Grading The Cowboys

It was a fun afternoon Saturday in Lawrence, and while the Cowboys have been picked apart and picked over the past two games, and even leading into Saturday with Kansas, those Jayhawk drumsticks the Cowboys munched on during their return trip home were a nice reward for an above average effort all the way around. You could pick over this one some as well, but we tried not to be too critical.

The reason, anytime you go into a Big 12 stadium from Boulder to Waco and overcome a 17-point third quarter deficit to win by 10 points then you have done a pretty good job.

While the offense moved the ball in the first half it also turned the lead over to Kansas and it could have been worse had the Cowboy defense at least not held its ground when they had equal footing. This defense isn't good enough yet to stop opponents in quick change negative situations, so the offense needs to quit doing that. However, because the defense held Kansas the rest of the half, the offense had a reasonable number on the scoreboard to shoot over when they began finishing drives and throwing the complete passing arsenal at the Jayhawks.

Also, a big high five for the return of Joe DeForest and his "special" teamers, who were truly special on Saturday. Nobody, and I repeat nobody, schemes more successfully for big time opportunities and advantages in special teams than DeForest. That is why weeks like the one before send him to the depths. The man's pride is the main ingredient to his success.

Quarterback: B
A "B"? What do you mean by giving a "B" to the guy that just set the single game total offense record in school history? Bobby Reid was 23 of 35 for 411 yards and five touchdowns. He had, maybe, the run of the year for 29 yards for a sixth touchdown. Yes, Bobby was sensational, but even he would tell you that the interception at the end of the first half, the fumble on the quarterback sneak in the third quarter, and the short pass to fullback John Johnson that was directly into the turf in the first half at the goal line would knock that sensational productive day down to a "B" grade. You have to give Bobby room to get better, and the good news is his coaches, teammates, and myself, the Sunday grader, believe he will.

Running Back: B-
Here is where you might have been expecting a "C", but Keith Toston's first half fumbles where just a part of the story. Toston helps the grade in the second half with his demeanor (see the column on the game). Toston stayed up and cheered his teammates on like crazy from the sidelines. His fellow running backs went out and gained 125 hard-earned yards against a defense that stacks against the run. Mike Hamilton, you know the guy OSU fans love to gripe about, had 70 yards on 11 carries. They were big yards, and they helped keep drives alive, and keep passing lanes open.

Wide Receivers & Tight Ends: A+
What needs to be said here? Adarius Bowman, D'Juan Woods, Brandon Pettigrew, and Anthony Parks' key third-down catch, his first of the season, were all important and for Bowman dominating. If you could go back and watch tape with the coaches you would see some sensational blocking. It was a nearly perfect day for the receivers.

Offensive Line: A
Because of an injury to Brady Bond, true freshman Russell Okung was added to the mix last week and dispite an illegal proceedure penalty and a few misses performed well. The offensive line was good at the point of attack and did a really job pass blocking, allowing only two sacks on 37 pass attempts. A solid job by a hard working, blue collar group.

Defensive Line: ARyan McBean's jump over a blocker into Meier for a sack was spectacular. Victor DeGrate, Marque Fountain, Nathan Peterson, McBean, and Darnell Smith all played well. XLK didn't register a tackle, but did what he does best and tied up two linemen for the Jayhawks.

Linebackers: B-
Playing part-time linebacker Andre Sexton had eight tackles, four solos and a tackle for a loss. Chris Collins had six tackles before his knee injury and freshman Patrick Lavine also had eight tackles, one for loss, and a dramatic interception late in the game. The tight end underneath was difficult to cover, but with new guys playing KU was smart to expose that. It is something new linebackers often lose track of or fall behind with late recognition. Also, the Cowboys blitzed a bunch helping the tight end get loose.

Secondary: B-
They played well. Martel Van Zant was the leading tackler for the team with nine. The combinations were new back there and the biggest mistake was letting KU receivers have the seam on some critical third down plays, but Kansas was also just 2-of-12 on third-down conversions.

Special Teams: B+
Let's see, perfect on extra points, Matt Fodge averaged 53.5 yard per punt with a team net punt of 48.8 yards, and throw in an onside kick that Bruce Redden squibbed and recovered with help from his friends. The kickoff coverage was lacking at times and Perrish "Thrill a Second" Cox had a rough day on punt returns, and that is where the "B" part of the grade comes in.

On a personal note, Kansas deep snapper Zack Hood, who botched a key field goal attempt in the fourth quarter that was blocked by Larry Brown after the snap upset the timing of the play, is one of the best deep snappers in college football. He has a better than average chance of going on to play in the NFL. Oklahoma State's deep snapper Zach Allen was perfect on the day with four punts and six extra points. Head-to-head, Allen outsnapped one of the best deep snappers in college football. As a father, I'm pretty darn proud of that one.

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