The competition on the football field is about to pick up for Oklahoma State. After a 2-0 start, which featured two blowout wins over inferior opponents, the Cowboys will face their first Power 5 test on Saturday against the Pitt Panthers.
Before we get there, I think there’s a lot about the South Alabama game that is getting looked over because “well, it’s South Alabama.” It’s funny how that works, considering just 24 hours beforehand, Cowboy fans were obviously concerned about a potential trap game in Mobile. Instead, the Cowboy defense stifled the USA offense, and the Cowboy passing attack thrived.
These were the three things that stood out to me on Friday:
1. The Oklahoma State defensive line heard you.
After not registering a sack against Tulsa the week before, the Cowboy defensive line came in with a chip on its shoulder and shut up the critics for the time being. On the first play of the game, DeQuinton Osborne blew up the Jags RG and flew into the backfield for a sack. They kept it going, too. On the game, they registered four sacks. The defense as a whole registered nine tackles for loss. They also held the Jags offense to 1.5 yards per carry on 27 attempts (!).
The Cowboys absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage on the defensive side, and it showed up in the stat sheet. The Jags offense only mustered 175 total yards (83 of which came on the final drive of the game), and seven points. It was a dominating, overwhelming performance from the defense, and for that, you can look at the defensive line for setting the tone and dictating the pace.
2. Oklahoma State’s depth at linebacker is staggering.
Can you believe it? Two thoughts on the Cowboy defense! Board up the windows! Save the women and children!
I promise, we’ll get to the offense. In this game, however, the defense stole the show.
We’ve covered the defensive line, but another thing I noticed was just how deep and talented this team is at the linebacker spot. Not only do they have experience in the form of veteran players like Chad Whitener and Justin Phillips, but there are some dogs among the younger players.
I was impressed with Calvin Bundage, as I think everyone else was. I mean, the dude is an absolute wrecking ball. A savage, if you will. Exhibit A:
This highlight is less glamorous, as it resulted in a targeting penalty and Bundage’s subsequent ejection, but the point remains: don't get in front of him. Also, get your facemask up, 1!
Calvin Bundage called for targeting. pic.twitter.com/cOk93hgnwJ— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) September 9, 2017
Along with Bundage, I was impressed with redshirt freshman Amen Ogbongbemiga. He accounted for three total tackles (.5 tackles for loss) while filling in for the injured Kevin Henry. After it was announced that Henry will miss the season with a knee injury, expect Ogbongbemiga to get a lot more playing time, and develop further this season.
This was a play that stood out to me. I love the quick recognition, and the big hit in the backfield. These are plays that a lot of young linebackers don’t make.
I’m really excited about the potential for this young linebacker group. It should be really solid for the foreseeable future.
3. The Cowboy passing attack is straight up deadly.
The best air attack in the game was on full display in Mobile. Mason Rudolph threw the ball around the yard with ease, going 25/38 for 335 yards, 3 touchdowns and one broken record. Rudolph completed a pass to seven different receivers, and he kept the Jags defense at bay all evening.
It’s important to note that Rudolph’s solid game was especially important, as the ground game never quite got going. Justice Hill only had 27 yards, and the passing game was heavily relied on as a result. The Cowboys eventually tallied 163 yards on the ground, but a lot of that came late in the game after a few long runs from J.D. King and Keondre Wudtee.
Tyron Johnson, Marcell Ateman and Chris Lacy stood out among the pack. James Washington only had two receptions, but the offense never missed a beat. That’s a testament to the other guys around Washington. Ateman hauled in five passes, and Lacy and Johnson both had four catches a piece. I have one question, though ... WHY WOULD YOU EVER GIVE WASHINGTON SPACE IN SINGLE COVERAGE?!
Good things happen when Oklahoma State gets the ball in James Washington's hands. pic.twitter.com/88atvFWDMN— Ty Wurth (@WurthDraft) September 9, 2017
We’ve seen that exact play unfold in similar fashion countless times in the Rudolph2Washington era, and you can rest easy knowing it will probably happen many more times this season.
What did you like from the Pokes on Friday? Comment below.