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Stat of the Week: Will We See Change for OSU’s Run Game?

After talks of change in the run game, there was none Week 1



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

People tend to hate change, but it seemed Cowboy fans were most frustrated Saturday night because there seemingly was no change at all.

Oklahoma State’s run game was horrendous last season. Mike Gundy was very open about that fact throughout the season and this entire offseason. OSU averaged 125.6 yards a game and 3.4 yards an attempt last season. Gundy said on numerous occasions that things were being changed to improve the Cowboys’ ground game.

Outside of Gundy’s control, the offensive line would be healthy and experienced, as it was the only offensive position group on the first depth chart of the season without an “OR.” Schemes were changed, even going back to Gundy’s early years of 2007-08, according to him. There was mention of the quarterback being under center more. Gundy even said there were ideas sparked because of the San Francisco 49ers.

Then football season started. Preston Wilson missed the entire game because of an undisclosed reason and Jake Springfield was injured in the first half to desolate the O-line before a half of football into the season. Even with three quarterbacks rotating and an emphasis on the run, the Cowboys threw the ball 48 times. An OSU quarterback didn’t line up under center until Gunnar Gundy in Victory Formation. And Christian McCaffrey was not one of OSU’s many new additions.

OSU rushed for 149 yards against Central Arkansas, averaging 4.8 yards a carry. Those numbers looked a lot prettier after the Cowboys ran for 97 yards and averaged 6.7 yards a carry in the fourth quarter. The halftime numbers had OSU at only 45 rushing yards and averaging 3.2 yards an attempt. The first-half stats were eerily similar to last season’s.

The most frustrating part for OSU fans was that these numbers were put up against an FCS opponent. But maybe that could also be why there was no change.

Gundy said the defense was vanilla by design Saturday, going general bases and straight up against Central Arkansas. The players are still learning a new system and there’s no reason to show your whole deck with Arizona State looming.

No disrespect to Central Arkansas, but OSU knew beforehand it could beat the Bears without anything special from the defense. The Cowboys also proved they could beat Central Arkansas while rotating three quarterbacks, struggling to run the ball and not debuting anything new. And maybe Gundy and Co. knew that, too.

So there’s still a chance change is really coming. Surely, surely, Gundy wouldn’t be that vocal about non-existent changes to the run game. Or maybe that was the smoke show, after all, if you want to get into conspiracy theories waiting for Saturday night. But Central Arkansas didn’t need OSU’s best and Arizona State was next.

ASU beat Southern Utah on Thursday night, getting enough time Saturday to enjoy TCU-Colorado and still take notes on the Cowboys in real time. The Sun Devils held Southern Utah to 87 rushing yards and a 2.8-yard average a carry. You could take a game against the likes of Southern Utah with a grain of salt, but it doesn’t seem OSU fans are into minimum reactions to season-opening wins against lackluster opponents.

Although under different leadership, ASU was terrible against the run last season, though. The Sun Devils gave up 188.1 yards a game and 5.2 yards an attempt in 2022.

After immense turnover and a game with few answers provided, there’s no need trying to predict what Arizona State will be. Also, after immense turnover and a game with few answers provided, there’s no need trying to predict what Oklahoma State will be.

Like Rome, the Cowboys’ run game could not be built in one game. But by late Saturday night, change should be evident in order to leave Tempe 2-0.

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