Some quick thoughts tonight... we will obviously have some much more in-depth recaps up over the next few days.
Well, Kendall Hunter is Kendall Hunter again.
After a somewhat shaky showing by much of the Big XII conference today, the Cowboys took care of business and even exceeded expectations. It started on the first play when Ugo Chinasa darted into the backfield to recover a botched handoff, and was capped with a blocked punt that gave Justin Blackmon his 4th TD of the day. Washington State was just completely overmatched in every facet of the game, and with the exception of a few dropped passes and the secondary getting caught out of position a few times, we couldn't have asked for much more from the Pokes.
Some quick notes:
21 carries, 257 yards, 4 TD's. And he only played through the second possession of the 2nd half. This performance was exactly what we needed to see from Kendall. He was shifty, quick, powerful, and most of all patient. he had 3 nice long runs where he just methodically picked his way behind different blockers, ducked tacklers, and in some cases, straight ran some dudes over. He is back to 2008 form and actually seems to have added a new sprinkle of power-running to his game.
Delivered some of the prettiest passes I have ever seen thrown by an Oklahoma State quarterback. In particular, the long TD to Blackmon early in the 2nd, and the fade to Blackmon on 3rd and Goal on the next possession. Just some beautifully delivered balls. In addition, he seemed to be getting through his reads pretty well, although there were a few times early in the game where he would check down right away (this may have been at the coachs suggestion though). By the 2nd half he was looking upfield until he was forced to look underneath. I think we can take a ton of positives out of his performance.
Well it appears that we have a #1 WR... at least for the time being. Justin Blackmon had an absolute monster of a game. 8 catches, 125 yards, 3 TD's. And just like in the Colorado game last year, you can tell that Weeden has a connection with him. Outside of Blackmon no one else really stood out. I will have to look up the box score tomorrow, but I specifically remember drops by Moore, Anderson, and Horton. Cooper was the popular underneath target, and Bowling had a few catches early, then there were a bunch of dudes with 1 catch. But at least OSU hit the goal of 8 WRs with a reception.
Provided constant pressure and looked incredibly quick. With all the talk of the speed on the defensive side of the ball, my mind always went to the secondary... well I think the main area we have gained speed is on that line. Those guys a fast and strong and were getting push on about every play. Although the Cougs did have probably the worst O-line in the nation last season... so maybe that should be taken with a grain of salt.
Will have to wait for word on Shane Jarka and Chris Donaldson who never returned to the field after suffering injuries. Not sure if that was preventative or if they were really hurt. Losing those two in the middle for an extended period would be a season changer.
Justin Gent looks like a whole different guy. Not that he was terrible last year or anything, but he is much quicker to the spot this season. In particular he dragged down Tuel from behind on a scramble in the 1st quarter on a play where he was barely in the picture when Tuel took off. The LB's did leave some run gaps open early, but the adjustments took care of that and after mid 2nd quarter there were no running lanes the rest of the game. The LB's also seemed to cover the underneath routes pretty well when dropping into coverage... however that really wasn't a big part of the Cougs attack so this was a little tough to decipher.
If there was a negative to the game, it was probably here. However, most of the damage was done in the first half so we could take some positives out of the adjustments that were made. Early on, the DB's were playing awfully soft, and the safeties were caught out of position a few times (most notably Victor Johnson on the long TD in the 2nd when he faded to the outside and Tuel laid a perfect pass over the top of the DB and inside of Victor). I did notice that mid 2nd quarter the DB's began manning up on most plays rather than playing that soft zone that was leaving the post routes wide open. The only decent pass that was completed after this change was late when Zach Craig and Justin Gilbert and the rest of the 2nd string were in there.
I was prepared to say that this was a weak spot, then they block a punt and return it for a TD. Quinn Sharp had a few punts not come of his foot very well, and the return game was nothing spectacular. There was really nothing wrong with this unit, it just wasn't the highlight filled bright spot we are used to seeing.
A borderline perfect performance from the Cowboys. Everything was working, the young guys were performing, and the 2nd team even added to the lead once they got in there. The only question is whether the competition was worth a shiz. The next few weeks will tell that.. but either way, a performance like that shows that your team can play. That kind of dominance is rare no matter the level of talent. We have had some bad teams on the schedule in the past, and we haven's scored 60+ since 2006 versus Baylor (66-24).
My reactionary revised season prediction: 9-3
UPDATE: Gundy says that Jarka and Donaldson are both out for two weeks. Yikes.