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OSU Offensive Positional Power Rankings: There Wasn’t Much Good in Loss to TCU



Most of the time when I write these power rankings, it’s hard to choose which position group had the best or worst game, and so far this season, it’s been for good reasons.

After Oklahoma State’s 44-31 home loss against TCU on Saturday, I had to write this for the bad reasons.

The Cowboys played one of their ugliest games in recent memory. There have been worse losses, like Central Michigan, and more devastating ones, like Bedlam in 2016, but against the Horned Frogs, nothing was pretty. For a normally beautiful offense, it was a disaster.

So let’s try to piece this all together:

5. Offensive Line (Previously: 5)

I want to put an asterisk next to this, but Mike Gundy wouldn’t agree with it.

Imagine losing James Washington and Marcel Ateman for the same game. We make so much about OSU’s receiver depth, but they wouldn’t play as well. Missing Zach Crabtree and Larry Williams off the right side of the offensive line is no different. They didn’t play as well.

Tevin Jenkins had as many sacks as the entire OSU defense Saturday, and Johnny Wilson didn’t make enough plays, like Gundy said he and Jenkins should have.

O-Line Stats vs. TCU
Rushing Yards 101
Rushing TDs 2
Passing Yards 398
Passing TDs 2
Sacks 3
QB Hurries 2
4. Quarterback (Previously: 1)

Mason Rudolph put in, at least statistically, one of the 10 worst performances of his OSU career Saturday, but it wasn’t completely his doing.

The Cowboys offensive line, as mentioned, did him few favors. The backs helped minimally. The receivers had flashes of the first three weeks but not enough to compensate for Rudolph’s bad outing.

Football players like to talk about “team wins.” It’s cliché as it gets. Well, this was a team loss. Rudolph headlined that group effort on the field because of the position he plays, but it wasn’t him alone.

And a team loss stands out a lot more than a team win.

Mason Rudolph Stats vs. TCU
Attempts 41
Completions 22
Yards 398
TDs 2
INTs 2
Fumbles 1
Rating 141.5
3. Cowboy Backs (Previously: 4)

The Cowboy Backs seemed to fly through the TCU game like a stealth fighter jet.

They came in, made nice blocks at times, and kept cruising. Their impact wasn’t felt like it has been so far in the 2017 season. In pass protection, Rudolph still had to scramble much more than he should have with an extra body in there, and in run support, there wasn’t enough push to hit any big slashes

Their contributions in the passing game has fallen off the map, probably by design with the run-pass option in heavy doses, which has relegated them to about 35 snaps a game to block.

Still though, a neutral performance is better than a negative one.

2. Running Backs (Previously: 3)

Justice Hill had several nice-looking runs, but he was overused. J.D. King carried 16 times against Pittsburgh (five more than Hill), and against TCU, he touched the ball once.

Hill was stymied throughout the game. The TCU defense was stout on its tackling, which meant, as Gundy put it, Hill was going to have trouble hitting home runs.

“When you slip off a block against good tacklers, you get a six-yard gain,” Gundy said. “If you slip off a block vs. a team that’s not as athletic as (TCU), you get a 60-yard gain.”

There were a few doubles though, particularly late in the game. As the TCU secondary backed off and the tackle box lightened up, Hill found more creases and more space to create missed tackles.

But it just wasn’t enough.

Stat Justice Hill J.D. King Total
Carries 25 1 26
Yards 102 7 109
Average 4.1 7 4.2
TDs 1 0 1
1. Receivers (Previously: 2)

It’s disheartening to see drops like Marcell Ateman’s on Rudolph deep ball, but this was a microcosm of the entire game — TCU covered Oklahoma State’s guys incredibly well, and they just couldn’t get quite enough separation.

As I wrote earlier this week, the receivers didn’t have a torrential day at Boone Pickens Stadium. They dropped three balls collectively and were missing one of their top guys in Chris Lacy, which put more pressure on Ateman and James Washington not only in performance but in snaps.

To say the receivers played as well as usual would be false though. There was an unquestionable dip in their play. Too often there wasn’t a sense of urgency at the end of their routes, which ended in tons of throwaways. Still, the receivers kept fighting.

Ateman and Dillon Stoner were targeted a lot down the stretch and came up with some nifty snags, but outside of Washington’s 86-yard score on the Cowboys second drive, the trademarked OSU explosion was more like one of those poppers you get for New Year’s.

Stat Washington Ateman McCleskey Stoner Wallace Total
Targets 7 10 9 4 1 31
Catches 6 6 4 3 0 19
Yards 153 100 79 39 0 371
Average 25.5 16.7 19.8 13 0 19.5
TDs 1 0 0 1 0 2
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