State of the Cowboys: Week 5

After each game, this feature will analyze several aspects of the Oklahoma State football team. Each category will either rise (+1), fall (-1) or stay even (0). Each change is based on the Cowboys performance last week. The count began after the Cowboys' loss against Arizona -- that calibrated the chart (considering we didn't learn much from the Savannah State blowout).

The Cowboys escaped Lawrence, Kan., with a 20-14 victory against KU on Saturday. OSU made the plays it needed to in order to win, but it was far from perfect.

QUARTERBACK: Even (0)
It was a productive afternoon for J.W. Walsh (18 of 30 passing, 255 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), but it wasn't a very inspiring performance. It's clear Walsh doesn't have the arm strength we've seen in Wes Lunt's brief career, and his accuracy is questionable at times, especially rolling out of the pocket.

Yes, he brings an extra dimension to the running game, but with Joseph Randle and (a healthy) Jeremy Smith, the Cowboys are in need of a drop-back guy like Lunt moving forward, especially if they are going to compete against the Big 12's better defenses. A good game for Walsh overall, but it's even more clear now that Lunt should be the starter.

GROUND GAME: Even (+2)
There were times when it felt like Randle wasn't getting enough touches, but in the end he still recorded 80 yards rushing on 29 carries – that's a career high for touches. Walsh helped pick up the slack with nine rushes for 49 yards and a touchdown. Jeremy Smith only rushed one time for six yards, as he's recovering from an undisclosed injury last week against Texas.

It's the lowest rushing output of the season for the Cowboys (116 total yards), but no need to worry. An off week for the Cowboys' strongest unit.

AIR GAME: Falling (0)
Charlie Moore made the most explosive play of the game with a 72-yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter. But overall, it was an underwhelming and unfortunate afternoon for the OSU wide receiving corps. Two Cowboys' wide receivers left the game with injuries: Tracy Moore (foot) and Isaiah Anderson (hand).

Charlie Moore's 97 yards on five receptions led the Cowboys, and Josh Stewart was right behind with five catches for 76 yards. But some key drops and injuries mean this group is falling in week five.

FRONT SEVEN: Even (+1)
Another solid performance by the Cowboys' defensive line and linebackers, recording three sacks. KU quarterbacks Dayne Crist and Michael Cummings faced a heavy pass rush but the Cowboys' struggled to contain the run, allowing James Sims to record 138 yards on 27 carries for one touchdown. An even performance this week.

SECONDARY: Even (0)
The Cowboys' defensive backs played very well against an incredibly average air attack. Entering the game, the Jayhawks had the nation's No. 97-rated passing game, averaging 195 yards per game. On Saturday, they threw for 211 yards and one touchdown. OSU's secondary wasn't the team's downfall this week, but they were hardly tested. They stand pat this week.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Rising (0)
The Cowboys didn't allow or earn a special teams touchdown, which is refreshing after giving up a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown against Texas. Quinn Sharp went 2 for 3 on field goals, hitting and missing from more than 40 yards. Special teams didn't impact the Cowboys negatively this week, so they are on the rise.

OVERALL: Even (0)
As 20+ point favorites entering the game, the Cowboys had an incredibly average performance on Saturday. The Big 12's worst team had a legitimate chance to beat OSU in the final minutes. We really don't know much about this team's potential after five games, as they sit even on this chart since losing to Arizona. The good news is Wes Lunt should be healthy for Iowa State next week. The bad news is Iowa State is a much better team than Kansas. Homecoming should be interesting this Saturday.


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