Sunday Rewind: Cowboys Offense Is What It Is

What logically happens when you mix a quarterback, who arguably has a very good arm but hasn't played much "real game" football since 2009, with an offensive line that has just one real veteran performer on it with a pretty salty mix of skill players at running back and wide receiver loaded with all kinds of ability?

The answer is you get an potentially explosive group that at times will slow to a crawl and look like a very pedestrian attack struggling to find plays that work or struggling to get into the right play against the opposing defense.

You saw a little of each of that on Saturday against Iowa State. The Cyclones have a defense that is by no means a brick wall, but they are a hustling group with talent and an age old coordinator that has taught them well in the art of disguise.

Iowa State, as the Cyclones did against Baylor in slowing the Bears juggernaut offense down at times last week, did some disguising on Saturday, waiting until checks had been made and until the last second to actually show an extra safety in the box or a two-high safety cover two approach.

As a result, Daxx Garman was often throwing into the teeth of coverage and the Cowboys running attack was actually running into a loaded box. The adjustment was to quick snap the Cyclones and when they did the Cowboys were able to start dictating what they ran against.

"You always have to expect disguises, and that's something they did a very good job of today," offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said after the 37-20 victory over Iowa State. "It's something that we had prepared for, but they did an excellent job of disguising their cover one or cover two man, or dropping a safety late in the box. All of those looks you try to simulate in practice. Practice is one thing and a game is another. We need to read and react a lot better on the run than we did today."

The biggest disappointment on offense for the Cowboys was that Iowa State, last in rushing offense in the Big 12, actually gained 3.7 yards per rushing play to the Cowboys paltry 3.1 yard per play. However, give the Pokes credit because when they needed to run the ball down the stretch to take command and win they did it.

The offensive line is still coming together and adjusted with redshirt freshman right tackle Zach Crabtree missing most of the game after what was feared to be a serious injury. But Crabtree was back in the game and appears to be okay or likely ready for next week. Michael Wilson filled in and offensive line coach Bob Connelly has been wanting to play Wilson some as he has practiced well.

Gundy observed, and I saw it to from the sidelines, that Wilson was rushed underneath on a pair of pass plays where the defender got to Garman and it impacted the quarterback including one of his two interceptions.

"On the first one the route was off, and on the second one it was man coverage," Yurcich said in addressing Garman's two interceptions."The ball was thrown on time. You've got to give the defense some credit on that. They did a good job and we can do a better job running the route. It's a team game, and as long as he's going through the right reads and throwing the ball on time, you can't be too critical of the quarterback."

Honestly, it was a tale of two halves for Garman, and it is not to be unexpected. The first half he was 15-of-24 with two interceptions for 128 yards and looked about like I thought he would when he first went in for the injured J.W. Walsh in the Missouri State game. In the second half, he was the polished Garman that earned Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors against Texas Tech, completing 11-of-17 passing for 143 yards and a touchdown.

"Daxx is a gunslinger, so that's going to happen sometimes," said slot receiver David Glidden. "The kid can throw the ball, but their defense was making plays. They watch film, too, so picks are just a part of the game.

"Daxx was calm about it, and we all knew he would go back out there and keep letting it fly. He's real confident in himself, and he's confident in all of us, which is a great thing to know. It doesn't matter how many picks he throws, he's going to keep letting it fly."

Just get ready, the season will be an adventure and a potential wild ride like Saturday's tale of two halves. The Cowboys offense can be very fun and explosive but it can also be stuck in the mud of inexperience and have trouble getting out of the way of the defense. The good news is each week should get better, but the bad news is the caliber of competition is close to jumping up considerably.



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