.33
  • Points per drive (defense): 1.21
  • Yards per play: 10.2
  • Third-Down conversions: 5/9 (55.5%)
  • Average starting field position: own 30-yard line
  • Red-zone scoring: 4/5
  • Points off turnovers: 14
  • Time of possession: 23:20

The points-per-drive disparity was heavy in the Cowboys’ favor but could have been even more so had OSU not turned the ball over twice (giving up 10 points) and missed a short field goal. I want to say something smart like, “They won’t be able to get away with that against (insert team).” But I’m not actually sure. I’m not saying the needless giveaways should be ignored or that place kicker is not a concern. What I am saying is that this offense is really, really good and we knew that coming in. Let’s just not make a habit out of silly mistakes and I won’t have to be wrong.

Tulsa Drive Chart

You know the saying “If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one.”? Well, Philip Montgomery might empathize. He wouldn’t admit to anyone (and possibly himself) who his starting QB was until kickoff. President, Skipper, President. I’m not just recalling random proper titles of leadership. That’s Tulsa’s QB rotation.

With inexperienced leadership behind center and the passing game a work in progress, we all expected Tulsa to come out with an emphasis on the rushing attack. The Golden Hurricane finished 2016 as the eighth-best rushing team in the country with the Nos. 1 and 2 rushers in the AAC. No. 2 is back for 2017 — D’Angelo Brewer’s jersey number is 4 actually — and returns after a 1,435-yard, 7-TD season where he averaged 5.4 yards per carry. On Thursday night, Oklahoma State held him to 33 yards on 22 carries for a rough 1.5 average. Tulsa ended up averaging 4.1 yards per carry but that was a bit inflated due to a garbage-time run for 55 yards by Corey Taylor II. Glenn Spencer cracked exactly one and a half grins during postgame availability — that’s a good sign.

Here’s a look at Tulsa’s numbers
  • Points per drive (offense): 1.21
  • Points per drive (defense): 4.33
  • Yards per play: 4.4
  • Third-down conversions: 16/26 (61.5%)
  • Average starting field position: own 25-yard line
  • Red-zone scoring: 2/4
  • Points off turnovers: 10
  • Time of possession: 36:40

So Tulsa couldn’t stop Oklahoma State. No surprise there. But its 61.5 percent on third-down is somewhere between head-scratching and concerning. Especially when you consider that Tulsa was 5 of 10 on third-and-long and 5 of 8 on third down with at least 10 to go. It was also 1 of 2 on fourth down.

The Golden Hurricane actually started 0-for-4 on third-and-long until the second quarter when the score was 28-7. OSU’s defense then gave up five of the last six third-and-long situations. Like I said, it’s not ideal but it does fall into OSU’s lane of a “bend-don’t-break” defense. I’m not going to worry too much about it. If not for an unnecessary fumble by QB1 and a perplexing snafu by Jalen McCleskey, OSU wins the turnover battle 2-nil. I’ll take that, 1.1 points per drive and a 50-percent success rate on my opponent’s red-zone trips most days if I’m Spencer.

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