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DISASTER IN THE DESERT: Defense, Discipline, Drops, and a little Deja Vu.

I don't think this was after the 2nd Lunt2Moore TD.
I don't think this was after the 2nd Lunt2Moore TD.

Now that we've all had some very little sleep to allow the bad memories of last night's...and this morning's...horrible loss to Arizona to wash away, let's delve into the details. And yes, I have a thing for words that start with "d" right now.

One thing is for I said in my quick recap, RichRod has the the Wildcats playing football. My last pre-game post mentioned that these would not be the "kitty cats" OSU faced previously. Still, with everything that went wrong, the Cowboys were still in a position to compete, if not win, in the 4th quarter.

Expert Amateur analysis after the jump.

  1. Was it just me, or did this feel a bit like a combo of Tulsa and Iowa State last season? The late starts suck, and Squinky took care of business right out of the gate this season.

  2. If I showed you this stat line for OSU...37-60 for 436 & 4 TD's; 32-200 for 6.3 ypc; 2 receivers over 100 yards (a 3rd had 98)...what would you guess?

  3. If I showed you this stat line for OSU...15 penalties for 167 yards; 4 turnovers, including a pick 6; no turnovers for the opponent...what would you guess?

  4. So let's get the obvious out of the way right now...Wes Lunt is the real deal. Calm and cool under pressure, delivering passes on target and threading the needle when necessary, spreading the ball around (5 WR's had 4 or more catches), he showed that he is capable of shouldering a fair load of the offense. The upside just got HUGE. Did he show us a mistake of inexperience? Yes, but remember, Weeden threw TWO pick 6's last year against this squad. Fortunately Mike Stoops couldn't coach offense, so the Cowboys had no problem with that. OSU was already trailing and attempting the comeback when Lunt's freshman decision appeared. Even still, there were 10 minutes left in the game, which was PLENTY OF TIME, down two scores, for an offense that was able to move at will minus penalties and drops. Josh Stewarts "handoff" interception was the nail in the coffin.

  5. Speaking of nails in the coffin...anyone remember that practice report where Cowboy receivers didn't drop a single pass? Blake Jackson, Isaiah Anderson, and Josh Stewart all had huge bobbles. In the 2nd quarter, Anderson dropped what would have been 6, then later in the same drive Moore fell down on a cut, allowing the defenders an easy interception. As previously stated, Stewart's juggle was the dagger.

  6. Blake Jackson showed us why his incredible upside has question marks. He is a beast in the mode of Blackmon, almost uncoverable. He wondered open most of the night, or, when covered, just took the ball away from the defender. But he dropped 3 passes that guys at this level in championship programs reel in more often than not, and one of those he turned the wrong way on what would have been a TD on 3rd down. OSU settled for a FG. Despite his drops, he amassed 105 yards on 6 receptions...17 ypc. He missed a couple of key blocks, but he and Tracy Moore did their best to make us forget Justin Blackmon. I'm looking forward to watching him contintue to improve...

  7. ...but let's not forget Tracy Moore. Four TD's...Blackmon's best game was 3. Eight catches for 106. He did exactly what many thought he would do after spending the Savannah State game in the doghouse. Showed great hands, good moves to get open, and some physicality. I'll repeat...I think he AND Jackson could be a wicked tandem, together replacing Blackmon's "beast" mode. The next two games will tell that tale.

  8. Charlie Moore...did he make the trip? Oh yes, he fielded a couple of punts, on the 4th hop. I think the spring game is proving to be what it was...a glorified scrimmage.

  9. Josh Stewart's 9 catches for 98 yards should have been 11 catches for 170 and a score. Lunt missed him wide open on a deep crossing route (I mean, nobody within 15 yards of him) that would have been 6, and then, of course, the "handoff." Lunt lofted a nice ball over two defenders and in front of a 3rd to an open Stewart, who had it, then juggled it up in the air directly to the defender behind him. That one play overshadowed what was a pretty good night for Josh Cooper's replacement at inside receiver.

  10. Can I just go on record...THERE SHOULD BE A STAT FOR "RECEIVER INDUCED" INTERCEPTIONS. Kinda like errors in baseball. Two of those picks were NOT on Lunt. Minus those attempts, young master Wes would be 48-69, 565 yards, 4 TD's, 1 pick, over the first two games. We would have taken that.

