"I thought Mike Yurcich did a great job calling plays," head coach Mike Gundy said in speaking with me after the game in the Iowa State visitors locker room complex on the Cowboys Radio Network.
I'm going to guess that Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer would agree with Gundy. While there have been several Saturdays this season the results on the scoreboard have been greatly appreciated, the method of scoring might have been too quick. Last week against TCU when the Cowboys offense drives consisted of 46 yards in 46 seconds, 63 yards in 26 seconds, 61 yards in 1:13, 86 yards in 57 seconds, and 75 yards in 49 seconds. The defense was on the field for 110 plays and 37:06. The week before and virtually out of necessity the Pokes offense scored eight of the team's 10 touchdowns many times in lightning quick fashion. The defense was on the field over half the game and defended 97 plays.
Saturday in Ames, the Cyclones loaded with a 6-2, 232-pound quarterback, a wiry strong tailback out of Lawton, Oklahoma, and a big offensive line averaging 6-5, 320 pounds that Mike Gundy called, "the best run blocking offensive line in the Big 12," the defense needed the offense to give them an assist. In the first half the Oklahoma State defense looked tired as they gave up a healthy mix of chunk plays and steady drive sustainers while the Cyclones forged a 24-7 start on the scoreboard.
Mike Yurcich and the offense changed their stripes or their "MO" just a little as they did a good job of playing long with their defense and helping them catch their breath.
Oklahoma State answered Iowa State's opening scoring drive with a nine play, 81-yard scoring drive that took 3:20 off the clock. That was just a start. In a drive that spanned the first and the second quarter, the Pokes chewed up 12 plays and 62 yards in eating up 4:37 of clock time only to miss out on points on a 28-yard field goal miss by kicker Ben Grogan.
Then just before the half the Cowboys answered a Cyclones scoring drive with a 16 play, 88-yard drive that burned 7:20 off the game clock and may have relly been the key drive in settling down the defense. As usual, halftime led to some key adjustments in some of their blitzes and some of the their fronts and coverage.
"I am proud of the adjustments our coaches made at halftime. I wish we started the game that way, but it didn’t work out," Gundy added. "Our defense rallied and got some stops in the second half, they were great on the third-and-one and fourth-and-one.
"I made a mistake on the way we handled that last situation, we should have run our offense and we didn’t. We made a big play at the end of the game on the interception [by Jordan Sterns], he made a play on it and secured it. Sometimes in college football, you don’t play as hard as we should have. We didn’t start with as much energy as we needed to, but we finished."
The second half was mixed with the urgency to comeback and get the lead along with as they closed in on that lead shortening the game and Iowa State's opportunities. Oklahoma State's second-half drives were as follows:
- 14 plays, 92 yards resulting in a touchdown to make the score 24-21 Iowa State, and it burned 6:18 in clock time;
- 3 plays, 14 yards, 36 seconds ending with a Blake Jarwin fumble;
- 3 plays, one yard, 1:06 in clock time;
- 8 plays, 58 yards in 2:44 ending with a 16-yard J.W. Walsh touchdown run to make it 31-28 Iowa State;
- 11 plays, 84 yards with Walsh hitting Jeff Carr for a touchdown.The game-winning drive as OSU went ahead 35-31 accounted for 5:00 on the clock.
The defense handled it in the second half, limiting Iowa State to 104 yards and only one score after the Jarwin fumble. The second half the defense was only on the field a total of 12:04. That is playing along with your defense by the Cowboys offense.
"When the coaches call a play, whatever it is, we have faith in it," said receiving star Marcell Ateman, who had eight catches for 132 yards and a touchdown to open the game. "We stuck with what we wanted to do, and we tried to make something out of what we were doing."
Walsh is always a big part of keeping drives alive with his dual threat ability at quarterback. His leadership is huge too and he said the team has what it takes to play together and there is no doubt in the faith this crew has.
"You don’t win without having some maturity and a relentless football team, and we’ve been able to attain those things very well," the fifth-year senior quarterback explained. "There was not a doubt in anyone’s mind, you could see it in everybody’s eyes. Everyone bought in and everyone was upbeat the whole time. We just stuck with it, stayed the course, and we came out on top."