Cowboys Football: The 2013 Season In Review

In the end our prediction for the Cotton Bowl wasn't far off. We predicted it would be close and could come down to who had the ball last. We were close; even our predicted score was close too, just flip-flopped with Missouri winning 41-31 instead of Oklahoma State capturing a 34-30 victory.

We thought OSU would do a better job of running the ball early in the game, and that some of that would involve Clint Chelf scrambles up the middle. He had some opportunities and instead stayed with the pass. One time he moved up in the pocket and probably threw past the line of scrimmage but the ball was intercepted.

I think he could have had some major rushing yards in the scramble mode. In fact, when Maty Mauk came in for Missouri with his three scrambles for 73 yards on a scoring drive I thought that might be more like Chelf would play.

In the end, Oklahoma State had a chance to win because of Chelf as he topped the Cotton Bowl passing yardage record of Graham Harrell's 363 yards with his total of 381 yards.

Chelf did throw the two picks and had the fumble at the end, not really his fault as he was decked pretty solid on the play by Missouri All-American defensive end Michael Sam. But Chelf connected for two touchdown passes and had a touchdown run. It would have been interesting to see if the offense would have opened up earlier with Chelf doing some more running.

The defense actually played pretty good as a high-powered Missouri offense was held to a reasonable 462 yards, and an interception helped set up one Tigers score and a fumble return by the Tigers defense accounted for the final touchdown. Missouri averaged 5.1 yards a play and the first down average was really low from the middle of the second quarter into the fourth quarter.

In the end there were some aspects that could have been better, some better decisions. Third-and-short was a problem for the offense. Red zone defense was a problem for the defenders.

Making correct decisions was a problem in our opinion for the officials. The Big 10 crew was awful and at one time had trouble figuring out which down it was. My good friend at FOX, Charles Davis said he thought the call on Tyler Patmon on his pick six late that could have won the game was correct. I will say it wasn't interference and at worse was a 50/50 judgment call, and considering how all of those went Missouri's way it wouldn't be too much to ask for that one to go the Cowboys direction.

Impact on the Season
The biggest impact is it is the last game of the season and a team is often remembered by the last game. Adding to that is the Bedlam loss making it a two-game skid to close a 10-3 season.

Am I satisfied? Are the players and coaches happy about it? Should fans be happy, uncertain or miserable? My opinion is Oklahoma State fans are getting ahead of themselves. When a 10-3 season in Stillwater is not reason to at least be satisfied then that is when the Cowboys have traded spots with Alabama, and that hasn't happened yet.

That said, I am not satisfied and the season should have ended better. However, the Cowboys lost to two top-10 teams and they lost both games in the final minute. There is no embarrassment in that, just frustration, and the players and coaches feel it most. All I ask from fans, all I will ever ask, is not to make it all about you. It's not. First and foremost, it is about the players.

It was still in many ways a good season. I believe this team overachieved in many ways.



The Cowboys got the most they could out of the quarterback situation with Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh. Be honest, did you really think that Chelf would be the second-team All-Big 12 quarterback? I didn't.

It started in August when Walsh outplayed Chelf to really earn that early entry after the first two series against Mississippi State. Walsh is not the prettiest quarterback in the game. As the season wore on he had to press in the passing game. At times his mechanics slid back from the improved to the old and more comfortable. He deteriorated until a second interception early against TCU in the end zone. I'm convinced he was pressing to make up for a fumble on the previous play, and it cost him his spot.

Chelf started slow but came on to energize the Cowboys during a seven-game win streak that included huge road wins at Texas Tech and Texas and the upset win at home over Baylor.

Chelf is one of the most mentally tough players I have ever covered. He refuses to quit. He is not the most talented quarterback at Oklahoma State, but he is the one that got the most out of himself in my opinion. His coaches got a lot out of him as well, and Mike Yurcich's experience with the quarterback run game and mixing it really helped. It became a dangerous offense, where it was not previously from West Virginia to Iowa State.

Chelf should be respected by all OSU fans.

Running Back
This was one of the two major trouble spots on the offense as Yurcich and running backs coach Jemal Singleton had to stay creative all season. As much as many of us wanted Jeremy Smith to emerge as a bell cow or franchise running back he was never able to get past being the change-up or role-playing back he had been while sharing the position with current Dallas Cowboys running back Joe Randle.

