I started to do this in a scatter shoot format but then I decided it would be easier to go in good and bad. Besides I always like the positive and negative format because you can decide how you would like to start and end up. I have always been a "bad news first" guy s I like to end up on the positives.
My hope coming out of the 32-8 win over Central Arkansas is that this team does not improve its most between the first and second game as the Oklahoma State players and coaches admitted in the postgame that they have lots to improve on.
"That was a good win for our team. I was glad that we were able to get that one under our belt.," head coach Mike Gundy said. "I thought that they had a good game plan. I think they also took some chances, like going for it on a couple of fourth downs and the two-point conversion.
"With our team, the thing that I wasn't pleased with was having too many penalties. We have to eliminate penalties. They were in a defense that was focused on stopping the run. In the end, we threw the ball down the field with the style of defense we were seeing. We threw for a lot of yards, obviously. We still missed about six passes that would have kept us on the chains early. We also had a couple of big plays called back with penalties. We need to be more effective in first-down passing situations when we have guys open. We've got to hit those throws
"I thought the defense was excellent and continued to make plays. We've got a lot of work ahead of us, and we've got to minimize some of those mistakes. I wasn't happy with our two blocked PATs. Without watching the tape, I'd guess we had low kicks on both of those. We have to do a much better job of converting PATs. We've got a lot of work ahead of us, but we're certainly looking forward to our next game. I'm glad we got this win."
"We started out slow, but we got the ball rolling and we got the W," wide receiver David Glidden said with his career reception yardage day of 144 yards. "Coach Gundy said that we're 2-0 and there are a lot of teams that aren't like that, they don't have that benefit of going into that next game undefeated. There are a lot of improvements to make, but we'll move on and get things corrected."
Yes the Cowboys are 2-0 but are still a work in progress.
Here we go, bad news first.
Concerning Points Coming out of 32-8 Win over Central Arkansas
1. Let's start with running the football. Yes, Central Arkansas played an all-out stop the run defensive game plan with linebackers breaking for gaps at the start of each play and safeties playing downhill from a starting point of seven yards off the line of scrimmage. You still have to run the football and the deep penetration from the defensive line and primarily two pretty stout fire hydrant bodies up front in Ricky Dobbins (99) and Dawson Hadnot (91) is a major concern.
The biggest violators on the offensive line of allowing penetration were right guard Paul Lewis and center Brad Lundblade. In some cases, Lundblade can be excused as he was attacked and he still has first priority of getting the ball back in the shotgun snap. Lewis and left guard Michael Wilson have to help out. On one run play in the second quarter Lewis was pushed back five yards in the backfield and Dobbins pancaked him. Now to the Cowboys guard's defense, he did have several plays where he assignment sound helped with a double team and slid off to seal a linebacker but those plays don't seem to add up to the lost yardage plays on runs. Still on a plus/minus scale I've got to think a change would need to be considered before you got so deep that a change is more disruptive.
Wilson had his low point in the game too when they ran behind him on the goal line in the third quarter on a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line after the completion to Marcell Ateman. First-and-goal at the UCA 1 and Oklahoma State is thrown back four yards and has to kick a field goal. That is unacceptable!
There were also two holding penalties on left tackle Victor Salako, both because Salako had his arms outside the arms and once he had a great old-fashioned wrestling takedown. The other penalty was declined. Salako needs to do a better job of keeping those hands inside.
2. Mason Rudolph is a young quarterback who is extremely talented and is only going to get better. But we in the media may have passed on to the fans an idea that he is closer to the finished product. The good thing is I don't see him having a complete poor game, but he is learning and is developing and is dealing with the sensational emotions that come with playing quarterback on a talented offense in great environments.
He loves the game and loves playing. I think his inner emotions still need to be worked on how to channel them and that is the overthrows we see and saw a lot early in the game on Saturday night. No pass there. He has to get that under control. The game could have been over at halftime if Mason had thrown the ball more on target.
3. Special teams had the plusses and minuses. On the minus side was a bad decision to try and field a punt by Jalen McCleskey that he really misread the coverage and then when he saw how close it was the first time I've seen him alligator arm a punt catch. Luckily, OSU recovered the loose ball.
