Every week this season, we’re going to take a look at the previous Saturday’s game and do our best to answer three questions about Oklahoma State football:
What did we already know about this team going into this game?
What did we learn about this team from this game?
What do we still not know after this game?
We know this much for sure, cardiologists in and around Stillwater are smiling once again after another wild game on Saturday. It’s hard to believe we are only three weeks into this season. I mean, what else does 2016 have in store? How much more can Cowboy Nation take? I watched the replay of the game today and I got nervous. About a game I’d already seen. That’s what this season has done to me. How are you holding up?
Let’s all take a deep breath and take a look at what we know about the Cowboys after the conclusion of non-conference play.
What We Knew
The Cowboy offense could be more productive and more explosive than it was over the first two weeks. Well, it didn’t take long to see just how explosive it can be. How about the first play from scrimmage? By the end of the game, there were still head-scratching possessions and moments of maddening inconsistency, but Mike Yurcich finally stepped on the gas for the first time this season and it was fun to see things get opened up a bit. Granted, the offense benefited from less than stellar pass defense from the Panthers, but 640 total yards is 640 total yards. That was almost twice as many total yards as the Cowboys gained against Central Michigan.
What We Learned
This team can bounce back. That’s a trait that should not be underestimated. Gundy & Co. did all they could to help the team move on from what happened at the end of the Central Michigan game, including releasing what he hoped would be a final statement and limiting who was available for the weekly press conference. At the end of the day, however, you’re still talking about the psyches of a bunch of young guys who just went through an absolutely gut-wrenching experience. It speaks volumes about this team that they were able to focus and prepare and showed up ready to play on Saturday. Mistakes were made and deficiencies exist, but it certainly didn’t appear as if the Cowboys were suffering from a Central Michigan hangover, and that’s impressive. It’s also really good news, because it’s a young season and they may need to call on that resolve again before its over.
What We Still Don’t Know
Can Mason Rudolph make the small plays? QB1 made some GREAT throws Saturday and the guy set a school record for passing yards in a game at the same school where Brandon Weeden used to sling it. Mason Rudolph can play. But Saturday also provided more evidence of weaknesses in his game that the Cowboys desperately need him to sure up. The defensive game plan against this offense is pretty clear at this point: try to apply pressure on Rudolph and take away the long ball. When defenses take that approach, like Pitt did in the second half, can Rudolph consistently lead the offense down the field? So far this season, Mason has been sub-par under pressure and surprisingly inaccurate on short-to-intermediate throws. For a team that struggles mightily to run the ball, those are vitally important aspects of the offense. The Pokes will need him to be more consistent in these areas as they enter Big 12 play.