Alamo Bowl: Five Questions

Robert Allen explains what happened to the Cowboys in the 33-7 loss to Ohio State in Wednesday night's Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

1. What caused the landslide?
You go right to the start of the game and Donovan Woods' underthrown pass was picked off by Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter. Three plays later Justin Zwick hits Anthony Gonzalez, who makes a great catch for the 23-yard touchdown. The next series Cole Farden has a 17-yard punt off the side of his foot and the Buckeyes get a field goal after the Cowboys force a fourth down. The next series by Oklahoma State, the Cowboys are moving the ball, and Woods' own knee knocks the ball out of his hand and Ohio State has another possession start in Cowboy territory for another Nugent field goal.
"That took us out of the rhythm of our offense," said head coach Les Miles. "Our defense was out on the field for an unusually long time (and) gave up some big plays, but at times played very well."
The Cowboys had a chance to get back in the game late in the half and at the start of the second half. Trailing 23-0 the Cowboys move the the Ohio State 24 and Jason Ricks is wide right on a field goal try. Ohio State fumbles on the first series of the second half giving OSU the ball at the Buckeyes 33, but on fourth-and-goal a fake field goal doesn't catch Ohio State by surprise and on two good scoring opportunities Oklahoma State comes up empty.

2. Where was the expected aggressive approach by the Cowboys defense?
It was stripped by the start of the game. In the second half when Ohio State finally had to start in bad field position the Cowboys did bring on the blitz and it had some success, but at that point the game had been decided. The defense was on the field most of the night, and as they tired and cramped up Ohio State settled into a power-I and used their full rotation of backs to just blast away at a defensive front that needs help for the future.
If the Cowboys can get some help on the defensive front it will be nice to see linebackers make some plays at or behind the line of scrimmage. As it was Oklahoma State had only three tackles for losses in the game and one of those came courtesy of a nice play on the outside by Jamar Ransom on Ted Ginn, who used his favorite backwards move.
The defense was the better side of the ball against Ohio State, but only because the offense was bad and more severely outmatched. The defense has to improve for the Cowboy program to take any steps forward.

3. What caused the OSU offense to again be out of sync?
It starts with the offensive line. Having Kellen Davis at tackle would have been nice, but that wasn't the differencemaker. Ohio State was more physical and more talented on its defensive front. The best example was the first called run play of the game. Quinn Pitcock throttled Oklahoma State left guard David Koenig and leveled Vernand Morency for a four-yard loss. That happened too often. The more painful plays were the passes and some of the brutal hits Donovan Woods sustained. Woods was courageous in his effort, but too many times he had too little time and there wasn't much he could do with the Buckeyes defensive front teeing off on him.
"They were a very big physical team and that didn't bode well for us," said Miles.

4. What positives were there in the game for the Cowboys?
Some of the younger players made plays. Prentiss Elliott has a chance to be a superstar. Ted Ginn touched the ball 14 times on offense for Ohio State and averaged 8.4 yards a touch. Elliott touched the ball five times on offense and averaged 9.6 yards a touch. More Elliott would be nice. Elliott blew one opportunity himself. He dropped a quick pass on a wide receiver screen that would have gone for big yards, but, of course, never got started because he didn't catch the ball.
On defense Andrew Alexander was impressive at cornerback as he made several nice plays in coverage on Ginn. Fullback Shawn Willis had three touches, two carries and one reception for 16-yards and a touchdown. Luke Frazier and D'Juan Woods each made some nice receptions. But overall there wasn't much to note for the Cowboys. Ohio State got the quick start. They were more talented, especially in the trenches, and it showed up virtually all night.

5. Where does the situation with Les Miles and LSU stand?
I spoke with Miles and with his wife Kathy. Both insisted that Les was not going anywhere. Miles said he is the head coach at Oklahoma State and will continue to be the head coach at Oklahoma State for a long time. He even joked when told of the stories that he was going to interview with LSU.
"If I were hiring, after that game (Alamo Bowl), I wouldn't talk to me," joked Miles.
The Cowboys head coach said he is not scheduled to talk to anyone at LSU and doesn't plan on talking to anyone from LSU. He is committed to continuing to build the program at Oklahoma State.
"We'll be back next year going to a fourth bowl game," said Kathy Miles. "I don't plan on being anywhere other than Stillwater."
Things could change, but Miles is not a liar. He's played the media pretty good on this, and the attention doesn't hurt him, in fact, it helps him. It could help in getting his most coveted facility for the program, an indoor practice facility. It could also help in recruiting as OSU is battling LSU for several key prospects including Houston Westside standout R.J. Jackson, Dallas Kimball defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger and Tyler Lee offensive lineman Ciron Black.

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