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Three Things We Learned from South Alabama



Oklahoma State took care of business on Friday night in Mobile. This game was never really in question, despite a slower start and some sloppy moments on offense. Mason Rudolph made history and OSU’s defense pitched a near shutout.

If you’re asking yourself what can actually be learned from blowing out a Sun Belt team? More than you think. Let’s get into it.

This defense might be better than we thought

This is South Alabama, a Sun Belt school who’s only had an FBS program going on six years. But it’s also a team that went to Oxford and score 27 points on Ole Miss. If it wasn’t for a garbage-time TD from backup tight end Maaseiah Francis, OSU would have pitched that program its first ever shutout.

The Cowboys’ front seven was dominant all night, not allowing a single first down until nearly halfway through the second quarter. After a ho-hum first-week showing, several defensive linemen made highlight-worthy plays. South Alabama doesn’t boast the talent level or experience at OL that Tulsa does but there was a tenacity and aggression displayed that was missing from the season opener.

What will we see in Week 3? Pittsburgh will provide the biggest test so far with a run-first offense and a transfer quarterback in Max Browne who has struggled early but still has an arm and several weapons.

Mason Rudolph needs to stay healthy

This was already a given but over the first two weeks of the season we’ve seen QBs 2 and 3 enter the game for significant stretches and the results have been less than impressive. A 1-for-2 performance for five yards a sack from Taylor Cornelius against Tulsa was followed up by a 1-for-3, 7-yard showing from redshirt freshman Keondre Wudtee. Wudtee did show off his wheels with three keepers for 29 yards on the ground including an 18-yard scamper.

Do we trust anyone other than Rudolph to not to sustain anywhere near the same success? They are small sample sizes but neither has jumped out a wowed.

The good news is that OSU’s new all-time leading passer has been sacked just once through two games. It’s an encouraging development from both QB1 and his offensive line. Yes, I know the level of competition isn’t elite but that same O-Line allowed seven sacks to Southeastern Louisiana and Central Michigan combined in the Weeks 1 and 2 last year.

Let’s just cut down on Rudolph’s human-torpedo bit — especially in garbage time against a Sun Belt team.

The running game has not quite arrived

After an impressive showing against Tulsa, the Cowboys rushing attack started pretty flat and inconsistent against South Alabama. It’s clear that the Jags put an emphasis on limiting that ground game but if you’re the No. 11 team in the country, you should be able to impose your will on South Alabama.

As Adam Lunt also pointed out, there was plenty of blame to go around in the first half. Justice Hill didn’t hit the holes with the dynamic pace and fervor we’re used to seeing from him and King made a couple of misreads. We can chalk that up to a true frosh playing in his second game. King still had to most impressive outing and should just get better.

But, as Phillip Slavin pointed out, the Cowboys did get it going late and ended with 163 rushing yards on a 4.4-yard average. Two years ago, Mike Gundy would have taken that against any team.


The Cowboys are much more talented than either team they have faced. There’s probably a pretty significant talent gap between OSU and Pittsburgh as well. I still want to see what OSU looks like against a team that can go toe-to-toe with them. We might see that against TCU. We might not see it until West Virginia or OU. How they face that challenge makes the difference in another 9-10 win season and an historic one.

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