Answers To Questions OSU Fans Are Asking

Coming off the second bye week the hope of all Oklahoma State fans was they would see a performance that more closely resembled what they had dancing in their minds through the spring and summer. What they got on a fall-chilled, sun-splashed Homecoming Saturday was proof that the defense may be one of the best in the last 30 years and certainly the best of the Mike Gundy era.

The defense played a large role in a solid 24-10 win over TCU. The Cowboys also got a special teams effort that has caused some panic over field-goal kicking, but lots positives in all of the other areas.

Then there is the offense.

Some fans got their wish with Saturday's quarterback change, but there is no clear-cut solution coming out of this game at that position. They saw a new offensive line but the one practiced and planned all week only lasted one series due to illness.

Some other fans got their wish of seeing freshman Rennie Childs at running back, and that at first glance looks like a very positive development.

There was good and bad on Saturday, but not enough good to feel confident in any game the rest of the season (with the exception of Kansas at home but the Jayhawks did put an early scare in the Sooners). However, Oklahoma has its own rather sizeable set of issues as most Big 12 schools do.

There was also not enough bad, except for the most pessimistic of Cowboys fans (and some of those reside right here on as regulars). Some of those think the Cowboys won't find a way to win enough games to be in contention for the Big 12 title down the stretch when Baylor and Oklahoma finish the season with trips to Boone Pickens Stadium.

Here is our review of Homecoming events on the field:

1. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth ...
... and don't snub your nose at a Big 12 Conference win by your favorite college football team. I learned a long time ago that wins are not automatic and each one is to be celebrated and appreciated. If you don't, then you risk upsetting the football gods and you will likely be miserable a lot.

Head coach Mike Gundy said afterward that his team is winning, and the Cowboys are doing it in unfamiliar ways and in unaccustomed fashion. But they are winning.

"Are we good enough to cancel practice on Tuesday? No, we're going to practice Tuesday," said Gundy. "They found a way to win and they are very resilient."

Why can't fans appreciate wide receivers that make plays while doing something other than catching passes? Cowboys fans had to love the school record 95-yard punt return for a touchdown by Josh Stewart, and while Stew was zig-zagging down the field, wide receiver John Goodlett made one of the best blocks I've ever seen toward the end of a punt return when he de-cleated TCU safety Sam Carter.

"Knocked him out. He was, oh my goodness, it was bad," said Stewart, who said he saw the block well. "It was head on head and he lifted that guy off his feet. It was beautiful."

So was the return! Stewart had 265 all-purpose yards on the day.

Brandon Sheperd had a huge kickoff return that was a big factor in the Cowboys final fourth quarter scoring drive. The 50-yard return was huge to kickstart a badly needed drive.

On that drive, former Bullard (Texas) High School quarterback Charlie Moore, recently engaged to his longtime sweetheart, was acting like he's still a thrower while connecting with Stewart on a reverse pass that set up the touchdown.

"That was a fun play and we've been working on that and maybe not the best decision to throw it because Josh was covered well," said Moore of the 27-yard completion. "He (Stewart) was having such a great day and you have to give him a chance and he made a great play."

Good defense, spectacular special teams, and wide receivers making big plays was the Cowboys recipe on Saturday.

"We are winning different here than we have in a long, long time but that's okay," said Gundy, who now has a 6-3 record in Homecoming games.

"In my opinion, there are three phases and you have to win two out of the three, and we won the kicking game. Even though we were poor kicking field goals, we were great on returns today and we changed the field several times, and obviously, once scored a touchdown, not only in punt returns but kick returns," said Gundy.

"Then our defense was better than their defense. I think they have a good defense but they can't take anything away from what our defense did today."

2. Who will be the quarterback at Iowa State?
Mike Gundy won't say and he shouldn't. "Not anything I can say (on who will start at quarterback) until we look at the film and talk about it as a staff," said Gundy.

How impressive it is that Clint Chelf has persevered and came in to help the Cowboys win the game? But the truth of it is, and Chelf would likely agree, that he needed to play better.

He's not to blame for the interception on his first pass as he got hit solidly while throwing the ball. Chelf finished 10-of-25 passing for 178 yards with an interception. He did seemingly find some rhythm in the second half but could not sustain it.

