This past weekend, the Oklahoma State Cowboys had one of the worst games of the Mike Gundy era, giving up 167 penalty yards and coughing up the ball four times.
Now, credit is due to Rich Rodriguez and his Arizona Wildcats for playing the Pokes about as well as you can, but the tale of the tape shows that the Cowboys really beat themselves with undisciplined play.
They have a good chance to come back against the seemingly inferior Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns, but there are a few big players that have to step up their games to make it happen.
When you look at his stat line, you see solid numbers outside of the turnovers. The young man had 436 yards passing and four touchdowns. Matt Scott, on the other hand, only had 320 yards and two touchdowns for the Wildcats.
That said, games are often times won and lost in the turnover column, something the Cowboys learned well last year. Fortunately for the 2011 Pokes, they were generally the ones creating the turnovers.
It’s important for Lunt’s development that he put this game behind him quickly. He’s a true freshman quarterback that got harassed a little bit in the first road game of his career. Anyone that was hoping for a repeat performance of the Savannah State game was kidding themselves.
Lunt put up good numbers outside of the picks and he has to look at his game as a whole to realize that. If he uses this as something to grow from, it could turn out to be a great thing for the Cowboys team as the season moves forward.
If I were Mike Gundy, the first thing I would come out and do against the Ragin’ Cajuns is go out and let Wes Lunt throw the ball on the first play. This shows that you still trust him, and trust can go a long way with a young QB.
After that first play, they need to lean heavily on the rushing attack. Joseph Randle, Jeremy Smith and Desmond Roland form one of the strongest backfields in the nation, and Gundy needs to use them as such.
Randle is the key to it all, though. He’s probably the most underrated back in the nation and was, in my opinion, the best player on the offense last year. He’s continued to roll early, and the Cowboys can win a lot of games by leaning on him.
Now, this isn’t to say that the Pokes need to go completely away from Lunt. Far from it. The quarterback needs to make some plays to prove to himself that he is a great quarterback, but they have to be careful.
I’d love to see Lunt throw the ball 22 times, while Randle and Smith get 35-40 carries between the two of them. That gives Lunt a chance to get his confidence back, while letting Randle and Smith win the game on the ground.
As I said earlier, the Cowboys were the best team in the nation at forcing turnovers last year; however, they failed to force Arizona into a single giveaway last week.
That’s terrible news going forward. The Cowboys are the very definition of a “bend-don’t-break” defense. They give up tons of yards and sometimes scores, but they force teams into turnovers, getting the ball back to their potent offense.
To me, this means the secondary needs to step up, particularly at the cornerback position. Both of these guys had huge years last year and were tagged to be key players in the Cowboys' BCS hopes.
However, neither player has picked a ball off after being so prolific last year. They simply must force the Ragin’ Cajuns into turnovers and help their freshman QB by keeping the opponent’s score down.
Prior to the start of the season, Oklahoma State fans were wondering who would replace first-round pick Justin Blackmon. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you, Tracy Moore.
Moore absolutely exploded in the loss to the Wildcats. He grabbed eight catches for 106 yards and an amazing four touchdowns. If that’s not production, I don’t know what is.
To be fair, we’ve seen big games from Moore (and Isaiah Anderson for that matter) before, only to be disappointed that they didn’t continue to play well in subsequent weeks.
Moore has to buck that trend and become the next great Cowboy receiver. Lunt needs a go-to guy and, hopefully, Moore will be it. There’s a few other guys who could challenge him for the spot of No. 1 receiver, but Moore is the front-runner. Now we just need him to stay there.
True, Gundy isn’t a player, but I did name both Broderick Brown and Justin Gilbert together, so I’ve met the mark for five players.
Honestly, the most important person for the Cowboys this week is Mike Gundy. His squad went out to the desert and got beaten up, plain and simple. This is a key week for the Cowboys because it will set the tone for the rest of the season.
Will Gundy allow them to lie down? Or is he going light a fire under them as we move toward Big 12 play? I lean toward the latter because I’m a huge Gundy fan. He does most things right and the players seem to like him.
He has to make sure that Wes Lunt regains his confidence before Texas comes to town, because that defense is nasty and won’t be pulling any punches. Gundy should lead his players into a big win against the Ragin’ Cajuns this week, setting them up for another solid season.