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OSU Offensive Power Rankings: Backs Jump Receivers in Week 1

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About a month before the season, I gave you my first edition of the positional power rankings, and several of those groups made me look like a buffoon. With that daily dose of self-deprecation, let’s try again. This time, we will look at specifically what each position added to Oklahoma State’s 59-24 season-opening win against Tulsa on Thursday and break it into two parts — offense and defense.

5. Cowboy Back (Previously: 5)

On the 53 snaps Mason Rudolph took at quarterback, he had a Cowboy Back on the field with him more than 58 percent of the time.

That stat was interesting considering the weekly questions coach Mike Gundy and offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich will face if they don’t go four- or five-wide all game. To their credit, they did well.

Gundy said their usage early this season was important.

“We needed to get them some quality work, so they could see themselves make mistakes and correct it at the pace the game’s played,” Gundy said. “We try to simulate as much as possible, but it’s really difficult to simulate the pace and your breathing and anxiety and emotions and such that happen in a game.”

There weren’t too many stats to report other than Sione Finefeuiaki’s one 5-yard snag, but he and Britton Abbott did an exceptional job blocking all night.

4. Offensive Line (Previously: 4)

It was unclear whether the success in the running game was because of the offensive line, the cowboy backs or the rushers themselves, but something was clicking unlike it had in years past.

The numbers and the tape reflect it. The holes the offensive line plowed were absolutely gaping at times, and that meant even Rudolph was going to gain yardage.

You can point to the sack-fumble before halftime as a blunder in the O-line’s play, but I (and Gundy) put that 100 percent on the quarterback when “he got out of his box,” Gundy said.

Again, outside of that one sack-fumble, there aren’t too many stats to report here that are outstanding. Gundy also cited Cochran’s miss on this play.

How crazy is it that OSU’s offense is so good that the unit that paved the way for 9 yards per carry ranks as its fourth-best unit?

3. Receiver (Previously: 1)

One player took the receivers down a few notches, and it wasn’t who almost anyone thought it might be. Jalen McCleskey had probably the worst game of his career Thursday, and it was hard to watch because he’s already proven how talented he is.

Highlighted by the punt fumble-touchdown, which shouldn’t count against the receivers but does, McCleskey couldn’t get anything going all night while James Washington, Marcell Ateman and Tyron Johnson were clicking like it was Week 8.

Here’s to forgetting all about McCleskey’s day at the office and hoping we never have to watch him run backward for a punt again!

J. Washington M. Ateman D. Stoner T. Johnson C. Lacy J. McCleskey L. Wolf Total
Targets 6 5 4 1 3 2 1 22
Catches 6 4 4 1 1 1 0 17
Yards 145 75 18 44 13 -2 0 293
TDs 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 3
2. Quarterback (Previously: 2)

The low ranking from the previous post had a lot to do with who was behind Mason Rudolph and not No. 2 himself.

This time around, it’s almost all but him, and he was phenomenal. Again.

Outside of one sack-fumble and two drops, Rudolph was quite seriously flawless. He made one underthrow while running to his left that fell harmlessly to the turf, but that was it.

Rudolph and Washington seemed to jump straight from San Antonio and their performance in the Alamo Bowl into Thursday night’s performance. They were remarkable.

M. Rudolph T. Cornelius Total
Att. 24 2 26
Comp. 20 1 21
Yards 303 5 308
TDs 3 0 3
QBH 1 0 1
Sacks 1 0 1
Fumb 1 0 1
1. Running Back (Previously: 3)

I was more wrong than a $3 bill on J.D. King and LD Brown.

Before the season started, I saw Justice Hill leading the way and the rest was up in the air. The loss of Chris Carson seemed huge, especially for a feature back who liked to run sideways before he hit a hole. The 15 pounds Hill put on in the offseason and the emergence of King particularly changed the game Thursday.

For the first time since 2012, OSU ran and passed for more than 300 yards each. Raise your hand if you saw that coming and then see Kyle Porter because you deserve a job.

J. Hill J.D. King L. Brown J. Wilson Total
Carries 15 6 5 5 31
Yards 132 95 92 8 327
Avg. 8.8 15.8 18.4 1.6 11.15
TDs 1 1 1 0 3
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