Smith and eventual starter Desmond Roland are down hill runners that run hard but they are not the game breakers like a Dantrell Savage, Kendall Hunter or Joe Randle. Roland, when healthy, came closest, but it took a rotation that also included talented freshman Rennie Childs, who just might be an answer in the future as an every down, get it done back.

Even in the Cotton Bowl it took a rotation at running back to get to 167 rushing yards and the Cowboys needed more of the more controlling type of offensive yards.

Wide Receivers
This is the most talented position on the offense, and it will continue to improve as Marcell Ateman, Jhajuan Seales, Brandon Sheperd get more experience. Also, the emergence of C.J. Curry to go with the return of Austin Hays from an injury this season and having Ra'Shaad Samples out of redshirt next season will make for a really talented group, and more are coming. Speed is coming with Tyreek Hill too.

This season, the Tracy Moores, Charlie Moores and Josh Stewarts made plays but they were handcuffed at times by quarterback play and offensive line protection.

That is not to say there weren't drops because there were. Overall, this was one of the stronger positions on the team. As a group they played well in the Cotton Bowl with few drops.

Offensive Line
This was another trouble spot after the August injury to standout tackle candidate Devin Davis. Parker Graham and Brandon Webb were solid, and Jake Jenkins improved throughout the season with a strong year at center. However, the tackles were inconsistent and it took until midseason to find a good working combination.

There have been some misses in recruiting on the offensive line and that needs to change. There are young players waiting in the wings, and hopefully most of the them will be on target. Zach Crabtree and Jesse Robinson really look the part, and there is hope that Michael Wilson will round into form.

The Missouri defensive front gave the Cowboys problems in the Cotton Bowl as the Tigers changed up some fronts and did some pre-snap movements that caused the Cowboys problems before making adjustments.

Defensive Line
The defensive line was excellent in the Cotton Bowl. The touchdown runs by Henry Josey were the only real blemish and they were primarily cutback runs that will always give defensive linemen problems.

Calvin Barnett and James Castleman played well inside, although the abundance of plays early in the game caused the defense to tire some on that long drive. Jimmy Bean is the future of this defensive line. He was awesome with a pair of sacks and some big-time plays in the Cotton Bowl. This position looks good for the future.

Caleb Lavey may embody the spirit of this team more than any other player. Pro scouts will talk about how slow Lavey is, but he just makes plays and keeps making them. He is actually faster than the stopwatch may want to admit. He is a smart football player that is great on preparing and knowing what the opposing offense is trying to do.

The linebackers as a whole -- Lavey, Shaun Lewis, Ryan Simmons, Joe Mitchell and others -- were good all year. But in the Cotton Bowl they could have tackled better. The tackling was off just a little and, at times, it was costly.

Considering Kevin Peterson got hurt early and was out for most of the Cotton Bowl, the secondary played awesome. They were diving for balls and timing plays just right to poke the ball out. I would point to Tyler Patmon, Daytawion Lowe and Justin Gilbert as the most valuable.

I really believe that Patmon made an outstanding and athletic play on the ball to Dorial Green-Beckham that first looked like a pick six for the Cowboys but came back on a pass interference call by Big 10 back judge Scott Buchanan.

Special Teams
This may have been the most disappointing area of the team in the Cotton Bowl. First having a delay of game penalty and then missing badly on a short field goal has got to change. Ben Grogan has talent but he has to find himself mentally as a kicker. He must be better and more consistent. The punting and kickoffs weren't great either and the coverage units struggled.

Missouri was definitely better as the Tigers hit their field goals including a career long for their kicker. All kickoffs were touchbacks except two. This all has to get better.

Coaching Staff
Most Cowboys fans don't want to hear it but with the overall improvement on defense and the fact the offense still averaged 39 per game and 450 total yards without a franchise-type running back, a quarterback that overachieved, and an offensive line that was rarely settled is pretty impressive.

I would say it is one of Mike Gundy's more impressive coaching jobs, not because of who the team had but more important the pieces they did not have.

In the Cotton Bowl, OSU had one All-American in Justin Gilbert and five first-team All-Big 12 players. Missouri had two first-team All-Americans and five first-team All-SEC players. You can see the talent was close with maybe a slight edge to the Tigers. Missouri won a close one.

The problem for the coaching staff is they had a few recruiting classes (2011 and 2012) that did not turn out as strong, top to bottom, as they had experienced in the previous few years. However, the 2013 and 2014 recruiting classes appear to be really, really strong.

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