Sunday Review: More Good Than Bad

Robert Allen breaks down the OSU Cowboys 45-38 victory over the Pitt Panthers.

Each week we look back and review the game tape to see how things went for the Cowboys on Saturday. Last week it seemed like everything went against the Cowboys in the Central Michigan debacle, but yesterday, despite a passionate plea from head coach Mike Gundy and the Cowboys bench, a critical replay on the fourth down carry by Pitt running back James Conner showing his elbow down and the ball not across the plane was ruled inconclusive and the call of touchdown stood. The reaction in Boone Pickens Stadium was outrage as fans booed before and after action for several minutes.

The next series featured an answer score by the Cowboys with a 67-yard touchdown run by Rennie Childs and an official with the sight line missed a possible holding infraction by wide receiver Jhajuan Seales. Then later a replay situation on what was ruled a catch and a fumble by James Washington and a recovery returned to deep into OSU territory was reviewed and changed to an incomplete pass. If you pay close attention, these officiating situations do seem to even out. You just need to keep an accurate count. 

As for all the good:

** The first play of the game, the call, the execution and the result was everything the Cowboys and the fans at Boone Pickens Stadium needed to regain confidence in themselves,
** In the play calling of Mike Yurcich, who took a beating last week but shouldn't have,
** In Mason Rudolph and his ability to throw after the high throws and over throws of last week. 

** The constant attempt to get the run game going. When you look back at it the head coach was right. Mike Gundy said there would be one missed block costing the play from breaking. Against Pitt there was a missed block here and there, but there were also a lot of blitzing linebackers, safeties, and corners unaccounted for. Pitt, seriously, blitzes almost half the defensive snaps. They are going to man the outsides with the corner, unless they blitz one and then they roll a safety into man to cover that outside or single receiver to the side. Defenses that sell out like that are tough to run against and OSU had enough to make Pitt pay for it with some first downs and Childs' big 67-yard touchdown run, which I guarantee made Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi's skin crawl or worse.

** The tackling for the most part of middle linebacker Chad Whitener, "star" linebacker Jordan Burton, defensive end Cole Walterscheid, and Vincent Taylor. All three had a bunch (19 combined) of unassisted tackles.

** Wide receivers blocking as Washington had some good blocks on run plays and the offensive line really did a good job of getting "hat on hat." There wasn't as much push as you would like but it was a good performance against a good, aggressive defensive unit. Of the three sacks that Pitt had, two came from sack leader Ejuan Price and the other from a blitzing linebacker that scored his sack on a multiple blitz and was the one that was not picked up. 

** Defense after the storm and lightning delay, and really the defense in the second half overall. In the first half Pitt had 308 yards of total offense, but in the third quarter there was only 120 yards and 50 yards of that came on one run off the double "jet action" from the speedster Henderson. That was the play of the quarter and in the delay Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glen Spencer and his staff drew up a plan and coached it up. After the delay, Pitt had 76 yards and did not score. On the "jet action" they ran it three times for -2, -1, and 10 yards.

** Punter Zach Sinor was outstanding with six punts averaging 47.7 yards and four kicks downed inside the 20. Sinor saved his best work for the final 12:55 when the game was going to be decided.

** The play that set up the winning touchdown had been discussed at halftime and then again in the delay was drawn up and the offense was able to walk through it. Sprung when it was, it worked to perfection and led to the winning score.

The Bad:

** Too many special teams penalties, and three on Dillon Stoner. Gundy said they will clean that up and he knows Stoner is hard on himself and he said that is good. "Football and what he does for this team means a lot to him." That desire to do good and bust his tail is a part of what will make Stoner in the future a really good player. 

** For the second week in a row, Oklahoma State was confused some by the three level pass route concept that both Central Michigan and Pitt employed. Three receivers working different vertical levels in a fairly easy sight line for the quarterback to read all three. Peterman's first completion to Henderson was a three-level.

** Too many missed tackles led to big runs by Conner and some of the success of the "jet action" plays.

** Some blitz pick-up on offense, but honestly, the blitzing was somewhat crazy by Pitt.

** Rudolph had two fumbles that were preventable. The first he seemed to just lose the handle on the ball trying to hand off to Justice Hill and the second he either needed to secure the ball better or that clock in his head should have said get rid of the ball.

** Rudolph was much better and it seems silly to point out these things but there were still some overthrows and high tosses. There were a lot less than a couple of weeks ago; only a few this week.

** The second quarter touchdown pass on the post from Peterman to Weah could have been prevented by Ramon Richards, who got caught behind on the coverage. Ramon recovered and his interception to seal the game was really timely.

There is no ugly with the 45-38 win!

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