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Receivers Production: OSU Makes History Using Variety of Sets



The Oklahoma State receivers’ balance in production on Saturday against Pitt was unheard of in school history and almost in the history of collegiate football. For the first time ever, OSU had four receivers with 100 or more receiving yards. That has only happened one other time in the last 20 years (2005 Texas Tech).

The way the Pokes got there was almost as versatile. OSU ran six different base receiver sets and many more branched off of those six in the Cowboys’ 59-21 nap at Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Receiver Sets Plays (Starters) Plays (Reserves) Total Plays Passing TDs
1L/1R 7 7 14 0
2L/1R 8 5 13 0
1L/2R 11 2 13 1
2L/2R 14 2 16 3
3L/1R 4 2 6 0
1L/3R 10 0 10 1
Total 54 18 72 5

Mason Rudolph threw for a school record 423 yards in the first half with five touchdowns. He made few challenging throws, and that was a credit to the receivers and the schemes. On two of those scores, and I’ll get into it, Jalen McCleskey ran the same route, and Pittsburgh covered it horribly each time.

Here are a few other things that stood out from that dataset and the final stat sheet.

Effectiveness of 4-wide

We knew it would be hard to fight the temptation of going four-wide and leaving the Cowboy Backs on the sideline.

Mike Gundy hasn’t been completely convinced yet, evidenced by their usage on 55 percent of the snaps, but just look at which receiver sets the touchdowns are coming from. Four of the five passing touchdowns came with four receivers on the field, and the only one that didn’t was just an 8-yard strike.

The explosiveness on the field when Dillon Stoner comes on the field goes from a stick of dynamite to an atomic bomb.

Exhibit A.

Stoner is not your typical white boy receiver, and he definitely isn’t your typical redshirt freshman, white boy receiver. Go watch that play again. That formation is one of Mike Yurcich’s favorites. He ran almost 20 percent of the starters’ snaps out of that base set. He would stack McCleskey and Stoner at times, too.

Of course the mirror twins package is the most attractive, at least it was Saturday. More than a quarter of the starters’ snaps, three touchdowns and the most electrifying play of the game all came out of the 2L/2R set.

Historic Balance

James Washington was targeted once in the first quarter while Rudolph threw for 174 yards with pocket TDs.

Tyron Johnson wasn’t even there and Chris Lacy suffered a right shoulder injury after just a couple plays, and OSU could have scored 77 points even if it was forced to throw every snap. The depth and balance over the past two games has been better than you could replicate in a video game.

During the week leading up to the game Saturday, Washington said that is what to expect going forward.

No one could have expected what happened Saturday though. This was the first time in a dozen years that a team has had four 100-yard receivers in the same game.

I mean … just look at this.

Receiver Targets Catches Yards TDs
Jalen McCleskey 7 7 162 3
James Washington 7 5 124 0
Dillon Stoner 6 5 100 1
Marcell Ateman 5 4 109 1

Come on.

I don’t know what else to say.

Jalen Who?

McCleskey. That’s exactly who.

In comparison with his yardage over the first two games, McCleskey was 852 percent better Saturday. He caught every ball that was thrown his way and looked quicker than ever on that NFL field.

Pitt made it a point to take The President away by putting its safeties outside the hashes and sending late blitzes up the middle and try to flush Rudolph. Neither worked, and it meant McCleskey had man-to-man coverage with no safety help.

Basically, the Panthers told McCleskey, “Beat us,” and he promptly did.

Notice anything similar between McCleskey’s three scores? Pitt didn’t.

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