Okay, that sucked. That was as frustrating a game Oklahoma State has played in recent memory, and for the near future, Oklahoma State and Mason Rudolph will probably be labeled as overrated. For the Oklahoma State fans that already believe that, maybe just breathe and think about the bigger picture.
TCU exposed two major flaws in Oklahoma State today. First, the offensive line HAS to get healthy. With Larry Williams out for the year, the Cowboys need Zach Crabtree back ASAP. Like as soon as practice Monday if possible. If Crabtree, a second-team all-Big 12 performer last year and the most experienced right tackle in the conference, is out for an extended period of time, the Cowboys are in trouble. I know the national perception is going to be “Oklahoma State lost because Rudolph threw 2 picks and completed 53 percent of his passes,” but even with all the weapons in the world, what are you supposed to do when you’re under pressure from a 3-man rush with 8 defenders in coverage? Teams cannot cover these Oklahoma State receivers with man coverage, but when you drop 8 into coverage, it turns out you can contain them. Oklahoma State is not deep at offensive line. I don’t think anybody made that claim beforehand. Our depth was severely tested today against the best defensive coach in the Big 12 no less. If this is the extent of the blow — if the Cowboys get Crabtree back next week, and can find a competent fifth starter, AND can remain injury free at the position the rest of the season — the Cowboys shouldn’t see another offensive hiccup like this going down the stretch. That’s obviously a lot to ask for, so you pessimistic fans have every right to stay pessimistic.
One area we can all be pessimistic about, the second major flaw, is the defense. Defense. Well, that’s pretty vague, but my goodness that side of the ball did not come ready to play. I guess if you want something specific — the Cowboys were playing two-hand touch while the Frogs were playing tackle. The only defensive adjustment our team needs right now is tackling lessons. It really is that simple. It’s not like Kenny Hill beat us through the air, although the secondary did manage to make him look like a solid quarterback. If this is how the defense is going to tackle against Big 12 speed, Oklahoma State has no chance at a conference championship. Was this a bad game, or is the defense really that bad? Time will tell.
I guess my point is this: Oklahoma State has no more margin for error, but don't pronounce the Cowboys dead until they are actually dead. Teams can lose in September and still reach their dreams of conference championships and more. Things might look a little better in two weeks if we handle Texas Tech and Baylor like we should. Now we’re 5-1, maybe some more top 10 teams will fall in the coming weeks, and all of a sudden the world is not ending. But the Cowboys need Crabtree and a defense that can tackle. With those, I think the Cowboys can still win the Big 12. Without those, man. . . a lot of us are going to have to seriously adjust our expectations for this season.