Ben Groganmade made his two field goal tries, but the two blocked extra points were absolutely unacceptable, and look for Paul Lewis to come off this unit. You hate to pile on a kid that you know is trying but Lewis was picked on by UCA on nearly every field goal and PAT try and they gained penetration with the most being on the two blocks. I know Mike Gundy thought the kicks were low but UCA had guys there to block those kicks, low or not.
4. Defense, you just have to get nit picky with them. The second week in a row the defense was beat on a trick pass and the corners and any deep safety have to know if a receiver is running down the field then somebody has to run with him, period. There were a couple of coverage busts it appeared in short zones, but not a lot to pick at on defense and Central Arkansas needed help from penalties on special teams and from the defense like Darius Curry's facemask penalty to extend a drive.
Positive Points Coming out of 32-8 Win over Central Arkansas
1. Halftime adjustments. You have to hand it to Mike Yurcich and the offensive staff of Kasey Dunn, Greg Adkins, Marcus Arroyo, and Jason McEndoo that they have come out two games in a row and started fast on offense with either some clear adjustments, improved execution or both.
I think the play calling was fine, and I'll take this time to put up my consistent argument that in the perfect world that most of the fans and the OC in Yurcich want the offense to look and play the same way. The difference is Yurcich has to deal with the reality of what the defense is doing to try to stop the offense and fans just deal with what they want the offense to look like. Take away the penalties, Mason throws the ball more accurately, and the offensive line doesn't get pushed back in the face of the running backs and the offense scores at least 24 points instead of 10 the first half.
2. Go to the offensive line as we bagged them for the run blocking but the pass blocking was really sound and consistent. Rudolph had to scramble out of trouble a couple of times and there was one sack but it was really solid, even better than solid. Yes, the run blocking was rough, really rough, but if you want to check out a highlight go to Rennie Childs' 35-yard run in the third quarter as Zach Crabtree sealed the edge for Childs and then wide receiver Jhajuan Seales made a nice block working back inside to spring Childs to another level. It's the way you want to see that off tackle zone blocked and sprung wide open.
3. Drops. A problem in the first game seemed to disappear and instead there were some great catches like James Washington's catch on the sideline. Ateman and Brandon Sheperd each had good catches and Glidden still claims he had the catch on that first foray to the red zone that was eventually ruled an incomplete on the fade in the corner of the end zone. By the way, Washington had the only drop that I saw in the game. He won't do that often.
4. From a scheme and smart standpoint I love the initial substituting of J.W. Walsh into the game. Rudolph does not come out and instead goes to a receiver position and Walsh to quarterback. Rudolph even called the play in the huddle. In a critical instant this could cause the defense to incorrectly substitute in trying to match up and it also seems to speed up the substitution because Rudolph can be communicating the play while Walsh is coming onto the field.
5. Defensively, it was mostly all good except there were no turnovers forced, but 10 tackles for loss with the entire defensive front of Emmanuel Ogbah, Jimmy Bean, Vincent Taylor, Motekiai Maile, Ryan Simmons, Seth Jacobs, Chad Whitener, and Gyasi Akem getting part of plays behind the line. Ogbah and Bean had sacks. Jacobs, Ramon Richards, and Ashton Lampkin had big hits that will compete for the "Big Stick Award" and the right to carry the stick out next week. Coverage was solid and the "eye candy" that UCA uses to try and hypnotize opposing defenses did not distract the Cowboys.
6. Zach Sinor did it again with five punts for a 43.4 yard average and thanks to the cover unit a 44.0 yard net punt average. Three punts were downed inside the 20. Sinor is really solid. KIckoffs were good with a 40.7 net and despite a dangerous return man and unit they only averaged 22.8 yards on KOR. OSU had the spectacular 54-yard return from Jeff Carr to win the day in the category.
It must improve if the team is going to get where it wants to in the end, but at 2-0 and with the attitude and knowledge that they have to improve the season is still alive and heading down the right path.