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Run Game Excuse Used for Cornelius and the Offense, but is That … Ackrut?

College football seasons are short, it’s time for a change.

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Let’s pull the tape from Saturday night to see what Mike Gundy thought about starting QB Taylor Cornelius. I dropped the video below, and it starts on maybe the most interesting answer Gundy gave during postgame reaction.


“It’s not him,” said Gundy of Corndog. “We need to block better. It’s not him, don’t put it on him. We’re not blocking well enough. We have to block well enough to rush the football and then allow him to operate. When we’re one-dimensional because we can’t rush the football as well as need to, then we’re limited like most teams in the country. That’s where we have to improve.”

At first I thought he was talking about pass protection, which to be fair, has not been good. But curiously I think Gundy was actually talking about run blocking and letting the run game free up Corndaddy to do some things offensively. Why is this curious? Well, through four games they haven’t really been that bad. In fact, they’ve actually been better through four games than they were this time last season.

  • 2017: 137 carries | 727 yards | 5.3 YPC
  • 2018: 161 carries | 904 yards | 5.6 YPC

I know you’re thinking “MISSOURI STATE AND SOUTH ALABAMA!” but compare the two biggest games to this point in the season from both years.

Last non-con game

  • 2017 vs. Pittsburgh: 4.1 YPC
  • 2018 vs. Boise St.: 4.6 YPC

First Big 12 game

  • 2017 vs. TCU: 3.3 YPC
  • 2018 vs. Texas Tech: 5.3 YPC

And I get that maybe OSU isn’t running as much as maybe they thought they would because they feel like they’re limited, but all I can go on is the numbers we have. And the numbers say that through four games Oklahoma State is rushing the ball for more yards per carry this season than it was last season.

“If you could average 4.2 yards a carry running the ball, you got a chance to be a decent offense,” said Gundy in August. “And when we weren’t, we weren’t very good offensively. When we do rush the ball for 4.2 or better, we’ve been a pretty good offense.”

They’ve rushed it for 4.2 or more in three of four games this season.

“Corn’s fine,” Gundy also noted on Saturday. “We didn’t rush the football. If you run the football it would make things a lot better.”

You kinda did rush the football! Even though Gundy said the offensive line isn’t “anywhere near being better than we were last year,” OSU ran the ball for more yards per carry than Texas Tech did. Again, yards per carry can be a little deceiving. One 99-yard run doesn’t cover over a multitude of 1.5-yard rushes, but the numbers are there.

Look, I don’t think the OL has been elite. As Mark Cooper pointed out, pass protection has been trrrrbl and the tackles for loss thing is not great either.

Through four games, OSU has allowed 11 sacks and 31 tackles for loss — numbers that both rank outside the top 100 in FBS. The sacks are bad enough. Oklahoma State is on pace to allow 36 in a 13-game season (including a bowl), its most since 2014.

The tackles for loss number is downright alarming. It would put OSU on pace to surrender 101 over 14 games. Even in 2014, Oklahoma State allowed 92. [Tulsa World]

So yes, Oklahoma State’s offensive line needs to be better in every aspect. But it seems mildly disingenuous to, uh, pin this on the rushing game. The actual explanation should be about pass blocking. Regardless, all of this seems like a convenient excuse for a quarterback who is not very dynamic and hasn’t hit on many (if any) downfield throws this season.

Oklahoma State needs to make a change at quarterback or at least try something different. What they’re doing right now is not working and it got veiled by a couple of blocked punts against Boise State. Taylor Cornelius is not a sufficient answer, even if OSU runs it for 10 yards a pop the rest of the season.

I flip-flopped through the first few games and wanted to see him in the fire against some competitive teams. I’ve seen that now. We all have. Skipped passes, overthrows, underthrows and no feel for downfield bombs. He can manage a game and run a little and is somewhat versatile, but it’s not enough. I’m officially out.

Is Corndog under duress? Sure, but so was Alan Bowman for Tech. The true freshman took more sacks and the same number of QB hurries as TC. He threw for 397 yards and a pair of TDs. On the flip side, Cornelius went 4/14 for 29 yards and a pick in the second half on Saturday. Since halftime of the South Alabama game, he’s 40 for 78 for 648 yards, 2 TD and 3 INT. That is … not good.

This is (obviously) nothing personal against TC — he seems like a pretty good dude — but OSU needs to look in a different direction.

The offensive line needs to change, yes. They need to get better and go forward and protect QB1 better. But the QB1 they’re protecting needs to be more dynamic. Even more so if the OL doesn’t improve! I’d rather have Dru Brown or Spencer Sanders running around back there trying to make plays behind a leaky OL than I would 14.

College football seasons are so short, and making calls is never easy. But the results for TC are in, and he’s not good enough. Maybe 6 and 3 aren’t either, but the downside to at least finding out is shallow. And if it goes like it’s gone so many times before for Mike Gundy and Oklahoma State QBs, one of them is probably going to be great.