Answers After An Embarrassing Loss

Let's take a look at some of the issues from Oklahoma State's first loss of the season on Saturday to West Virginia.

Mike Yurcich and Play Calling
I'm a big Mike Yurcich fan, and I think he is pretty good right now and will be an excellent offensive coordinator and play caller. That said, this was not his best game and my guess is he would be the first to admit that.

My first problem is the first down play calls -- 22 runs and 10 passes. I know that is about 70 percent run to 30 percent pass and is acceptable, but Oklahoma State it turns out was having a severe problem at right guard. Chris Grisbhy picked up a holding call in the first quarter but it was more what he didn't pick up several times on both run and pass plays.

The Mountaineers were smartly blitzing and they ran a wide variety of blitzes with middle plug, weak plug, sword (strong linebacker), safety, corner, and they delayed some and crossed some. Those are tough pickups in which offensive linemen have to count inside to out.

Center Jake Jenkins counted well as did the left side and right tackle Daniel Koenig, but several times Grisbhy's head was swimming. Travis Cross came in and had an excellent block on Desmond Roland's fourth quarter run from the 13 to the 7-yard-line.

However, after a questionable play call on second-and-goal, Cross let his man Dontrill Hyman loose so he could completely cut off and destroy any chance on the third down run by Jeremy Smith.

A play caller has to account for those situations and more pass calls on first down or more runs to the left side might have helped. Remember, again hindsight is 20/20 and you and I have all the hindsight.

On the second-and-goal at the half-yard line, I'm running the ball. I understand there was a play action look but asking J.W. Walsh to throw in a clutch play like that. I would rather bull straight ahead. I would have bulled straight ahead on third down to instead of trying Smith wide. West Virginia had done a good job on developing runs all day. Get Kye Staley in there as a lead blocker and blow up some of those defenders in gold.

At the same time there were many good play calls by Yurcich that went unnoticed because of bad throws, drops by receivers, and again, trouble at right guard. A first-and-10 zone read call in the first quarter when the center had his man sealed and Walsh kept instead and the back might have gone for double digit yards.

The second-and-1 first quarter pass call with Tracy Moore open and likely to get yards after the catch but Walsh threw it high and behind Moore. A few plays later, the tunnel screen, a good call against pressure on third-and-12, resulted in Jenkins and Tracy and Charlie Moore getting seal blocks and a 73-yard touchdown. In the second quarter, if Jhajuan Seales reads the option route correct and goes outside instead of inside that play might have gone for a lot of yards as well.

Right Guard
A lot is documented above and some of the lack of success in running the ball is directly attributed to that. Grisbhy and Cross have to get better or you have to find someone better. Both players have performed well in previous games, and while this was a Big 12 Conference game, I don't think the Mountaineers line on defense is better than Mississippi State's.

The blitzes may have caught them off guard but remember your rules and communicate with your fellow offensive linemen. The overall offensive line played better than I thought, although not great. The blitzes caused trouble and Walsh, in the second half, sometimes left the pocket too early.

Jeremy Smith
I owe Smith some of an apology because I wrote him into my story quite a bit and he didn't deserve it, at least not all of it. Smith did dance around some but not as much as I thought.

It's just that Jeremy Smith has made his contributions as an OSU running back by being a downhill runner that smashes into the line and makes a hole for himself if one isn't already there, usually getting four to five yards. That is what this offense needs on a first or second down run and often what will move the chains on a third down.

Now is not the time to remake himself, and Smith is not made for dancing with the stars but he's made to be a human battering ram. See a hole, hit it hard, and sometimes when you get through kick it into high gear.

In Morgantown on Saturday, Desmond Roland ran more like Jeremy Smith has in the past. Roland did well and was the best running back Oklahoma State had.

J.W. Walsh
You can moan and groan all you want but Walsh, who is trying with all he's got, is not going to be the thrower that Brandon Weeden is or even Wes Lunt. He's working at it and getting better. But this time of year you can overthrow and wind up with a sore arm.

