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Four Quarters: Offensive line, redzone struggles, Chuba Hubbard

We really need to talk about what Hubbard is doing.

NCAA Football: Kansas State at Oklahoma State Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State got its first conference win of the season Saturday with a 26-13 win over (then) No. 24 Kansas State.

It was a weird game that more resembled something you’d expect to see in the Big 10 more than the Big 12. But despite the low scoring affair, OSU pretty much dominated throughout. That’s weird to say in a game where the Cowboys had only scored 16 points in the first half.

Despite the ‘W’ there are still plenty of takeaways — good and bad — from the game. Let’s kick ‘em off.

First Quarter: Rise to the occasion

It was announced before the game that both starting offensive guards, Teven Jenkins and Dylan Galloway, were out for the game. My immediate reaction was a series of words I can’t write here. Not only that, the only offensive lineman who was playing in his normal spot on the line was Marcus Keyes.

It didn’t take long to see problems. On OSU’s second snap of the game, K- State’s Wyatt Hubert tore through the line essentially unblocked and sacked Spencer Sanders.

K-State was not only able to put a ton of pressure on Spencer Sanders, they were able to get to him.

Also, look at the play-calling. Chuba Hubbard didn’t get his first carry until OSU’s 14th offensive play. Yes, he got a catch that was essentially a run, but missing Jenkins and Galloway obviously changed the game plan.

Obviously, they got Hubbard going eventually (MUCH more on that later), but they seemed to avoid the run to start the game.

Here’s the thing; as poorly as the offensive line’s play was to start the game, it was pretty good after the first quarter. Give Hunter Anthony, Ry Schneider and Charlie Dickey a ton of credit. It may have taken them a quarter, but they stepped up in a big way.

Second Quarter: The defense stepped up BIG

On a day where OSU managed just 26 points, the defense absolutely stepped up.

K-State came into the game averaging 454 yards per game. They finished with 244 against OSU, but at the 9:28 mark of the third quarter, the Wildcats had only gained 90 yards.

K-State didn’t get their first 3rd down completion until the 8:42 mark in the 3rd quarter. That was also the Wildcats second first down of the game.

The Wildcats finished the game with just 8 first downs and were 1-13 on third down.

Even more importantly, an OSU defense that was giving up 175.75 yards per-game on the ground, held K-State to their lowest rushing output of the season at just 126 yards on 32 attempts.

Gundy summed it all up perfectly after the game.

“Our defense was tremendous. They knew this was going to be a physical game, and they got right in the middle of it. Very proud of Chuba, but I can’t say enough about the defense.”

Yes, some credit for the Cowboy defenses’ performance has to go to some questionable play calling and some overall poor play by the Wildcat offense.

Third Quarter: Redzone play wasn’t as bad as you think

We’ve talked for what seems like a decade about OSU’s offensive issues in the redzone. They were a problem again Saturday.

OSU reached the redzone five times, but came away with just one touchdown. At least they scored field goals in the other four and didn’t come away completely empty.

All that said, just lumping this Saturday’s performance in with the others seems a little unfair. Your offensive line looked completely different with guys playing more snaps than usual due to issues at depth.

Also, let’s not forget OSU did score two touchdowns in the redzone that were nullified by penalties on — you guessed it — the two new starting offensive linemen; Schneider and Anthony.

Throw in the fact that we still don’t think Sanders can actually digest the redzone defenses fast, and it’s hard to blame the issues on coaching. I know that’s what everyone wants to do, but I thought the coaching staff tried to mix things up. The play using Tylan Wallace as a running back was a good one that just didn’t work.

Does OSU still have issues in the redzone? Yes. Will they probably struggle in that part of the field all year? Likely. But there was improvement on Saturday that hopefully the team can build on moving forward.

Fourth Quarter: Chuba, Chuba, Chuba

I don’t think what we’ve witnessed so far through five games can be overstated. I found myself Saturday night completely out of descriptors for what I was witnessing.

I know there are comparisons to Barry Sanders. I’m 35. I’ve only seen him in highlights. But it’s hard to argue at this point that Hubbard could be the best back since OSU’s only Heisman winner.

Hubbard is the first player in OSU history with three 200 yard games in their first five games of the season.

There’s this stat that’s been thrown out there;

Though honestly it’s better to say that only Sanders and David Thompson have run for more yards in a game than Hubbard. Seriously. Think about that for a second. It may be the sixth best performance but only two guys have done better.

Oh, and while those 296 yards might only be the sixth best performance in school history, it’s more than Sanders ran on a ranked opponent.

Last season, Hubbard had 124 total carries for 740 yards. Through five games this season he has 128 carries for 938 yards. That’s an increase from 5.97 ypc to 7.33 ypc. He’s picking up more than an extra yard per carry this year.

Also, if you’re among those who believe Hubbard should be in the Heisman conversation, this stat from OSU backs you up.

Chuba Hubbard has 938 rushing yards, the third-most five-game total to open a season since 2010 (behind 1,088 by Stanford’s Bryce Love and 1,022 by LSU’s Leonard Fournette).

I said it before the season; Hubbard is likely gone after this year. And if he has the year he’s on pace for with 2,251 yards and 22 touchdowns it would be stupid for him to stay. Now, I don’t think Hubbard is going to surpass the 2,000 yard mark. But 1,500-plus yard mark I predicted before the season began? Yeah, you betcha!

The point is one I’ve continued to make since August; enjoy this while it last folks.

Overtime: Extra Thoughts

  • The kick of the football penalty to start the second quarter was obvious?
  • November 2017, last loss by Coach Klieman
  • If you had Logan Carter as the first Cowboy Back with a touchdown in 2019, please collect your HUGE check.
  • OSU avoided starting 0-2 in conference play. They haven’t done so since Gundy’s first season in 2005. It’s the first time they’ve opened Big 12 play against back-to-back ranked opponents since 2016 (they started 1-1 then too.)
  • Why were fans griping about OSU kicking the field goal at the end of the game? It gave the Cowboys a 13-point lead with a minute to go and forced Kansas State to score two touchdowns to beat them. That wasn’t going to happen.
  • I hate weather delays. I have no stats to back this up, but I would love to see them on how games turn out after a weather delay. How do leading teams fair? How to trailing teams perform?
  • Spencer Sanders can make NFL throws. His’ legs are a cheat code that turn lost yardage into first downs and more. He’s a redshirt freshman that makes redshirt freshman mistakes.