State of the Cowboys: Week 6

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 won convincingly against Iowa State at home on Saturday, 31-10.

QUARTERBACK: Rising (+1)
After head coach Mike Gundy said freshman Wes Lunt would have been ready to play against Kansas in "an emergency," many media members believed he would start over J.W. Walsh against Iowa State. Gundy stuck with Walsh and he played tremendously. He dissected the Iowa State secondary, completing 32-of-47 passes for 415 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. It was the kind of bounce-back performance, after struggling against Kansas last week, that gives Cowboys' fans some serious confidence. Lunt is most likely the starter when 100% healthy, but Walsh is a proven winner against a solid defense.

GROUND GAME: Rising (+3)
With Walsh throwing the ball almost 50 times, it looked like Joseph Randle's production would fall short of the norm against Iowa State. But in early in the fourth quarter with a comfortable lead, Randle busted a 62-yard run that bumped him to 151 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Jeremy Smith had one carry for three yards, then limped off the field. Gundy has yet to comment on his status. Walsh added 46 yards on the ground. Despite Smith's injury status, the Cowboys' running game continues to be solid and on the rise.

AIR GAME: Even (0)
This wasn't so cut and dry. The Cowboys' receiving corps played well, but still suffered from a number of drops from Austin Hays, Josh Stewart and Blake Jackson. It's become somewhat of a concern from the Cowboys. And two of their starters, Tracy Moore and Isaiah Anderson, are injured. But despite all that, the unit played well. Charlie Moore broke another long touchdown, this one 74 yards and Stewart remains Walsh's favorite target – hauling in 13 catches for 89 yards. There needs to be some consistency for this unit to rise.

FRONT SEVEN: Rising (+2)
For the first time in recent memory, the Cowboys' defensive line is becoming dominant, especially on the interior. OSU only had one sack, but they kept Jared Barett and Steele Jantz on the move all game. And they only allowed 109 total rushing yards. Defensive tackle Calvin Barnett continues to dominate inside and linebacker Caleb Lavey continues to quietly lead the Cowboys' unit, recording six tackles. No immediate problems facing this group.

SECONDARY: Rising (+1)
For the first time this season, the OSU secondary showed signs of why they were hyped as a team strength in the preseason. They held Barnett and Jantz to a combined 240 yards, with Daytawion Lowe grabbing the Cowboys' lone interception. The adjustments made after the Cyclone's first passing touchdown were impressive. They'll need to continue to improve if the Cowboys' have any chance of repeating as Big 12 Champions.

There's no question that Quinn Sharp has the talents to play in the NFL. But it's starting to become clearer that punting is his true specialty. Sharp booted a 68-yard punt, including two inside the 20 yard line. But at the same time, he missed two of his three field goal tries – from 51 and 44 yards. The Cowboys are still without a kick or punt return touchdown on the season. Not much progression from this unit.

OVERALL: Rising (+1)
This was by far the most complete game the Cowboys have played all season. They manhandled a quality opponent in nearly every aspect of the game. But it's too soon to say OSU is a complete team. Injuries and an on-and-off defense mean trouble down the road. But on Saturday, they showed some real signs of growth. With either Walsh or Lunt in the shotgun next week against TCU, the Cowboys' have every reason to be confident.

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