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Scouting Report: Rudolph’s Career Day Didn’t Look as Good as the Numbers Showed



By the stats, Mason Rudolph had one of his top five performances as an Oklahoma State Cowboys. By the optics, it was probably in the bottom half of his outings this season.

Rudolph threw for 459 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a rating of 217.6, but had he been about eight inches more accurate on about half of his incompletions, he those numbers would have been even better. And had the Baylor defense looked like a Big 12 group rather than an FCS squad, the Cowboys’ 49-16 homecoming victory wouldn’t have been as close as it finished.

There was a lot to unpack from Rudolph’s final homecoming game, so let’s get to it.

Getting Away With Underthrows

On the Cowboys’ first play of the second half, Rudolph pumped and went deep to Washington, who had at least five steps on his defender.

The ball was severely underthrown, and the space Washington created disappeared. A few steps later, he fumbled. If the ball was on time and in the right spot, Washington could have run into the Sherman E. Smith Training Center.

In some ways, those types of throws categorized Rudolph’s day. Even on the second play of OSU’s first drive, Washington was open deep again. Rudolph couldn’t make it there, and though the Baylor corner interfered, the ball easily could have been picked.

This was all extremely confusing. I’d venture to guess none of us questioned Rudy’s arm strength coming into Saturday. He and Washington’s downfield connections have proven enough of that, but this was uncharacteristically poor.

Winds gusted up to 20 miles per hour inside Boone Pickens Stadium, so that could have had an impact, but Rudolph waved that off postgame.

Then Tossing Too High

On the third down that stalled the Cowboys’ first drive, Rudolph fired to Marcell Ateman breaking toward the sideline, and if Ateman is 6-foot-4, the ball must have been thrown 9 feet high. He had no shot, but he was open.

One throw later on the following drive, Rudolph looked to Washington on the dig route, a route Mason has struggled with throughout his career. The pass came out strong and finished stronger. It should have been the third turnover in as many plays after the Jalen McCleskey muffed punt and the Justin Phillips strip-sack.

Getting a Bailed Out

Washington earned each of his 235 receiving yards.

Although the Baylor defense was absolutely atrocious, many of the passes his way were uncatchable. He was targeted 11 times and caught only six of them, his lowest catch rate this season by far. Even on those he caught, he had to work.

Only one was more challenging than the reviewed call at the end of the first quarter.

At first glance, this looked out. The ball sailed on Rudolph. If Washington wasn’t there, the ball would have landed out of bounds. Here is another angle.

That ball is six every time before Saturday. The route was designed toward the sideline, but Rudolph’s carry was at J.B. Holmes’ level on this throw.

The only catch that was harder was with about a minute left in the first half. Rudolph went deep again to Washington, and he led him about five inches too far.

A Few Dimes

Rudolph made some, well, Rudolph throws Saturday, too. After looking off a couple of defenders and going through his progressions, Rudolph fired to McCleskey in the end zone for OSU’s second score of the game. It was probably his best throw of the game.

Rudolph should be more accurate going forward for a couple of reasons. He’s a preparation fiend. Secondly, he’s proven to be better than he showed Saturday, which is nuts considering he threw for more than 450 yards.

Throws like the one above and this one to Ateman down the sideline, show the pure thrower Rudolph really is, and that’s why you should still have confidence going into Texas next week, Morgantown after that and Bedlam after that.

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