By Jason Elmquist
CNHI News Service
STILLWATER – Over the last few years, the one thing that Oklahoma State football wasn’t short of was points. So when the Cowboys score a mere a 20 points against the Big 12 Conference’s cellar-dwelling team in the University of Kansas, many wonder what could have been the cause for the poor offensive showing.
Whether it was the rainy conditions, the absence of backup running backs Jeremy Smith and Desmond Roland or the mid-game injuries sustained by OSU receivers, one thing is for certain – the offense wasn’t the same as it’s been in recent years.
“There was really never a flow. It was choppy,” OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken said Monday. “I do think there’s times when you reassess what you’re doing weekly as every team does. Not to go away from your core, but what you can do for the players you have that gives you a chance to win and move the ball.”
Hindering the offense was OSU’s inability to get much going in the ground game. The Cowboys, who rank ninth in the nation in rushing offense, was held to just 116 yards on the ground. Joseph Randle, who is 11th in the nation in rushing with 122.8 yards per game, was slowed to just 80 yards on 29 carries – an average of 2.8 yards per rush.
“We didn’t run the way we like to run it, so we have to come up with a different way to get us in space,” Monken said. “It handcuffs us a little bit, but it’s one of those things where we have to be able to run the ball and be able to run the play action so J.W. Walsh can be successful. It didn’t help that we didn’t have Jeremy Smith or Desmond Roland. I think all players are better when they have someone to spell them a little bit.”
While the running attack had its struggles, Oklahoma State threw for just 255 yards – the fewest passing yards for OSU this season.
“It was a serious struggle and it was a pain for me to watch. We’ve been fortunate over a number of years where we’d just roll out there on offense,” Gundy said. “So it frustrates me because that’s my background.”
Contributing to that were the injuries sustained by starting receivers Tracy Moore and Isaiah Anderson. On Monday, Gundy said he expects those injured against Kansas to be healthy for Saturday’s game against Iowa State.
“We expect all of our guys to be out there – whether they will or not, we’re not quite sure,” Gundy said. “But we’ll just have to wait and see how it works out throughout the week.”
That could be important for OSU as Iowa State has proven to be a tough opponent on defense. Iowa State is 3-21 under Paul Rhoads when opponents have scored 24 points or more – while the Cyclones are 19-1 in games with Rhoads where they have held teams under 24.
In the two conference games, OSU is averaging 28 points per contest – which is eighth in the conference in front of Iowa State (23.7 points) and Kansas (12). The passing attack in the pair of Big 12 contests has averaged out to 278 yards per game, which ranks sixth in the conference.
– Jason Elmquist is sports editor for The Stillwater NewsPress.