OSU Rewind: Run Game Woes Catch Up With Pokes

Oklahoma State has struggled to find a run game throughout the season and the Cowboys lack of success in running the ball (8 total rushing yards) finally caught up with them on Saturday night.

Oklahoma State's offensive brain trust of head coach Mike Gundy, coordinator Mike Yurcich, offensive line coach coach Greg Adkins, running backs coach Marcus Arroyo, wide receivers coach Kasey Dunn and Cowboy backs coach Jason McEndoo have all contributed throughout the season as the Cowboys have used various ploys, creative X's and O's, a little smoke and mirrors to compensate for a conventional run game that has only peeked through in a couple of games.

The rest of the time the combination of J.W. Walsh coming in with the quarterback run game and threat, reverses, quick passing game, screens and so forth have served as enough of a substitute to keep defenses honest enough for quarterback Mason Rudolph and the receiving corps to deliver their big plays downfield.

Baylor and its beast of a defensive tackle in Andrew Billings and his complimentary teammates on defense wouldn't allow that to happen. Short of a couple of screens to Chris Carson and a jet flip touchdown to Jalen McCleskey the Cowboys could not muster much to balance their offense.

By far it was the worst rushing game of the season as the number including the 42 yards in losses on six sacks (two belonging to Billings and he influenced at least two more) brought the Cowboys rushing total to a net of eight yards. Oklahoma State averaged 0.3-yards a rush attempt. 

"We battled back and then we got a couple of stops on defense but couldn't get anything going on offense," Gundy said after the game. "We didn't run the football effectively enough to give ourselves a chance. We were able to throw the ball some, but they stayed balanced. They rushed for 300 yards. That was the difficult thing for us, and we never really could overcome it.

"We've talked about trying to improve it (run game) and get a little better each week. It's not any one particular area of our game but it's something that we have to try to continue to improve and work at. There are ways that you can get around it at times, but when you run into the situation we were in tonight, it kind of shows up and is difficult to overcome. I've been mentioning throughout the year that we need to get going with the running game."

It did not help that by the end of the game that Rudolph was trying to operate on a bum ankle or foot that appeared to be first aggravated on a late second quarter sack by the Bears Aiavion Edwards and then was further bothered on a sack the next play by Billings. On that particular play Billings fought through and bull rushed through center Brad Lundblade and guard Michael Wilson to cause Rudolph to be called for intentional grounding and he still hit the turf on the play.

To his credit Rudolph and the combination of Marcell Ateman, James Washington, Jalen McCleskey, David Glidden, Jhajuan Seales, Austin Hays and Zac Veatch still made the passing game go to the tune of 433 yards and three touchdowns. Also, to the credit of Rudolph he did not throw an interception despite being sacked six times and being under pressure on at least two-thirds of his 50 pass attempts. He completed 27 of those. 

It is no fun to say it but Baylor, even without starting defensive tackle Beau Blackshear and deep safety Orion Stewart, was too tough for the Cowboys. The major difficulty was the mismatch up front where it was hard to pick a protection scheme because none of them seemed to be working.

Besides Rudolph limping around over on the sidelines when the offense wasn't out on the field the medical staff had alternate quarterback J.W. Walsh bundled up and were trying to keep him warm as he was fighting off some sort of flu or virus as he played the game with a temperature of over 100 degrees. Of course, Walsh isn't going to throw out excuses or let on that he was not healthy and Rudolph wasn't going to give an inch either as he would limp to the sidelines but find it hard to run and throw without limp during plays.

The heart was there but the talent wasn't enough to deal with the Bears, who likely have three NFL Draft picks on their defensive line alone. The brain trust will have to go back to work this week and find a plan that will re-establish some semblance of balance for Bedlam. The OU defense has seemingly improved throughout the season.  

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