1. Did Oklahoma State get what it wanted out of this win?
For the most part, yes. Head coach Les Miles wanted to win the game, wanted to see his team improve in all three areas (offense, defense, special teams) and he wanted to play a number of young players to build up the depth on the roster. The bonus for the coaching staff is that there were still enough mistakes and areas to correct that they should have no trouble commanding the players' attention in practice this next week. The coaching staff especially has a lot of tape to use to teach younger players.
2. How did the offensive tackles play?
The offensive tackles were much better. Wyoming used a variety of zone blitzes, similar to what Nebraska battered the Cowboys with the week before, and the tackles did a much better job of picking them up. It was not all the tackles. The entire offensive line, tight ends, and fullbacks, primarily Shawn Willis improved too. Willis not only blocked better in pass protection, he also scored the first two touchdowns of his college career. The first one was a typical fullback play, a two-yard plunge. The second was a big time play as Willis navigated a 14-yard touchdown run.
"That did kind of remind me of those old high school days," said Willis smiling. "I went up there and was going to go A-gap, I saw an opening and on the first griz down play I went backside, but it was kind of cluttered over there. Then I saw some daylight, so I went over there and tried it and made it to the promised land."
"Shawn Willis had some nice runs," said head coach Les Miles. "We will have to see how his bocking was, but it is a work in progress. It will be nice to see him come alive and be a force there along with Tim Burrough."
Back to the tackles, starter Matt Hardison and Kellen Davis got some breaks as Doug Koenig (left) and freshman Corey Hilliard both got playing time and it came rather early in the game. Expect to see some of that subbing to continue.
3. Explain the penalties on the punts? Isn't the halo rule dead?
The first call by the Big 12 officiating crew was a bad call. The halo rule no longer exists. All the coverage team is required to do is let the receiver have the opportunity to catch the punt. After he makes the catch he is fair game. The first time it was called Vernon Grant had allowed Josh Barge to catch the punt and timed a perfect hit. The second was a correct call as an OSU defender had Barge around the ankles as he was trying to make the catch. It's another judgement call on the part of the officials.
4. Why did Les Miles put the first team back in during the fourth period?
Oddly enough, it was the catch interference penalty in the fourth period combined with a personal foul penalty of freshman defensive tackle Brad Girtman that had Miles upset. Wyoming used the double dose of 15-yard infractions to score with Bramlett hitting Malcolm Floyd for a 45-yard touchdown.
After that score, Miles and the staff went up and down the O-State sideline yelling at the first teamers on offense to get ready to go back in. First team quarterback Josh Fields had left the sidelines and was AWOL, but came jogging back in from the ramp to join the other starters on the field two plays into the drive. The first team offense scored five plays with Tatum Bell going 16 yards for the touchdown. After that scoring drive, the first team offense had the rest of the evening off.
"Maybe we didn't get their "A" game the second half, but they got ours," said Wyoming head coach Joe Glenn. "Our kids went out and played hard, and there's some solace in the fact that we came back some."
5. Why didn't Donovan Woods play?
There was never an opportunity. Backup Jamie Beeghley was going to get the first available snaps. There will be more time to play with next week, and I would expect to see Woods get his feet wet against Southwest Missouri State. Other freshmen did play for the first time as defensive linemen Xavier Lawson-Kennedy and Marquee Fountain both played. Also, there was Hilliard at offensive tackle, Brent Baisden came on to kick an extra point, and linebacker Victor DeGrate played. He had two big hits that everybody could see as he upended tailback Ivan Harrison. DeGrate had one more hit that drew attention.
"He's a big, strong, fast guy and we kind of expected that to happen," said Miles. "He was slowed with an injury in preseason camp, and we are just now getting him going. It's really nice that with him we now have four really good linebackers that we can put into the game."