It's a really good thing I chose to wait a couple days before writing this. A couple of days were needed to reevaluate the ULL game and find enough positives so that I wouldn't have to pull the classic OSU fan move by declaring the rest of the season doomed. I think it is pretty safe to say OSU fans still aren't very sure what kind of team OSU is going to field on any certain gameday or during any certain quarter. So far it seems the third quarter has been the saving grace but will that be enough going forward? There are certainly lots of mistakes that need to be fixed and fixed fast. With that said, the Cowboys are still finding ways to win and that can not be overlooked. Everybody who watched the ULL game saw plenty of all of it. Click the jump to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of the ULL game.
Thank you, Justin Blackmon. While much didn't work in the first half, number 81 was the go-to guy and proved dependable to keep drives moving. His 13 catches for 190 yards and 2 TDs showed that Weeden wanted to go to him and often. Maybe too often as Weeden was shown being ripped by Holgorsen on the sideline after a couple of dangerous throws sent Blackmon's way. But we'll get into that later.
Thank you, Dan Bailey. Wow. Talk about a guy who could play on any NFL team right now. Two 52 yard field goals, one 47 yarder, and a 25 yard chip-in just for kicks (horrible pun award!). The guy simply has ice water running through his veins. And all of the kicks were beauties at that. Straight down the pipe, great rotation, plenty of room to spare. He definitely deserved the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week.
Thank you, halftime adjustments. The coaches went into the locker room and came out with a brand new team that was playing brand new schemes. Hunter was running more. The defense was applying more pressure and disguising its coverages. I think the best thing that could be said about the coordinators is that they make really great in-game changes. That will become pivotal in these next two weeks.
Why does it take so long to give Kendall Hunter the ball? 28 touches overall but I'm guessing 20 of those came in the second half. I don't care how teams are stacking the box. The guy is an All-American. The coaches need to find ways to put the ball in his hands from the first whistle on. Screens, shuffle passes, whatever. Make it happen. When he has the ball the offense simply works better. Defenses cannot count on clock stoppage. They cannot put a safety over the top of Blackmon. The second half went a lot better than the first and a lot of that has to be attributed to Hunter's touches.
I love Bill Young but this soft zone has to stop. If OSU plays it against Tech, they are going to nickel and dime the defense all the way down the field with passes out into the flat and short out routes that expose the 10 yards of space OSU gives their receivers. Have some faith in the corners. If they get burned once then maybe switch it up some. But at least give them a shot. It's much better than watching the whole unit become exhausted after being on the field for ten minute possessions.
Brandon Weeden, please settle down faster. There were at least six passes that should have been intercepted. Two of them could have been pick sixes. ULL didn't capitalize on the errors but I have no doubt that better Big 12 teams will. Do not force balls into coverage expecting Justin Blackmon to come down with the ball. Again, it may have worked against ULL but I guarantee the athletes in the Big 12 will not let him be so fortunate.
Finally, special teams. Seriously. Bailey cannot save this unit by himself. Sharp could only put two kicks in the endzone resulting touchbacks. Zach Craig roughed the punter which extended the ULL drive and led to a TD. And of course, yet another kickoff return for a touchdown against our coverage unit. Joe Deforest, I'm looking at you. Fix it. The athletes are simply playing undisciplined and that is coaching. If ULL can run back kickoffs for TDs, anyone can. That simply cannot happen in games that will be much closer in the near future.
Only one category here: The officials. All I can say is "wow." Is that what they are being paid for? Really? Let's examine a few of the blunders. Josh Cooper is served up with a concussion after a helmet-to-helmet hit and yet a flag was not thrown. On a deep ball thrown Hubert Anyiam's way, he had a corner ripping at his jersey for 15 straight yards and when he let go, grabbed his arm instead. I've never seen such blatant pass interference yet nothing was called. And of course, let us not forget the 4th down and one conversion try that was clearly stopped short. Apparently the refs decided to give ULL a bonus yard for effort and the result was a first down. Add to this a facemask penalty never called in Blackmon's favor and the constant holding that was taking place by ULL's O-line the entire game. The whole game was riddled with officiating errors. I'm not sure if that has to do with the quality of referees in the Sun Belt or what but many of those missed calls are simply unacceptable. It's one thing not to call holding. It's quite another when athletes are getting injured due to illegal hits and nothing is done about it.