Bedlam Analysis: Zac, Gundy Not The Problem

It seems the football geniuses are convinced that Mike Gundy threw one the Oklahoma Sooners way Saturday either by calling a poor game with no imagination or by playing a quarterback that was not healthy enough to win the game. I really wish it was that easy and so, I'm sure, does the Oklahoma State head coach.

The truth of what happened to the Oklahoma State offense at the hands of the OU defense was revealed up close, personal, and direct immediately after the game.

Zac Robinson, who was not 100 percent but was probably in the neighborhood of 90 to 95 percent, was talking with Oklahoma cornerback Brian Jackson. The 6-1, 205-pound Jackson is one of the more physical cornerbacks in the Big 12 and his compadre on the other side of the field Dominique Franks is 6-0, 192 and pretty good as well.

Robinson said to Jackson, "You guys were all over our receivers." Jackson replied, "Yes we were and that was our plan all along, to get physical with your recievers, press 'em, knock 'em off the routes. That was our plan."

It has been a concern of the Oklahoma State staff since the Texas game when the Texas defensive backs got physical and knocked the younger and in some cases less physical receivers around. Curtis Brown did just that to Dameron Fooks on the first "pick six" interception that night.

Oklahoma State was able to run the ball on Texas but after the game got out of hand on the scoreboard the running game had to be shelved.

Against Oklahoma that would have been great because the running game could have stayed in play until late in the third quarter. The problem was the Cowboys got shoved around up front. A grand total of 62 yards rushing wasn't going to cut it and never would with this offense.

Oklahoma State is built on its balanced concept and needs some of both. OU's Gerald McCoy and Adrian Taylor inside wouldn't budge off their spots and the Sooner defensive ends, Jeremy Beal and Frank Alexander, were stout at keeping Robinson running on the boot passes and the running backs from ever getting much chance outside. The ends were as impressive as McCoy in the middle.

The Sooners front seven on defense was able to shut down the Cowboy running game which allowed the safeties and corners to concentrate on baning around the Oklahoma State receivers, either knocking them off routes or knocking them off catches.

"They were just the most dominating force on the field," said OSU soon-to-be All-American offensive tackle Russell Okung. "You can see the results of that right now.

"It came to that point and it became demoralizing, especially after the first half when you see things aren't going your way and you end up chasing. They changed a little bit of the way we call things," Okung continued.

"Zac's health is not an excuse for what happened," said head coach Mike Gundy. "Zac wasn't 100 percent, but he was healthy enough. That certainly wasn't an excuse for what happened.

"I'm disappointed in our game plan and in the way we played. They're a good defense and, as I said, we had some concerns with certain match-ups against them. They're pretty good on defense, there's no question," added Gundy.

"I was healthy," said Robinson. "I was healthy enough to play and do the job, but they were all over us. Their ends played really well got after us on the rush, and like (Brian) Jackson said, they really got after our receivers. It was a tough day all around for the offense."

Robinson delivered many balls on target that Sooner defensive backs simply knocked away or knocked out of the receivers grasp by knocking the Cowboys.

Still, this game cried for a momentum changing play, just one, which might have changed the landscape. But OU never let the Cowboys breath. The one time I really felt it could happen was when tight end Wilson Youman was wide open down the middle of the field and Robinson laid it right in his hands and Youman dropped it.

Special teams were struggling with injuries watering down the units and OU punter Tress Way and kickoff specialist Matt Moreland killing the ball with and into the wind.

"We really didn't know he could kick that well," said Perrish Cox. "He came out different. Punting into the wind is difficult, and he is a left-ffoted kicker. He just did his thing today. We had a lot of depth changes and players getting hurt and a lot of young guys have to step in and play but that isn't an excuse. We just need to step up to the plate."

Brandon Weeden did come in and there was no magic. I like Weeden and think he has a chance to be a really good quarterback next season. But before the Cowboys see the Sooners again, if Weeden is going to have a chance for success he will need protection, a complimentary running game, and receivers that will get physical, stay on the routes, and outbattle defenders for the ball. I believe the receivers will do that.

It is painful to say. The Cowboys lost as a team, and they lost to a team in Oklahoma that was more physical and tougher than they were. The Sooners offense wasn't really more physical or tougher than the OSU defense, although the OU offense held its own.

The Cowboys were beaten primarily by a defense that pushed OSU around, and would have still pushed the Cowboys around with a different quarterback and a different game plan and play caller.

All that said, the play that was the epitomy of what happened came toward the end of the game when Cowboy linebacker Justin Gent scooped an OU fumble and set sail for the end zone. He was protecting the ball when he felt a tackler lurking from behind, he was zig-zagging to avoid the pursuit, and in the end was taken down from behind and the ball was popped out for an OU recovery to run out the clock.

It was one of those games, and they happen. OU was the better team, playing at home, never losing momentum, and was capable all day of turning the bad plays into good ones. They did it physically. The Cowboys didn't and now will try to write a happy ending to a very good football season in a very nice place.

It looks like the postseason will include a trip to Arlington, Texas and the Dallas Cowboys new stadium for the Cotton Bowl. Hopefully, the team will get better, the fans will come around and feel better, and the season can end on a high.

Saturday in Norman was the overwhelming low and I believe would have been with or without Zac Robinson at quarterback, and with or without Mike Gundy calling the plays.

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