Holgorsen: Offense Is Ahead Of The Curve

Even Dana Holgorsen has been surprised by how quickly his Oklahoma State players have adapted to his offense. Despite a 51-41 loss to Nebraska on Saturday, the first-year Cowboy offensive coordinator said he was pleased with a lot of what he saw as the Cowboy offense rolled up more points on the Huskers than NU's previous three opponents mustered — combined.

Holgorsen said there are still obvious issues to work through but he said the offense is exceeding his preseason expectations.

"I think we're ahead of the curve, I mean there's always things you could improve on," Holgorsen said. "A year and a half from now we're going to be sitting right here talking about things we've got to improve on but you should consistently get better.

"If you consistently get better then you're play becomes more consistent and it lessens what you have to improve upon."

One thing that obviously needs work seven games into the 2010 campaign is the development of playmakers to compliment running back Kendall Hunter, receiver Justin Blackmon and quarterback Brandon Weeden.

Some Cowboys have shown signs, including running back Joseph Randle and receivers Tracy Moore, Hubert Anyiam, Bo Bowling and Michael Harrison. They have all shown glimpses of what they can bring to OSU's high-powered attack but all have been too spotty or injured to establish a consistent rapport with Weeden.

And Holgorsen said that inconsistency was all too apparent against a stiff Nebraska defense, resulting in the Cowboys (6-1, 2-1 Big 12) going just 3-for-13 on third down as the defense clamped down on Blackmon and Hunter.

"We're still searching for guys to make plays; whether that happens this year or not, I don't know," he said. "We're settling a few guys in that need to get comfortable, which they are. When you face a team like Nebraska that their whole defense is about one-on-one matchups, you have to win.

"We did a good job up front in the run game of winning. Pass protection was average: they won some battles up front; we won some battles up front. At receiver, they won a few battles, we won a few battles. In the run game, their safeties would fill and tackle Kendall for a two-yard gain or he'd make them miss and win that one-on-one battle.

"Continuing to find guys to win one-on-one battles when the defense challenges us like that man-to-man, we just have to find them."

One Cowboy receiver in particular was up to the task on Saturday, which Holgorsen said came as no surprise to him. Junior wide out Josh Cooper had a career day with nine receptions for 103 yards as he routinely made the most of his one-on-one opportunities.

"We knew they were going to play man and (Cooper) is the best one that we've got, as far as coming out of cuts," Holgorsen said. "He's not the fastest guy we've got, but he can stop and start well, so when we face man coverage, you have to get open.

"(Justin) Blackmon does a good job of winning down field, but we don't have many other guys that can win down field, so we had to do some underneath stuff; start and stop underneath, which he did a good job of that. Brandon was focused on him and able to get it to him quick."

Cooper's expanded role in the offense was obvious early in the season but the Mustang, Okla., native was banged up the past few weeks and his numbers took a hit after a Sept. 18 victory against Tulsa.

Holgorsen said his resurgence came at a great time as the Cowboys prepare for a tough road test at Kansas State (5-2, 2-2) on Saturday at 11 a.m.

Kansas State's defense doesn't look like much on paper at No. 100 overall — it also ranks last in the Big 12 in run defense — but K-State has been stout against the pass, ranking 38th.

"They're sound; they play hard. Kind of like we are, they're searching for some depth, which pretty much everybody is," Holgorsen said. "They've got good-looking kids, they play hard, they're coached well and they're extremely hard at home.

"They've been stopping people at home and we're going to have to go travel and play with them at their place, so we'll have to play well."

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