Sunday Review: Negative Plays vs. Baylor

Oklahoma State's coaches and players felt like they should have won at 16th-ranked Baylor Saturday night. But there 10 negative plays prevented the Cowboys from returning to Stillwater from Waco with the victory.

I can't tell you how many texts that I had during, after the game, and on Sunday morning following the Cowboys 35-24 loss to Baylor in Waco on Saturday night. If I spent all my time answering each of those text, which I will on my radio show on Monday thru Friday, I would not have had time to write these review stories or do much of anything else. I read them but I will wait on text until radio on Monday.

Most said something about how awful the coaching was and that something needs to change. One said a middle school coaching staff could have prepared the team better for the Baylor game. Most of them were well meaning but not very accurate.

Oklahoma State had a legitimate chance to beat an unbeaten conference rival, that is good but not as good as they have been. They had a chance to beat a team that was favored by Vegas by 8.5 points at kickoff and beat them on the road. 

Honestly, the coaching plan was pretty good. Mike Yurcich and the offensive staff hoped to take advantage of Baylor not being as stout in the front seven and challenge the Cowboys improving offensive line and running backs to run the football and take some pressure off the big play portion of the offense especially anticipating that Baylor and defensive coordinator Phil Bennett would pressure plenty and still try to bracket or play over the top with a safety on Cowboys wide receiver James Washington.

It worked well as Oklahoma State ran 101 plays for 492 yards. They ran for 213 yards and averaged just shy of four yards a carry. They held onto the ball for 41:27 of the game!

The one glaring negative was turnovers. The Cowboys fumbled deep in their own end again, fumbled near midfield, and then fumbled going in for a score that would have given them a fourth quarter advantage. An interception later came during desperation time. Turnovers were the big difference!

Defensively, coordinator Glenn Spencer and his staff hoped to stop the run, Baylor's underlying top choice on offense, and force some turnovers, get off the field on third downs, and limit big plays. 

The defense did a good job on the run, holding Baylor to 136 rushing yards, a low for the season for the Bears. The Cowboys forced an interception, but special teams gets credit for the one and huge Baylor fumble. So, turnovers forced could have been better, so could have third down stops, and the glaring issue was big plays allowed. The most damaging of the big plays allowed came on the outside with the corners biting on double moves.

"We need to take care of the football and we need to do a better job of preventing big plays on defense," head coach Mike Gundy said at halftime.

After the game, he repeated the same message. "We did a lot of things we need to do to win tonight, but when you go on the road against a good team and you turn the ball over, then you don't give yourself a chance," Gundy said. "(Justice Hill) is a freshman, but he has to learn to do a better job of securing the ball. That is a big part of it. He had a good game but you can't fumble. Then we continued to give up big plays."

In the continuation of our review from the 35-24 loss to the Bears, here are the 10 negative plays we cited in our video review. Again, we list the plays in chronological order.

Negative Play #1

In my opinion this was one of the biggest because it scored Baylor early confidence and set up a leading touchdown going into the one-hour, 35-minute weather delay. The Cowboys defense had held Baylor on offense to negative one yard on the first two plays and had a third-and-11 to get the ball to their offense. Instead, Seth Russell ran play-action, really like anyone should bit on that on third-and-11 yards, and then after a delay the tight end/fullback Jordan Feuerbacher snuck out of the backfield down the seam and uncovered and really unbothered caught the pass and rumbled 36- ards to the OSU 40. Star Jordan Burton sucked in on the play-action and missed the delayed release. The Cowboys gave up 35  rushing yards on the next four plays, including the 23-yard direct snap to running back Terence Williams for the 23-yard touchdown. 