"The thing that I liked is that we got into a rhythm in the third and the fourth quarter and we protected better," said Gundy.

As for Walsh, he might have had a better day. You never know but that early vertical down the middle of the field to Tracy Moore was thrown as well as it could be. It was a tough catch as Moore had to deal with the ball coming out of sun and into the shadows. Had Moore been able to make that catch, who knows how the game would have gone.

Then Walsh was a victim of his own attitude and mindset when he threw the interception in the end zone that caused the OSU staff to make the switch. Walsh had run the ball eight yards down to the 4-yard line, but fumbled the ball on the next play for a loss of four yards.

The next play Walsh couldn't help himself because he had on his mind making a play to atone for the fumble. He pressed and threw into coverage which led to the interception, his second and final of the day while completing 9-of-18 for 115 yards.

"We had two interceptions caused by defenders hitting our quarterbacks when they threw the ball," said Gundy. "We really only had one interception today that was the fault of a quarterback."

3. How did the offensive line do? Has Joe Wickline found the solution?
We really don't know because the lineup was only together for one series. The Wickline solution was moving right tackle Daniel Koenig to left tackle and Parker Graham from left tackle to right guard, where he was slated to play before the August knee injury that cost Devin Davis the season. Chris Grisbhy, who had been playing right guard but is a more natural tackle, was moved to right tackle.

The line had done well in practice but by the second series of the game Brandon Garrett was in at right tackle as Grisbhy succumbed to the 24-hour flu that has been going around Stillwater. He was running a temperature of 103 degrees, according to Gundy. While Grisbhy was feeling better, the flu had zapped him and he had no energy.

The Cowboys finished with 415 total yards and only 95 rushing yards. There were two sacks, both by TCU backup left defensive end James McFarland. that would lead you to believe that if all are healthy then we'll get to see the original solution in the starting lineup at Iowa State.

4. Is Rennie Childs ready to become the "bell cow" running back in this offense?
Okay, this is where I will say that maybe I wasn't open minded enough. But even though some Cowboys fans were asking for Childs to be thrown into the mix, I wasn't the only one curious how it would go.

Childs has given great effort and had some good practices but that was a Childs we have not seen, at least exactly like that. Childs ran extremely hard against the Horned Frogs, and if he can keep it up and also show he knows his pass protections and other responsibilities then he will play more.

"He ran hard but there is more to playing running back than just running the ball," said Gundy. "We needed a spark and we got a spark from him running the ball. We will continue to work with the guys that we have and will evaluate that position during the week."

His play may have also inspired senior Jeremy Smith. If Smith is as competitive as he claims then he will come out with smoke coming out of his ears in practice this week.

I'm still wondering what Desmond Roland could do on a more frequent basis. Roland only got three carries for 11 yards, while Childs picked up 45 yards on nine carries with a touchdown. I think we all now know at least you can put him in the game fresh and he will catch a defense off guard.

5. What is OSU going to do about field-goal kicking?
This one is tough because there aren't many options, and coming out of the game both Kip Smith (right ankle) and Ben Grogan (hip) appear to be injured to varying degrees. Smith seems more serious as it is the second time he's had that same injury this season.

Grogan has tremendous potential, and there is no doubt that this may be mental. Former Cowboys Quinn Sharp and Brandon Weeden, as well as other OSU athletes, have used a sports psychologist. If Grogan hasn't, then maybe that might be an option.

Something has to happen because the Cowboys are going to need to hit some field goals. Saturday's game should have gone to the fourth quarter with the Cowboys leading 23-3 instead of the 17-3 score that left the door more open for the Frogs.

6. If this team is going to improve and challenge for the Big 12 title, then what has to happen?
In a perfect world, both quarterbacks start playing incredible. Rennie Childs continues to run hard and kick some butt while inspiring Jeremy Smith and Desmond Roland to run more productive.

The offensive line is fixed with Grisbhy back at full strength at right tackle, and that helps all of the aforementioned items happen. Grogan goes on a streak of 20 field goals made in a row. The defense continues doing what they are doing.

Okay, all that may be asking too much. What really needs to happen is no matter how ugly or awkward it may seem at times, the Cowboys continue to find ways to win. Style points aren't needed in this Big 12, just win each week and advance to November.

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