Gundy: Offense Is A Concern

Mike Gundy is happy to be 2-0 after the first two weeks of the football season. But he also knows that if his Oklahoma State football team doesn't get better on offense in the next three weeks that the Cowboys will struggle when Big 12 play opens. OSU defeated Florida Atlantic 23-3 on Thursday night but had just 292 total yards, and the offense struggled to sustain any kind of drive against the Owls. The Cowboy scoring drives were only 6, 21, 5, 21 and 54 yards on the night.

Does Gundy see improvement? Does he expect better production next week against Arkansas State? Or in three weeks when the Cowboys open Big 12 play against Colorado? Or is the no-huddle, spread offense taking longer than he expected for this young offense to grasp?

"We just to week to week," Gundy said Friday afternoon. "They played better than what I thought after watching the tape. We blocked better – hats on hats. (But) we've got to make some plays – get the ball to somebody and hit some down field throws."

Donovan Woods and Bobby Reid split time at quarterback against FAU, and both need to improve their games, Gundy said.

"We didn't throw the ball effectively down the field, but if you noticed how they played their corners and safeties, they allowed us to run the ball," he said. "They gave up the run because they played everybody back until late in the third quarter and fourth quarter when they put their safety back down when they knew that we were going to run the ball more to use up the clock.

"When we did have a chance to hit the receivers, we didn't hit them. That's the difference in a 23-point game and a 40-point game. If a couple times that Michael (Hamilton) or Julius(Crosslin) is out there .... and make the last guy miss, and they break a big one, or you convert a big throw, you just have to get a couple of those and you tack 14 onto the board, and instead of 23 you're looking at 37. That's how you get big numbers. We just need to continue on and become consistent."

Gundy believes his offense needs to work on executing and not adding anything new at this point.

"I don't think we can do much more on offense. We're not very disciplined right now in some areas. We had the ball on the ground a couple times. We had a couple holding calls. If you're not disciplined than you have to go back to the fundamentals and mechanics, and you have to get better at that. So I don't see us elaborating and doing a whole lot right now. I can see us being pretty vanilla."

How far is this offense – the same one used by offensive coordinator Larry Fedora at Florida in 2004 to lead the SEC in total offense by averaging more than 425 total yards – from clicking on all cylinders?

"It looks like a long ways to me," Gundy said. "We've got to get better on third downs. When you're young at quarterback, and you have a new system, it takes time."

Gundy, on the other hand, is pleased with how the Cowboys' new attacking defense is working. Oklahoma State limited Florida Atlantic to just 220 yards and a measly three points.

"I think our players are buying into the system. They enjoy it. We're cut out for it. We have a lot of players that fit that blitzing attack like (Pagitte) McGee, (Lawrence) Pinson, (Jamar) Ransom, Jamie Thompson, Paul Duren, Victor DeGrate, Nate Peterson ... all those guys float around that 220 to 250 (pound) area that can run. That's why you're seeing earlier success in that area," Gundy said. "Also, I think our coaches do a good job. I think they have an idea of what they want to do and I really believe that our players enjoy it. Defense is an attitude, so much of it is the attitude you carry on the field, and it seems to be working."

One player who stood out Thursday night was Ransom, who came off the bench to have the best game of his career. The 5-10, 230-pound senior linebacker was credited with a team-high eight tackles, two quarterback sacks, two caused fumbles and a fumble recovery.

"We don't consider him ... he's almost like a sixth man in basketball," Gundy said. "He can start and play but we rotate him in all the time. We kinda consider him as a starter. If you watch him practice, if you watch him here in the facility, if you watch on game day, he has a smile on his face and he loves to play the game. That attitude has become infectious amongst our defense. That's what I see happening. When I was running today, I thought about Pinson, Pagitte, Ransom, Jamie, (Ryan) McBean, even XLK is having fun, Victor, Marque (Fountain), Darnell (Smith), Daniel McLemore ... those guys are having fun playing. That's becoming a part of our defense. And that's exactly what our goal was. We're not there yet but it's becoming a part of it. They enjoy what they're doing. They enjoy the system. They like to attack all the time. Everybody says you're playing people that are subpar, but whatever. You can play whoever you want ... we (still) got a bunch of tackles for losses, a bunch of sacks in two games."

Gundy could not comment on the condition of Luke Frazier, who was taken off on a stretcher early Thursday night but returned to the stadium after being taken to a Miami hospital. Frazier, who reportedly had a concussion, returned home with the team after the game. Gundy did say he saw Frazier on Friday in The Athletic Center.

Without a game this weekend, Gundy said the players will have some conditioning drills Saturday but will be given Sunday off before returning to practice Monday.

The Cowboys host Arkansas State next Saturday, Sept. 17, at 6 p.m. at Boone Pickens Stadium.

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