Gundy Breaks Down The Cowboy Offense

The energy was back, the voice had that same resolve and determination and Mike Gundy was back at work on Sunday with his staff determined to get the OSU no-huddle, spread offense on track for next Saturday's home date with Missouri. A victim of a stomach virus that combined with seeing his team get a Gundy described "butt kicking" from Colorado knocked him out by the end of the day. Gundy was actually driven home in his own car by Mike Holder Saturday night, but was ready to go again Sunday.

In his Sunday teleconference with the beat media, Gundy went through the entire offensive performance position by position from Saturday's 34-0 loss to the Buffaloes. Here is a quick synopsis of each phase of the offense.

Quarterback: Gundy felt that Bobby Reid played like a freshman. At times he was too quick to throw and at other times he held the ball too long. Reid never allowed himself to get comfortable during the game. He also commented on Reid's footwork, saying he looked like a point guard trying to do too much and not letting his team help him out. It should be a film that, while painful to review, will be useful in helping Reid to learn from the mistakes.

Running Backs: Mike Hamilton, again, was not able to find openings to explode into and turn short gains into bigger ones. A worse problem for Hamilton were several busts on his part in pass protection. One in praticular got Reid hammered. Grant Jones was a spark and Gundy said the coaches will continue to expand on his role. It is tough to bring a player along from another position during the season and Gundy said they had Jones worked in on about four different plays for the Colorado game. The plan is to expand him four more plays this week and increase his role.

Wide Receivers: This was where there were some bright spots. Gundy felt several players took positive steps.

"Errick McCown made a couple of plays," Gundy said when asked about the previously little-used senior wide receiver. "He did something and that is going to get him some more opportunities. I thought Tommy Devereaux made a nice play on the fourth-and-one to convert and get a first down. Luke Frazier made a couple of catches and Brandon Pettigrew had a nice play to start the second half. A lot of people just dwell on the negatives, but there were some bright spots that we'll use to get better."

Of course, D'Juan Woods played well. There were fewer drops and the emphasis this week will getting the throws more on the mark.

Offensive Line: Gundy went over the line position by position and said that for the most part the veteran tackles - Charlie Johnson and Corey Hilliard - are playing as expected. He said there is some youth in the middle, but the offensive line graded out okay. He said it hurts not having Caleb Noble available and that the shoulder injury to Noble may not allow him to return any time soon. He's just not sure. He pointed to the busts in pass protection by Hamilton as part of something that fans don't see and realize that it isn't always the offensive line responsible for breakdowns.

Gundy didn't hide or sugar coat anything, but he also isn't scrapping anything. It is full speed forward with getting this offense improved and capable of winning Big 12 games – starting with Missouri. He doesn't know for sure when the offense will mature and kick it into gear. One media member suggested that is a lottery-type question and if anyone knew the answer they could go win the lottery. Gundy said the emphasis will be on coming up with those winning numbers by Saturday.

"These guys are practicing hard," the head coach said of his players. "They are working hard. The guys that have been around have won and they know we can win, and they'll work hard to get it done. When players are treated well, they know they are respected by the coaching staff, and they know they are being coached well then they will perform for you. All these guys know what is going on. They've played on teams and with competition and had their butts kicked. They know how to come back."

As for the talk among media and fans that Oklahoma State may be looking at a season where the Cowboys don't win again and may finish 3-8.

"The players are only concerned with Missouri and this week's game," Gundy said. "They aren't looking at games six, seven, eight, nine, ten and eleven. They are worried about what is going on now and this week."

Finally, Gundy was asked about one of the most disturbing statistics with the lack of success on the offensive side of the ball, third down conversions. Oklahoma State has converted just 12-of-56 third downs this season and converted just 2-of-17 on Saturday against Colorado.

Gundy didn't deny it is a problem, but elaborated that it might be silly to pinpoint third downs.

"That's just a stat they keep," said Gundy. "Go back to first downs. I would say we didn't do a very good job there and that will hurt your conversions on third downs. A good first down is four yards or more and I doubt we hit that very much."

A gruesome subject to wrap up on, but for the OSU offense it was a gruesome day on Saturday. You have to believe that the loss to Colorado is rock bottom for the installation of the new offense and that there is nowhere to go but up. Missouri just might be the kind of team to help encourage that as the Tigers gave up 580 yards to Texas on Saturday and are now allowing an average of 33.3 points a game, last in the Big 12 in scoring defense. The Tigers didn't exactly play a rugged nonconference schedule. The 2-2 Tigers also allow an average of 417 yards of offense per game. Meanwhile, the Cowboys defense will have their hands full with quarterback Brad Smith and playing well enough to allow the beleaguered Cowboy offense a chance to outscore Missouri.

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