Yes, Clint Chelf is qualified too but with Walsh also brings in the quarterback run game, and with the situation with the running game you really need the threat of Walsh to run it. Last season, Joseph Randle had his two best rushing games with Walsh at quarterback? Randle rushed for 199 yard vs. Texas and 151 yards vs. Iowa State.

Most of the time, Walsh makes good decisions. That said, I could have seen going with Chelf in the middle of the fourth quarter. That has to be a Gundy/Yurcich decision.

Until Mason Rudolph gets here or Daxx Garman gets some seasoning then you don't have an NFL-type arm throwing the football. Walsh needs to look more at the throws over the middle like the great call on the pass to Jeremy Seaton. Credit Yurich here as he knew West Virginia was playing zone outside. The wideouts tied those guys up and Seaton, lined up in the diamond, slipped through to be wide open in the deep middle with the linebackers not getting a deep enough drop.

Unfortunately, there were at least four throws that had they been on line they would have been big gains. That said there were also some drops. While it was a tough effort, Jhajuan Seales's diving attempt on the long ball was a good attempt on a catch that could have been made and would have made potentially a big difference. Sometimes those plays get made, sometime they go in the category of great effort but no cigar.

Special Teams
I don't know what to say because there isn't much to say. The choices are slim. Kip Smith had been really solid, really good up until this point. Smith's two punts, especially the 13-yarder, were killer for a defense that kept coming on and trying to put the fires out.

A punter can be a defense's best friend and he can be the worst enemy. For one game, Smith let his team down. I honestly can't say how because he came back in the third quarter and boomed one 60-plus yards.

Ben Grogan is a freshman and we may have to wait for him to grow up. I remember Jason Ricks hit a kick at Missouri and then he went on a huge roll. Dan Bailey hit the kick against Kansas State and later a winner against Texas A&M, and now he is still rolling for the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL. Grogan needs to get a signature kick and mature. It would be nice if it happens soon.

You know I have to hand it to them. The calls, all except one, I looked at were right. The early pass interference call on Tyler Patmon was right on. The Jeremy Smith fumble was obvious. The PAT block by Patmon and returned for a defensive point after was fantastic but he was lined up in the neutral zone.

My problem was the late throw on the flag but my guess is the official was going to let it go if the play wasn't impacted. When it was, he threw the flag.

The only real bad call I saw was the pass interference on safety Shamiel Gary late in the third quarter. Gary was playing the ball, and if anything it should have been offensive pass interference.

The late ejection of Justin Gilbert was fine. Gilbert earned it but so did While as he was taunting all day. Just clarify your rules. Both players were into it.

It was sad because guys like Caleb Lavey, James Castleman, Calvin Barnett, Tyler Johnson, Shawn Lewis, Ryan Simmons, Shamiel Gary, Daytawion Lowe, Kevin Peterson, and more played their butts off. They gave up a few big plays and half of those 8-for-22 third down conversions kept scoring drives a live.

But the defense also did a lot of successful damage control that allowed OSU to play almost down to the end. I think the defense will continue to be all right, they just need some help in the other two phases.

Head coach Mike Gundy may or may not help us out with information on Josh Stewart and Jhajuan Seales, who both went down late with some late head injuries. Stewart snapped his head back when he hit the ground. Seales got a glancing head blow from the safety. I think Stewart is the worse of the two.

Was there some bad stuff, stuff you can complain about from Saturday's loss? Yes! Can you throw all the culprits to the curb and switch out and call a completely different set of plays? No! These are the players you got and the offense that has down well for you.

Is it possible to make some changes and work to set up some things differently? Yes! West Virginia, defensively should have taught Oklahoma State some lessons about themselves and about how to attack defenses that will copy some of what the Mountaineers did on Saturday. It's time to get to work and make some adjustments and set up some new offensive scenarios for practice.

Also, those players hurt the most. You could see it in their eyes in the locker room. I firmly believe that as a coach, you can grind and coach hard after wins, then you console and build your players back up after a loss. I know Gundy believes the same thing. Now is that time to build back up this week for Kansas State. That doesn't mean you can't make a few changes and toss in some wrinkles.

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