Welcome to the first installment of “three stars.” Throughout the season we’ll give out stars for Oklahoma State‘s performance, which will be awarded to a player or coach but may occasionally be for a group (such as the defense as a whole) or a thing (such as a homecoming victory against a top 10 team.) Now that everyone knows the rules, let’s dive in.
Three Stars — Tylan Wallace
Tylan had a good-not-great game by his standards in week one. The Bilitnikoff runner-up caught five balls for 95 yards and two touchdowns... and a few more catches that were negated due to penalties. At 18.4 yards-per-reception, people took notice. However, Twitter was ablaze after the game with praise for Chuba Hubbard and Spencer Sanders, the latter of whom impressed in his college debut.
The praise for Hubbard and Sanders was well deserved. Wallace’s performance deserved recognition, but it is clear why that recognition fell behind the other two. Then, he stole the show against McNeese.
After five catches for 95 yards in week one, Wallace caught five more passes in week two, but this time for 180 yards and three touchdowns. That’s an average of 36.0 yards-per-reception. Wallace did whatever he wanted and produced a Sportscenter Top-10 worthy catch as well. Don’t ask me how he kept his feet in bounds here, it defies science.
One of his long touchdown receptions came on a pass that traveled back to the line-of-scrimmage and that’s it. Watch him boat-race the McNeese defense.
Wallace hands-down had the best performance of the night. His season totals after the first two weeks of play (in which he didn’t play for a majority of the second half of either game) have him right in the thick of contending for the Bilitnikoff once again. He’s got 10 catches for 272 yards and five scores. The competition will get much tougher, but Wallace’s production isn’t likely to fall off.
Two Stars — Malcolm Rodriguez
Oklahoma State has had several defensive recruits over the last handful of years that were seen as guys who could contribute early and be good players for a long time. Guys like Thabo Mwaniki, Tre Sterling and Patrick Macon to name a few, just from the class of 2017. Malcolm Rodriguez was not necessarily one of those guys.
That 2017 class has produced a few defensive starters on the 2019 squad. Rodriguez is undoubtedly the most important. He might be the most important player on the entire defense. The 6-foot linebacker made the transition from the secondary this offseason after being the second-leading tackler on the team in 2018, with 83 total tackles according to Sports Reference.
Against McNeese State, Rodriguez led the team in tackles with 11 total. Whether he’s been in the secondary or at linebacker, the junior has been one of the most sure-tacklers on the team and a force all over the field. That was no different against McNeese.
I’d say that’s uh,,, pretty impactful?
Cody Orgeron just sacked himself after watching Malcolm Rodriguez? Jump over his o line.— Marshall Scott (@Marshall_Once) September 8, 2019
One Star — Home Openers Under Gundy
With the 56-14 win, Oklahoma State moved to 15-0 in home openers over the last 15 years. Also, Mike Gundy has been the head ball coach for... 15 years.
I’m giving one star to a perfect record in home openers under Gundy because, as Robert likes to say (literally, it’s his Twitter name,) hope is undefeated. And for the last 15 years, Oklahoma State has started 1-0 at home. A good amount of those wins may have come against teams like McNeese State, but the point stands. For at least one game, there was hope for the season.
In addition to a perfect record in home openers, the Cowboys are 13-2 in season openers under Gundy. The only two losses came in 2007 against Matthew Stafford-led Georgia on the road, and an encouraging 37-31 loss to defending national champion Florida State in Arlington, Texas. The Pokes won their next game in each of those two seasons.
By my count, Mike Gundy has given fans a reason to believe for at least a week in every season since he’s become head coach. It might not be a lot, but it’s at least something. And who else has won every home opener for the last 15 years?