Take away the bizarre circumstances of the last 50 seconds of the first half, and the streak to start the second half, and the Cowboys aren't living so large.
I know the score involves ALL aspects of the game, but you can't ignore this fact.
If not for the generosity of that goal line review and Tyreek Hill's "Flash Gordon" impersonation, that would have been an entirely different 2nd half.
Think profanity and ulcers.
Say what you want about the review, but that stuff is pretty straightforward. There has to be clear and conclusive evidence to overturn the call on the field. Everyone on TV thought the call would be upheld. The response on radio from John Holcomb..."Oh"....and from Dave Hunziker..."Wow."
Unless the guys in the booth had a view that we didn't see, there wasn't enough to reverse the call that Roland was stopped short. I know I would not have changed the call based on what I saw, and I'm a homer.
Also, let's not allow the debate over this to distract us from the horrible display put on by the offense once they had 1st and goal inside the 2 yard line with 17 seconds to go in the half and a timeout.
Iowa State calls a TO, which was a gift to the Cowboys. Now you have a chance to map out a clear strategy.
1st Down...I love the call. Garman rolls right, and if the pass isn't there, throw it away. Clock stopped, and OSU still has the run/pass option with a timeout still in hand.
2nd Down...Run/pass option in hand, I would have gone pass again in order to maintain as much flexibility as possible if not successful.
3rd Down...Run/pass option in hand, do what you want. Incompletion stops the clock, and you have the timeout if a running play is stopped short or doesn't go out of bounds.
4th Down...take the FG, or gamble. At this point, you've maximized your opportunity.
That's not quite what happened.
1st Down...Garman rolls right, but pretty quickly decides to duck and run. J.W. Walsh he is not, and now OSU has to burn the timeout.
2nd Down...With no TO's, only option here is to pass, and Garman throws what might have been the worst fade pass ever, although it was thrown to Ateman, who we have been screaming to see in this situation. I don't know that Markel Brown could have reeled that in.
3rd Down...Again, no TO in hand, I'm thinking pass is the only option in order to maximize opportunity. This is the moment where I take Yurcich and Garman off the hook and put Gundy on the hot seat. Gundy was apparently really pissed at the 2nd down throw by Garman, so much so that he went into "badger" mode and said screw it, just run the ball. So wait, who's calling plays?
The review bailed him out. He said in the post game presser he was so aggravated that he was fine if Roland hadn't scored, but he knows he made a bad decision there.
What if that review goes the other way?
Be that is it may, NONE of that happens without a monumental whiff by Iowa State. Gundy spoke after the game about how well coached the Cyclones are, but he only mentioned the DC, OC, and HC. Didn't mention the special teams guy. OSU was simply trying to avoid a long return with little time left in the half. That was THE game changer, because even if the Cowboys only get 3, that still turns into a 20 point lead before the late TD by Iowa State.
Now let's discuss Tyreek Hill.
First, how ridiculous was that return?
Tyreek Hill covered a little over 100 yards in football gear, carrying a football, in about 11 seconds. #okstate— CRFF (@CowboysRFF) October 5, 2014
If you take into account the angle (he caught the ball outside the right hash and crossed the goal line outside the left hash), he most definitely covered at least 100 yards. In fact, if you graph it out (let's go, geometry folks), I think he covers about 105 yards. Do the math, and that's about 96 meters. I timed this repeatedly, and got either 11.0 or 11.1 seconds every time.
If you stick with yards, that's under a 4.3 40 yd time. If you convert to meters, that's an 11.56 100 meter time in pads, carrying a ball, with a slight deviation to avoid one tackler.
That's just silly speed for a football player. Gundy claims they had success in the second half because the Cyclones were sending an extra defender after him, often rolling up one of the safeties depending on which side of the field Hill was on.
Not to be blunt here, BUT YOU'VE HAD THAT ADVANTAGE SINCE THE FIRST GAME.
Why haven't we seen more of Hill as the decoy if teams are going to focus on him when he's on the field. If that's the case, why wasn't that happening in the first half?
To compound this, let's look exclusively at Hill's offensive touches.
For a guy averaging 6.5 yards per touch, HE'S NOT TOUCHING THE BALL NEARLY ENOUGH, and they need to stop giving him the ball on traditional running plays. Figure out some misdirection, something, because defenses use the initial direction of the play as a key, and if you're giving it to Hill in that same direction then the defense has a shot. Gundy and Yurcich talk all the time about getting him the ball in space. Off tackle and traditional sweeps are not what I call "getting him the ball in space." They need to get him the ball before the defense has a chance to react. Jet sweeps would be ideal just because you can maintain your zone read set which preserves the option for the hand off behind Hill. Talk about keeping a defense honest. How about a jet sweep reverse to Samples, who supposedly has some pretty good wheels of his own? This would also take a ton of pressure off the offensive line, which is clearly not what we've grown accustomed to in years past.
I just don't get why it's so difficult for our offensive coordinators (plural, yes, because Gundy is absolutely involved) to figure out how to utilize Hill's PRESENCE. When you have a player that doesn't need to touch the ball to be effective, you better be taking advantage of that. Right now OSU is doing a really poor job of that.
A couple more observations...
I'm good with Garman. His completion % went up to 63% yesterday, and was the result of a lot of quick lateral passes to the wide receivers. Neither interception could be pinned on him, but the fade to Ateman looked like something I might throw. If they keep going deep into single coverage, you're either going to get completions or PI penalties. The players definitely have confidence in his passing, and they've spoken often about his confidence in his ability and theirs, as well as his knack for staying composed.
The defense is decent this season. They should be a beast for the foreseeable future.
Had this tweet exchange about Grogan...
@CowboysRFF has hit 7 in a row, including two from outside 40— Colin Price (@cpricethe3rd) October 5, 2014
The object of our collective fear is quietly putting together a decent season, albeit he's getting way too many opportunities from inside 40.
Saturday was the first time the leading receiver was a repeat. Brandon Sheperd also led the way against Missouri State.
It was nice to see Jhajuan Seales get in the end zone.
How about Gundy saying he took over special teams coaching this past week. Do you buy that? Also, he didn't even notice how some of the defensive players were performing because he was spending time with the offense. I really do wonder sometimes just how much control Yurcich has over the offense.
I predicted OSU would move up at least 4 spots after Saturday's carnage. The Cowboys jumped 5 spots in both the Coaches Poll (23-18) and the AP (21-16).
Overall the team is about where we thought they would be even before the season started. Our predictions of 7-5 or 8-4 look to probably be accurate. Youth and injuries have played a role. If this is the "down" season for the Cowboys, then things are pretty good in Stillwater. I'm really happy with the athleticism on the defensive side, and the wide receivers are as good a group as there is in the Big 12. The program is in good shape. A few things go their way, and greater things could happen this season.
That's about it for now. Lots of stuff coming this week leading up to OSU's last guaranteed win of the season (Texas is close, but not ready to call that one).