Five Questions Following the Victory

1. Why did the offense struggle at times? The answer is fairly easy, combine a new offense making its debut with so much inexperience in the line up and it is going to be inconsistent. Outside of three offensive linemen and wide receiver D'Juan Woods there were no other players with more than one year of experience. Many of the players were playing for the first tine and all of the players were playing in this offense for the first time.

It will take time to get this offense operating smooth. Without looking at film the coaching staff could spot mistakes.

"As much youth as we have on offense, Donovan (Woods) missed some throws downfield and he'll hit those in the future, Bobby (Reid) didn't throw much downfield, but he ran the ball well and Donovan fought hard and ran well," first-year head coach Mike Gundy said of his thoughts on the offense. "We need to get the ball more to D'Juan down the field. We should grow and mature each game."

Having played a game will be a huge benefit. The video review will help and then getting back at it in a hurry will also help.

2. Why didn't Bobby Reid play more quarterback in the second half and attempt more passes when he did?
It's very simple, during the first half Reid made a couple poor decisions in the passing game and with the game staying within a touchdown margin throughout there was no room for error. Again, the video study should help Reid and after the game offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Larry Fedora made it very clear that Reid is still a quarterback first and foremost.

One thing Reid does very well for now with terrific results is run out of the quarterback position. Late in the game it was Reid and his two big runs for first downs that killed the clock and closed out the win. It goes back to playing any player that helps you win games. In his first ever college game there was no doubt that Reid helped the Cowboys win.

"That was our four-minute offense, and we practice and stress that real hard," said Reid. "I make sure I get the snap, running backs protect the ball with two hands, and I just do my part. I'm for whatever helps the team win games, that's where I am right now."

3. Why were the Montana State receivers open so much of the time?
The Cowboys defense was aggressive up front, but with freshmen Calvin Mickens, Jacob Lacey and Quinton Moore playing a significant number of plays in the secondary, and Grant Jones starting his first game at corner for the injured Martel Van Zant, defensive coordinator Vance Bedford kept it simple. Bedford kept it safe with almost exclusive zone coverage, usually cover two, with the two safeties playing halves on the back end. Expect to see conservative coverages until the young players gain the confidence for something more.

"There were mistakes made in the defensive backfield, but overall I think we did a pretty good job," said strong safety Jamie Thompson, the mother hen of the secondary. "They came out tough."

Even with the safe coverages, Montana State only averaged six yards per pass attempt and 9.3 yards per completion. While those aren't great numbers they are better than many defensive efforts against passing teams in the past. Montana State's longest completion was 37 yards and that came on a fake punt. The Cowboys also improved in a key area as the Bobcats only converted on 4-of-14 third downs.

4. Why did the Cowboys go for two points on the first extra point?
The Cowboys have converted to the swinging gate alignment on extra points. There are a lot of options off the alignment and one of the first steps is getting teams to respect the personnel shift. The best way to do that is run over them, which the Cowboys did with Julius Crosslin on the first attempt. Now every future opponent of the Cowboys will see it, respect it and work on it. Like I said, that is the first step in implementing the swinging gate.

5. Will the quick turnaround help or hurt the Cowboys ?
That answer won't come until Thursday night in Dolphin Stadium against Florida Atlantic, but personally I like it. The Cowboys will spend Sunday afternoon reviewing the video and then making corrections in a walk through. After dinner it's time to move on to preparing for Howard Schnellenberger and the Owls, who lost to Kansas 30-19. The game is not even in their regular home stadium, and there are several Cowboys - Mike Hamilton, Jamie Thompson and David Koenig - going home to play in their home state.

"We have to practice Sunday and Monday and then we go light on Tuesday," said Gundy. "We get two days to work and it will be hot down there, but it has been hot and humid here. We'll get a good game plan together and get our players prepared."

My guess is this team will be eager to play again, and should improve a significant amount from game one to game two.

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