For Better Or Worse, This Is The Offense

We now know the truth, at least how it played out on Saturday in the Big 12 opener again Colorado, the Oklahoma State offense is in its infant stages and is still waiting to climb up on two legs and walk. The offense was able to get just enough done- with help from the defense and the special teams - to beat I-AA Montana State, Florida Atlantic and Arkansas State. In the Big 12 opener the fears created by those sluggish wins were realized.

The no-huddle, spread offense at times crawled against a solid Colorado defense, but it also backed up, hacked up and was stagnant. The numbers tell the story of an offense that is going through the maturation process and compounding the situation the offense is also struggling with the education of redshirt freshman quarterback Bobby Reid at the same time.

"I thought his demeanor was effected some in this game, but not very much," OSU head coach Mike Gundy said of Reid. "He still stays pretty composed but he missed some throws. The thing I noticed was when he was running in space he didn't do a very good job. He tried to make too many cuts and actually tripped himself a couple of times which is pretty much unlike him. I don't think he played very well."

Overall, the offense gained just 208 yards in 67 plays for an average of 3.1 yards per play. Running the football was slim pickings with just 92 yards on 38 tries. As distressing a numbers as any came on third down coversions. OSU was 2-of-17 on third-down tries. Reid, who looked overanxious early in the game, hit on just 14-of-29 passes for 116 yards. He was picked off twice, once on a deflected ball to start the second half. The second came in the final minute of the game as it looked like the Cowboys had driven the ball in touchdown range at the Colorado eight. It seemed the offense had a drive they might be able to build some momentum on only to have a rushed Reid, with receivers covered, scramble and force a pass that Colorado freshman defensive end Marcus Burton picked off and returned 99 yards for a forget me not touchdown.

"We went down the field and it was too bad that we didn't convert there," Gundy said of the fourth quarter drive, the best of the day by the offense that featured a 49-yard completion between Reid to D'Juan Woods. "The thing that happened is down in there close, when they are not open you need to either run or throw it away. You can't throw it in late like Bobby did because there are too many people in a condensed area and bad things happen. You go through a learning stage with him. He has to figure that out and next time don't do it."

Gundy, who was fighting a stomach virus throughout the game, told the media last Monday that he personally chose this offense. It is the offense he believes will be best to use to build on the program and take it to a higher level. The problem is that it is now obvious the process will be a step back in order to hopefully take steps forward. Gundy is not flinching. He is solidly behind making this offense work.

"Offensively, we have to work hard at getting better," said the Cowboy head coach. "We weren't very good today. There were opportunities that we let go by. There were open receivers and we didn't hit 'em. We had a little drop or two and we had some holding (penalties). The mechanics of what we do were actually better. There were open receivers and we didn't convert and take advantage of it. We've got to keep working and get better. There are some adjustments going on in the new system. Throughout the game the easiest thing to do is put two tight ends out there and run the ball and run play action, but that is not going to help us win here in the years to come. We've got to get better at what we do, and get these players and coaches up. We have to do a better job as coaches."

Gundy has admitted that he could have stayed with a pro-style I offense that was run and play-action pass oriented and the Cowboys would likely be more successful, but Gundy has blinders on and they keep him looking way down the track.

The struggles of the offense will be tough to weather, and there is no concrete opinion as to when it will take off. There are lots of doubt, but the positive is there is also a lot of determination.

"We have guys playing hard, but we are not making plays at crucial times" said offensive tackle Charlie Johnson, who won points for valor with his chasing of Colorado's Marcus Burton the length of the field on that final interception. "The defense and the special teams gave us plenty of opportunities, but we did not capitalize. We just need to get better for next week and Missouri."

"I forgot about it," said linebacker Jamar Ransom. "I've forgotten the game already and I'm looking forward to Missouri. I have to do what I always do, lead by example. I'm going to work 10 times as hard in getting ready for Missouri and I'm going to encourage all my teammates to do the same. We have great team chemistry. We don't point fingers and we don't have ego problems. Everybody is on the same side of the ball. We're going to have fun and play football."

A few hundred miles to the north in Columbia, Mo., on Saturday Texas hammered Missouri 51-20 behind the quarterback that just about everybody compares Reid and his abilities too. Texas went through some growing pains with Vince Young but the Longhorns are now reaping the rewards on a weekly basis. Against the Tigers, Young completed 15-of-22 passes for 237 yards and ran for 108 yards on 13 carries. A total offense output of 345 yards, 137 yards more than Oklahoma State on Saturday and 219 yards more than the young Reid.

Cowboy fans are just wondering how long it will take for the offense to click, and Reid to come close to matching the kind of yards Vince Young generates. Unfortunately, it appears it will be measured in months and not weeks.

"He's a redshirt freshman, my gosh," Ransom said. "As soon as he gets it he is going to be all over the place making plays. He's going to be a great player and when he does we're going to be right there behind him like we are right now."

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