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Ranking the units: Linebackers dominate

Linebackers and defensive line rule the roost so far in 2013.



Photo Attribution: USATSI

Photo Attribution: USATSI

The season will be half over when OSU plays on Saturday and I wanted to use the break to rank the different facets of OSU’s team thus far. Let’s dive in…

1. Linebackers

You could make a decent argument that Caleb Lavey and Shaun Lewis have been the best players on this team through five games, and not just because of the K-State game.

2. Defensive line

Let’s step back and take a look at what I just wrote. If you were a fan of OSU in the 1990s and you were capable of time travel and you came to 2013 and found this blog you would just lose your mind over the fact that OSU’s defensive line and linebackers are its two best units.

You would also probably lose your mind that there are two OSU blogs and three message boards solely dedicated to providing you news about Oklahoma State sports 24/7.

Actually you would also probably lose your mind that there’s an Internet.

3. Secondary

Another victim of the yards per game fallacy. OSU’s secondary has been pretty good this year. It’s fourth in the conference in yards per attempt (6.1) and only two teams have faced more passes than it has. It also has the second most interceptions in the Big 12 (9) but that’s likely just a product of being passed on a lot.

We are three units in and still nothing from the offense!

4. QBs

It’s a little bit scary that QBs ranks this high on the list but who would you put ahead of them? The receivers have more drops than Snoop in 2004, the running backs are on pace for 959 yards combined, the punt/punt return unit has been all right but the 13-yard and 16-yard punts are sticking with me (call me crazy). I know Walsh hasn’t been elite but he hasn’t gotten much help from his allegedly great wide receivers either.

If he gets a few catches in Morgantown and Stewart doesn’t drop that bomb two weeks ago, I think we’re looking at his season in a different light.[1. Again, for the 1,000th time, his inability to stretch the field is a huge problem and probably really pisses off his offensive line but everybody else has been so bad that I don’t know who to rank ahead of him.]

5. Receivers

For as deep as this unit is supposed to be, Gundy sure does keep talking about how OSU hasn’t been going fast because its receiving unit isn’t deep enough. I know they’ve had injuries but so did they 2011 and 2012 teams.

Plus, who’s the go-to guy? Josh Stewart? So the guy averaging 66 yards a game in an air raid offense is your go-to dude on the last drive of the game when you need a touchdown?

It seems like having eight receivers who are all equally talented would be better than a clear hierarch of three (like OSU did in 2011) but it’s seemed to have the opposite effect. Also, Blake Jackson has 98 yards. On the year. Total.

6. Punting/punt returning

This is 29 yards worth of punts.

7. Kicking/kick returning

This is, essentially, a missed extra point.

Grogan has the second-worst FG percentage in the conference (the guy who’s last is Baylor’s kicker and he’s 2-4). But at least we’re covering those kickoffs better! No, really, this is a good thing — first in the conference in kick coverage…sixth in kick returns though.

8. Offensive line

I actually feel like this story is somehow getting underplayed. Everybody is so used to Joe Wickline throwing out an O-line that’s the college football equivalent to the secret service so when it doesn’t happen we all throw our hands in the air and say “must be QB1!!”

Parker Graham said this week he knows they have to be better — he’s right, unless you guys just really want to be two-peat Heart of Dallas Bowl champs.

9. Running backs

It has not been pretty. Here are the yards per carry averages ranked (min. five attempts):

1. WR
2. QB
3. QB
4. RB
5. RB
6. RB

I’m guessing this isn’t what Dana had in mind when he put the offense in back in 2010. I’m guessing this is not what Mike Yurcich had in mind when he took the job earlier this year.

I honestly don’t know whether to blame the offensive line, the lack of an arm on our QB, the plays Yurcich is calling, or the actual guys running the ball but those other units have actually been decent in other areas (passing). The RB combos have been just awful so far.

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