Oklahoma State is coming off a rollercoaster of a game against Texas. There was a lot of good and a lot of bad and it all resulted in a six point road loss against a top-15 team in the nation. I’ll take it. OSU can get back on track with a win at home this weekend against Kansas State. Here’s what the Cowboys need to do to ensure that happens.
1. Red-Zone Offense
It needs to be acknowledged that a lot of this falls on some exceptionally poor play-calling in the red-zone against Texas. OSU ran vanilla plays and it showed in the results. The Cowboys failed to convert a 4th-and-1 from the Texas four yard-line. OSU settled for field goals multiple times in the red zone.
When it comes down to it, that type of red-zone performance won’t win football games against good teams. Kansas State isn’t Texas, but they have looked like a good football team so far. OSU needs to put the ball in the end-zone this weekend.
2. Offensive Line
The offensive line has looked good for the most part through the first three games. Against Texas, Chuba Hubbard didn’t have the holes to run through and Spencer Sanders felt some heat from the Texas pass rush for most of the night. Having a quarterback as quick as Sanders makes the offensive line look better at times, but it wasn’t a great game from this group.
Of course, part of that is because this group was playing a good Texas defensive line. Even still, the offensive line needs to improve against Kansas State. It would be nice to see Chuba Hubbard have a big day against KSU. The Oklahoma State offense becomes really hard to stop once Hubbard gets going. It’s hard for opposing defenses to keep Sanders from burning them through the air and on the ground when Hubbard gets hot. It all starts with the offensive line.
3. Defensive Line
Getting dominated on the line-of-scrimmage makes it much harder to win football games. This game is won from the inside out. Skill players can’t do what they do without help from the line.
The Oklahoma State defensive line allowed Keaontay Ingram to rush for 114 yards and average over five yards-per-carry. Ingram has struggled this season, but he looked just fine against Oklahoma State. Part of the reason LSU escaped DKR with a win was because they limited Ingram below three yards-per-carry.
When it mattered most and the defense just needed one stop to get Sanders the ball back with a chance to win the game, the defense allowed Sam Ehlinger to scramble and pick much more than he needed for the first down. It was a great play call, but Ehlinger doesn’t pick up the first down if the line doesn’t take a bad angle.
These guys are young and should improve throughout the season. I will be looking for them to contain Kansas State’s rushing attack this weekend.