Negative Play #2

The Cowboys needed to try to keep Baylor from unlocking all of its offensive options and did a good job on the first play of the game when as promised Russell kept the ball and was stopped by Cole Walterscheid and Devante Averette for a one-yard loss. On the Bears second series they did not score despite driving the ball 68 yards in 11 plays as they went for it on fourth down and were stopped. But the biggest play in the drive was the keeper by quarterback Seth Russell on a delay draw and he ran down the middle of the field for 29 yards. Ramon Richards got the stop on an ankle tackle, but the Cowboys needed to be physical and tackle Russell high and hard. A couple of legal but big hits could have ended the quarterback run game for the evening. 

Negative Play #3

Quarterback Mason Rudolph had a very good game and is having a good season, but his continued ball security issues is perplexing. I know he has been coached up on securing the ball in close quarters and being extra careful. But on the Cowboys third possession he was looking for a receiver, the pass protection was good but the coverage was even better, and Rudolph was looking for an escape when he had the ball knocked out by Bears defensive end K.J. Smith and Baylor recovered at the OSU 33-yard line. Fortunately, the defense got the ball back on the Maile deflection and Burton interception.

Bad Break

I don't count this as a negative play but sometimes you get beat by the breaks, the luck goes the other way. On second-and-10 at the Cowboys 38, Russell threw in the flat to Lynx Hawthorne. The ball was overthrown, barely touched by Hawthorne, who was well covered, but behind him on the boundary was Ishmael Zamora, who Ramon Richards had left to go play the ball. The ball went straight to Zamora who ran it in for a 38-yard touchdown. 

Negative Play #4

Late in the second quarter the Cowboys have good field position at their own 44. After a nine-yard gain by Justice Hill, Rudolph hands off to him again and he breaks out for the outside and corner Verkedric Vaughns, who had a good game, does a nice job of stripping the ball and recovering it on the same move. That set up another Zamora touchdown reception for Baylor's halftime lead of 21-14. 

Negative Play #5

Immediately after the Cowboys come out and eat up half the third quarter with a 16-play, 75-yard drive to tie the game at 21-21, on the second play after the kickoff the first of the huge double moves happens as Chris Platt puts a stutter step on Ashton Lampkin and blows by him for the touchdown, an 89-yard touchdown bomb for the Bears.

Negative Play #6

I agreed with the decision as head coach Mike Gundy decided to go for it on fourth-and-a-yard and three-quarters at the Baylor 4-yard line. The give was to Childs, who squeezed into the hole between center Brad Lundblade, who despite the television announcing team opinion, got his block well enough, and Marcus Keyes. Keyes did not get enough but Childs came into the hole a little high, a little more leverage and I would like to see where he ended up. It was close. 

Negative Play #7

The next possession the Cowboys and Hill are rolling as he had punished the Bears for 12 yards, then got outside on a hook block by tackle Zach Crabtree and went for 38 yards. The next play he picks up 12 yards to the Baylor 2-yard line only to lose the ball as he was almost down. The officials had it OSU ball at the 2, but the replay official called for a review and turned it over with Baylor recovering on their own 1. It was a major momentum play as the Bears used Negative Plays #8, #9, and #10 to salt the game away.

Negative Play #8

Another double move to Zamora with Russell throwing out of his own end zone and it was Ramon Richards that bit on the move, this time a little more than a stutter and Baylor was out of the hole at the 2 and out at the 34-yard line. 

Negative Play #9

Third-and-5 for the Bears at the Baylor 35 with Oklahoma State needing the ball back in the worst way, still trailing 28-24. Russell hits Zamora, who beat the jam at the line of scrimmage to get inside position and go straight down the field to receive the 34-yard pass and get Baylor to the Cowboy 27-yard line.

Negative Play #10

After Baylor loses 14 yards on a snap that goes between quarterback Seth Russell and running back Terence Williams, the Cowboys on third-and-goal at the 15 allow Baylor's Russell to hit Chris Platt between linebacker Jordan Burton and corner Ramon Richards for a 15-yard touchdown. That score put Baylor up 35-24 with 5:14 left in the game. It was a back breaker. 

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