  11. Play calling...another "is it me," or does the play selection sometimes seem a little odd? I'm not going to take great issue with this, as the offense was impressive, minus the penalties, turnovers & drops (odd to say that in the same sentence). But why run the "whatever the fuck we are going to call it" Walsh package for the first time on 4th and short at midfield? Why run a "flea flicker" when we aren't otherwise having a problem with their defense? I mean, trick plays are for when teams are overpursuing or you are having trouble with your normal game plan. The problems we were having were NOT induced by the Wildcat defense.

  12. The next item is thanks to Sam, who emailed me a simple drive chart after the game with my comments on the results:
    1 3 5 TD, 7-0
    2 4 4 TD, 14-0
    ...insert here Calvin Barnett's double personal foul penalty giving Zona a free 30 yards on their way to a TD, 14-7
    3 1 1 Fumble (Randle), Az FG, 14-10
    ...insert here holding penalty on Gilbert's return, putting OSU on their own 10 yd line to start
    4 2 1 Punt (holding penalty on 2nd & 4), Az FG, 14-13
    5 0 3 Punt (holding penalty on 3rd down conversion), Az FG, 14-16
    6 5 2 Downs (horrible play call on 4th down), but defense holds and Az shanks quick kick, giving OSU ball back in good field position.
    7 2 1 Punt (can't convert 3rd & 2), here comes the lamest penalty of the game...OSU tagged for catch interference on punt coverage. Ref's angle was everything...bad flag. Instead of Az starting at own 19, now moved out to 34. Az TD, 14-23
    8 2 5 INT (Moore fell down on cut), this drive featured Anderson's drop that would have been 6. Az ran out the clock to end the half.
    ...insert here Az driving for a TD on first possession of 2nd half. This is when everyone decided our defense was going to have a really rough time. 14-30, capping 30 unanswered points for the Wildcats.
    9 2 6 TD, 21-30. Looked like the 1st two drives of the game.
    10 3 4 TD, 28-30. Again, no mistakes, easy score. We were all quite comfy right about now, at least until Az scored on 5 plays. 28-37.
    11 4 4 FG, 31-37. Blake Jackson turns the wrong way as Lunt threw a perfect ball to the outside on 3rd down at the Az 8yd line. Would have been 6.
    ...insert here, OSU DEFENSE FORCES A PUNT!! Cowboys start at their 15 yard line.
    12 2 5 PICK 6, 31-45. OSU moved quickly to midfield, but a strange play call to Stewart resulted in a 4 yard loss on 2nd down, forcing 3rd and long. Az blitzed, Monken's play call left Lunt alone and resulted in his first real freshman error of his young career. But this was NOT the dagger. Ten minutes remained and OSU had shown the ability to easily and quickly score. Hope remained.
    13 0 4 Punt, with only one previous drive featuring all passes resulting in a 3 and out, Monken inexplicably abandons the run with plenty of time remaining. Fortunately, D forces Az 3 and out.
    14 1 3 INT, this being the last of the ultra critical drops, and was THE dagger. What appeared to be a very nice completion to Stewart turned into "Brent Parker" deja vu, except instead of dropping out of the back of an end zone, it fell into an Az defender's arms. Game over.

    We are not bothering with the garbage stuff at the end. OSU's defense had mustered all it could to force two consecutive punts and give the offense a chance, but now they were spent. The offense tacked on a feel good score at the end, padding the stats a bit.

While many will say it was all on the defense, as noted above they did give the ball right back to the offense in two consecutive critical moments in the 4th quarter. The biggest culprits here were the penalties and drops, including Moore's stumble. Despite all of that, the Cowboys were still in this game with a chance to win in the 4th quarter.

I said in my pre-game thoughts that a red flag was that Arizona rolled up a LOT of yards the previous week, but shot itself in the foot. Secure the ball and eliminate costly penalties, and their offense would be tough to deal with.

In using the same logic on Oklahoma State, my my, that offense looks potent. Say what you want about the play calls, but take away the mistakes and that game would not have been even remotely close.

This young offense will learn, Bill Young will be back to round up the defensive troops, and the mistakes will get cleaned up. They better, because right now this is on the coaches. The talent is evident.

And Wes Lunt is going to be special.