The worries and doubts Oklahoma State Cowboy fans had left over from the Arizona game probably were not helped by the early injury to starting quarterback Wes Lunt Saturday against the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. Luckily, backup quarterback J.W. Walsh was more than ready to step in and lead the offense.
The redshirt freshman from Denton Guyer High School was just one of the many winners from the Cowboys’ 65-24 romp of the Cajuns. The team looked like a very different one than it did against Arizona on both sides of the ball. The defense and offense were both much sharper in their execution, and the team curbed its previous penalty problems very efficiently.
Unlike last week, it was difficult to find a loser on the Cowboy side of the ball for this week’s game, but it had to be done. Cowboy fans should feel much better about their team, even if their play was against a non-BCS team yet again.
J.W. Walsh was the odd man out when Wes Lunt won the starting quarterback job in the spring, but Saturday he finally got his chance to show the Cowboy Faithful what he could do. Needless to say, we were all impressed.
Walsh completed 21-of-30 passes for 347 yards and four touchdowns, combining that aerial assault with six rushes for 73 yards and another touchdown. He looked sharp, running the offense just about as well as Lunt had.
The receiving core came through for him as well. Inside receivers Blake Jackson and Josh Stewart combined for 14 receptions, 216 receiving yards and three scores, showing themselves to be key cogs in the Cowboys’ receiving group.
While I doubt any quarterback controversy is brewing in Stillwater, it has to be reassuring for Cowboy fans to know that the backup is nearly as good as (or possibly better than) the starter at quarterback, especially heading into their huge showdown with Texas in a few weeks.
After being a dominant force at Arizona the week before, Tracy Moore did not make much of an impact against Louisiana in Week 3. The senior wide receiver caught eight passes for 106 yards and four touchdowns in Tucson, but accumulated just three catches for 22 yards a week later.
That has to be discouraging for a senior who looked like he would be the primary receiver in this offense now that Justin Blackmon is gone. Unfortunately for Moore, the Cowboys appear intent on spreading the ball around this season, which could mean that no dominant receiver will ever establish himself.
However, the drop in production could also be attributed to Wes Lunt’s early departure from the game. It was obvious last week that Moore had become one of Lunt’s favorite targets, while Saturday seemed to indicate that J.W. Walsh preferred Blake Jackson and former high school teammate Josh Stewart.
Coming into the 2012 Oklahoma State football season, big things were expected from starting running back Joseph Randle. So far, he has delivered.
The 6’1” junior has rushed for over 100 yards in each of the first three games of the season thus far, and is on pace to outperform his rushing mark of 1,216 yards from last season. His average of 6.7 yards per carry is also elite, and he appears to be an even better back than he was last season.
His elite combination of strength and speed could start putting him into the NFL consciousness sooner rather than later. However, he does need to make sure to correct his continuing problem with fumbles.
After going 9-3 last season and starting out this season 2-0, the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns were probably expecting this game with Oklahoma State to be a measuring stick for how good they really were. Now, they are probably hoping that it was anything but that.
The truth is that the Cajuns caught the Cowboys at exactly the wrong time. Oklahoma State clearly wanted to prove itself, and did so by completely dominating Louisiana in every aspect of the game. This 2012 game between the two schools was the third time they have matched up in the last three years, and it was also the most dominating effort the Cowboys have had in those three games.
However, this Louisiana team is not as bad as it looked on Saturday. It will bounce back just like the Cowboys did after getting kicked around at Arizona, and probably end up winning the Sun Belt conference.
I suppose you could blame it on the level of competition, but no one can deny that this Oklahoma State defense looked much better than it did against Arizona. The only difference is that defensive coordinator Bill Young was back. Linebacker coach Glenn Spencer had called the plays for the first two games, and, while I think the defensive issues were not his fault, there is no doubt that this is Young’s defense.
They dominated the Cajuns from the start in this game, allowing just one first down during their first three drives and keeping them off the scoreboard until their ninth possession. Calvin Barnett put his penalty-filled ways of the previous week behind him, leading the Cowboy defensive line in bottling up the middle of the field.
The Cajuns could do nothing against the first team Cowboy defense, and really did not play all that well against the second unit either. They were clearly overmatched, but they did give the Cowboys a pretty talented opponent to iron out the kinks against. The Cowboys needed a game like that, especially since they have to face a Texas Longhorn team that seems much improved in just a few weeks.