1. How did the Cowboys win the game?
That's a great question. Oklahoma State was outgained 322-to-273 yards, out-firstdowned 16-12, the Cowboys turned the ball over three times on fumbles, once inside the five-yard line. ASU started five drives inside OSU territory, including four inside the OSU 40, the opening kickoff was returned for a touchdown by Grant Jones but was called back on a penalty, the Cowboys were penalized 12 times for 69 yards, and the Cowboys struggled with the punt unit. The first two punts of the game went 13 yards and 9 yards after it was partially blocked.
That would seem to be a recipe for disaster, but the OSU defense was strong allowing only the 10 points on the five drives that ASU started with favorable field position. The defense also came up with three turnovers of its own. On offense big plays were the answer, particularly two long passes from Bobby Reid to D'Juan Woods. The field goal unit remained perfect as Bruce Redden nailed a pair, including a 52-yarder in the first half that might have been good from 65 yards.
It was ugly, but it was a win. How ugly was it? OSU head coach Mike Gundy apologized to the OSU faithful in his opening remarks to the media.
"Offensively, we played undisiciplined," said Gundy. "We got a few chunk plays. That is the reason we were able to score. We coiuld not establish anything running the ball. They did what they should do. They put eight or nine people on the front. They challenged Bobby Reid and our young receivers, other than D'Juan Woods, to see if we could make a play. That is exactly what I would have done. You combine the turnovers, and that puts you in a bad situation as a team."
2. What is the biggest problem with the offense?
It's not the quarterback. Reid has a lot of learning and improving to do, but he is not the one holding the offense back. It's not the running game – on 31 attempts the Cowboys did gain 125 yards for a 4.0 yards per attempt average. The problem is Oklahoma State is running a spread offense, which really needs multiple playmakers to be successful and they have one receiver in D'Juan Woods.
Here is the best example. The Cowboys gained 273 yards in the game, but if you subtract Woods' top three receptions for 41, 35 and 29 yards then the offense had 168 yards on 49 other plays. If some other receivers don't step up then Oklahoma State can count on Woods being double teamed by every opponent and the defense putting nearly everybody else in the box to stop the run.
3. What was Arkansas State doing that enabled the Indians to run the ball for 200 yards?
The Indians saw how Florida Atlantic started gaining yards in the second half with trap plays. The Indians have trap plays in their playbook as they had shown plenty, including a tackle trap on tape in the first two games. The Cowboys got caught in some aggressive blitzes that made it even easier to spring traps on draws. Give Antonio Warren credit as he is a good back, but several times the Cowboys aggression worked against them. ASU quarterback Nick Noce was also able to pick up big yards on the scramble. In a blitz the Cowboys were covering the back end with two deep safeties. That meant if Noce could escape the front then he had lots of room to work with on the scramble. The second half the Cowboys started using safety Jamie Thompson to "spy" Noce and that's when the scrambles ended and the sacks began. OSU had four sacks for -17 yards.
4. What was up with all the penalties?
I don't know, but there were 28 in the game – 12 on OSU and 16 for 100 yards against the Indians. On one OSU series on offense there were four penalties alone, most illegal procedure. The OSU offensive linemen claimed that Arkansas State nose guard Jamarro James was barking out signals to confuse the Cowboys. The officials called him for it later in the game, but Gundy said that didn't matter to him.
"We talk about discipline and effort to our football team all the time," said Gundy. "We were an undisciplined football team tonight. We put ourselves in a position where the other team had a chance to beat us."
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