Oklahoma State rebounded from back-to-back losses with an upset win at Iowa State. However, there is still plenty to work on for the Cowboys. OSU doesn’t win without forcing three big interceptions in the fourth quarter and that brings back memories of Glenn Spencer’s time in Stillwater.
1. Scoring woes
It’s particularly concerning OSU’s offense consistently scores between 26 and 31 points per game in Big 12 play.
at Texas: 30 points
Kansas State: 26 points
at Texas Tech: 35 points
Baylor: 27 points
at Iowa State: 27 points
Malcolm Rodriguez’s pick-6 clinched the win at ISU and gave OSU 34 points, but the offense only scored 27. Texas Tech is the outlier of the group, but even then OSU put up 35. Maybe this is good enough in the Big 12 this year, but it isn’t normal. It seems like a lot to ask the OSU defense to keep opponents under 27 points.
This all starts with quarterback Spencer Sanders. If he could turn a few of his turnovers into scoring drives OSU would be in much better shape. Sanders may or may not have played well enough to win, but the defense certainly did. There’s a handful of plays every week where Sanders’ decision making is questionable at best. Eliminating those plays will do a lot for OSU.
Sanders improved last week, and if he continues to improve week after week OSU’s offense should start to put up more points.
2. Losing the lead
This goes on the team as a whole. OSU led 21-10 in the second quarter and 21-13 at halftime. Matt Ammendola kicked two field goals, one in the third and another at the start of the fourth, then the Cowboys allowed ISU to tie the game with nine minutes left.
Sound familiar? OSU did the same thing against Baylor.
The Cowboys led 20-10 before the Bears clawed back in to the game to take the lead with, get this, nine minutes remaining. The difference week-to-week was in those closing nine minutes. The Cowboys’ defense stepped up and saved a sputtering offense to win at ISU. They didn’t do that against Baylor.
OSU’s offense needs to keep its foot on the gas with the lead and the defense needs to take the pressure off the offense by getting stops. It’s super generic but it is what it is. I also need to apologize to the defense for even mentioning them in this post because they played great down the stretch in Ames. Those are the kind of performances that made OSU look so good for three straight years with Mason Rudolph at quarterback, though his offense shouldn’t be compared to this one either.
3. Staying ahead of schedule
This one is on the offense and play calling as a whole. ISU only out-gained OSU 468-402. Yardage wise, that’s the difference of six first downs. The Cowboys only gained 14 first downs, compared to ISU’s 30. Simply put, the Cyclones could methodically move the ball down the field better than OSU could.
OSU scored three touchdowns on big plays. That’s fine, but it isn’t exactly sustainable. What if Tylan Wallace doesn’t break five tackles to score? What if Chuba Hubbard is tripped up by a shoestring tackle closer to the line of scrimmage? Big plays are part of what makes this offense great, but OSU needs to do the intermediate and short stuff better.