1. How did the 74-yard touchdown run on the first play impact the game?
You would think it would have really hurt the Cowboys and buoyed the Buffaloes, but both sides say that wasn't the case. The Oklahoma State defense did not panic and came back to play very strong until the game was decided in the third quarter. Even then the defense never gave up, they just couldn't overcome the lack of offense.
"Our defense recovered well from that," said OSU head coach Mike Gundy. "That is always a downer when somebody busts one on you to open a game, but the defense came back and stopped them pretty much the entire first half. We didn't convert much on offense, so the defense was out there a long time today."
Colorado head coach Gary Barnett said the early touchdown may have actually worked against his team.
"What happens when something like that happens is everybody lets their guard down," Barnett explained. "I have seen it happen so many times. It looks like it is going to be so easy that you don't go out with the same intensity. I don't know that that happened, but it generally does happen. I loved that play, but I was frustrated with everything that happened between then until the end of the half. That is stuff we will work on, and I don't want to dwell on it. The first touchdown was huge, obviously, and they wanted to bring the heat and play cover one, man-to-man. When you do that you leave the middle open and that is what happened."
2. Why did the Cowboys take so many chances (going for it on fourth downs and using a fake punt)?
It is pretty simple. Mike Gundy is an aggressive coach and he knew that he had to take some chances to help the offense. The fake punt run by freshman Matt Fodge went for 11 yards and a first down. That was a play the Cowboys had been ready to go with for the past three games and they finally found an advantageous place to use it. The Cowboys actually were 2-of-3 on fourth down conversions. It's a scenario that will likely be repeated throughout the rest of the season unless the Cowboys offensive performance improves dramatically.
3. How did the defense play?
The defense played much better than they'll get credit for. The last touchdown on the Burton interception return had nothing to do with the defense. The Buffs also got the short field for the first touchdown in the second half after the deflected interception off Ricky Price's thigh. The defense forced a turnover that the offense did not take advantage of, and if you subtract the 74-yard touchdown run on the opening play then Colorado had just 307 yards on 68 plays in the game. It was not a sterling effort, but it was competitive.
"Defensively, we played okay," said Gundy. "I know our offense had so many three and outs, that it was hard for our defense to ever catch it's breath."
4. Did anybody step up at wide receiver?
Maybe, Errick McCown, a player that I have in the past said proabably wouldn't contribute much in his career and had given up on, showed me plenty on that final drive when he hauled in a slant over the middle in traffic. He finished with two catches but I don't think he had any other balls thrown to him where he could make the catch. I was also impressed with the one grab by tight end Brandon Pettigrew. The key is that it has to happen more than once or twice a game. There was a glimmer there today.
5. What is the attitude of the players following the first loss?
Surprisingly it's good, in some cases very good. A good example was offensive tackle Charlie Johnson and the effort he showed in chasing Marcus Burton all 99 yards while trying to catch the Colorado freshman and keep him from scoring. There was never a lack of effort. There was also no finger pointing. Maybe the most optimistic and determined of Cowboys is linebacker Jamar Ransom, who finished with six tackles and forced the only Colorado fumble.
"I forgot about it," said 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."
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