Iowa State averaged almost 8 yards per play on 2 possessions that resulted in 10 points.
The other 12 possessions averaged less than 4 yards per play.
One turnover on downs.
Six 3 & outs.
And it was almost all on their QB's.
Oklahoma State's wealth of QB talent was on display, as backup J.W. Walsh lead OSU to over 600 yards of total offense and 31 points. The Cyclones' dearth of talent at that position was also on exhibit, with Barnett providing most of the inadequacy after scaring the Cowboy faithful with two decent looking drives for points in the first quarter. Those proved to be aberrations, much to the detriment of Iowa State.
And while I was happy to finally see an orange helmet, I didn't care for the bumper sticker of Pistol Pete that was slapped on the side of them (credit to Carson Cunningham of KOCO-TV for the "bumper sticker" tweet).
This game wasn't as close as the score, as OSU suffered two turnovers (fumbles) deep inside Iowa State territory, and Quinn Sharp was mortal, going 1-3 on FG attempts (had his first miss inside 50 yards this season).
While the defense played solidly, especially the front 7 in generally stuffing the run and pressuring the QB, the secondary once again looked less than ordinary when Cyclones' QB's were on target, which thankfully was NOT very often. Add in a few drops, and the Cowboys' secondary was not really challenged most of the day. The defense did produce 2 turnovers, but should have had 2 more on dropped interceptions that both allowed scoring drives to continue. They'll need those in the weeks to come. Just like last week...Iowa State was not a good offense. In fact, they were bad. Two weeks in a row of bad. Seriously, when was the last time the Cowboys won the TOP battle against a Big 12 opponent, much less by almost 10 minutes? OSU's D better have their wits about them next Saturday.
Oh...and since I asked the TOP question, here you go...TOP "wins" against conference opponents since the installation of Holgorsen's system in 2010, and the amount of the advantage:
- 2012 Iowa State...9:42
- 2010 Tx Tech...9:04
- 2011 A&M...6:06 (this shocked me)
- 2011 Tx Tech...5:34
- 2010 Kansas...5:06
- 2010 Baylor...3:42
- 2010 Texas...0:04 (I know, but technically it's a "win.")
Twenty conference games...7 TOP "wins"...that was more than I thought it would be.
The offense, meanwhile, continues to chug along with Walsh at the helm, but also continues the make crucial errors. Two fumbles and numerous drops stopped several OSU opportunities. Thirty-one points on 600+ yards will get you beat by most teams in this league. The Cowboys need to be MUCH more efficient with the ball. Despite today's success, Walsh's limitations in the passing game are fully exposed in the red zone, where the Pokes have bogged down on numerous occasions with him at the helm.
That being said, Walsh has shown the ability to operate this offense. He made a number of very nice throws, although he doesn't often hit WR's in stride. His throw on the run to Moore was likely his best throw of the year. Monken has to swallow his fear about Walsh throwing the ball...and that's not easy to do...but it's the only way this offense can succeed. Honestly, there were two passes today that very easily could have been pick 6's, and he has a tendency to throw a bit high, resulting in tips in the air that are more vulnerable to interceptions. However, without Walsh chucking the rock, this is an extremely ordinary operation. Randle was bottled up fairly well with the exception of the 60+ yarder he ripped off in the 4th quarter. Smith is obviously injured to the point of ineffectiveness, and Roland is also not 100%. Teams will continue to stack the box and dare the Cowboys to beat them with Walsh's arm. At this stage, OSU actually needs Walsh's legs to maintain a legit and versatile rushing attack, with J.W. being the 2nd leading rusher on the team for the season.
Receivers are another issue altogether. Youngsters are being pressed into duty. I'm not missing the under productive Isaiah Anderson, but Tracy Moore leaves a void. Fortunately Charlie Moore filled that spot without skipping a beat, making it two weeks in a row with a 70+ yard TD. Josh Stewart continues to be the main target (13 catches), but has had some issues with ball security, dropping what would have been a TD and fumbling inside the Cyclones' 5 yard line after a beautiful throw by Walsh. Blake Jackson is quite possibly the most consistently destructive receiver in the Big 12. He averaged 24 ypc on 4 receptions today, and is averaging over 18 ypc for the season. His catches ALWAYS result in chunks of yards. Justin Horton made a nice appearance today, but had to leave with what appeared to be an Achilles injury. Austin Hays has been a great story, but his game experience has not been so rosy. A fumble against ULL and several drops today will not solidify his position. How about Kye Staley? Is there a slower more difficult player to bring down? He is the definition of "rumbling" when he has the ball.
Even with all that, the story today was still about the complete lack of consistent production from Iowa State's QB position, which still gives me pause when I think about our secondary going up against more capable adversaries (like every team left on our schedule). In the end, it was a nice homecoming win and seemed to get things back in order.
Last, but not least, we have Mr Lunt. I call bullshit on the injury coach speak. Gundy and Monken contradict themselves when they say he is ready to play if needed. If he is that much better suited to run the offense, then he should be playing. For me, this smells like Gundy and company are hoping to back into a medical redshirt for Wes. If they can continue to be competitive and win with Walsh (and his abilities, or lack thereof, cannot be pointed to as THE reason a game was lost), then Lunt will ride the pine. Any appearance by him from this point forward would throw the medical redshirt option out the window. Had he played today, that would have also ended that discussion. The coaches know what they have in Lunt, and I believe they are MORE than willing to forgo defending the Big 12 title for an extra year of eligibility for him. If Walsh continues to perform like he did against Iowa State, Lunt will be done until next fall.
Which brings up another interesting question...
Should Walsh lead the team to something we didn't expect, what does that do to the QB battle in the spring?
In the meantime, here comes a TCU team that is flying a little bit under the radar since losing their QB. Their freshman backup is the real deal, and the offense can move the ball.
Let's hope the Cowboys have learned their lesson from the game in Lawrence and will bring their full attention, as they did today, to the table each week from here on out.